Home to the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano is a skier’s dream. Nagano’s incredible slopes are only a short train and bus ride from Tokyo, making it an ideal location for international travelers.

Nagano is home to great ski trails for every skill level of skier or snowboarder, from first-timers to practiced athletes.

You can also find some amazing resorts here that offer far more than just access to the slopes and a place to stay. These world-class resorts offer a variety of dining options and many have onsen (hot spring baths) on site.

Besides skiing and snowboarding, resorts in Nagano offer a great starting point for exploring all this incredible area has to offer. Here are eight of the best Nagano Ski Resorts!

Japan Winter Festival Calendar 2020-2021.

1. Hakuba Valley Ski Resorts

Happo-one ski resort of Hakuba Valley. Photo Credit: Hakuba Happo-one Snow Resort.

Located at the northern end of the Japanese Alps, about two-and-a-half hours from Tokyo, Hakuba Valley receives an average annual snowfall of 11 meters.

The resort extends about 30 kilometers and there are 10 unique resorts contained within it, each with its own character.

The spectacular beauty of the mountains loom over you and makes for an epic backdrop to your adventures. There is a lot of backcountry skiing opportunities as well as some great terrain for all skill levels.

After you’re done hitting the slopes, you can soak in hot springs and enjoy some excellent food from many different kinds of restaurants. There are also rentals available at their ski shops located throughout the resort.

Hakuba Valley is very crowded in peak season. It’s also very spread out, so expect to spend a lot of time in shuttles. A single lift ticket will cover all of the smaller resorts in Hakuba Valley.

The quality you get here is great value for your money, and the main resort, Happo One, is really great for families.

Explore its top ski resorts now and find out why Hakuba valley is considered one of the best areas in Japan to ski in winter.

2. Shiga Kogen Ski Resort

Ski lifts, Shiga Kogen Mountain Resort. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The excellent intermediate slopes at Shiga Kogen Ski Resort are among the best in Japan. The ski trails offer some great opportunities for all levels, though very advanced skill levels may get bored sooner rather than later.

This is a very Japanese resort, which means it has limited nightlife and you can expect not to hear all that much English.

There are, however, English group ski lessons available here, which is not common. Most of the shops and restaurants are part of the “villages”, and there are not very many.

Most of these villages are quite spread out. If you’re looking to explore the area, this is the closest resort to the famous Japanese snow monkeys.

Shiga Kogen offers a resort experience that is decidedly Japanese, with plenty of great trails, while still being manageable for non-Japanese speakers.

Here ski season lasts from the middle of November to the end of May. Check out the access info.

3. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Ski slope at Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

When someone thinks of skiing in Nagano, they should plan a trip to Nozawa Onsen, one of the top ski areas in Nagano Prefecture.

This hot spring and ski resort is a charming village resort that immerses you in its unique atmosphere. There are many hot springs to be found here and steam rises up everywhere as you wander the cobblestone streets.

Nozawa Onsen is a cultural experience, big enough to explore for a week of vacation. While not the most impressive Nagano ski resort for serious athletes, it offers a few in-bounds and side-country areas with fairly steep terrain, a rare find in Japan. Besides, here you can also experience a fire festival!

There are group lessons in English, as well as child care and a children’s snow play area, making it a great place for families to visit.

Keep in mind that the accommodations are very traditionally Japanese, so it’s a bit more sparse and less private than most western accommodation. Expect to be eating only Japanese food for the duration of your stay, as well.

If you would like to enjoy a trip to Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, be sure to book early as it has become quite popular!

4. Sugadaira Kogen Snow Resort

Photo Credit: Sugadaira Kogen Tourism Association.

An excellent resort for beginner skiers and snowboarders, Suadaira Kogen offers all the basics and more. There are several different lodgings available and many dining facilities, as well as an on-slope restaurant.

There are no English group lessons here, so some familiarity with Japanese would be good for anyone hoping to learn the skiing and snowboarding basics here.

The resort has three main areas, so expect to spend some time on the shuttle if you want to enjoy the resort to its fullest.

5. Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort

Photo Credit: PRINCE HOTELS, INC.

Located about an hour from Tokyo, this resort makes use of advanced snow-making techniques to make sure it opens every year. The view of Mount Asama, an active volcano is impressive from the resort.

The resort has some very good beginner and intermediate trails, as well as a terrain park for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Every year, the ski season begins from November.

Besides the slopes, there is plenty of food and shopping options as well as lodging available at the resort. The resort is relatively compact compared to many others, which means that you won’t be spending too much time on shuttles, but may mean that you could run out of activities on resort grounds during your stay.

Stay at Karuizawa Prince Hotel West and enjoy a memorable ski trip. In addition, at Karuizawa Price Shopping Plaza, visitors can enjoy Tax-free shopping and enjoy delicious foods at the restaurants.

6. Myoko Kogen Ski Resort

Photo Credit: Myoko Kogen Facebook Page.

Here you can find one of the largest ski areas in Japan. It is completely coated in snow throughout its winter season.

Any skier or snowboarder of any skill can find the right trail for them with perfect powdery snow. Group lessons in English are available and much of the staff speaks at least some English.

While there are a wide range of restaurants, there is little to do here except hitting the slopes.

The resort appears a bit more run-down than many others, but that does mean it retain a sense of authenticity occasionally missing at other resorts. It also means it is much less crowded than those other resorts.

7. Kita Shinshu Kijimadaira Ski Resort

Photo Credit: Kijimadaira Ski Resort.

This small resort has some very steep terrain, which is unusual in Japan, making it great for more advanced skiers and snowboarders. It is located close to many other resorts, which is a good thing, as it is fairly bare-bones by comparison.

This resort is not ideal for families, but it is a decent choice for those looking for a more serious skiing experience and who are open to going to other resorts.

You can hop on the The Hokuriku Shinkansen from Nagano Station and get off at Iiyama Station (12 minutes ride). From Iiyama station, take a shuttle bus or a taxi to the ski resort.

8. Madarao Kogen Ski Resort

Photo Credit: Madarao Mountain Resort.

This bowl-shaped Japanese ski resort offers trails for many different skill levels, with most of them being suited for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. There are 22 separate courses to be found here and some excellent powder across the whole resort.

There is a lot of accommodation for English-speakers and you can get English ski lessons here, but it does not feel as westernized as many resorts. It is also relatively uncrowded.

Madarao Kogen (Madaro Mountain Resort) is fairly quiet, though there are more and more bars and restaurants to be found as it becomes slowly more popular. Hotel rooms and lift tickets are cheap.

You can always visit the nearby town of Iiyama. There is a snow park, snow tubing, and sledding available for kids. It’s a good, uncrowded choice for families.