Got any plans for the year-end holiday? Maybe skiing in Japan? I’m sure you’ll be happy for the well-celebrated “Japow” (“Japan Powder”) that allows you to ride on the soft, dry and light Japanese snow, let alone a trip with the appetizing Japanese cuisine like ramen, sushi, and tempura; plus, the hot springs that relax your body and soul. I can’t stress enough why Japan is an ideal skiing paradise!
So here we’ve prepared a beginner guide for the first-timers to ski in Japan, including the Japan ski reports, equipment, and travel insurance you need. So why wait no longer? Let’s dive into it and start preparing for your skiing trip!
When Is The Best Time To Visit Japan For Skiing?
The Niseko snow report reveals a tantalizing secret – January and February are crowned as the prime months for skiing and snowboarding adventures in Hokkaido, Japan. However, the true charm unveils itself from mid-February to the end of March. During this period, the snow forms a perfect, plush base, and the sun begins to make more frequent appearances, casting a spell of enchantment over the landscape. This is an idyllic setup for families, promising a delightful blend of snow and sun.
Best Places To Ski In Japan: Hokkaido Or Nagano?
Where to go for the best skiing resorts? Hokkaido and Nagano are two “perfect prefectures” for skiing and snowboarding lovers! We’ve put together a comparison for you to help you decide which one is the best fit for you!
Climate and Snow
Hokkaido is known for its colder and drier climate (-5°C to 5°C), while Nagano has a more varied climate (-5°C to 10°C). The colder weather brings more snow, and if you’re okay with colder temperatures, Hokkaido offers a thicker layer of smooth white snow for you!
Hokkaido can be more difficult to reach than Nagano, located in the northern part of Japan. It takes about 1 hour to fly from Tokyo to Sapporo by plane. On the other hand, Nagano is more easily accessible. By bullet train (Shinkansen), it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Nagano from Tokyo.
Hokkaido will cost slightly more considering the longer travel time. It costs around HK$1700 for a 14-hour flight trip. As for Nagano, it takes more or less the same cost to take a flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo, which costs around HK$1,175 and an HK$500 train ticket to get there.
So, it’s hard to determine which one is better, as it depends on your time and preferences. But we’ve found the best four skiing resort recommendations in Nagano and Hokkaido!
|Climate||Colder and drier (-5°C to 5°C)||More varied (-5°C to 10°C)|
|Snow||Thicker layer of smooth white snow||–|
|Accessibility||More difficult, 1-hour flight from Tokyo||Easier, 1 hour 40 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo|
|Price||More expensive, HK$1700 for 14-hour flight trip||Less expensive, HK$1,175 flight from HK to Tokyo and HK$500 train ticket|
Hokkaido Ski Resorts
Niseko United Ski Resort
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Nieseko United is located in the Niseko town of Hokkaido and is well-known for its fluffy powder snow. It has four ski areas: Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village, and An’nupuri.
In total, they offer over 50 runs for both beginner and advanced skiers and snowboarders. So, don’t worry if you’re a complete skiing beginner.
What’s more is that if you’re bored with skiing, you can also try other fun winter activities like snowshoeing and snowmobiling!
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Rusutsu Resort is located in the western part of Hokkaido, and it has been awarded “Japan’s Best Ski Resort” four times; it’s definitely “a killer” skiing resort in Japan.
What makes it unique is that not only it has a total of 37 runs, the spectacular view it offers, but also its accessible location. Rusutsu Resort Special is located in the heart of Hokkaido, relatively close to Sapporo, which makes it an easy destination for travelers.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Rusutsu Resort offers a range of other winter activities, such as ice skating, dog sledging, and snow tubing. You can’t be bored of it!
Nagano Ski Resorts
Hakuba Ski Resort
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Hakuba Ski Resort is known for its large ski area, which covers nine separate mountain ranges and boasts over 200 runs. (Hey, boss! I guess I’m coming back this week, I need one more week to try out all the runs!)
Hakuba Ski Resort is a popular destination for both domestic and international skiers and snowboarders, let alone a wide range of available accommodations, including hotels, hostels, and rental apartments you could choose from. The resort also has a mix of restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as on-mountain dining options for your best dining experience.
