Gentle slopes and perfectly groomed pistes: Japan is a paradise for beginners.

Japan is widely known as a mecca for powder, attracting some of the world’s best skiers and thrill seekers. However, it’s perhaps underappreciated that Japan is also an excellent ski destination for beginners, offering all the essential ingredients for a successful and enjoyable learning experience.

Typically, Japanese resorts feature immaculately groomed pistes, reliable snow cover, dedicated beginner lifts, and an exceptionally high standard of guest service – all of which contribute massively to the experience of a first-time skier.

Naturally, a select few resorts go the extra mile in accommodating beginners, eight of which we’ve featured below.

Nozawa Onsen ski resort. Image: Nozawa Hospitality

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen is one of Japan’s most popular ski destinations, famous for its photogenic slopes, abundant snowfall and a charming onsen town with 13 public baths. The resort, just over 2 hours from Tokyo, is also known for its extensive beginner terrain, which accounts for more than 40% of the ski area.

A distinguishing feature of Nozawa is that some of its gentlest terrain is found towards the top of the mountain, allowing for long, spacious green runs with sweeping views and exceptional snow quality. This is a gift for beginners who at other resorts are often confined to short bunny slopes at the bottom of the hill.

Naturally, there are plenty more options for beginners at each of Nozawa’s three base areas, particularly the Hikage area, which can be accessed via a travelator from the village. The Nozawa Ski School, located here, offers English-language tuition through a team of professional international instructors. Other popular winter activities include snowshoeing and snow monkey tours.

Where to Stay

Nozawa Hospitality is Nozawa’s premier accommodation provider, offering a range of hotels, ryokan, villas and self-contained houses to suit all tastes and budgets.

Stylishly renovated in 2022, Kawamotoya features several self-contained luxury apartments including a 200m² penthouse suite with four double bedrooms and panoramic views of Mt. Kenashi and the Chikuma Valley. Premium shared facilities include a fully-equipped gym, a rooftop BBQ deck, “kashikiri” private soaking baths and a theatre room. Less than 200 m away, the View Hotel Shimataya features a more traditional aesthetic with both Japanese and western bedding arrangements on offer, plus an onsen with stunning, unobstructed views of the village and surrounding mountains.

Another of Nozawa Hospitality’s flagship properties, Address Nozawa is located in the heart of Nozawa village, surrounded by restaurants, bars and onsen. This condominium-style hotel features several spacious, self-contained studios, a naturally sourced onsen bath and a reading lounge – all within a few hundred metres of the slopes.


Blessed with some of the lightest, driest snow in Hokkaido, Furano is widely regarded as one of Japan’s best beginner and intermediate resorts thanks to its pristinely kempt pistes, which have earned a reputation as the best in the country.

The resort is divided into two distinct sections, the Furano and Kitanomine zones, both of which feature magic carpets (free to use) and designated beginners’ areas. Furano’s 11 green runs are spread evenly across the two zones, and make up 40% of the terrain on offer.

Young families are particularly well catered for at Furano, with a range of activities to keep even the smallest members of the tribe entertained, including banana boat rides and snow rafting. Best of all, though, kids 12 and under ski for free as part of Furano’s Kids Free Programme.

Furano ski resort, Hokkaido

Where to stay

Furano’s main ski village is found directly behind the Kitanomine base area and is separated from downtown Furano by the Sorachi River. The ski resort is owned and operated by Prince Hotels, who have opened branches at both Kitanomine and Furano base areas.

Plenty more options for accommodation exist in the Kitanomine village area including Nisade’s slopeside Fenix Furano and newer Fenix West hotels, both of which offer a range of luxury suites and self-contained apartments, plus on-site dining and rental options.

Kamui Ski Links

Kamui Ski Links, an hour’s drive from Furano, is smaller than its neighbour but equally enjoyable as a beginner resort. With just 6 lifts and 25 trails, 9 of which are green, the ski area is easy to navigate as much of the beginner terrain is concentrated on one side of the Kamui Gondola.

