Ski the best powder in the world, plus…
Thigh-deep powder, tiny queues, ridiculously polite people, snow monkeys & monsters, and a cultural experience to boot? Jon Olsson straps on his powder skis and shows us why Japan is THE unbeatable snow experience. To find out more about the amazing extreme-ski-legend-turned-travel-vlogging-juggernaut, visit the bio page of Jon Olsson.
Japan. The best powder snow in the world?
If Jon Olsson—someone with 9 X games medals and his own freestyle ski invitational competition—says Japan has the best snow in the world, you listen, but it’s not just the snow that makes Japan skiing so amazing. It’s the incredible array of things that you can add to your ski trip, that makes it so attractive. Think “Onsens” (hot natural springs after skiing), snow monkeys, snow monsters, high speed trains, bamboo forests, the Sapporo Snow Festival, Tokyo’s Harajuku girls, Elvises in the Park, and Golden Gai nightlife, and Kyoto’s Geisha.
There’s incredible skiing on both islands of Japan… with 10-18 meters of the dry, fluffy stuff each year, and over 100 ski areas to chose from!
The north island of Hokkaido, gets slightly better snow but can attract more people. The best resorts are Niseko (for great nightlife and restaurants, jaw dropping tree skiing, and BIG dumps), Furano, and Tomamu.
On the south island of Honshu, you can get to many resorts within a few hours by the high speed train, the queues can be tiny, and the hot springs and cultural experience add a really authentic touch. The best resorts are Nozawa Onsen (for natural hot springs, Japanese village feel, amazing snow and nearby snow monkeys), Shiga Kogen, Hakuba, and Zao Onsen which is famous for its snow monster fields (fir trees completely covered by snow, forming weird shapes).
Snow Monkeys! Jigokudani Monkey Park is the famous outdoor hot springs where over 200 very human-like Japanese Macaques pass the winters trying to keep warm. It’s very close to Nosawa Onsen and Hakuba and well worth the visit.
Tips: If you want it all, go to Nozawa Onsen in February. You can see the snow monkeys, soak in traditional Japanese Onsens, experience incredible snow, with a fabulous lack of queues. BUT if you want to party, and drown in piles of super-fluffy snow, go to Niseko.
When: Mid December through to early April, sometimes longer. If you’re going to the north island of Hokkaido, (to Niseko or Furano etc), consider early February when you can see the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Where: The best resorts are a few hours north-west of Tokoyo, in the south island of Honshu, or either side of Sapporo in the northern island of Hokkaido. (Depicted in the map below is Nozawa Onsen)