When is the best time of year to visit Madarao, Japan? - Kuma Lodge

When is the best time of year to visit Madarao, Japan?

Japan is now the number one destination for Aussies and Kiwis to hit the slopes – with hordes of Southern Hemisphere tourists hitting the slopes in January. Many do not realise that Japan has amazing snow conditions from early December through to the end of March.

Planning a Japanese snow holiday outside of the traditional January window can see you scoring bottomless, epic powder, or perfect bluebird days with barely a soul in sight.

madarao japan

Golden light after 1.5m of powder in three days at Madarao – December 2017.

Madarao offers the full spectrum of great conditions. Whether you want deep powder for epic tree runs, fairweather riding or something for everyone – the Kuma team has put together this guide to make choosing the right time of year for your next snow trip a breeze.

So – when is the best time to visit Madarao?


Ever dreamt of a White Christmas?

The Christmas holiday period is not widely celebrated by the mainly Shinto and Buddhist Japanese populations. For us Westerners, Christmas is typically the busiest holiday of the year – so it can be a wonderful time to trade hustle and bustle for a great snow holiday.

At Madarao Mountain Resort, the 2018/19 ski season officially begins on Saturday December 15th. The peak period for all Japanese snow resorts starts from New Year’s Eve through to Australia Day on January 26th which coincides with the end of school holidays for Australia and New Zealand.

The crowds in December at Madarao are virtually non-existent, and the snow is normally very good already. In 2017, Madarao had recorded 3.5m of official snowfall before New Year’s Eve making for a fantastic 2m base and great powder conditions through most of December.

madarao is one of the best japanese snow resorts for tree runs

madarao is a great family friendly japanese ski resort

The Powderhounds crew scored in December – check it out here.

For a special treat – why not do your Christmas shopping in Tokyo? Spend a few days walking the amazing city and find some unique gifts for your loved ones to make it a memorable holiday. If you are lucky, you’ll get to experience snowfall in Tokyo which can make for some stunning sights.

Travelling with friends or a large family? Kuma Lodge is offering one lucky group a 20% discount off the nightly room rates to lock in their 2018 White Christmas. For more information – check out the offer here or contact us.

Who should visit Madarao in December:

  • Anyone looking for uncrowded slopes and great snow.
  • Families wanting a White Christmas experience.
  • Those who want to combine some fun on the slopes with amazing Christmas shopping in Tokyo.


Are you a powder hound? Do you love deep snow?

If yes, then January is a great time to visit Madarao. In January you are pretty much guaranteed between 2-4m of fresh MadaPow making for an epic powder ski holiday. And don’t forget – that is on top of the 2-4m that already falls in December!

Yes – January is peak season for snow tourists so there are a few more people – but Madarao is still flying under the radar so crowds are minimal. Most visitors to Madarao in January are families with kids in ski school, enjoying the beginner and intermediate slopes at the base of the mountain. This leaves the large, steep areas at the top of Madarao and Tangram largely untouched for epic tree skiing and backcountry riding.

For winter sport lovers – you are guaranteed good snow in this part of the world throughout January. You will get to see the village looking very romantic under a layer of white, lots of snow for the kids to experience and a high chance of unforgettable pure powder bliss.

With the reliable snow comes cold temperatures, so plan ahead with warm layers and be prepared. Investing in quality googles is highly recommended to enhance your time on the slopes. Kuma Lodge is located right next to the ski runs, if it gets cold, or your legs are sore from so much powder riding, you can easily nip in and out of the lodge multiple times throughout the day.

Who should visit Madarao in January:

  • Anyone whose priority is scoring deep, untouched snow.
  • Those who are happiest when the snow is bucketing down.


Are you a powder hound? Do you love deep snow?

Ha – no, this isn’t a misprint from January! February is a close second for more of the same consistent snowfall that Madarao is famous for. Madarao had already recorded 6.16m by January 31st 2018 – and on average the last six winters have seen anything from 1.5-3.5m of fresh snow in February, on top of a deep existing base.

Typically the school holidays ending means February sees a huge decrease of young families in Madarao. The lift lines are near empty, especially mid week. It is not uncommon for the Kuma team to ski all day down the runs and straight back onto the next available chairlift.

In February, Madarao village has a real sense of peacefulness. Breath in that fresh mountain air. You will often get the onsen all to yourself to soothe the legs are spending all afternoon waist deep in powder on Madarao’s 13 famous tree runs.

On average February starts to see more bluebird days, a slight increase in temperature and less storm systems rolling through the Alps. It is still cold though – so plan ahead with the right gear and layer up! When the sun pops out you will warm up quickly burning through the trees. You can leave a layer with one of the friendly lifties and collect it later as the sun starts to set.

Who should visit Madarao in February:

  • Those who want a good balance of quality snow and very few people.
  • Anyone who enjoys a mix of powder days and bluebird weather.


Ahhhh, Spring skiing – does it get any nicer? The sun is shining more often than not, the crowds are non-existent, the ski runs are wide open. Everything is still covered under deep snow and you have it to yourself – skiers heaven!

Views this good are almost a daily occurrence in March.

This is not a dream – but rather the everyday reality at Madarao in March. In Spring 2018 we recorded so many videos on our iPhone’s cruising around the mountain with no humans in sight – even on a powder day!

Madarao truly is an undiscovered gem. It has everything you need, and is only two hours from Tokyo, yet somehow all the sheep flock to popular resorts in Niseko or Hakuba. Not you though!

With good choice available for dining options at one of the many excellent eateries within Madarao village, why not go on a small bar wander post dinner and enjoy some jazz or a boutique beer at one of the local drinking holes? In March it is easier to get around at night as the temperatures are milder and less heavy snowfall makes the roads safer to get around on.

With clear roads in March it is easy to explore some of the other world class ski areas like Myoko Kogen and Nozawa Onsen. Ski for the day or just visit and enjoy the hot spring baths and the scenery. You could make a side trip to visit the famous snow monkeys, do a sake tasting or visit a whisky distillery

Bonus: often the airlines are competing to fill seats in March too, so you could nab yourself a cheap flight.

Who should visit Madarao in March:

  • People who like their ski runs completely empty!
  • Those who prefer milder temperatures and blue bird days.
  • Bargain hunters making the most of cheap late season flights and accommodation.

Ready for a super happy snow time?

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