The resort’s longest run is a 4,000 m green that spans the length of the gondola, allowing beginners to access the full 601 m of vertical on offer. Kamui’s summit (751 m) provides views of the Ishikari Plain and river, which for beginners who are often confined to base areas, is no doubt a luxury. Kamui’s mountain-top cafe, Trattoria Pizzeria Monte 751, is a pleasant spot from which to take in the scenery.

Kamui Ski Links

At ¥3,800 (USD$26) per day (and just ¥1,800 for children 12 and under), lift passes are cheap even by Japanese standards. Four hour and single-ride tickets are also available.

Where to stay

Kamui is not a destination resort. Skiers generally make the 20 km commute from Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second largest city after Sapporo. This allows beginners a degree of flexibility in the event of tricky weather conditions.

Asahikawa is home to a huge number of hotels, restaurants, bars and all the entertainment options you’d expect from a city of 300,000+ residents. A popular pick for skiers is Hoshino Resorts’ OMO7 Asahikawa, which provides free shuttle access to Kamui Ski Links (via Santa Present Park) and Pippu Ski Resort.

OMO7’s rooms range from small studios and family-themed rooms to its 150m² Imperial Suite. The hotel also features several restaurants including its own OMO cafe-bar, plus hot spring, sauna and salon facilities.

Niseko Village

Image: Niseko Village

Niseko Village

Niseko Village is one of four resorts that make up Niseko United, which ranks as Japan’s most popular combined ski area. Niseko’s expansive slopes provide something for everyone, but the pick of the beginner terrain is perhaps found at Niseko Village, located 6 km south of the more heavily-trafficked Grand Hirafu ski area.

The resort’s Niseko Gondola ascends 2,660 m up Mt. Niseko-Annupuri, providing access to Niseko’s longest uninterrupted beginner run – a thigh-burner that meanders its way to the bottom of the hill via several interlinked greens. The Village Express chair is a more conservative option for beginners, allowing access to some of the resort’s gentlest terrain including the popular Shaky Knees and Ageimo slopes.

Thanks to Niseko’s prominent international customer base, its multi-language ski schools are some of the best in the country. Niseko Village Snow School employs a team of internationally certified multi-lingual instructors, who cater to skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities.

Where to stay

Niseko Village is home to some of Niseko’s best known brand-name hotels including Hilton Niseko Village, the Green Leaf Hotel and Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

The Green Leaf, just metres from the Upper Village Gondola, is one of Niseko’s best value ski-in ski-out hotels, with a range of deluxe king and twin rooms to suit mid-range budgets. The hotel’s outdoor onsen (or rotenburo) is another drawcard, featuring large, natural boulders, a thatched wall and several overhanging trees.

Green Leaf Niseko accommodation

Image: The Green Leaf Niseko Village

PalCall Tsumagoi

PalCall Tsumagoi is one of the lesser known resorts on this list, but a change of ownership in 2019 has seen its stock rise dramatically. The resort, just a 2 hour commute from Tokyo, is fast developing a reputation as a paradise for beginners, with 23 of its 24 slopes rated green (beginner) or red (intermediate).

PalCall won’t appeal to everyone. Despite a relatively high elevation (1,370 – 2,100 m), the resort is not known for its powder. Instead, PalCall has commited to providing perfectly groomed pistes for skiers who favour corduroy over fresh snow, e.g.., beginners.

PalCall’s typically sunny weather is another factor that will appeal to first-time skiers. The chance of clear skies during winter months stands at an impressive 80%, meaning low visibility – a considerable obstacle for most people, let alone beginners – is a rarity.

Palcall kids

Where to stay

The Palcall Tsumagoi Resort Hotel is the best option for anyone wanting the destination resort experience. This is one-stop-shop facility containing all the necessary components for a family holiday including restaurants, squash courts, ski hire, childcare and ski schools. The hotel is also connected to the gondola, allowing for an easy transition onto the slopes in the morning – as early as 6:30am when the resort offers its unique “Sunrise Gondola” tour.

