The trip of your dreams is finally here! Japan has opened its borders and you are seizing the moment and booking a trip to one of the snowiest places in the world. Whether you’re heading to the famous Niseko, Hokkaido, or traveling to Nagano prefecture to venture into the Japanese Alps, one thing is promised and that is… Japow! Exciting, yes but also overwhelming as this is likely going to be more snow than you’ve ever experienced before. So what do you need to get prepared? As a seasoned Japow rider, here is my Ultimate Japow Packing Guide to get you ready to shred.
Japan being one of the snowiest ski destinations in the world is snowy, windy, and cold 24/7. Don’t skip out on your thermal layers, these will keep you toasty and out on the mountain all day.
- Makes sure to bring 3-4 pairs of ski socks it gets cold and wet so you’ll want extras.
- 2-3 pairs of thermals are a must! You’ll be wearing these on and off the mountain so bring some good pairs. We suggest merino wool as it insulates well, is lightweight and dries quickly.
- Fleece layers and/or a down mid-layer to keep you warm on those deep days.
- Balaclava/Ski buffs are needed for all those face shots you’re going to take out in the Japow!
- 1-2 glove liners! Japan is cold and always snowy, so glove liners will make a big difference
Waterproof, waterproof, waterproof. All that snow sometimes melts and getting wet on the mountain means getting cold. Make sure to pack some good-quality, waterproof outer layers.
- A waterproof ski jacket with a powder skirt (you can thank me later for this one) and snow pants.
- A good pair of warm waterproof Gloves and Mitts.
- A helmet.
- Goggles with LOW VIS (non-polarized) lenses, most days in Japan are snowy meaning you often do not have good visibility, so pack the low vis lenses and expect to wear them most of the time. Even if it looks sunny, pop them in your backpack–the weather changes quickly and unexpectedly.
Evening & Casual Wear
Though I’d describe the evening wear in Japanese ski towns as “ski gear chic” you may opt to bring a few nicer/more casual clothing for dinners or going out. That being said you want to make sure you’re still dressing warmly and comfortably.
- Though most places in Niseko don’t have strict dress codes, if you plan to go fancy one evening it’s a good idea to bring one “nice” outfit. Winter boots and coats are still totally fine.
- If you do plan to go out and you don’t want to go for the ski bibs & a cute top look, then you should bring 1-2 casual outfits. They can be cute as long as they’re warm.
- There are some great Yoga teachers in Niseko and classes to take on a rest day. So packing some yoga clothing (pants/leggings & tops) is a good idea.
Ski & Snowboard Gear
Japan is famous for Japow and that’s what you’ll get. Every day is a pow day so while many skis and boards will be fun in Niseko all you need is a pair of Powder Skis or Powder Snowboard. If you don’t have your own, there are plenty of great rental options.
- Powder Skis and/or Snowboard. The only exception here is if you plan to go touring in the backcountry. In which case you should bring a touring setup (split board, skins, snowshoes, touring skis, etc.)
- If you ski then don’t forget your poles and bring adjustable poles with powder baskets if possible.
- Ski or Snowboard boots.
All that Japowpow, unfortunately, does not come without risks. To mitigate these risks bring or rent safety gear and know how to use it. While many places may not enforce avalanche gear in the backcountry, it’s always worth bringing.
- Backcountry Backpack with your beacon (3 antennae), shovel, and probe
- Rope–on those deep days you never know. While avalanches are a risk there are also holes and tree wells to look out for!
- A whistle–having a whistle means getting attention. Japan is snowy and without good visibility on most days, a whistle can seriously help you draw attention in an emergency.
Extras and Tips
- Hand and feet warmers make a difference! Bring some with you for extra warmth on those cold days.
- If you are going outside of peak snow season then the weather is a little more unpredictable and all-mountain skis or snowboards may be a good idea.
- If you plan on visiting onsens you should pack a towel or rent one from the facility for approx 200 yen. Onsens are generally equipped with soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, etc. so you do not need to bring your own!
- Japan is still a very cash-based society, so bringing some yen in cash is a good idea.
- Japanese ski towns have many ski stores and everything you will need, so don’t panic if you forget anything!
Thanks for reading. This list is of course non-exhaustive. We suggest you pack everything we recommend but if you feel like you need more and you have a baggage allowance, we say you do you! If you’re considering a trip to Japan check out our Far Out Ski trip to Niseko, Hokkaido. Book with us to travel to Niseko like a local. Not yet convinced? Read our blog on why group travel is the best. We hope to shred some Japow with you soon!