Skiing in Japan: experience in a unique cultural context

Why should I ski on the other side of the world, in Japan? Italy and Europe are dotted with historic and renowned ski resorts: from Scandinavia to Italy the tradition for alpine sports is really strong.

The uniqueness of Japan: the nature of the snow

The practice of winter sports in Japan is a trend that has been rapidly increasing in the last decade. How do you explain it to us? First of all, the variations of skis that deviate from the traditional descent are increasingly popular: freeride ski is an example; the Asian country is truly the world capital for freeride given the extraordinary nature of the snow here! The quality of the snow is the best in the world due to the sea-effect snow, for which the cloudy systems of Siberia collude with the humid winds present on the Japanese islands causing constant and abundant snowfalls all year round, without stopping! Thanks to its position, Japan annually records between 8 and 15 meters of annual snow, despite the mountain morphology which does not exceed 2300 meters of altitude.

The uniqueness of Japan: the preserved culture

In addition to the unique quality of the snow cover, the uniqueness that stimulates a visit to the land of the rising sun is the extraordinary nature of the local culture, so far from the West that, without any problem, it can be combined with your favorite winter sport. The visit to places of cultural interest does not at all exclude the practice of skiing due to the morphological conformation of the country: the ski facilities are located at very low altitudes compared to European standards (already at 400m there are ski lifts) and often very close to coasts such as in the Kyushu and Hokkaido regions. Living the millenary Japanese culture mixed with skiing is possible thanks to the nature of the tourist reception activities which are often family-run. In them it is possible to immerse yourself in the authenticity of the Japanese tradition, both through the proverbial welcoming nature and through the food, which has now come to international prominence for more than twenty years; nothing better than to taste traditional sushi, or even better to warm up after skiing with a hot plate of ramen and immerse yourself in an onsen, the traditional natural hot water pools! After World War II, the new middle class created during the economic boom focused on the construction of ski, lifts, and reception facilities, sensing the potential deriving from the unique nature of the mountain environment, covering three-quarters of the mountainous territory in a capillary way. . The work of man has created a perfect union with the aforementioned nature of the mountainous landscape, totally different from any other in the world, and with the growing practice of Freeride: all the most exciting videos are shot in Hokkaido and today Freeride is synonymous with Japan! [post freeride video in Japan] Skiing in Japan is possible in many areas, all including the main islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.

Skiing in Japan: the Island of Hokkaido

On the island of Hokkaido, snow falls regularly and thanks to the temperatures it takes on a powdery consistency that makes off-piste a dream for enthusiasts. Niseko, in the northern part of the island, is the most famous destination for skiing and constantly included among the best places in the world to ski, it is often crowded. At the same time, its 50km extension offers slopes for all levels and therefore an ideal destination for families as well. Skiing in Japan: snow in Hokkaido On the same northern island, Mount Teine in Sapporo has been a reference point for winter sports for decades: in 1972 it was the first non-EU / North American location to host the Winter Olympics. Ideal for a day in the snow, deviating from the classic visit to Sapporo, it takes 40 minutes by train to reach the ski resort and then enjoy an unparalleled experience: skiing at a maximum altitude of 1023m with a breathtaking view of the Ocean! More centered on the territory of the island is Furano, where the snowfall volume is lower (about 9 meters per year), the snow is light and soft, and there are many more sunny days and blue skies. The peculiarity of Furano is its offer of on average more difficult slopes and therefore a popular destination for most experts who can spend up to two weeks here testing their skills on the numerous routes. An experience that totally goes beyond the classic is ski mountaineering to the summit of Yotei Volcano, of 1898m which dominates the scenery of the island of Hokkaido, which requires up to 8 hours of effort. The crater, 700m deep, is the destination that only experienced, trained, and well-equipped participants will be able to reach.

Skiing in Japan: Honshu Island

On the island of Honshu, the main one of Japan, where the main cities of the country such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka stand out, there are many totally different ski resorts with enthusiasts who flock more and more from all over the world. Nagano, west of Tokyo and quickly reachable by train from the capital itself, is the urban center of reference for ski resorts such as Hakuba and Shiga Kogen. The center of Nagano had its first international limelight in 1998 by hosting the Winter Olympics, which was followed by an ever-increasing attractiveness for tourism, not only local. North of Nagano, the Hakuba Valley boasts the best snow (11 meters per year of powdery snow for over 200 slopes extending for 30km) in Japan as well as breathtaking views, which combined with a very lively après ski nightlife, make it one of the best destinations. Being the largest ski area in the country, Shiga Kogen has an enormous value for winter sports experiences: 80km of slopes, accessible with a single ski pass and for seven months a year! From here it is possible to differentiate the experiences and take a leap into ancient Japanese traditions: going to Shibu Onsen, a spa with millenary palaces, and to Yudanaka Onsen, also a spa surrounded by mountains, from which you can reach a specific onsen where the snow monkeys they go down to the valley to warm up in the boiling pools: a unique experience in the world! 

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