When to go
There’s usually snow before Christmas, but January and February are the best time for powder lovers, when cold air from Siberia brings frequent, heavy dumps to Hokkaido. The western resorts see 10 metres or more through the season (Niseko averages more like 16m!) and waking to 50cm of fresh is not uncommon. March sees the arrival of warmer, sunnier conditions, perfect for picture-taking while you enjoy what is by then a base of several metres. Weekends bring more locals onto the slopes, while New Year is popular for longer breaks as January 2 and 3 are public holidays. Another key period is the first half of February which brings the Sapporo Snow Festival. This year the city’s Tsudome hosts snow slides and rafting on February 1-12, joined by ice sculpture shows and contests at Odori park and downtown Susukino from February 6-12.