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ISSUE 66 WINTER 2018

TRAVELER

EVERY SEASON IS A NEW ADVENTURE

YAMA SKIING IN JAPAN Interview with Yuske Hirota

TOHOKU STORM CHASING DENALI DESCENT JAPAN SNOW GUIDE 2018 NOSTALGIC NAGANO SHUZENJI SANCTUARY WOOD-AGED BEERS


We grow our own. (And we don’t cut down rainforests to do it.) Dan Ross at warp speed on the last wave of the day at an isolated North Atlantic slab. All of our Yulex ® wetsuits are made with natural rubber from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified by the Rainforest Alliance—ensuring the rubber doesn’t come from newly clear-cut rainforest. AL MACKINNON © 2017 Patagonia, Inc.

patagonia.com/yulex


INSIDE ISSUE 66

WINTER 2018

28

FEATURES

Tohoku Storm Chasing 14 Nostalgic Nagano

16 Shuzenji Sanctuary 18 Denali Descent 22 Faces in the Crowd: Yuske Hirota 33 Japan Snow Guide INSIDE

4

6 . . . From the Editor

10 . . . Market Watch

13 . . . . Local Brew

8 . . . Winter Events

11 . . . . Cycling Japan

38 . . . Japan Snow Guide Travel Notes

10 . . . Active-ism

12 . . . Beer Buzz

41. . . . Outdoor Japan Adventures

TRAVELER


FROM THE EDITOR

Published Seasonally

O

utdoor Japan readers have no doubt seen our tagline, “Every season is a new adventure!” on our website, on Outdoor Japan Adventures, our new travel and tours booking engine, and here in Traveler magazine. If you’ve spent time here it may be old news, but Japan truly is Asia’s four-season destination and no season makes this more evident than winter. In Oregon, where I grew up, seasons seem to roll into each other like the heavy Pacific waves that collide before falling on the coastline. Summer hesitantly gives way to autumn, but then the cold, wet weather lingers in valleys deep into winter while wet snow falls in the mountains. Here in Japan, the seasons announce themselves with much more fervor. Spring bursts into pinks and yellows, summer’s green seems unstoppable as it creeps over everything, autumn colors are a huge attraction while people enjoy mild temps before winter arrives. Where we live now, in northern Nagano Prefecture, winter may give you a quick tease, but then it comes in full force. One day there’s still color left in the trees, the next they are buried—as well as your car and anything else you forgot to bring inside. There’s a certain commitment to living in Japan’s snow country, which you can see in the faces of children walking to and from school and old men clearing snow off roofs without any safety equipment. You can feel it in the determination of your neighbors and powder-hungry travelers alike. Two homegrown snow-junkies—Daisuke Sakai and Yuske Hirota—have turned their passion for mountains, powder and exploration into their life work. Both have traveled the world in search of new terrain, new challenges and capturing the beauty of snowsports and mountains on film. Follow Daisuke to Denali as he films his latest adventures, while Yuske focuses his lens on Japan’s mountains in a new book he recently published. Gint Atkinson takes us along for the ride as he chases storms in Tohoku and finds some bottomless powder patches in Japan’s least explored mountainous region. There’s plenty in our winter issue for the less adventurous, from family fun at some amazing winter playgrounds to luxurious escapes at newly opened resorts. Our annual Japan Snow Guide features info on the top ski resorts and travel tips on what’s happening this winter. Our regular columns cover wood-aged beer, southern cycling, fresh farmer’s markets, tons of events and much more. We hope you’ll enjoy our winter issue and then head to the mountains!

んな季節もアドベンチャー!」アウトドアー・ジャパンの読者ならばこのキャッチコピーを目にしたことがあるはず。たぶんそれ は弊誌『Traveler』か、新しい旅行予約サイト『Outdoor Japan Adventures』にちがいないと思います。 さて、光陰矢の如し。新しい情報もあっという間に色あせてしまうこのごろ、皆さんいかがお過ごしでしょうか。日本はこ

