Slow snow season in Japan: so who's got some?

snow action team 30.12.2019

No question, it’s been an unusually slow snow season across Japan. The Japow has been too little, to late, and too intermittent. But things are finally on the up and up most places. The latest snow depth chart from SnowJapan.com (by far the most comprehensive reliable source) shows this top 20. OK, we know, this shows 22, but 3 of them are Niseko United areas and blowing it out allows Nozawa and Appi to make the grade.

Top 20 Japan snow depths as at 30 December 2019
Snow depth top 20 chart as at 30 December from www.snowjapan.com the most reliable source of up to date info

For Nozawa it was zero to relative hero in the last storm – they were not even open until Xmas. Hopefully it keeps coming and soon you will be wanting to check our guide to finding the best fresh lines there from Drew Jolowicz and Shaun Mittwollen.

You can find features on this site for nearly all the resorts making the current top 20 list.

Kurodake is leading the pack with 240cm. Worth the extra effort to head over there then. Check the ropeway is running before you do or it will be a long hike/skin up.

Niseko Grand Hirafu moves up to 2nd, at 200cm – a huge relief for all those dependent on it for their livelihood these days. Don’t expect the slow start to deter visitors, word on the ground is American and Canadian Epic Pass and Ikon Pass holders are showing up already to Rusutsu and Niseko this season. Aaah, globalisation! Anyway, more reason to take our advice for guaranteed First Tracks there and get out with HPG

View to Mt Yotei from Hanazono with HPG
Another slow season early January 3 years ago not too shabby with HPG © Owain Price

At number #3 is last week’s #1 one, and one of our all time favourites, Geto Kogen down in Iwate. It’s also one of the best value powder options on the planet – you can stay in Kitakami city and get the free bus up (about 45 minutes) or Camp 88 on snow back packer right at the base.

Furano is looking a solid bet at #4 with 155cm. If you don’t get pow days at least at Furano you do get leg stretching corduroy to work out on. But the pow is back. Enjoy.

Ani ski resort gondola
Akita is home to some classic still mostly secret areas like Ani © Ani Ski Resort

At #6 is lonely Ani Ski Resort in Akita Prefecture, one of our favourite last great still mostly a secret spots. No #5 is little Akita Hachimantai which is only open on weekends usually – and can be booked privately for midweeks so not a serious contender.

Hakkoda, Kiroro and Tomamu follow – no big surprises there.

Owain Price road testing the high altitude powder at Marunuma Kogen , Kataashina, Gunma
Testing the high altitude Japow at Marunuma Kogen © Alister Buckingham www.skijapan.com

Number 10, and first for snow in central Japan, is Marunuma Kogen in Gunma. Most people won’t have heard of it, but Snow Action readers/followers have – it’s a great mid size area that’s deserted midweek and easily accessed from Tokyo.

Down at 18, or 16 treating Niseko as one entity, Seki leads the way in the Myoko area, another that had a very late start. Seki won’t let you down down there! We have been singing its praises for a while.

Loving the back side of Seki © Snow Action

Anyway, most seasons that start slow/bad usually end better so hope you all get the goods soon. Bookmark the snowjapan.com depth link to keep tabs on Japan conditions.