The Japan ski season is fast approaching (as if you didn’t know). That means blower powder, ramen noodles, late night karaoke and onsen soaking. Sign. Us. Up.
If you haven’t booked yourself a snow holiday just yet, try further afield this season and enjoy two of the country’s best ski resorts that still boast no crowds, big powder and Japanese culture.
Just don’t tell anyone. Yet.
Shizukuishi – you know you want to
Consistently considered to be one of Japan’s most underrated resorts, the good news is that few are still making the trip over to Shizukuishi. And it’s not proximity that’s the issue – you can get there in just over two hours via bullet train from Tokyo. It’s just that people who love Shizukuishi are really, really good at keeping it to themselves.
What we love about Shizukuishi
The terrain. While it’s not the largest resort, with just 11 runs, there’s still plenty to keep an advanced skier entertained for a few days. Their aerial tram departs every 15 minutes, heading up to the piste; the higher you go, the more challenging the terrain is. There’s even a men’s slopestyle course from the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in the 90s that now offers up almost 5km of vertical to enjoy.
The cheap-as-chips cat skiing. This is set on the old Ladies Downhill Run and, at around AU$80-90 a run, is well worth a turn or two.
The hotel. Prince Hotel Shizukuishi is recently refurbished and ski-in, ski-out, right at the resort’s base. With excellent restaurant options and the stunning, heritage-listed Takakura Onsen to enjoy at the end of the day, get ready to enjoy quintessential Japan.
The kids activities. Little ones will be able to embrace their inner ninja with ninja-inspired activities to keep them entertained.
Ninja tubing, anyone?
Appi Kogen – snow smiles for days
Happy Appi! It may sound catchy, and that’s because it is. It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face at this hidden gem, especially because the name ‘Appi’ means “a place where one can live in peace”. Fly to Tokyo and hop on the bullet train, followed by a local train, to get to Appi Kogen; it’ll take about three and a half hours all up.
What we love about Appi
The quality of the snow. Thanks to the latitude of the resort and its location by the Ou mountain range, you’ll get that Hokkaido-quality powder without having to trek to the north.
The resort style. It’s the most excellent mix of traditional and modern; built in the 1980s, and created by renowned Japanese graphic designer Yusaka Kamekura, it’s colourful and fun without being garish. Expect sky-blue gondolas alongside the 78-metre-high Hotel Appi Grand.
The hotel. it offers up affordable ski-in, ski-out accommodation alongside delicious in-resort dining options.
The runs. Of course. 21 labelled runs and sidecountry access through epic powder, along with some of Japan’s best groomers. The longest run is 5.5km, and expect vertical of 828m. Plus loads of kids facilities, including a children’s play area, beginner area, childcare and more.