の広いアジアのなかでも、メリハリのある四季の訪れのある貴重な国。そのなかでも、とくにすばらしいのはやはり冬でしょう。私が育っ

たオレゴンでは、季節はまるで太平洋の大波のように上がったり下がったりと気まぐれでした。夏はいつも秋のような気配がして寒く、 冬は湿度の高い気候が山間部に居座り、ウェットな雪が降りました。でも日本の四季はしっかりとしていますね。春はピンクや黄色の花 が咲き乱れ、夏は新緑が山々を覆いつくします。秋は本格的な冬のおとずれを待つまでの束の間ではありますが、気候も良く、紅葉は 息を飲むほど美しいのです。私は家族と雪国の長野県に住んでいます。ここでは冬が突然やって来ます。木々に紅葉がまだ残っていると 思っていても翌日にはすっかりと落葉してしまったり、車の中に忘れ物があったりすると、かならず凍りついてしまうこともあります。 日本の雪国の日常といえば通学で道を歩く学生たちの顔、そして安全の確保もしないで屋根に上がって雪かきをする年配の 男たちでしょう。過酷な雪国で生きてゆく彼らの姿はパウダースノーを求めて旅をする者に匹敵する決心を感じます。 さて今号では日本が生んだふたりのスノー・ジャンキー、佐々木大輔と廣田勇介を紹介しました。彼らの生涯をかけた情熱は、 パウダースノーと冒険に向けられています。ふたりは世界を旅してさまざまな山をめざし、スノー・スポーツを映像や写真で表現すること

Publisher Outdoor Japan Media Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson Editor Bill Ross Media Coordinator Rie Miyoshi Designers Misa Matsui, Erik Svare, Tim Wilkinson Contributing Editors Rie Miyoshi, Shigeo Morishita Translators Yoshine Lee, Eri Nishikami, Lana Sofer Contributors Gint Atkinson, Joan Bailey, Lee Dobson, Bryan Harrell, Neil Hartmann, Abdel Ibrahim, Pete Leong, Pauline Kitamura, Takashi Niwa, Tim Rock, Justin Stein, Bonnie Waycott

Outdoor Japan Media 8782-2 Toyosato Nozawaonsen-mura Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken 389-2502

Sales & Marketing media@outdoorjapan.com Editorial editor@outdoorjapan.com www.facebook/japantraveler

を仕事としています。佐々木大輔は、最近アラスカの最高峰デナリを滑降し、映像に残しました。廣田勇介は日本の山々を撮影し新しい

www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan

写真集を上梓しました。

www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan

さらに、ギント・アトキンソンはストームを追いかけて東北地方の山々を探査しました。そのまだあまり知られていない地域で、 彼は底なしのパウダースノーと出会ったようです。しかもそこにはなんと、家族でも優雅に冬を楽しむことができるスキーリゾート

www.instagram.com/outdoorjapan

がオープンしていました。さらに、おなじみのコラムで特集するのは木の香りのする醸造ビールや南の地方でのサイクリング、そして ファーマーズ・マーケットの新鮮な野菜などなど、イベントやお知らせも盛りだくさんです。  弊社が運営しているサイト『Japan Snow Guide』には全国のスキーリゾートが閲覧でき、さらに冬の旅行をもっと楽しくする 秘訣も掲載されています。  さあ冬号をお楽しみあれ、そしていざ雪山へ!

—Gardner Robinson

AIRLINE PARTNERS

Traveler magazine is available at selected lounges, reservations counters and in-flight libraries with the following airline partners.

トラベラーマガジンは、空港ラウンジや予約カウンターや、右記航空会社インフライト・ライブラリーにてお読みいただけます。

Cover Photo: Sunrise over

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©2018 OUTDOOR JAPAN INC. all rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Views expressed herein are not necessarily those of OUTDOOR JAPAN INC. Printed in Japan.

Hunakoshi, Hakuba Photo: Yuske Hirota


Ma r

Yuzawa Winter Festival

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Jan

Freeride Hakuba 2018

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er Events t n i W

Photo Courtesy of freerideworldtour.com / Jeremy Bernard

Photo Courtesy of freerideworldtour.com / Jason Halayko

Kawayu Onsen Diamond Dust Festival

Freeride Hakuba 2018

Kabayuki-no-Sato Snow Lantern Festival

When vapor freezes in the atmosphere it turns into sparkling “diamond dust.” Kawayu Onsen, located in Akan National Park, hosts an evening event with 30,000 lights illuminating the hot spring town.

