Powder perfect snow. Healing hot springs. Fast and accessible transport. Excellent-quality ski gear. It’s no mystery why Japan has become one of the world’s most increasingly popular ski destinations.
Skiing or snowboarding in Japan is also incredibly affordable—there are plenty of packages available, and lift tickets and accommodation are a fraction of the price compared to Europe. Renting or buying ski gear in Japan, however, isn’t always cheap. But if you’re willing to do a bit of research, you can find a bargain.
As an overview, we’ve put together this little guide. Here you’ll find all you need to know about:
- where to buy ski gear in Tokyo,
- where to rent on the two major resorts (in Niseko and Hakuba),
- the best way to ship ski gear across Japan, and
- what the major airlines offer in terms of ski and snowboard gear check-in.
Where to find secondhand ski gear in Japan
Finding secondhand ski and snowboard gear in Tokyo isn’t the easiest of feats. But with a little perseverance and willingness to travel, chances are you’ll be able to find what you’re after at a reasonable price.
Hard Off House, is part of the massive Hard Off thrift store group. There’s the original Hard Off for your standard thrifting. There are seven different types of Hard Off stores, including Book Off for books, Mode Off for clothes, and Off House for outdoor equipment, sports gear and other home appliances. There’s a chance you might find the odd snowboard or boots at Off House, so if you have the time, it’s worth a visit to try and find your budget-priced Japan ski gear. You can find a list of outlets on their website.
Where to buy ski gear in Tokyo
Kanda-Ogawamachi, just east of Jimbocho Station, is home to a dense population of sports mega-stores that promise to have some more competitive prices. This neighborhood is known colloquially as the Kanda Sports District. Here you’ll find the following snow-sports stores: One Make, Spazio Morispo, London Sports Kanda, and Ski Shop Vail.
Those are just the big ones. In total there are an estimated 60+ dedicated ski, snowboard and mountaineering shops located within the 400-meter-long shopping strip, making it the best gear destination in the city. Shopping during summertime is the best way to nab yourself a bargain, but even during peak season, you’ll have a pretty good chance of picking up some competitively priced gear. Check out out full guide to buying ski/snowboarding gear in Tokyo’s Kanda-Ogawamachi district.
Ski gear rental in Niseko
Niseko is one of the most prominent Japan ski destinations in the country, so getting your ski and snowboard rental sorted out is a breeze. There are plenty of options to choose from, however, if you don’t want to take any risks and want to make sure what you’re getting is top quality and value for money, the following stores come highly recommended.
Rhythm Main St
Located in central Hirafu, one of the most trafficked areas of Niseko, Rhythm Main St boasts over 7,000 skis and snowboards. They have gear for both sale and rent, and their stock covers all the major brands, including Salomon, Rossignol, Volkl, K2, Armada, Burton, and more. A bonus is they also have an in-house coffee shop.
Address: 190-1 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081
Situated inside the Niseko Village shopping complex, Village Sports is a little more high-end than some of the other outlets. They both sell and rent ski gear and offer custom boot fitting and board/ski waxing services too.
Address: The Village, Higashiyama Onsen Niskeo-cho, Abuta District, Hokkaido 048-1592
Sitting in the Kabayama area, not far from Hirafu Station, Amuse Sports is a comprehensive ski gear rental in Niseko with a second outpost in Rusutsu-mura. The benefit of renting from Amuse Sports is they can deliver your gear to your accommodation if you’re staying in Niseko. Their pricing is competitive, and they also have a sports bar and restaurant at their Rusutsu location.
Address:144 Izumikawa, Rusutsu, Abuta District, Hokkaido 048-1711 and 57-14 Kabayama, 字 Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0078
Ski rental in Hakuba
Like Niseko, Hakuba isn’t shy of ski shops and snowboard rental stores. Hakuba is another widely popular resort, boasting proximity to Tokyo and plenty of rental options with very competitive prices. The following are the most recommended places to find snowboard rental and ski rental in Hakuba.
