Snow Trip Japan Tips

Snow Trip Japan Tips

Tips & advice for skiers & boarders heading to Japan.
Download Snow Explorers app
Skiing in Japan can be a blissful experience, but navigating the travelling part can be daunting for fist timers. Here are some tips & advice to get the most out of a snow trip to Japan.

When to Ski in Japan

Outside of holidays and weekends, Ski resorts can feel almost deserted letting keen skiers & boarders lap up run after run. During the Japanese holidays and weekends however, get ready for massive lines to the gondola and huge queues (always orderly) for that lunch-time ramen. If you can plan your trip around the school holidays from late Dec to early Jan, skiing in Japan can be a blissfully meditative experience.

Ski TA-Q-BIN (Black Cat KuraNeko)

The Ski TA-Q-BIN is a life changer. Essentially a luggage service which transports your ski & snowboard gear to your ski resort where it will be waiting for you when you check in. On the return journey, your hotel or pension can also arrange for your gear to be picked up and transported to the airport. You need about 2-3 days for transit time, which suits a few days of sightseeing. Yamamoto Transport has counters at the major airports (Look for the black cat symbol) with English speaking staff that can help you out. 

Shinkansens and trains require luggage to be stored above head and only the last rows on each carriage have space behind the back seats for luggage (if you don’t recline). Don’t be the guys clogging up the Shinkansen aisle with ski bags or lugging gear around Shinjuku station. Use Ski TA-Q-Bin and you will be breezing in and out of trains like a ninja.

Snow Shuttles

Snow shuttles are a great option for getting to ski resorts from the airport if you can’t wait to go skiing. They are direct bus services that will take you and your gear direct to the ski resort. You wont need to think about getting on and off trains and buses, and all your gear travels with you. There are even snow shuttles between resorts if you are thinking of hitting up a few places in your trip. The best place to check for availability is on the resort’s access web page.

Buying Snow Gear in Japan

Being a nation that loves the snow sports most shops in Japan stock a wide range of gear. Don’t expect the price to be cheaper however unless you can make it there during the sales. Check out our articles on Snow Shopping in Tokyo & Snow Shopping in Hokkaido for more details.


There are over 50 thousand Lawson, 7 Eleven, Daily Yamazaki and Seicomarts in Japan. These convenience stores aren’t like the ones back home. 

Firsty, they sell a vast range of items ranging from bentos, beer & whiskey to usb chargers, underwear and more. It’s interesting just cruising the aisles to see what Japan has. Bear in mind that you can often find items for cheaper at grocery shops, alcohol stores or discount shops.

Secondly, konbini food is really good and you can easily make a meal of a few items. Pick up some onigiris - rice snacks covered in crispy seaweed with various fillings, ampan mans - Chinese steamed buns with a meat filling or bentos of all kinds. The cashier will ask if you want your food heated. Our definite favourite is the Spicy FamiChiki and Lawson fried chicken.


The Family Mart FamiChiki

Thirdly, the alcohol section is a sight to behold with beers, chu-his, highballs and sake in all sizes on offer. 

Get to know the classification system for Chu-His. 

Zero - means zero calories.

Strong - means high alcohol content.

Double - double the flavour.

Giga (limited edition) - more flavour like a warhead

Premium - using the best ingredients.

A large Strong Zero is naturally a great way to start the night.

Larger konbinis also provide travellers with a place to eat (eating while walking is frowned upon in Japan), free WIFI and recharge stations.

Nomi Ho Dai - Drink Option

Lots of izakayas, buffets and yakiniku restaurants in Japan have the option for ‘Nomi Ho Dai’ which means ‘All You Can Drink’. Basically you are given a time limit to imbibe as many drinks as you want from a menu. Super fun option for parties with your crew, but can get messy especially when followed by karaoke. Drink responsibly and try not to get グデングデン!

Don Quijote

In the cities, you will come across Don Quijote stores. The multi level discount department stores are a must visit. Donkis are a loud, animated labyrinth of products ranging from skin care, food, drinks to toys. The beer and chu-his and snacks here are amongst the cheapest you will find anywhere.


The costume section is always a hoot. 


Daisos are 100 yen shops selling almost anything you can imagine which are located in all cities. This is where you can pick up some essentials for the snow trip cheaply. 

Some items we found useful are: 

Laundry powder and hangers for drying out snow gear.

Toys to keep kids entertained while travelling.

Sake cups and beer glasses.

Hand warmers and heat packs.

Mobile Internet 

Even though there are free WIFI hotspots at kombinis and hotels, in practise having to sign in to them is a real drag. Mobile internet in Japan is quick and makes travelling so much easier. It works great in the city and on ski resorts. You have the option of getting individual sim cards or renting a pocket wifi hotspot to be shared between a couple of devices. There are options for full sim cards with calls and Internet only travel sims which cost less. Price aint cheap, but well worth it.

Google Translate

The wonders of technology. The Google Translate app has an AR function which can translate Japanese text on the fly. Works great on menus and train station signs. You can also type in what you want to say and have it translated when having a conversation with someone.

Booking Restaurants

Popular restaurants & izakayas can get packed quickly and its recommended that you make a booking beforehand. Your hotel receptionists and concierge can help you out with reservations.

Resesh Yourself

You may see these Resesh sprasy at yakiniku & hotpot restaurants and wonder what they are. You are meant to spray your own clothes with it to eliminate the smell of BBQ or smoke from your yakiniku BBQ or hot pot sessions. They also get rid of germs and bacteria, so you can prolong the time between washing.

Stroller Rentals

Some department stores and bigger train stations have strollers which you can borrow to transport sleepy toddlers and babies. They are limited and first come first serve. Just bear in mind, they are not meant to be kept overnight or used outside.

The Hokkaido Universal Tourism Center in JR Sapporo station has strollers which you can rent for a fee. 

Related Stories

February 28 24
Gear for deep powder riding in Japan.
April 9 24
Bring your snorkel to these mountains which are known to dump hard.
March 6 24
Discover the best places to buy ski and snowboard gear in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Find everything you need for your winter missions.
March 19 24
Part 1 of a solo journey through Hokkaido where I ski Hakodate Nanae, check out the Asaichi morning markets & eat a dancing seafood bowl.
March 25 24
A list of ski & snowboard shops where you can update your gear for your snow trip.
February 28 24
A guide for those just starting out on the Japanese slopes. Intermediates can skip ahead.
February 28 24
A guide to this Hokkaido specialty, how to eat it and locations of the best soup curry restaurants on the ski fields and in the cities of Hokkaido.
February 28 24
Tips & advice for skiers & boarders heading to Japan.
August 28 23
2020 / 2021 season Burton Hokkaido road trip part 2
August 28 23
Japanese Brews for your Snow Trip
February 28 24
For Families With Little Skiers & Boarders.
August 28 23
Snowsurfing's past and present through the eyes of Shinzo Tanuma - creator of MOSS Snowstick.
August 28 23
S20 / S21 Riders from Vector Glide in Hokkaido
August 28 23
Find out about Taro Tamai and his creation Gentemstick.
October 5 23
2020 / 2021 season Burton Hokkaido road trip part 1
February 26 24
Some of the best places to try Hokkaido's local specialty ramen!
August 28 23
The Supernatural is unique to Rusutsu.
August 28 23
Watch the Konishi Family shred Seki together.