Great Places to Enjoy Winter Sports Near Tokyo

That time of year is upon us again. Holidays, snow and Christmas cheer will be dominating December and January will be full of New Year celebrations. What better way to soak up the winter months than a quick trip to take part in some fun and adventurous winter sports?

Japan is known for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, and while Hokkaido and northern Honshu boast some impressive slopes, GoConnect thought it would be useful to provide its readers with some resorts easily accessible from Tokyo—perfect for those who have limited time but still want to take a break in the snow.

Here are four great places to go to over the holidays. Make sure to book your trip soon!

Hakuba Valley

Probably one of the most well-known and visited resorts in Japan, Hakuba Valley is also one of the largest. It’s located within the northern area of Nagano Prefecture, at the base of the Northern Japan Alps. It features more than 11 ski resorts with more than 200 runs—the most popular resorts are Happo One and Shiga Koen. It’s super foreigner-friendly and has a very European atmosphere.

There are a variety of passes that you can purchase that provide access to different amenities and benefits. To access Hakuba Valley, you can take the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano, and then an express bus from Nagano to Hakuba Station, which is located at the base of Hakuba Valley.

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest ski resorts and is often considered to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan. The beautiful hot spring village is located in Nagano Prefecture, near Nagano City. The resort has more than 50 kilometers of perfect snow, ideal for skiers and snowboarders of all capabilities. As well as the impressive skiing and snowboarding facilities, you can also make a trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park to see some cute monkeys keeping warm in the water of the hot springs.

To reach Nozawa Onsen, you can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and arrive at Iiyama Station in one hour and 40 minutes. Then there is a limited express bus called the Nozawaonsen Liner that will get you to the resort in 25 minutes.

Zao Onsen Ski Resort

Located a short cable car ride from the hot spring village of Zao Onsen, Yamagata Prefecture, this ski resort has multiple ski and snowboarding schools, as well as different slopes for varying levels of expertise. The main draw for this resort is the snow monsters! These snow-covered trees look like strange and fascinating creatures, and make for great photos. Zipping through the trees down the slopes—all of which vary in length—is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area.

The resort is accessible from Tokyo Station by taking the JR Yamagata Shinkansen to Yamagata Station, and then a bus to Zao Onsen station.

Snow Town Yeti

This small ski resort is nestled on the southern slope of Mount Fuji and is one of the first snow resorts in Japan to open each season, using man-made snow as early as late October. The resort has just four runs and two lifts, and they are perfect for beginners! The resort is also very kid-friendly, with a snow play area and sledding available.

Snow Town Yeti is very easily accessible, with frequent buses departing from various stations such as Gotemba, Mishima and Fuji stations. You can purchase set tickets that can combine the round-trip bus and a one-day lift pass.

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