Getting to Hokkaido for a Japow trip｜Access information for the 2023-24 season, and top news from the resorts
Japow, that beautiful Japanese powder, has become famous among skiers and boarders around the world. Ground zero for Japow is Hokkaido. An incredible snowfall, tree riding through beautiful forests, spectacular natural scenery, the traditional Japanese feeling in the onsen (hot springs), and the warm local hospitality. To really enjoy a ski holiday, Hokkaido offers a true snow paradise.
The first step in making your vacation come true is getting information on access to Hokkaido’s snow resorts. We’re also going to cover some of the hot topics for the resorts this season.
Access Hokkaido｜Your arrival in Japan, and heading to Hokkaido
Hokkaido is the northernmost island of Japan. From Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports—the port of entry for most travelers—flights take about one hour 35 minutes to one hour 50 minutes to arrive at Hokkaido’s Chitose, Asahikawa or Tokachi Obihiro airports, the gateways to the snow resorts. Every day, seven airlines—Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air Do, Skymark, Peach, Jetstar and Spring—fly from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, with a number of flights from 6am to 9pm. You can also travel all along the main island, Honshu, and on to Hokkaido by train, car or ferry.
Traveling by air
After arrival at Narita or Haneda, transfer to a domestic flight. ANA, Jetstar, Peach and Spring airlines operate from Narita to New Chitose Airport, with flight time about one hour 50 minutes. From December 15, 2023, Jetstar begins operating flights from Narita to Asahikawa Airport. Flights from Haneda to New Chitose Airport take about one hour, 25 minutes, and are operated by ANA, JAL, Air Do and Skymark airlines.
Traveling by ferry
Two ferries daily travel from Oarai Port in Ibaraki Prefecture to Tomakomai West Port in Hokkaido, one in the evening and one late at night. While the trip takes about 18 hours, it’s a relaxing and enjoyable way to head for Hokkaido. Packages are available which include the ferry fare as well as express bus service from Tokyo to Oarai Port, and from Tomakomai West Port to Sapporo.
Traveling by Hokkaido Shinkansen train
To go to Hokkaido by rail, take the Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station (about a four-hour trip); transfer to an express train on the Hokuto Line for Sapporo Station (also about four hours). From 2030, the Hokkaido Shinkansen is scheduled to be extended from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station to Sapporo Station, so the entire trip from Tokyo Station to Sapporo Station can be made on one train.
Arriving in Hokkaido, and traveling to the resorts
Resorts in the Sapporo and Niseko/Rusutsu area are served from New Chitose Airport, the closest to Sapporo City. Asahikawa Airport in northeast Hokkaido serves resorts in the central part of the prefecture, while Tokachi Obihiro Airport is more convenient for resorts in eastern Hokkaido. If you know which resort you will be going to, it’s most convenient to use the nearest airport. Click here for information on access the resorts from the nearest airport.
|Time required by car
|New Chitose Airport
|Kiroro Snow World
|Niseko Hanazono Resort
|Niseko Tokyu Grand HIRAFU
|Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU
|SAHORO SKI RESORT
|KAMUI SKI LINKS
|Furano Ski Resort
|SAHORO SKI RESORT
|Tokachi Obihiro Airport
|Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU
|SAHORO SKI RESORT
Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city and world-famous for its Snow Festival, can be accessed from New Chitose Airport by train in about 40 minutes, or about one hour by bus. Sapporo Kokusai Resort and Sapporo Teine ski area are both about one hour from downtown Sapporo. There are few ski resort areas in the world where the city and mountains are so close, and where you can enjoy skiing and city sightseeing in the same day.
Hokkaido Winter Season 2023-24 Hot Topics
Hokkaido is even easier to visit for international guests, and it’s more attractive than ever before. Here are some of the highlights of the coming season.
Point 1: A low yen makes luxury stays affordable
The yen has been low against many international currencies since the spring of 2022 (the December 14, 2023 rate was ¥141.5/US$1) making Japan more attractive to those coming from overseas—and Hokkaido is ready with many great deals. To put this in perspective, prior to the pandemic the rate was about ¥110/US$1—meaning it’s now 30 percent cheaper. Enjoy Hokkaido’s luxury hotels and famous onsen resorts at a very reasonable price!
Point 2: Extremely affordable lift tickets
Compared to ski resorts around the world, lift tickets in Japan are a bargain. A one-day ticket for Christmas Day in Vail, Colorado, is around $295, and $198 at Whistler/Blackcomb, Canada. By comparison, a one-day ticket at Rusutsu, is ¥11,500, or about US$81 at current conversion rates. The Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective pass can be used at Niseko United, and the Epic Pass at Rusutsu, so pass holders can bring them from their home country and enjoy even greater value at the resorts.
Point 3: Facilities with a stronger sense of hospitality
As the impact of the pandemic fades, increasingly attractive facilities and services are returning to Hokkaido resorts. Today’s Hokkaido is a place where you can enjoy the world’s finest powder skiing, a luxurious and comfortable stay, gourmet cuisine featuring the freshest ingredients from the ocean and the mountains, and fun snow activities apart from skiing—all the unique charms of Hokkaido. Facilities and services that continue to evolve and improve, but always with Japan’s unique style of hospitality.
Ride, Stay, Play, Gourmet, Relax: all part of the fun of a resort stay
Niseko Tokyu Grand Hirafu’s night skiing and park are back!
For the first time in four years, the Hirafu Gondola will be operating for night skiing. The night skiing here is one of the most expansive in all of Japan. Enjoy the unmatched Niseko snow with every magical slide under the lights. The freeride park area, with a variety of attractions, also returns this year.
Great value with Rusutsu’s 25-Hour Ticket Plus 5
Popular among international guests for its huge scale and beautiful tree runs, has this winter introduced a very convenient time pass, which can be used in hourly increments, or even over multiple days. This is ideal, for example, if you only want to ski in good weather, or if you want to get the first powder in the morning after a big snowfall. Purchase in advance and receive an extra five hours of skiing!
Debut of the Diamond-X brand at Niseko Hanazono
New for the 2023-24 season, Diamond-X is a new, top-of-the-line brand created for those seeking a truly superior time at Hanazono. The wide range of services include rentals exclusively for Park Hyatt Niseko guests, lessons, activities including non-skiing fun such as cat tours and private snowshoe tours, and more.
Club Med Kiroro Grand
Following the Club Med Kiroro Peak, which opened last year, the new Club Med Kiroro Grand opens in December 2023. In the Club Med tradition, this is an all-inclusive stay, with lodging, meals, activities, kids programs and more all part of one price—perfect for families. After enjoying the deep powder and the vast off-piste zone, relax in the natural hot spring open-air bath, the sauna and heated pool. The birth of a world-class, luxury resort.
Tap bar now open at Niseko Hanazono’s HANAZONO EDGE
The iconic Hanazono Edge restaurant now features a tap bar. It will also remain open until 7pm, along with the restart of night skiing. Enjoy eight different kinds of beer, including local Niseko beer. Be sure to come in on Saturdays to watch the fireworks.
The ultimate wellness room, for both mind and body, now at Rusutsu Resort
This winter, the Rusutsu Resort Hotel unveils 14 completely remade suite rooms featuring private sauna, barrel sauna, cold and hot baths, oxygen capsule hydrogen machine, massage chairs and more, all provided in the pursuit of ultimate wellness. From a bed designed to provide a comfortable night’s sleep, experience a superior space that sooths both sight and smell through lighting, sounds and scents.