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David T

Japan Launches ‘Go To Travel’…and some Ski Area History

The rainy season ended later than usual this year, leading us into what has been a hot and humid August across most of Japan. In some central regions, temperatures have been nudging above 40C on some days and temperatures above 35C have been commonplace. Heat in August is of course not entirely unexpected, but I don’t think I will ever get used to it! As we approach the end of August it is still hot, but it usually starts to cool off somewhat by mid September. And then we can get to enjoy the comfortable autumn months - one of the highlights of the year, and of course pleasingly scheduled just before the snow arrives. Go To Travel Campaign In…

The Quiet Months in Japan

June and July is traditionally the quietest part of the year for people involved in the ski industry here in Japan. Ski areas that offer summer activities - such as sightseeing lift operations, camping, golf and the like - are currently busy getting on with those activities, while others take some time off while at the same time try to make their plans for the winter. Of course, this year those plans have been hugely complicated by the covid-19 situation which has brought up many unanswered questions and delaying of decisions. Japan seemed to have done well in keeping (official) case numbers lower than many other countries, helped along by a period of many businesses voluntarily closing during May and…

Skiing in June and a look forward

At the time of my last report a few ski areas around Japan were still bravely remaining open in increasingly pressured circumstances. That situation did not last too long as the Japanese government was forced to announce a country-wide ‘state of emergency’. Interestingly, the Japanese government is not actually able to legally declare a ‘lockdown’ like other countries have experienced over the last few months. The Japan state of emergency was essentially more of a strong request for co-operation, and it was one that most people and businesses complied with. As of late May, the state of emergency has now been lifted in all regions of Japan. There has been skiing and snowboarding available in May though. The Yokoteyama and…

Double Punch!

Greetings to you all from Japan. I hope this finds you safe. I so much want to try and make this not be all about coronavirus and gloomy news. No doubt we are all close to overload on that subject! But, alas, it’s almost impossible to ignore the subject given the impact that it is having on all our lives - including the operations of ski resorts and access to our beloved snow. I’ll start off with the good news: some ski resorts in Japan remain open. Over recent weeks I have been noticing that ski resorts around the world have been closing due to restrictions being imposed by various lockdowns. It does feel kind of odd - and certainly…

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…