A lack of sufficient snow coverage has led to delayed openings for many of Japan’s popular ski resorts. Niseko Grand Hirafu, Kiroro, Rusutsu and Happo-One (Hakuba) are among the resorts that have made official postponement announcements, but with storms now taking hold across the country it appears as though the wait for skiers and snowboarders will not be long.

Resorts in both Hokkaido and Honshu have reported heavy snow early this week, and forecasts are tipping the storms to continue through to Monday. Snow forecasting site Mountainwatch is predicting 42 cm of snowfall in Niseko over the next 7 days, while Ski Asia’s live webcam shows a healthy looking cover of snow at Niseko Hanazono.

Due to an insufficient amount of snow, the scheduled ski area opening date of November 23rd has been postponed.The…

Posted by Rusutsu Resort (Official) on Wednesday, 21 November 2018

While lift operations across the country are mostly on hold, Sapporo Kokusai jumped the gun and opened to the public today, reporting an impressive base of 50 cm. The resort, about an hour’s drive from downtown Sapporo, has historically been one of the first in the country to open for the season.

Japan cloud map, November 22, 2018

Cloud cover on Thursday 22 Nov at 3pm JST. Image: weather-forecast.com

The presence of El Niño conditions for the 2018/19 season have forecasters predicting a slightly warmer than average winter ahead, with average snowfall for Hokkaido and up to 10% less snowfall in Honshu.