Resort owners Active Life Group have several ongoing promotions including a “Kids Stay for Free” special offer.


Naeba Ski Resort is one of several Yuzawa-based ski areas, all within close reach of Tokyo via Echigo Yuzawa on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line. Naeba is linked with Kagura Ski Resort via Japan’s longest gondola to form Mt. Naeba, an ultra-modern multi-zone resort offering a combined 45 runs, 34 lifts and an impressive top elevation of 1,845 m.

80% of Mt. Naeba’s combined ski area is groomed. However, the Naeba side of the resort is particularly renowned for the quality of its pisted terrain, while Kagura sees more powder. Naeba’s beginner slopes are concentrated towards the base of the mountain, accessed via a series of high-speed quad and pair lifts.

Mt. Naeba’s owners have marketed it as an “entertainment resort”, which is particularly true of the options for kids’ entertainment, which include the Waku-Waku Family Snowland, an indoor skiing facility, plus a range of activities including snowmobile rides, snow rafting and snow tubing.

Where to stay

Naeba is one of several Japanese ski resorts operated by Prince Hotels, a hotel chain with than 40 properties throughout Japan. Naturally, the best option for slopeside accommodation is the Naeba Prince Hotel, a moderately priced 1200-room mega-complex, featuring 23 restaurants and a huge range of facilities including two hot spring baths.

Other options exist within a short walk of the gondola including Hotel Chyo, one of Yuzuwa’s best-rated properties, which features Japanese and western-style rooms, a set menu breakfast and dinner, equipment rental options and an indoor onsen bath.

Tsugaike Kogen ski lift opening

Tsugaike Kogen

Tsugaike Kogen is found at the snowier northern end of Hakuba – a name almost synonymous with skiing in Japan. Tsugaike is popular as a powder destination thanks to its tree skiing and and backcountry terrain, but its real strength is as a beginners’ training ground.

At 350 m in width, Tsugaike’s treeless lower level caters almost exclusively to beginners, with an endless succession of comfortably wide, mellow green runs. More options exist further up the mountain, too, including a long, meandering forest track that spans the length of Tsugaike’s Eve gondola. This, while rated green, is narrow in parts and requires a decent command of the basics.

Where to stay

Tsugaike is ripe with options for slopeside accommodation both in front of and alongside the resort. UNPLAN Village Hakuba runs two budget-friendly hotels in the village, the second of which looks directly onto Tsugaike’s Karamatsu slope. Both properties feature several communal areas and facilities including a kitchen, living and lobby areas, and shared baths.

Hamon, recently named as one of our favourite ski-in ski-out hotels in Japan, is a cozy lodge on the edge of Tsugaike that features male and female onsen-style baths, an art gallery and souvenir shop, and a stylish Japanese restaurant-bar that looks directly onto the slopes.

Iwappara Ski Resort

Iwappara is another Yuzawa-based ski resort, this one less than 5 km from Echigo-Yuzawa Station on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line. The resort is a easy day trip option from Tokyo thanks to its ultra-convenient location.

Like plenty of the resorts on this list, Iwappara is popular for its wide slopes, gentle gradients, an international ski school and a variety of kids’ parks. Green runs dominate the resort’s trail map, and beginners should be able to negotiate much of the terrain on offer.

Iwappara’s Central Yuzawa location means it’s also a good base from which to explore other resorts in the Yuzawa region including Gala Yuzawa, just 6 km away.

Image: Hotel Sierra Resort Yuzawa

Where to stay

Sierra Resort Yuzawa Hotel offers convenient ski-in ski-out access to Iwappara Ski Resort, plus a free shuttle service to and from the station – a 15 minute commute. The hotel’s 100% naturally sourced indoor/outdoor onsen features stunning views of the surrounding landscape, plus its mineral rich water is said to relieve a whole host of symptoms including muscle and joint pain – ideal for skiers nursing sore limbs.


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