While getting out in the snow is always a lot of fun, it’s no discussion that the experience is even more fun when you’re sharing it with someone. If you’re in Japan by yourself, or you can’t convince any of your buddies to join you on the ski fields, don’t worry about having to go it alone! There are plenty of group ski events in Japan.
Both in and outside of Japan, there are a handful of organizations that run group snow trips for solo and small traveling groups that range from single-day trips to 10-day adventures. If you’re the type to plan your own trip, there are Facebook groups so like-minded snow lovers can meet up and make the most of Japan’s glorious winter. Here’s where to look.
Winter sports not your thing? There are other ways to enjoy the season in Japan.
Tokyo Snow Club
Just as the name suggests, this group started as a way for snow-loving Tokyo folk to get together and make the most of the country’s incredible powder. The group runs several different seasonal outdoor events throughout the year, but the snow trips are definitely the flagship events.
This season they’re running trips all over the place from December to early March. In December, they’re hosting single-day weekend visits to Kagura Ski Resort in Niigata. The package includes transportation, lift passes, lessons for beginners, ski maps, and travel insurance for ¥12,000.
They also have weekend-long overnight trips to Naeba and Kagura Resort in the middle of the month. For ¥25,000, this includes transport, accommodation, dinner a lift pass, ski lessons, insurance and access to the party and fireworks show on Saturday night. There’s a Christmas party too later in the month, which includes the above but also offers two nights accommodation in a private alpine lodge, breakfast, a Christmas dinner roast, all for ¥24,900.
Other package highlights for December include a two-night trip to Shiga Kogen to ski and see the famous onsen monkeys in action for ¥29,800. There’s also a three-night long New Year party trip to Hakuba, which includes all the regular offers, ski passes, lessons, breakfast, accommodation with the addition of live entertainment, and fireworks shows for ¥42,000.
January highlights include the Naeba New Year Powder weekend, which costs ¥32,000 and includes transport, accommodation, a one-day lift pass, dinner on Saturday night, and free lessons on Saturday morning.
For something different, there’s also the Zao Onsen Snow Monster Festival weekend, which will take you to the northern ski fields of Yamagata to admire the legendary snow monsters. This package costs ¥32,000 and includes accommodation right on the slopes, dinner on Saturday, a one-day ski ticket, breakfast both days, and ski lessons for beginners.
Tokyo Gaijins is another company that organizes large-group snow trips. The tours run from early December until the first week of March. In terms of offers, there are a lot to choose from, so here are just a select few highlights.
Nagano Snow Adventure Weekend Trip is the first of the season. It runs over the second weekend of December. It costs ¥22,900 and includes transportation, a tour to Matsumoto Castle and Zenkoji Temple, accommodation, a party, dinner on Saturday and breakfast Sunday, and a free snowboarding lesson for beginners.
The Nozawa Onsen Year-End Snowboarding/Ski Trip, which runs on the last weekend of December, is a great way to visit one of the country’s most revered ski destinations. The package includes transport, a one-day lift pass, free lessons for beginners, two nights accommodation, breakfast for Saturday and Sunday, dinner for Saturday, and travel insurance for ¥29,900. An extra bonus is that Nozawa is also home to 13 free public onsen!
For those wanting to also experience a little Japanese culture as well as incredible skiing, then the Iiyama Snow Festival Trip to Nagano in early February is an option. Admire the snow architecture of Iiyama Snow Hut Village’s illuminated kamakura caves, the impressive snow sculptures, and catch the festival fireworks show. The package includes transportation, accommodation breakfast for Sunday, and travel insurance for ¥23,900. Lift passes sold separately.
Nikko Snow Cycling Tours
For something a little different, Snow Cycling could be an excellent way to make new friends and try something new. You can sign up for a half-day guided snow cycling tour across the stunning landscape of the Kanto Plains to the summit of Mt. Nasu, Nikko. The package costs ¥7,800 and includes snow bike rental and tour guiding throughout the half-day journey.
One Life Ski Tours
Best suited for international guests planning a visit to Japan for the snow, the Australian-based tour company One Life—who only recently started tours in Japan—is now offering a 10-day group ski Japan tour package to Nagano.
It includes all transport in Japan (get your own flights), accommodation for nine nights, day trip activities both in Tokyo and Nagano, breakfast every morning and dinner on one of the nights. If you don’t know where to begin or you’re not the type to be organized, for ¥192,232 (lift passes not included), this is an option worth considering. But if you’re willing to do a little extra homework, you can definitely make your own itinerary for much cheaper.
Kansai Snow Club
Attn: Osaka-based snow bunnies; If you’re less of a package tours type person, but you still want to make new ski buddies, you can always join the Kansai Snow Club on Facebook. The bilingual group is open to both Japanese and international folk and an excellent source of information on all snow-related matters, including how to enjoy the snow cheaply. It’s a great place to look for skiing friends, post on the group’s wall. The organizers of the page also regularly run day trips and the occasional overnight trip to nearby resorts, including Nozawa, Myoko, and Hakuba, where they have their own cozy cabin.