Part of the world-class Freeride World Tour, the qualifier event returns to Hakuba for the second time. Designed to develop the talent and skills of up-and-coming athletes, the contest will take place over two days in the alpine backcountry of Hakuba Happo-one. Check out a great lineup of local and international athletes.

The quaint Miyama Village in Kyoto, with stunning vistas of snow-covered thatched houses, will be bathed in nearly a thousand lanterns. Make snow lanterns with the local residents, listen to traditional Japanese instruments including shamisen and taiko at the Chiihachiman Shrine and enjoy yatai (street stalls).

Late Dec. - Late Mar. Kawayu Onsen, Hokkaido diamond.teshikaga.asia

Niino Izu Yuki Matsuri Celebrate Nagano’s traditional folklore. Sixteen kinds of arts, including dramas, bon odori -style dances and processions, are performed as snow is offered to the local harvest gods. Jan. 14 Izu Shrine, Nagano

Dosojin Matsuri One of Japan’s most famous fire festivals, Nozawa Onsen’s beloved hi-matsuri features a 65-foot shrine built by the local 25 and 42-yearold men in the village. It is burned in an epic battle as a purification and initiation ritual to prepare for the coming year. Jan. 15 Nozawa Onsen, Nagano

Jan. 17-18 Hakuba Happo-one, Nagano

Tokachi River Swan Festival Sairinka To celebrate the swan migration during January and February, more than 300 images of illuminated swans set the scene for this original sound and light gala. Visitors can enjoy snow rafting, snow candle making and other activities. Jan. 27 - Feb. 25 Tokachigawa Onsen, Hokkaido

Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival Located in eastern Asahikawa City, this festival features 30 impressive ice sculptures along the Ishikari River against the beautiful Daisetsuzan Mountains. Late Jan. - Late Mar. Sounkyo Onsen, Hokkaido

Late Jan. - Early Feb. Miyama, Kyoto yukitouro.jp

Sapporo Snow Festival The internationally famous Sapporo Snow Festival attracts more than two million people annually. Spectacular ice sculptures decorate the Odori, Susukino and Tsudome sites—a must visit especially if you’re in Sapporo for the season. Feb. 1-12 Sapporo, Hokkaido www.snowfes.com

Akan Ice Festival This festival’s center stage is held directly on top of Lake Akan, which is covered with 80 centimeters of thick ice. Enjoy fireworks on clear nights and try your hand at ice cutting and curling. Late Jan. - Late Mar. Akanko Onsen, Hokkaido

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Kasuga Taisha Lantern Festival

Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival

Dating back 800 years, Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Shrine lights up Feb. 3 with more than 3,000 glowing lanterns. The date also marks setsubun, the transition from winter to spring.

Held right after Valentine’s Day, this 400-year-old festival is a romantic date spot with more than 100 kamakura (traditional igloos) offering warm amazake, and even more miniature kamakura illuminated with candles.

Feb. 3 Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara

Asahikawa Winter Festival While Asahikawa may not host Hokkaido’s biggest winter festival, it certainly has one of the largest snow sculptures. Just a little over an hour by train from Sapporo, this festival features laser shows, fireworks and live entertainment. Feb. 7-12 Asahikawa, Hokkaido

Abashiri Okhotsk Drift Ice Festival With ice floes and drift ice in the seas at the northern tip of Japan, Abashiri is the ideal place for a brilliant display of ice and snow sculptures which can be enjoyed at all times of the day. Feb. 10-12 Abashiri, Hokkaido

Kasedori Festival Enjoy the sight of scores of people dancing in umbrella-shaped straw coats. Originating in the 1600s, the festival begins in front Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata. Participants are showered with cold water as they dance their way into the city in a ritual to bring prosperity. Feb. 11 Kaminoyama, Yamagata

Hakodate Russian Festival To celebrate the special relationship between Hakodate and Russia dating back to the early 1860s, this festival is part of Maslenitsa, a Russian orthodox celebration similar to lent. Mid-February Russian Far East Federal University (Hakodate Campus), Hokkaido Sapporo Snow Festival

Feb. 15-16 Yokote, Akita

Nagasaki Lantern Festival What started as a simple Chinese New Year celebration in Nagasaki’s famed Chinatown is now one of Japan’s largest lantern festivals, with more than 15,000 lanterns illuminating Minato and Chuo Park. Held over the first 15 days of the Chinese New Year, the festival features fireworks, Chinese acrobatics, lion and dragon dances and parades. Feb. 16-Mar. 2 Minato and Chuo Park, Nagasaki

