Asahidake Ski Resort
The Asahidake ski resort is smokin’. No literally, the resort sits on an active volcano with lots of fumaroles emitting steam and gas. Asahidake, located on Japan’s north island of Hokkaido, is a powderhounds dream location. The resort is basically a backcountry ski area that is serviced by a cable car.
The cable car provides access to over 1500 vertical feet of terrain with very few “groomers”. The trails are really just cat tracks that allow access to the terrific tree skiing. This ropeway accessed area is generally very uncrowded, so there are often plenty of powder stashes.
Rusutsu Ski Resort
Rusutsu ski resort in Hokkaido receives an average annual snowfall of over 550 inches! But it gets better, the powder at Rusutsu is incredibly dry so you blast right through it with virtually no resistance. With that much high quality snow it’s clear to see why Rusutsu is heaven for powder skiers.
The one downside to Rusutsu is the lack of steeps. If skiing steep terrain and dropping big cliffs is your thing you might want to check out one of the other 500+ resorts in Japan.
If you are looking to mix a traditional Japanese experience with your skiing you might want to check out the hot spring village of Nozawa Onsen. Nozawa, located on Japan’s main island of Honshu, is a charming village that is famous for the abundance of hot springs that were discovered in the 8th century. Steam rises up everywhere amongst the bustling narrow cobblestone streets and the traditional ryokan inns and shops.
With over 300 hectares of terrain and 3559 feet of vertical drop give you have plenty of room to enjoy the nearly 400″ of anual snowfall. And unlike many other ski resorts in Japan off-piste skiing is allowed at Nozawa Onsen.
With a whopping 510″ of annual snowfall and steep treed slopes, Myoko Kogen is a freeriders paradise. Myoko also has lots of backcountry opportunities, and guided backcountry tours are available. Founded in the 1930s, Myoko is rich in history and traditional Japanese culture.
The Myoko area is made up of 10 different ski resorts that are largely linked together by shuttle bus. Myoko Kogen is located one hour north of Nagano-home to the 1998 Winter Olympics-in the heart of the Joshinetsu National Park.
Over the past few years Hakuba has become the “it” spot for international powder chasers. The Hakuba Valley incorporates 10 ski resorts that offer an expanse of terrain with amazing views of rugged peaks over 11,000′. The valley is probably best known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1998 with the resort of Happo-One being the venue for the slalom, ski jumping and downhill. From Hakuba you can also visit Japanese temples or the famous Japanese snow monkeys.