The Hakuba outpost of the Rhythm Rental family, this store is located in the old Wadano Visitor Center, next to Mominoki Hotel. Similar to its Niseko sister store, Rhythm Hakuba has thousands of skis and boards available, so you’ll have no problem finding one that suits you. They also have Rhythm Tunes, a workshop-style space where visitors can get their skis or snowboards waxed and prepped for Hakuba’s unique powder conditions.
Address: 4683-2 Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301
Hakuba Central Snowsports
With four stores in the Hakuba location, the team at Hakuba Central Snowsports boasts the most extensive range of demo skis and snowboards in Hakuba Village. Prices are available on their website—via a downloadable PDF. If you’re not satisfied with the gear you’ve rented, you’re more than welcome to pop in and do a gear swap anytime.
Address: 4256 Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301
One of the oldest rental shops in Hakuba Village, Spicy Rental, has 11 stores across Japan, with five of them right in the heart of Hakuba. You can buy or pick up rental ski and snowboard gear from all the outlets, with choices covering all of the major ski brands and a few you maybe haven’t heard of.
Address: 大字北城八方5090, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano, 399-9301
Shipping snow gear to Japan
Several private companies offer international pick-up and delivery, with services tailored to skiers. Luggage Forward (https://www.luggageforward.com/) is one such company. On the website, you’ll be able to input your pick-up and drop-off destinations to get a quote before you do anything else. For price context, if you were to organize pick-up from Sydney, Australia with delivery to Niseko in Hokkaido, the fee would start at US$289.00.
Ship Skis is another similar company, which, as you can guess from the name, specializes in shipping snow equipment. You can input your details to get a quote on the site too (https://www.shipskis.com/). The same route, pick-up from Sydney, Australia with delivery to Niseko in Hokkaido, costs US$304.99 one way and US$334.99 return for a standard ski bag (up to 40 lbs).
Snow gear allowance on major airlines
Japan Airlines (JAL)
You can check in ski and snowboarding equipment as part of your baggage allowance. However, it must be packed in a recognized ski or snowboard bag, and it must be within 190 cm (75 in) in length. If you’re flying with hand baggage only, or your ticket includes one bag only, you will need to pay extra to take your ski equipment. Check the JAL website for full details.
All Nippon Airways ANA
According to the official ANA website, skis and snowboards fit under the ‘sports equipment’ banner for ANA flights. They can be checked in as your free baggage allowance if they fit between 158 cm (62 in) to 292 cm (115 in), and the weight is under 45 kg.
Skis and snowboards must be packed in a recognized bag, and is subject to a sports equipment fee. You can visit the AirAsia website and input your departure and arrival destinations to get a quote.
Jetstar considers any bag or item with a single side longer than one meter (39 in) as ‘oversized,’ which means most ski equipment is considered oversized baggage handling fee. Domestic and international flights with Jetstar Japan (GK) charge ¥2,000 for oversized baggage handling. You can add this fee during your ticket purchasing. You can find all the info on oversized baggage on the website.
Shipping snow gear within Japan
If you want to bring your equipment to Japan, there are a few options beyond lugging it around yourself. The country’s delivery services—takuhaibin (宅配便), also known as takkyubin—is an easy and cost-effective way to send your equipment nationwide. There are two leading takuhaibin service providers: Yamato Transport and Sagawa Express (Sagawa Kyubin). Read more about luggage delivery service options in Tokyo.
If you’re spending a few days in Tokyo before heading off to the slopes, and don’t want the hassle of dealing with transporting and storing all your equipment, you have options. You can get your gear picked up from your city location or the airport and get it delivered to your snow destination in time for your arrival.
The Yamato website has plenty of information in English, and a page dedicated to those wanting to book their services for the ski season. You’ll find detailed quote information on the site, but just for context, a large pair of skis or snowboard costs ¥1,610 for delivery between Tokyo and Nagano Prefecture (home of Hakuba). If you want to send your gear to Niseko in Hokkaido, the same pair of skis or board will cost ¥2,050.
Japan Post also offers a similar service, but the prices aren’t any lower than Yamato, plus more of their services will be in Japanese. However, it’s still handy to know if, by any chance, Yamato isn’t available. You can find quotes for their shipping prices on the website.