Saidaiji Eyo Hadaka Festival Rated one of the top three eccentric festivals in Japan, this 500-year-old matsuri features nearly 9,000 male participants parading in the cold, clothed only in a loincloth. The highlight of the festival is a battle to catch two lucky shingi sticks tossed by priests. Feb. 17 Saidaiji, Okayama

Yuzawa Winter Festival Yuzawa’s normally quiet night is filled with sound of taiko drumming and the mikoshi (portable shrine) procession at this festival. Yuzawa Kogen ropeway will be lit up with 1,000 candles as skiers bearing torches careen down the slopes. Mar. 3 Yuzawa, Niigata www.snow-country-tourism.jp

Feb

1-12

WINTER 2018

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ACTIVE-ISM

CHILL

Japan

A

fter the Great Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, thousands of children were left orphaned and traumatized. Overnight, northern Honshu’s once-idyllic fishing towns and mountain resorts were deserted. During the aftermath of the disaster, Chill Japan, a non-profit organization started by Burton Snowboards, stepped up to support the local communities. Five weekends each snow season, Chill Japan invites 30-50 elementary school children who have been affected by the disaster to take part in two-day snowboarding camps in the mountains.

“These kids have lost their homes and families,” Burton Japan’s Craig Smith recalls. “Many of them still live in temporary housing. It’s difficult, especially when we started this project right after the tsunami, but with these special outdoor weekends on the slopes, we hope to put a smile back on their faces.” Burton U.S.A. started Chill fifteen years ago with the goal to share the love of snowboarding with underprivileged children. In 2001 and 2002, Chill launched their first programs in Japan, aiding children who had lost their parents during the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. After the Kumamoto Earthquake in 2016, Chill Japan expanded its programs to include a weekend in Oita. “Through snowboarding, we’re able to create so many memories, new friendships and experiences for these kids. It’s always amazing to watch them transform into snowboarders in just two days,” says Kazuo Ogura, who manages Chill Japan. “This is thanks to our volunteers. Every year, around 100 people from all over Japan help out with our camps and provide much-needed attention to each child.” Ogura runs Gibbon Slacklines Japan, also a sponsor of Chill Japan. So while Chill Tohoku revolves around snowboarding, children are also exposed to a well-rounded program of slacklining, winter activities and games in a nurturing environment.

MARKET WATCH By Joan Bailey

The Greenmarket Sumida

J

ust over the bridge from Asakusa and Senso-ji, and only a few steps from the river that shares its name, the Greenmarket Sumida bustles with food and fun. Founded in September 2016 as a collaborative effort with the Sumida Ward, the market is the latest offering from Daikanyama Works, Inc. who also manages the Market of the Sun near Tsukiji and the Bashamichi Marche in Yokohama. “There are no supermarkets near here,” says manager Kazuma Kawamura, “and residents needed a place to shop for food.” Held the first weekend of every month, the Greenmarket Sumida is a lively affair brimming with plenty of good food, farmers, food trucks, games and the occasional workshop or musical performance.

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Growers like Shota Hirayama are on hand each month with a selection of rice or seasonal vegetables. Hirayama’s rice—brown, white, black, and a blend—is grown on his family farm near Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture. “My family has been farming the same land for about 300 years, although I’ve only been doing it for about seven,” Hirayama tells me, handing over a sample of the cooked grains. Tender and sweet, the morsel melts in my mouth, making it clear they have perfected their method. Hyakusho Club, an organic farm, displays a stainless-steel bowl of their soil along with their vegetables so shoppers can get a feel for where their food is coming from and how passionate the grower is about his medium and work. The colors on the table—emerald leaves of spinach, scarlet Japanese hot peppers, and shimmering onions— give nearby DoReMe Farms’ dazzling display some competition. The latter’s pickles, including a surprisingly delicious cubed cheese steeped

Chill Japan will be hosting two weekends on Feb. 10-11 and Mar. 10-11 in Iwate, with two more trips scheduled. Volunteers teach the children how to snowboard and play with them outside lesson hours. If interested to get involved, you do not need to be a professional instructor, as there will be instructors at the camps. All meals, lodging and lift passes for both days will be covered. To volunteer or donate, visit www.chilljapan.org or contact info@chilljapan.org.

