We’re in the thick of the winter season now, and Japan is seeing its seasonal influx of tourists keen to take advantage of skiing and snowboarding in the country’s famous powder snow. Although not as renowned for its ski resorts as Hokkaido or Nagano, Kansai does have some beautiful skiing locations that are usually open from around December to March. Here are some of the best ones.
Hachi Kita Kogen
One of the top-rated ski resorts in the Kansai region, Hachi Kita Kogen is located on opposite slopes of Mount Hachibuse in Hyogo Prefecture. Only a short bus ride from Osaka, this resort is popular with skiing enthusiasts as it contains many challenging routes among its 20 kilometers of slopes. As well as its many advanced routes, there are also areas designated for beginners as well as plenty of kids’ activities, including a snow park. It is the largest ski resort in Kansai, and its peaks reach over 1,200 meters.
Cost: Daily passes are 4500 yen for adults and 3500 yen for children.
Another popular destination, Biwako Valley is a small but attractive resort in Shiga Prefecture and the most accessible option from Kyoto. One of the most appealing things about a trek to this location is the great views you can enjoy of Lake Biwa that is situated at the base of the mountains. The resort itself has 10km of slopes and offers eight routes that range from beginner to advanced, and there are a few forest runs for those who want to ski a tree-lined trail. There is also a ski school that operates throughout the season.
Cost: 3500 yen for adults, 2500 yen for children
At 1250 meters, Oku Ibuki in Shiga Prefecture has the highest peak in Kansai. This might explain why this resort can often get packed out in peak season. As well as featuring some thrillingly steep drops, including the extreme skiers’ favorite the New Challenge, there is plenty on offer for those looking for a more gentle trudge through the snow as well as a snow land and snow park for children. The resort has 12 trails in total, spread across 7 km of slopes.
Cost: 4000 yen for adults, 3000 yen for children
Rokko Snow Park
The most convenient option for those based in Kobe, this snow park on Mount Rokko is popular with families throughout the winter season due to the many children’s facilities and abundance of slopes for those not well traveled on a pair of skis. Kids can try skiing, snowboarding and snow play and there are also advanced courses for the more experienced. If you don’t fancy donning the skis and goggles, you can enjoy the magnificent views of nearby Osaka as well as a range of other on-site facilities, which include a botanical garden and a museum.
Cost: 2100-2600 yen for adults, 1050-1550 yen for children
With peaks reaching 700 meters, the Hakodateyama resort is smaller than some of the other skiing locations in Kansai, but it makes up for this in scenery and variety of activities on offer. Situated in Shiga Prefecture and easily reachable from both Osaka and Kyoto, the resort has slopes for beginners, intermediate and advanced plus a forest and cross-country course. For kids, there’s a theme park with snow rafting, a snow escalator, and a slider.
Cost: 4800 yen for adults, 3500 yen for children