And one thing that you can’t miss is the hot springs (onsen)! That is a popular way to relax and warm up after a day on the slopes.
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
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Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is a smaller ski destination in Japan, about 3 hours northwest of Tokyo. Apart from 35 ski and snowboard courses suitable for both beginners and advanced skiers, it also offers the famous hot springs to its visitors. What makes it more special is that you could visit the cute Japanese monkey family on an onsen in Nozawa! If you’re interested in seeing them on a local tour, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort should definitely be on your list.
Basic Skiing and Snowboard Equipment Checklist
Ready to go for a skiing and snowboarding trip? But wait, have you got all the stuff you need? Here’s a checklist for all you need:
- Gloves or mittens: Warm gloves will save your hands from getting cold and wet!
- Layering clothes: You’ll need a base layer, mid layer, and outer layer to stay warm and dry. It’s also a good idea to bring a variety of warm clothing and gear, as the weather can change quickly and temperatures can vary widely depending on the elevation and location of the resort.
- Socks: Thick socks are essential for keeping your feet warm.
- A backpack: Not the big one that you’re traveling with but a skiing backpack that’s water-proof, medium-sized and light.
Got all the basic stuff? And here are the pro items that you should get from the ski tool rental store:
- Skis or a snowboard (if you have one!)
- Goggles: Goggles protect your eyes from the sun, wind, and snow; they can help you to see clearly on snow.
Remember to check with the ski resort or rental shop for any additional equipment that may be required, such as a lift ticket or season pass.
Travel Insurance for Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing is fun, but accidents often occur, and no one wants to pay a hefty medical fee after an injury. So, getting insurance before skiing is a smart choice, but does your travel insurance cover skiing or snowboarding?
In Hong Kong, travel insurance policies typically cover a wide range of activities, including skiing, which is usually seen as a type of “leisure activity.” Some travel insurance policies may have exclusions for certain skiing activities or may only cover accidents on groomed slopes (man-made slopes). But always remember to read the fine print of your policy to determine what is covered.
It’s always a good idea to speak with your insurance provider or consult the policy documents to confirm that your travel insurance covers skiing activities.
The Top 5 Reasons Your Travel Insurance Isn’t Covering Your Expenses
It’s not common for your insurance provider to not pay your compensation. However, there’re a few notes you might want to be aware of.
- Activities that pose high risk and are not included in the policy, particularly when the policy has a height limitation.
- Limitations on insured conditions with height, depth, and age: For instance, if the policyholder is over 70, certain coverage for high-risk activities will not be limited.
- Limited insured condition for Professional Players: sports engagement in a professional capacity or involving any potential income will not be covered.
- Request immediate medical treatment despite the possibility of treatment after returning: If the treatment can be administered after returning to Hong Kong, any medical expenses incurred during the trip will not be covered.
- Receiving treatment from an uncertified doctor: It’s important to get certified medical treatment because if the medical practitioners aren’t recognized, unfortunately, you can’t receive compensation.
Tips for Claiming Insurance: Remember to Keep Your Medical Proof
Touchwood. If you need medical treatment during the trip, remember to get all the medical reports, fee structures and payment receipts as proof for future compensation, and don’t forget to check the legitimacy of your medical providers because only licensed doctors’ reports are valid for claiming.
When you’re unsure about it, feel free to call your insurers for assistance!
Hong Kong Skiing and Snowboarding Insurance Recommendation
Here are some insurance providers that offer policies that cover skiing and snowboarding activities. We’re having exclusive special offers for our MoneySmarters!
- Medical Expenses
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Final Words: Got Time For Holiday? Visit Japan and Skii in the Snowboard Paradise
Japan is a perfect destination for skiing and snowboarding, with a wide range of resorts catering to both beginners and advanced ski bums. I believe Hokkaido and Nagano will present themselves as the winter sports paradise with their celebrated Japanese cuisine, hot springs, and beautiful culture. But before you go, just be sure to consider getting insurance to enjoy a carefree trip!
Before starting your trip, don’t forget to get the travel insurance ahead!
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