As we approach this year’s #ToTheMountains guided ski trip to Central Hokkaido, the Ski.com community is reaching out with a litany of questions. Which resort has the best powder skiing? Where is the best après ski? And where are the best onsens?
However, one of the most frequently asked questions about skiing in Japan concerns lift tickets. How much are they? Which resorts are included on what pass? And the most predictable, how do I get the best bang for my buck?
In Japan, lift tickets are quite different. For one, window rates are much cheaper than the United States and many Japanese ski areas typically operate on a points system instead of solely half day or full day options. The result is a flexible RFID lift ticket that allows skiers and riders unparalleled access to the slopes.
Here’s what you need to know…
Point, Day, or Night Passes?
At Hokkaido’s most popular ski area, Niseko United, skiers are afforded a myriad of pass options. Full days, multi-day, half days, and night skiing are all on the table. But what’s most interesting for the budget skier is the points system that exist at many popular resorts (Niseko, Rusutsu and Nozawa Onsen).
While points hold different values at different ski areas, the basic idea is this: each time you ride a lift, points are taken off your pass.
At Niseko United, a gondola ride costs 4 points; each high-speed lift, 2 points; and every other lift, 1 point.
This system allows backcountry skiers to plan their day ahead of time and use lifts to eliminate an otherwise massive approach. For resort skiers just wanting to take a few runs each day, the savings over the course of a ski trip can be incredible.
Niseko United Pricing:
- 1 day – 5,600 Yen
- 12 Point Pass – 4,800 Yen
- 1 Point – 450 Yen
Ikon & Epic Access?
Both the Epic Pass and Ikon Pass have cemented their positions within the Japanese ski market and this year, both are offering unprecedented skiing & snowboarding access to The Land of the Rising Sun.
Epic Pass: Hakuba Valley, Rusutsu
5 days at all participating resorts
When it comes to skiing on Japan’s main island, the Epic Pass currently reigns supreme with access to 10 ski areas that make up the Hakuba Valley (Hakuba47, Hakuba Cortina, Able Hakuba Goryu, Happo-One, Iwatake, Norikura Onsen, Jiigatake, Kashimayari, Tsugaike Kogen). In Hokkaido, Epic Pass holders can visit one of the better powder, tree skiing meccas in the world at Rusutsu.
Pretty sure this lift @Rusutsu is permanently closed | Photo: Ski.com
Ikon Pass: Niseko United (Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, Annupuri, Hanazono
7 days at all participating resorts
The Ikon Pass sports a lively partnership with the largest ski area in all of Hokkaido, Niseko United. The resort, which consists of 4 interconnected base areas, is a go-to for Powderhounds from around the world and for good reason. The Resort sees upwards of 550+ inches during a short season that lasts from December through March.
Booking with Ski.com?
Whenever booking a ski trip to an exotic destination such as Japan, call one of our Mountain Travel Experts to get the inside line on everything from logistics to airfare, and lodging to lift tickets. Chances are there’s a Ski.com deal that will save you money on your Japanese powder trip.
All that deep powder ain’t gonna shred itself!