Volcanic Hokkaido is Japan's most northerly and second biggest island. It's a hive of activity with a climate of mild summers and cold, snowy winters. Most years, the island sees more snow than anywhere else on earth – the annual average is around 15 metres, which would bury 3 double decker buses on top of each other... Of its many resorts, Niseko reigns supreme with English-speaking ski schools and a huge range of terrain and activities on and off the hill. You'll also find a host of smaller, quieter resorts like Furano and Sahoro – brilliant for a quieter week on the white stuff, or as bases for a round tour of the best Hokkaido resorts.
Japan's main island, Honshu, and its 'Japanese Alps' aren't far behind Hokkaido in the snow department. The Hakuba resorts here are by far the most popular, with many having hosted events for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Within around 4 hours drive of Tokyo, there are nine ski resorts in the Hakuba Valley - including the biggest, Happo One, the linked Goryu and Hakuba 47, family friendly Iwatake and freeriders' favourite Cortina.
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