1. Hoshino Resort Tomamu
    Photo: Hoshino Resort TomamuHoshino Resort Tomamu
  2. Niseko Hanazono Resort
    Photo: Niseko Hanazono ResortNiseko Hanazono Resort
  3. Niseko Hanazono Resort
    Photo: Niseko Hanazono Resort

6 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

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

Aside from exploring the outdoors, many of these destinations offer special activities like zip-lining, relaxing in a gondola-shaped sauna, fishing, and even picnicking in fields with grazing 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, Hokkaido
Photo: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, Hokkaido

In the warmer months, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu opens up its 100-hectare farm to the public 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, kick back in a hammock out in a picturesque field, or nap on a 30m-long bed made out of grass. 

If you’re looking for something more active, the resort offers plenty of water sports including rafting, canoeing and stand up paddleboarding in its surrounding rivers and lakes – it’s a great way to beat the summer heat. If you’d rather stay on land, try canyoneering, horseback riding or just rent a mountain bike and cycle around Tomamu. 

Make sure you visit the Unkai Terrace which features seven observation decks that overlook an ethereal sea of clouds high up in the mountains.

Niseko Hanazono Resort, Hokkaido
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), which includes a private lesson on river fishing from a local expert. Adventure seekers should take to the sea on an ocean fishing tour with a local professional fisherman (¥60,000 for three people), or sea kayaking (adults ¥13,200, six-to-twelve-year-olds ¥11,000, three-to-five-year-olds ¥4,400) along the coastline of the Sea of Japan.

Activities on shore include a short horseback riding tour (¥5,500 per person) into the forest, or you can rent a bike (from ¥3,500, children from ¥1,500) if you want a more flexible itinerary. The tree trekking (adults ¥4,500, children ¥3,800) 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, Fukushima
Photo: Spring Valley Mountain Park

Spring Valley Mountain Park, Fukushima

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

A lift will take you to the top of the mountain (round-trip ¥1,000 for adults, ¥600 for children) where you can see a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean in the morning, and spend the afternoon zip-lining in the forest (from ¥2,600). If you’ve got kids in tow, head to the attraction area (¥1,500, accompanying adults ¥500; Opens Jul 16) equipped with around 20 different activities for children including obstacle courses, a mini bouldering wall, a trampoline, badminton, table tennis and much more.

Hakuba Happo-One Resort, Nagano
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 coast, 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. 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 Ski Resort, Nagano
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, plus 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 including a one-way gondola ticket; ¥500 to just rent a bike), take a gondola to the top of the mountain and ride back down. There are different trails for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced riders, so make sure you check which course you’ll be taking before speeding downhill.

Fujimi Panorama Resort, Nagano
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 for something more extreme, try paragliding, which only costs ¥7,400 for a half-day lesson. 

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