Hokkaido, the Northernmost island of Japan, is renowed for its unique weather conditions, delivering consistently enormous amounts of snow. A resort like Niseko for example, with its average snowfall of 16 metres, dwarfs Whistler’s annual average of 10 metres, Chamonix’s 9.6 metres, or Vail’s 8.8 metres. If you are a bit of a powder hound, then you should definitely put Japan on your priority list.
There is a misconception that Japan is an expensive destination, it used to be in the 70’s and 80’s, but skiing in Japan is now very cheap compared to other destinations. Lift tickets and meals are significantly cheaper, and most resorts have a good range of accommodation that will suit any budget, from 5 star and boutique hotels to small pensions and youth hostels.
Hokkaido boasts the lightest and driest of snow but you will also have the chance to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and traditions, discover their Onsens (natural hot springs), the delicious healthy cuisine, and be charmed by the friendly and hospitable people.
When is the best time to go ? If you want to experience JAPOW, then January and February are the months when the Snow Gods deliver. Just make sure you avoid the one week of the Chinese New Year Holiday when it can get quite busy (and everything is more expensive !). The dates vary slightly between years because it’s based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, but it usually comes during the period from January 21st to February 20th in the Gregorian Calendar.