Skiing in Japan in March

Andy Knights

March is often overlooked for ski holidays to Japan, with skiers and snowboarders drawn to the huge snowfall totals of January and February, but I think it's actually one of the best times to visit.

To make the most of your trip, especially if it's your first time in Japan, I recommend you ski one of Niseko, Nozawa Onsen, Furano or Hakuba and end with a visit to Tokyo for a 'powsational' ski and city holiday. You'll get the full experience including volcanic views, relaxing onsen, captivating culture and famous cuisine - as well as amazing skiing of course!

Here's what you can expect...


January and February deliver almost daily powder in Japan, but this does mean that visibility can be low and at times daunting, especially for those who want to improve their powder skills or off-piste. We've had customers ski for two weeks in Niseko in February and never catch sight of Mt Yotei, the spectacular volcano that overlooks the resort.

In March you can have the best of both worlds. In Niseko, the first week averages 5.5 days of snowfall, week two 4.6 days, and weeks three and four average 4.3. That's still a considerable amount, but you're far more likely to enjoy the deep powder with some crystal-clear bluebird days added to the mix as well.

March is also when the snowpack is at its deepest - Niseko averaged a whopping 15 metres of snowfall at mid-mountain the past two winters and close to 20 metres at the top - so even when the snow isn't falling, the slopes stay in great condition and have an ideal base for the snowier days.

To put all this into context, on a visit to Niseko & Rusutsu in late March 2017, I enjoyed two sensational powder days out of four. Days that I'll remember forever and that finally showed me why everyone was raving about skiing in Japan.

Because most people choose to visit in January and February, by March the mountains are far quieter, with a higher percentage of beginners on the slopes. That means no lift queues once you're out of the base area and far more powder to go around. I've been able to find untracked runs in the trees days after the last snowfall.


March is considered low season by the hotels in Japanese resorts so you'll find incredibly good value at this time of year. Availability is not an issue and it's a great opportunity to enjoy a longer stay and fully explore the ski areas.

Our customers who travelled to Japan in March 2023 saved an average of £179pp when compared to those who travelled in January and February. Plus, if you travel to Niseko, you can save on your skiing by buying a late-season lift pass - in 2023, you could save £133 on a 10-day lift pass if you skied after 20 March.

Grand Hirafu Gondola with Yotei in the Background © Niseko Promotion Board
Looking down towards the Hirafu base area with Yotei in the background on a clear day © Niseko Promotion Board


No visit to Japan is complete unless you fully immerse yourselves in the world of traditional Japanese onsen. This is hot tubbing on another level entirely and very much part of the Japanese culture.

Most of the hotels we offer in Japan have these on-site and there are many public onsens in and around the resorts too. There is simply no better way to soothe aching muscles and joints after a powder and sunshine-filled day on the mountain.

Niseko Onsen © Niseko Village
Niseko Onsen © Niseko Village

It's worth noting that you're expected to bathe 'au natural' (onsen are separate for men and women). You soon get used to it, but we can advise on where to find private onsen if you prefer.


I am often asked what to expect from the food and drink in Japan and, while traditional Japanese fare can be found in abundance, it's not all sushi, katsu and ramen. In Niseko, the most Westernised resort in Japan, you'll find everything from burgers and pizza to fine dining tasting menus. In Nozawa Onsen, I highly recommend the Japanese Breakfast at Hardings Café in Kawamotoya, a fantastic place to stay serving some of the best Western & Japanese breakfasts imaginable.

Richard in Harding's cafe in Kawamotoya
Richard enjoying a pre-skiing breakfast Harding's cafe in Kawamotoya

As far as more traditional dishes go (especially in Tokyo), less-Western restaurants tend to have pictures of the food - or even plastic versions, see below! - so you can always point at something you like the look of to overcome the language barrier. In Hakuba, there’s a wide range of bars and restaurants in Happo, which has a slightly more modern and Western feel than Nozawa Onsen. The restaurants do get busy, so we recommend making a few reservations which you can do through your accommodation before your stay.

My top tip for trying something new is to visit an izakaya - a bit like a cross between a pub and a tapas bar. Enjoy a few local beers whilst snacking on plates of yakitori and karaage, seated on tatami mats around low tables, a civilised way to après! There are a few dotted around Niseko - keep an eye out for the red lanterns outside.

Ski Safari Team at an izakaya in Niseko
The Ski Safari team at an izakaya in Niseko

Talking of après, there are many options in all of the resorts but one to mention would be the six-litre beer towers at Hanazono EDGE! After a day of hard skiing and riding nothing beats a six-litre refreshment!

Traditional Japanese dishes, beer towers and vending machines
Traditional Japanese dishes, beer towers and vending machines

If you like a vending machine, you will be in your element in Japan. In nearly every hotel and on most street corners you'll find machines selling hot and cold coffee in a can, pot noodles, ramen bowls, beer and Japanese items too weird and wonderful to decipher.


Japan has some first-rate traditional and modern accommodation options and these are my top picks for March 2024. 4* The Green Leaf in Niseko Village remains top of the list and has by far my favourite onsen and the best in-village vending machine... now empty after my most recent visit. If you prefer to self-cater or want to be in the heart of the action in Niseko, the well-equipped apartments at the 4* Yama Shizen range from studios to three-bedroom penthouses.

The Green Leaf Ski-in Ski-out © Niseko Village
The Green Leaf is about as ski-in ski-out as you can get © Niseko Village

We have also added a range of hotels new to our programme including the recent award-winning 5* Setsu Niseko (Best New Ski Hotel 2023 at the World Ski Awards), the spectacular ski-in ski-out 4*+ Fenix Furano5* The Vale Rusutsu with its unbeatable apartment views, the 4*+ Kawamotoya in Nozawa Onsen for the pure comfort and delicious breakfast, and last but not least the ultra-cool 5* The Happo in Hakuba.

City & Culture

Travelling to Japan also provides the opportunity to experience city culture, and there is nowhere better than a 24-hour stopover in Tokyo. Whilst Tokyo is one of the world's largest cities, most of the things you see on TV or have read about can be experienced within 24 hours. It's best to add a night at the end of your trip for the best chance of good weather, and even a chance to see the famous cherry blossom bloom if you visit in late March!

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo © Jezael Melgoza
The famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo © Jezael Melgoza

I highly recommend a stay in the Shinjuku District where within a three to four-hour walk you can experience Shinjuku Central Park, Golden Gai (incredibly tiny backstreet bars), Shibuya Crossing and Takeshita Street, very much Japan’s version of Carnaby Street selling the latest in cat print socks and t-shirts and other essential items.

Richard and Andy E in Tokyo
Richard and Andy E in Tokyo on the first day of their trip in March 2023

As part of this walk, you also get to experience many of the stunning parks and city forests with their monuments including the Meiji Shrine, where you will see more than 200 traditional sake barrels, donated to the shrine by famous breweries in a sacred offering to Emperor Meiji.

I did this myself back in March 2017, December 2022 & March 2023 and absolutely loved the pace of Tokyo. Find out more in our Tokyo in 24 Hours blog.

How Much?

Our March Japan prices start from £2,165pp and include 10 nights in Niseko plus return flights and transfers and you can add extra nights in Tokyo from as little as £120pp.

See our Japan ski offers for a range of accommodation and date options.

For more information or to book, request a quotation online or call 01273 224060. All of our holidays are tailor-made to create your perfect itinerary.

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