David T, Author at The Whiteroom
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At last! Japan Receives the Heavy Snowfall it has Been Waiting For

As the time of writing it is just over three weeks since my last article which sadly had to be heavy on the theme of ‘lack of snow’ over the first part of the winter season here in Japan. Unfortunately, that general trend continued for a few more weeks (and sadly is continuing in some regions). The Chinese New Year holidays are increasingly a time when people from Asia are visiting Japan to come and celebrate their holidays. Many choose a ski holiday or a chance to just visit snowy areas so that they can ‘play in the snow’. This year, the Chinese New Year celebrations generally were from 25th January onwards. Of course, that was just about when the…

The season so far in Japan

Last time round I was very hopeful that the snow taps would have been turned on from Christmas onwards and over New Year. Unfortunately, it pains me to say that those taps have yet to be turned on properly and when thinking about what to write about this time round, there was only ever one topic this time round. But before I continue, it is important to say upfront that there is good to be had - I have so far enjoyed quite a few days in some excellent quality snow. While many lower ski resorts are indeed struggling, snow cover is generally not a problem in higher areas even as they have less snow than usual. A few (admittedly…

A slow start to the season in Japan

I have been holding off on posting this article for a week or so in the hope that I might be able to bring the exciting news about typical Japan-style heavy snowfall across the country, but unfortunately it is looking like we are going to have to wait a little longer for that to happen. It has been a slow start to the snow season here in Japan. There have been short bursts of snowfall over the last few weeks, but there has also been prolonged periods of milder weather and rain meaning that in many regions any snow on the ground has been wiped about before any kind of base got established. Parts of the northern island of Hokkaido…

Not long to go now!

It is always an interesting and exciting time of the year. While some areas of Japan are in various stages of enjoying spectacular autumn foliage across the mountains, others are experiencing the first blizzard of the winter season. Over the last week or so many parts of the northern island of Hokkaido and some northern parts of the main island of Honshu have enjoyed the first snowfalls of the season down to base level. And as of today, Monday 18th November, there has been over 30cm of snow in Hirafu village recorded at the base of Niseko. Excellent! November 23rd November 23rd is Labour Thanksgiving Day in Japan and it is a national holiday (either on that day or the…

Spotlight on Japan

Spotlight on Japan The Rugby World Cup is the first of two major global sporting events that are being hosted by Japan over the next 12 months, the other one of course being the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The idea of holding the Olympics during the heat and humidity of late July and early August is certainly questionable but I have no doubt that, intense heat aside, the host country will put on a good show and visitors (and viewers) will get another positive impression of Japan. As a Japan long-timer I may well be somewhat biased, but it’s hard to imagine that people could visit Japan and not be charmed by the country in various ways. Current coverage of the…

Increasing signs of investment

Increasing signs of development… During the previously discussed ‘ski boom’ in the late 80s Japan there were some mind-bogglingly ambitious ski resort developments happening in the country, though some of the wilder ones were put to a halt by the economy slowing down in the early 1990’s. While snowboarding came to the rescue and kept numbers somewhat steady, generally the next decade or so saw an increasing amount of ski hill and ski lift closures around the country and news of the total numbers of people enjoying winter sports continuing to decline. Incredibly, at the peak of the boom there were over 700 individual ski hills throughout Japan. In 2019 that number now stands at around 500. So after a…

Changing Eras

2019: Changing Eras In my previous article I mentioned the changing of ‘era’ here in Japan as well as snowfall being in rather short supply from the middle of February and wondering just how long the ski season would last. Now that the season has pretty much ended in all but a few ski hills in Japan, it’s interesting to look back and see how the last part of the season panned out. And it was kind of odd in some places… but in a good way. The last part of March and into early April ended up giving us a run of unseasonably cold conditions and there was even some unexpected decent snowfall in early April. It always feels…

Who turned the tap off?

This is how I ended my last piece as we were approaching the middle of February: “Once we get towards the end of February various signs of early spring start to appear, even in the mountainous regions. I always try to ignore them at first but come March it gets more difficult to, and people start talking about spring skiing. More on that next time. Here’s to the second part of the Japan winter season!” Soon after that was written, the fresh snow supply to Japan dried up. At first, we all believed that it was going to be a short-term blip - just some of those early signs of spring that I mentioned last time. Surely, we’d be getting…

A very snowy January

A very snowy January January is, of course, peak season and it turned out to really deliver in many regions of Japan. How does almost 6.5 metres of recorded snowfall at the base of ski resorts in Myoko (Niigata Prefecture) sound – in just one month - with over 11m in total for the season so far by the end of January? Proper full-on snowfall, with close to a metre of snow falling on some days and imposing three metre plus snow walls building up on the roadsides. Certain mountains on the main island of Honshu are really good at the crazy snowfall thing. Photo: Myoko snow wall Hokkaido often provides excellent quality and consistency rather than the huge numbers.…

December finally delivers

Last month I ended by saying that by the time I was posting my next article we would hopefully be playing in some seriously deep snow here in Japan. As I write this on 28th December, I am happy to report that many of the mountains throughout Japan are getting dumped on with some serious snow being reported. For example, since yesterday, an impressive 80cm of snow has been reported at the base of the ski resorts in Myoko (Niigata), with around 50cm in other areas of Niigata and part of northern Japan. This is easily the strongest cold front of the season and it looks set to last at least a few days. Nice. Until now though, for most…

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