Hoshino Resort Tomamu1/6
Photo: Hoshino Resort TomamuHoshino Resort Tomamu
Hoshino Resort Tomamu2/6
Photo: Hoshino Resort Tomamu
Niseko Hanazono Resort3/6
Photo: Niseko Hanazono ResortNiseko Hanazono Resort
Hilton Niseko Village4/6
Photo: Hilton Niseko VillageHilton Niseko Village
Hoshino Resort Tomamu5/6
Photo: Hoshino Resort TomamuHoshino Resort Tomamu
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort6/6
Photo: Nozawa Onsen Ski ResortNozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Best things to do in the summer at Japan's ski resorts

Ditch the ski jackets – these mountain resorts are perfect for escaping the summer heat, with hiking, zip-lining and more

By Youka Nagase
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Ski villages and resorts around Japan are obviously popular during the winter, but they’re also open during the summer, offering plenty of hikes and family-friendly outdoor activities. The slopes are covered in lush greenery, so you can explore the grounds on foot – no snowboard or skis required.

Aside from exploring the forested mountains, many of these resorts offer special adventures like zip-lining, relaxing in a gondola-shaped sauna, fishing, and even picnicking in fields with free-roaming cows. Best of all, you’ll avoid the worst of the sweltering summer heat high up in the mountains. Here are the best ski resorts and deals in Japan for a summer getaway. 

RECOMMENDED: The best summer destinations in Japan

Resorts

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Photo: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, Hokkaido

In the warmer months, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu opens up its 100-hectare farm to visitors for free, so you can get back to nature surrounded by 700 grazing cows, sheep and goats. After a day of meeting the farm animals and picnicking in the fields, take a break in the farm lounge, where you can relax on couches made from hay, take a nap in a hammock or doze on a 30 metre-long bed made out of grass. 

For an indulgent lunch, visit the on-site café and beer garden, Tsukino, which has an impressive outdoor terrace serving Hokkaido’s delicious grilled corn cobs (from ¥546; starts July 1). The corn comes in seven flavours including the classic shoyu (soy sauce) butter glaze, cheese and butter, pesto, maple cinnamon and more. You’ll also find a range of craft beer (from ¥728) including three of Tomamu’s exclusive flavours, each made by a different Hokkaido brewery. In the evening, you can sip champagne (from ¥1,091) and taste local melons (from ¥364) on the terrace.

And if you’re here in August, don’t miss the stunning view of a sea of clouds at the venue’s new Unkai Terrace observation deck. 

Niseko Hanazono Resort
Niseko Hanazono Resort
Photo: Niseko Hanazono Resort

Niseko Hanazono Resort, Hokkaido

During the warmer months, Niseko Hanazono Resort offers water activities like a three-hour rafting tour (adults ¥5,900, children ¥3,900), which takes you down the Shiribetsu River, or a fishing tour (from ¥13,000 per person), where you can get a private lesson to learn river fishing from a local expert. 

If you’d rather stay on the ground, try a short horseback riding tour (¥5,500 per person) to venture out into the forest, or rent a bike (from ¥3,500) if you want a more flexible itinerary. The new tree trekking (adults ¥1,800, children ¥1,330) area is perfect for adrenaline junkies, with zip-lines and high ropes courses up in the trees.

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Spring Valley Mountain Park
Spring Valley Mountain Park
Photo: Spring Valley Mountain Park

Spring Valley Mountain Park, Fukushima

Spring Valley Mountain Park is a family-friendly outdoor spot just 40 minutes outside Sendai. 

A lift will take you to the top of the mountain (¥1,000 for round-trip) where you can see a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean in the morning, and spend the afternoon zip-lining in the forest (from ¥2,500). If you’ve got kids in tow, head to the attraction area (¥1,500, accompanying adults ¥500) equipped with around 20 different obstacle courses for children. 

For lunch, you can book an outdoor barbecue (from ¥2,700), which comes with a variety of meat and veggies depending on the course you select. The park is open from July 17 to November 3, but is closed between August 23 to September 10.

Hakuba Happo-One Resort
Hakuba Happo-One Resort
Photo: Hakuba Happo-One Resort

Hakuba Happo-One Resort, Nagano

Usagidaira Terrace at Happo-One Resort transforms into a ‘beach’ resort during the summer with a spectacular view of the mountains. The resort is situated 1,400 metres above sea level, so although you’re not at the seaside, you’ll be high up in the clouds overlooking Hakuba city, with Mount Yatsugatake and Mount Asama in the distance. 

There’s an outdoor jacuzzi, a gondola-shaped sauna, and plenty of poolside benches, bean bags and hammocks to relax in while you get your tan going. While the beach lounge is entirely free to enter with a round-trip gondola ticket (¥2,000), the sauna and jacuzzi (¥2,000 per person) must be booked in advance.

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Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen
Photo: Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, Nagano

The green spaces and picnic areas at Uenotaira Highlands have been redesigned into a beautiful summer garden with around 500 species of plants and flowers this year. There’s plenty of space for children to run around and benches where you can relax and enjoy the view of Nozawa Onsen

Several walking courses are offered here which take you through the hillside of Mt Kenashi. There are quick trails under 1km and longer hikes of up to 3.8km, so there’s something to suit every level. 

Adventure seekers can opt to rent a mountain bike (from ¥2,500), take a gondola to the top of the mountain and ride back down. There are different trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders, so make sure you check which course you’ll be taking before speeding downhill.

Fujimi Panorama Resort
Fujimi Panorama Resort
Photo: fb.com/fujimipanorama

Fujimi Panorama Resort, Nagano

Head to Fujimi Panorama Resort for an easy, hour-long trek up Nagano’s Mt Nyukasa. At the top, you’ll find Nyukasa Suzuran Park, filled with seasonal flowers, but the mountain’s observatory, also known as the Lover’s Sanctuary, is not to be missed. It’s a romantic spot that’s popular for dates because you can see a view of the mountainside at an angle that makes it look like a heart. 

If you’d rather see the view without the hike, you can catch a gondola up the mountain, too. Or if you’re looking for something more extreme, try paragliding, which only costs ¥7,400 for a half-day lesson. 

Package deals

Higashiyama Niseko Village
Higashiyama Niseko Village
Photo: Higashiyama Niseko Village Ritz Carlton Reserve

Higashiyama Niseko Village Ritz Carlton Reserve, Hokkaido

Higashiyama Niseko Village is run by luxury hotel chain Ritz Carlton isn’t your usual five-star city-centre accommodation. It’s hidden away in Hokkaido, surrounded by mountains and plenty of greenery. You can spend your summer here getting spa treatments, sitting down for afternoon tea and exploring the private retreat.

This summer, the venue offers seven different packages that start from ¥63,333 per night for two (breakfast included). While the Ladies Retreat package is tempting for the included 60-minute treatment at the hotel spa, the Pure Retreat package gives you access to all 11 of the outdoor attractions including zip-lining and a high ropes course.

Hilton Niseko Village
Hilton Niseko Village
Photo: Hilton Niseko Village

Hilton Niseko Village, Hokkaido

Hilton Niseko Village is offering four package plans for those who like to spend their summer vacation outdoors. All packages come with breakfast and a stay at the resort, which has a spectacular view of the mountains. The Niseko Adventure package (from ¥11,311) includes access to one of the resort’s adventurous activities like river rafting, while the Golf Paradise package (from ¥10,701) gets you a round of golf at one of Niseko’s two nearby golf courses.

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