The Japan Ski Season & When to Visit

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Japan Ski Season Guide

THE JAPAN SKI SEASON 2022-2023 IS ON!

After a tense few months earlier this year, as the tourist industry and prospective visitors waited to see if covid restrictions would be lifted in time for the Japan ski season 2022-23, the borders are now fully open, and Japan ski resorts are eagerly awaiting skiers and snowboarders for the first winter in 3 years! But when does the Japan ski season start, and when is the best time to visit? Keep reading to find out!

When Does The Japan Ski Season Take Place?

As Japan is located in the northern hemisphere, the Japan snow season takes place between November and April, with peak ski season months being December to March, depending on the resort. In Hokkaido snow often starts falling in October, as you can see from the snow on Youtei this Autumn whetting appetites for the start of the Japan ski season 2022-2023! With this Japan ski season being the first for international visitors in 3 winters, huge anticipation awaits and you can track the progress of Japan’s 2022-23 snow season here.

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When is the best time to ski in japan?

Each phase of the Japan ski season offers different reasons to visit, and when is best time to ski in Japan depends very much on your group’s individual preferences. We will try to outline some of the main points to consider.

Early Season

The first phase of the Japan snow season, when the resorts open, is a tempting time to visit with there being nothing quite like the magic of the first tracks of the winter. The Japan ski season 2022-2023 is planned to start in Niseko on December 3rd and in Hakuba it depends when the snow starts to fall, usually early December. Being among the first on the mountain has other draws including fewer crowds and typically lower prices for accommodation and lift passes. But the lower prices are not without reason as snow cover can be less reliable, with start dates occasionally being pushed back, or limited lift operation. There will also be little depth to the snow base meaning skiing and boarding may be limited to the groomers with the attraction of deep backcountry powder to follow later in the season.

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Christmas & New Year

Skiing over Christmas and New Year is for many the perfect way to spend the festive season. In most ski resorts worldwide, skiing over Christmas and New Year risks lack of snow, but at major Japanese resorts it would be extremely unlikely to find you couldn’t ski at this time of the Japan ski season. The base may still not be deep enough for much backcountry with tips of plants still peeking through, but typically resorts will have been open and accumulating a good amount of snow for a month or so. While Christmas in Japan may be very different from Western countries, it can be a magical place to send the holidays and New Year is one of Japan’s most celebrated holidays. With peak holiday dates being more expensive than other times of the Japan snow season, book early if you can and take advantage of the best deals on offer. From Summer, it may be hard to find anywhere that’s not fully booked!

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Peak Powder Season

From January through to early February is the time of the Japan snow season known for its unbelieveably consistent peak powder snow conditions. Snowfall tends to be immense and the accumulated snow base allows riders to maximise experiences off as well as on piste. If you haven’t experienced skiing in Japan before you will be in awe of the relentless snowfall. The feeling of sitting back in the evening watching snow falling outside your window provides a feeling of exhilaration for the day on the mountain that lies ahead. While weather can’t be guaranteed anywhere, ever, there is probably not greater likelihood in the world of experiencing truly awesome snow conditions than at this stage of the Japan ski season. If you are not restricted to travelling over Chinese New Year, try to avoid these dates due to higher prices. Over the Japan ski season 2023 Chinese New Year holiday dates run from around 20th to 30th January.

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Late February to Early March

This phase of the Japan ski season is usually still pretty much peak, with snowfall abundant and conditions usually reliable. We have classified it differently because some years, warmer weather starts to creep in and pristine powder conditions are not quite what they were. But it is still a great time to visit! Some Japan ski accommodations offer slightly better rates during this period, and as often as not, conditions can be just as incredible as they were a few weeks earlier, with yet more snow base opening yet more incredible off-piste terrain. A few bluebird days is often not a bad thing either!

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Spring

Spring does not start at precisely the same time every year anywhere, and the Japan ski season is no exception. Some years temperatures start to warm up in February, but usually this happens significantly from around mid-March. Fresh snow is still common providing every chance to ride deep powder, and this time of the year usually means plentiful bluebird days with picture perfect views of the spectacular mountain scenery, from the big mountain peaks of Hakuba to the lake Toya view from Rusutsu and of course, the unbelievable Mount Youtei, known as Hokkaido’s Fuji. When conditions really warm up ‘spring skiing’ can be fun and fast, and on mainland Japan can often coincide with the opportunity to view cherry blossoms and enjoy some warm weather in Tokyo or Kyoto. Prices in ski resorts come down a lot in the spring, so if soaking up Japanese culture, onsens, cuisine and travel is for you, it may be the perfect time to plan your Japan ski holiday. The Japan ski season 2022-2023 is planned to last until May 7th at Niseko Hirafu, with Hakuba dates depending on conditions but tending to last into May.

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