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Winter Sports In Japan! The Best Locations For Skiing, Skating And More
  • Winter Sports In Japan! The Best Locations For Skiing, Skating And More

Winter Sports In Japan! The Best Locations For Skiing, Skating And More

Gunma 2017.10.05 Bookmark

In addition to skiing and ice skating, in Japan one can enjoy many other winter sports such as snowshoeing, walking upon drifting ice, snowmobiling, snowboarding and others. We introduce here the best locations to enjoy each of them!

Translated by Richard Perkins

Written by MATCHA

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The northernmost prefecture in Japan, Hokkaido, Niigata Prefecture, as well as other mountainous areas, are places where you can enjoy a number of snow-related activities come the winter. As a matter of fact, there are many travelers who come to Japan specifically to enjoy these great winter activities. However, the amount of snow that falls varies by area and season, meaning that, depending on where you go, You can enjoy a different type of winter sports.

In Japan, you can go skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, walk on the drift ice, and even go snowmobiling. In this article, we will introduce to you places around Japan where you can enjoy each of these activities to the fullest.

1. Skiing in Japan

The standard winter sport is without question, skiing. As it is in other countries, skiing is a well-loved winter activity in Japan as well, and there are many ski resorts spread across the country, meaning that it may be hard to choose which resort to visit when here.

Gunma Prefecture: Norn Minakami Ski Resort

Photo courtesy of: Gunma Snow Alliance Corporation

This time we would like to introduce to you the Norn Minakami Ski Resort found in Gunma prefecture, located about 90 minutes from Tokyo via the Joetsu shinkansen. As this mountain has a rather steep incline, this resort is perfect for those who are an intermediate to advanced level skiers.

Ski Season: 2017/12/20 - 2018/3/31

2. Snowboarding

Snowboarding, a winter sport similar to both skateboarding and surfing, where you strap your feet to a board and glide over the slopes, is a very popular sport all around the world. As there are many snowboarding fans all around the world, snowboarding is a winter sport that can be enjoyed at ski resorts all across Japan.

Niigata Prefecture: Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort

Photo courtesy of: Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort

Snowboarding can be enjoyed at almost every ski resort in Japan. However, we would like to recommend Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort which is connected to the shinkansen station in Niigata prefecture. Here you will find 17 courses in total for skiers and snowboarders, making this an excellent place for everyone from beginners to advance boarders to enjoy.

Private and group lessons in both sports are available in English here as well, so why not take a lesson and improve your skills? This resort becomes quite busy on weekends, so it is a good idea to make a reservation in advance just in case.

Snowboarding Season: 2017/12/16 - 2018/05/06

3. Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of the most popular winter sports in the world along with skiing. At the Olympics, figure skaters compete by showing off their technical skills in jumping and dancing across the ice, while speed skaters race against one another in high speed events on the ice.

But ice skating need not be so difficult - just going with the flow and gliding casually across the rink is a lot of fun too.

Tokyo: Akasaka Sacas

Photo courtesy of: TBS Television Akasaka Sacas PR Department

Opened in 2016, ‘White Sacas’ is the largest outdoor rooftop ice skating rink in Tokyo. When lit-up, the atmosphere of this rink is quite fantastical, and skating amid the lights seems very romantic too.

Ice skating Season: January 5th - February 25th

4. Snowshoe Trekking

Photo courtesy of: Shinshu Tourism Development Association

Have you ever tried snowshoe trekking? Snowshoe trekking is a sport where you walk through the snow while wearing a special kind of shoes that makes it possible to tread upon the soft and fluffy snow. As you trek along the vast snowy landscape of a mountain you can doubtlessly take in beautiful views that you would otherwise not be able to enjoy in your daily life.

Nagano Prefecture: The Kurumayama Kogen Ski Resort

Photo courtesy of: Shinshu Tourism Development Association

At the summit of Mount Kirigamine, one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, stands the Kurumayama Kogen Ski Resort where you can also enjoy snowshoe trekking.

Photo courtesy of: Shinshu Tourism Development Association

With nothing to block your view, the incredible scenery that surrounds you as you tower over the southern and northern Japanese Alps will have you feeling the sheer force and wonder of nature with your entire body.

Snowshoeing Season: 2017/12/10 - 2018/4/3

5. Drift Ice Walking

Photo courtesy of: SHINRA (Shinra Shiretoko Naturalist Association)

Hokkaido: SHINRA (Shinra Shiretoko Naturalist Association)

Photo courtesy of: SHINRA (Shinra Shiretoko Naturalist Association)

The Drift Ice Walk is a very popular activity that takes place in Shiretoko, in Hokkaido. This is an activity that very few get the chance to take part in in their lives. In the winter, Hokkaido’s Sea of Okhotsk fills up with drifting ice floes. With a world of ice spreading out at your feet and scores of little clione, or sea angels, swimming beneath that, the closeness of the drift ice is sure to impress you.

Photo courtesy of SHINRA (Shinra Shiretoko Naturalist Association)

No matter what you wear underneath, you will stay very comfortable in the special dry suit with attached boots that you change into before heading out into the snow. This suit is specially designed to also float, meaning that even those who cannot swim can feel safe while wearing it out on the ice. The helpful and friendly guides for your walk will help you every step of the way, from how to put on your suit to how to best enjoy the ice itself. As this event only takes place for a very limited time, why not take the chance and participate in the rare Drift Ice Walk?

Drift Ice Season: beginning of February - end of March (depending on the condition of the ice) Reservations can be made through their website

6. Snowmobiling

Photo courtesy of: Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

A snowmobile is an engine-driven vehicle that can drive over the snow as easily as a motorcycle can travel along the road. This is an easy sport than anyone can take up as no license is required when riding in designated areas. By shifting your weight and controlling the accelerator, you can easily dash up the snowy mountains on your snowmobile.

Gunma Prefecture: Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

Photo courtesy of: Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

At the Minakami Kogen resort in Gunma prefecture you can enjoy driving your snowmobile through wide open spaces, and by riding through the vast snowy white area in the snow coach on the back of the snowmobile, you can enjoy the tremendous winter scenery as it rushes by you.

Photo courtesy of Minakami Kogen Ski Resort

Another popular activity you can take part in at Minakami Kogen Ski Resort is snow-rafting, where a large inflatable raft is pulled over the snow by a snowmobile. This activity is very appealing to families as entire groups can ride in this raft together.
Snowmobile Season: 2017/12/20 - 2018/4/8

There are just so many activities that you can only enjoy in the winter months, so why not get out there and take advantage of them while in Japan?

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