FAQs | Japan Ski Experience
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JAPAN FAQs

When is peak ski season?

As with most ski resorts in the Western Hemisphere, your top powder period is generally going to be from late December through to mid February, though it can vary season-to-season. Prices of accommodations in Japan tend to increase dramatically over the peak holiday periods (Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year) and so if you are flexible and can avoid them, then we generally recommend doing so.  Lower season dates (late February & March) can offer some incredible deals on accommodation and resort services.

I want to visit an onsen while in Japan. What are the rules?

Visiting an onsen or Japanese hot spring while in Japan is a wonderful thing to experience, especially in winter.  There are however very specific rules which must be followed when visiting an onsen.  For tips, etiquette and rules, see Japan Onsen Rules.

What kind of amenities will my accommodation have?

Most Japan ski resort accommodations will provide towels and linens for guest' use.  Many Japanese-style hotels or ryokans with in-house onsens (hot spring baths) will also provide guests with a yutaka (bath robe) and slippers.  Some self-contained accommodations such as chalets, townhouses and apartments will also usually provide things like shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, dish soap, and garbage bags.  Some may also provide coffee & tea as well.  Please note that specific amenities vary by accommodation so please get in touch with us to confirm.

Will my accommodation have free Wi-Fi?

The majority of Japan ski resort accommodations, including self-contained chalets and apartments, as well as hotels and lodges, will offer complimentary Wi-Fi.  

Should I purchase travel insurance?

It is a condition of booking with Japan Ski Experience that every customer has adequate travel insurance cover. Japan Ski Experience strongly advises you to take out a travel insurance policy which provides adequate cover in the event that you have to cancel your booking, and in the event that your booking has to be cancelled or changed as a result of force majeure. In the case of bookings for ski lessons, guiding, snowmobiling etc. it is your responsibility to ensure that your travel insurance policy provides adequate cover for the activity you will engage in.

What kind of accommodation can I book?

The popular international Japan ski resorts such as Niseko, Hakuba, Furano and Kiroro have all different kinds of accommodation to suit every style and budget.  Niseko and Hakuba especially have such a wide range of options you can really find exactly what you're looking for, from boutique hotels, to large modern apartment-condos, to Canadia-style lodges, to luxurious 6 bedroom chalets with private onsen bath and everything in between.  

If you are specifically after a more Japanese style accommodation, then you will have more options of that type in Hakuba ski resort than you will in Niseko.  Hakuba has several traditional style Japanese-owned Ryokans with tatami flooring and shared onsens or ofuro baths.  

But don't worry if the choice is overwhelming.  Our experienced teams are waiting to help you find your perfect Japan ski accommodation. 

Is a Japan Rail (JR) pass worth it?

Japan Rail passes are a wonderful way to see Japan and can offer big savings for those planning to do a lot of travelling in Japan over a short period of time.  That said, most people visiting the ski resorts will be spending the majority of their time in resort, and as such, rail passes would not offer any savings.  

If you are planning to tack on a week+ or so of additional travel on either side of your Japan ski trip, then it may be worth considering.  Please note that Japan Rail passes must be purchased in advance of arrival and need to be activated at any Japan Rail service centre before use.  More information is available here.

Can I use my mobile phone in Japan?

Yes, most international network providers these days will enable your phone to function in Japan.  International roaming rates can be pricey though, so if you plan to use your phone a lot outside of your hotel, chalet or apartment (where Wi-Fi is almost always available and free), we recommend purchasing a SIM card that will provide a certain number of days unlimited use (varying plans and costs), though are usually quite affordable.  Most major airports including Narita and Haneda will have Kisosk offering these services.  You can also purchase prior to arrival and pick up the SIM when you land.

Do I need an International Driver's Permit?

Yes, you do. If you are planning to hire a vehicle while in Japan, OR if the Japan ski accommodation you will be staying at includes a complimentary vehicle, then all driver's will need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention in advance of arrival, as well as bring their home country license.  IDP's can easily be obtained by filling out an online form and costs about $50. 

Please note that some car rental companies have a minimum age limit of 25-30 yrs old) so ensure you check this out before you book.

Will I get by without any Japanese?

The short answer is yes, you will. 

Niseko ski resort especially is considered an international ski resort, with English being spoken in most businesses including restaurants and cafes, hotels and concierge personnel, and other retail shop owners. In Hakuba resort you will be able to get by easily without any Japanese, as all locals and business owners are used to dealing in English to their international visitors.

In the larger urban areas such as Tokyo, English signage is found in most transit centres, including airports such as Sapporo New Chitose, Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita, Japan Rail stations, Shinkansen (bullet train) stations, and on all major highways. There are also English-speaking agents at most service counters in larger transit areas as well, who will be able to provide assistance.

If you would like to learn some basic Japanese in advance, check out our Essential Japanese for Travel guide.

Can I use my credit card in Japan?

Japan has historically been a cash society, though that is slowly changing. These days many restaurants and shops will accept leading credit cards (VISA, Amex, MasterCard) though it is recommended that you carry a sum of cash with you as well as some of the smaller businesses will not be able to accept cards.

Most convenience stores have ATM's where foreign cards can be used to withdraw cash, though they typically have set hours and you may not be able to withdraw cash after a certain time at night.

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