Japan's 7 Best Spring Ski Locations
Japan gets so much snow that some of its biggest resorts offer skiing and snowboarding into the second week of May—and there's even one resort that goes into July! Spring skiing may not offer the best snow conditions, but lift tickets are often cheaper, the skies tend to be clear, and there's nothing quite like hitting the hill in your T-shirt!
7. Grandeco (Fukushima)
The ski season at Grandeco typically starts in late November and runs until the national Golden Week holiday in the first week of May. This is an upscale resort with a focus on families and apres-ski hot springs, but it's a good choice for late-season carving, and offers a solid snowboard park. Check SnowJapan's daily snow report before heading out!
6. Charmant Hiuchi (Niigata)
Charmant Hiuchi Snow Resort prides itself on a long snow season. Located in the Myoko area of Niigata, it's a little further out than the more popular haunts in Naeba and Kagura, but the snow here lasts well into the second week of May! May 10 is the usual last day of snow season; check SnowJapan's daily snow report to stay up-to-date.
5. Hakuba (Nagano)
The Hakuba Valley is one of Nagano's—and Japan's—premier snow destinations. Thanks to the area's high peaks and heavy snowfall, come spring, most of the resorts remain open until the end of Golden Week in early May. If you want to ski even longer, though, Hakuba Goryu and Hakuba Happo-One are usually open for business even into the second week, running lifts up to May 10. And if you really want to hit that spring snow hard, you can try helicopter skiing at Tsugaike Kogen!
You can check SnowJapan's Hakuba Now snow report for conditions before heading out. Links to the individual resorts can be found there as well.
4. Asahidake (Hokkaido)
At a height of 2,290 meters (7,516 ft), Mount Asahidake is the tallest mountain in Hokkaido, and stays white even as cherry blossoms bloom below in early May. It's served exclusively by the Asahidake Ropeway, and with only two courses linked by a horizontal connector, this is predominantly a popular destination for indulging in backcountry adventures. Ski season usually lasts until May 10.
3. Okutadami Maruyama (Niigata)
Located in Uonuma City in northeastern Niigata, Okutadami Maruyama gets so much snow that it actually can't open for most of the ski season! It closes from mid-January to mid-March most years, after which the snow becomes manageable enough that the resort can stay open until the second week of May.
2. Kagura (Niigata)
Kagura is part of the huge Mount Naeba ski area, known throughout the season for having superior snow. While the rest of Mount Naeba, as well as nearby Gala Yuzawa, tend to be open into the first week of May—not bad in themselves—Kagura's Mitsumata side is typically open all the way until the end of May! Check the video above, which was taken on May 19!
1. Gassan (Yamagata)
Just when most ski resorts are shutting down, Gassan gets started. Gassan gets so much snow that it's only accessible starting in early April each year, and it typically stays open until July! There's not much of a resort here—it's just four courses and three lifts, the largest of them a pair—but Gassan is mostly about backcountry and sidecountry, and most people climb up above the lift to hit the best spring snow.
Mount Gassan has long been worshiped as part of the Dewa Sanzan, or Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa, where Dewa was the old name for Akita and Yamagata Prefectures. If you're looking for the last snow of the season, this is it!