As soon as the weather starts cooling, snow fever starts taking Japan by storm! Many folks living near the slopes will likely own their own skis and other gear, however, if you’re coming from a city—or visiting from abroad—you’ll likely be traveling light and renting. Fortunately, Japan has a very straightforward rental system as we’ll outline below.
What can I rent and what should I bring?
You can rent practically anything at ski resorts—from goggles to gloves. Generally, if you don’t have your own winter wear, it’s practical to wear warm clothes (especially warm socks) and dress in layers. Also, keep in mind that accessory rental (i.e. gloves, hat and goggles) will vary from resort to resort, with some places offering these in their rental bundle and others not. Generally speaking, you’ll be safest if you bring your own gloves, cap and goggles – and purchasing these in advance can save you a bit of money.
Most resorts will offer some kind of bundle package, usually a “wear and gear” set which includes skis (snowboard), poles, boots, jacket, gloves, goggles and snow pants. If you are bringing your own equipment but will want to rent clothing suitable for snow, you’ll likely have that option available as well. Also, you will have the opportunity to rent a helmet if you feel so inclined.
Will they have my size?
This is a common question especially for tourists from abroad. Generally, available equipment will depend largely on to what extent the resort caters specifically to foreign visitors. Generally, ski boot sizes from 22cm-34cm will likely be available.
If you are skiing in Japan with kids, practically all resorts offer a variety of equipment and gear rental options.
Upgrades and budget
Equipment upgrades often will be available as well for a small additional fee. Also, something to consider: if you intend to stay at a resort for a weekend or longer, you can often save a bit of money by renting equipment for that period instead of at a daily rate.
Rental prices, of course, vary by resort, but a full wear+ gear bundle may cost around ￥8,000 for a full day, with 2-day rental around ￥13,000. (Renting gear only – ski or snowboard – will likely be around \2,000-3,500 less.)
What you need to rent
When you approach the rentals desk, either there’ll be a place for rental applications or the staff will provide you with one. Filling out the application is generally not particularly challenging, however you will need to write a local address (e.g. hotel) and provide some kind of ID (e.g. passport). Also, you’ll want loose ￥100 coins for lockers – more on that below.
What to do next
After you’ve rented your gear, make sure to check the boot size by trying them on straight away! If they feel too tight around the toes or if your toes feel cramped, have them changed to the next size up. If you’re wearing thicker socks, it’s generally better to choose a size slightly larger than your usual shoe size. Also, if you’re renting skis or a snowboard, take a photo of the ID number with your phone: when stacking equipment on the racks outside, sometimes people mistakenly take similar-looking ones!
Next, it’s off to the changing room! Get changed, and place your clothes and luggage safely in a paid locker. Dressing rooms are usually available at the ski rental section, ski centers, or near parking lots.
Skiing and snowboarding in Japan is a unique experience that combines the fun of winter sports with savoring traditional hot spring culture. With the basics covered, check out our other guides on the topic!
Copy: Chiho Kuriyama. Editing by Pamela Drobig and Timothy Sullivan.
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