No it’s not Planet of the Apes! It’s the coolest place for powder in Japan. For snow, ski, culture and cuisine, Japan is fast becoming one of the most stylish places to hit the slopes.
Best for families: Appi Kogen, Honshu
Japan’s largest island is awash with powder paradises. Appi Kogen in the North has plenty of English signage and play areas for kids, so it’s perfect for the whole family. As well as extended ski runs and the option of night skiing, it’s also home to the beautiful Appi Grand Hotel which contains an indoor pool, gym, day spa and multiple restaurants.
Best for partaying: Hakuba, Nagano
The Hakuba Valley is located in the heart of the Japanese Alps. With ten resorts in total and over 200 runs, it’s known for an exceptionally lively après ski scene. Recognized for its natural beauty and for its consistently brilliant snow, the area is a prime location for all snow sports and is consistently popular with young skiiers and boarders. Hakuba boasts a multitude of luxury hotels and boutique lodges, from the expansive Hakuba Mominoki Hotel with its own hot spring, to the more intimate Yamanasato Inn Hakuba Hifumi, with its deluxe Japanese-styled rooms with private open-air baths.
Best for off-slope adventuring: Shiga Kogen, Honshu
Shiga is the place Australians are heading to for off slope adventuring with its endless powder and cultural experiences. Take a trip to the natural hot springs of Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park and witness Japan’s legendary snow monkeys bathing in the wild. There are temples, hiking trails and great food. Hotel Grand Phenix Okushiga is perhaps the most exclusive of the many hotels, with a swimming pool, hot spring, spacious rooms and unforgettable panoramic mountain views.
Best for home comforts: Hokkaido, Niseko
East meets West in Hokkaido after an influx of Australian developers in the last couple of decades. But it’s also renowned for its powder, with an estimated 15m of snow falling each winter. As well as great off-piste options, it offers astounding views of the volcano Mount Yotei. The Green Leaf Hotel is a more recent edition to the slopes providing a ski-in ski-out base, tranquil spa and natural onsen facilities, local bars and some great seafood dining options.
Best for an authentic Japanese experience: Nozawa Onsen, Nagano
Here, the villagers run the show. Once considered a hidden gem, Nozawa Onsen is rapidly gaining in popularity, though it will never lose its traditional Japanese identity as the locals are in control. Renowned for its onsens (Japanese hot springs), the quaint town has 13 public ones and a number of private ones within boutique hotels. As well as a number of lively festivals throughout the year, Nozawa Onsen has cobbled streets, breathtaking views and endless culinary delights. The Ridge offers spacious one to four bedroom apartments with all mod-cons.