in vinegar, are as much of a feast for the eyes as they are for the taste buds. Other vendors, such as Yosuke Ishijima, turn their crops into delectable treats. His peanut cream comes in five different flavors—plain, sweet, crunchy, kinako (soy bean flour), and bitter—and is as delicious as it is unique. Grown in Ibaraki Prefecture, Ishijima sun dries the peanuts before processing them in order to draw out the flavor. Five years ago he began crafting his recipes, keeping the ingredients simple: peanuts, sugar, kinako and peanut skins. Those hunting for other treats will find a nice variety of jams, honey, baked goods, handmade soaps, crafts, and also the occasional vintner to tempt them. Weary shoppers can tuck in at one of a dozen food trucks serving up spicy curry, tacos, craft beer or various grilled meats before returning to peruse the wares of the fifty-orso vendors on hand for the day. There’s a little something for everyone here.

The Greenmarket Sumida First weekend of every month 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Nearest Station: Asakusa Station


Okinawa:

Cycling Japan’s Far Southwest

沖縄 日本最南端と最西端をめざす gaki Ishi To

By Takashi Niwa s the air gets colder, temptation to go cycling somewhere warm heats up. Why not make a daring escape to the southernmost part of Japan? The Yaeyama Region lies in the southernmost and westernmost corner of Okinawa Prefecture. Once you set your mind to fly south for the winter its quite easy. Simply jump on a three-hour non-stop flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Ishigaki-jima (Ishigaki Island), the beautiful hub of the region. From there, island hop by sea or air and enjoy cycling around the diverse islands of Yaeyama. Yonaguni-jima: Cycle twenty-seven kilometers around this mysterious island, home to some ancient underwater remains. From Nishizaki, the westernmost point in Japan, you can see Taiwan on a clear day. Hateruma-jima: It’s thirteen kilometers around this island, where you’ll find a monument marking the southernmost point in Japan at its southern tip. Geographically, Okinotori-shima lies further south but no private citizens are allowed to go ashore there, so Hateruma Island is considered Japan’s southernmost point. Iriomote-jima: The main gateways to the island are the port towns of Uehara and Ohara, which are 35 kilometers apart. An additional round trip to Shirahama will make the total distance 60 kilometers. Covered by jungle, Iriomotejima has a totally different landscape from the other islands. Taketomi-jima: With a circumference of only 5 to 7 kilometers, the small island is the site of a beautifully preserved, traditional Yaeyama village. Kohama-jima: Fifteen kilometers around, the island has some ups and downs and you can look over neighboring islands beyond the sugar cane fields. Ishigaki-jima: It’s 104 kilometers around this beautiful island known for its laid-back pace. Check out Cycling Japan’s Winter 2011 column (available online) for a detailed report on cycling around Ishigaki.

Yonaguni To Y ona gu ni

Kohama

Ishigaki

Iriomote Taketomi

To Ha te

A

a m ru

Kuroshima

くなると暖 か いところで サイクリングした くなる。 そんなときには思い切って、 日本の最南 端に行ってみてはどうだろう? 沖縄県の中でも、最南端、最西端に位置するのが その中心の石垣島までは、東京の羽田空 八重山地方。 港から直行便で約 3 時間強と、 その気にさえなれば、 意外と手軽にアクセスできる。石垣島を拠点に、各 島々へ 船(または 飛 行 機 )でアクセスして走って みよう。 与 那国島 : 一周 27km。日本最西端の西崎からは、 晴れていれば台湾も見える。 日本最南端の碑がある。 じっ 波照間島 : 一周 13km。 さいの最南端は沖ノ鳥島だが、民間人が上陸できると いう意味で、 ここが最南端として知られる。 西 表 島 : 主な港は上 原と大 原。この 2 点を結ぶと 約35km。これにプラスして白浜まで往復すると全 60km。熱帯雨林がつづく風景はほかの島と大きく 異なる。 竹 冨 島 : 5 ∼ 7km と小ぶりな島だが、昔ながらの 八重山の風情が色濃く残る。 サ 小浜島 : 一周 15km。ほどよくアップダウンがあり、 トウキビ畑と周辺の島々の風景がよい。 石垣島 : 一周 104km。 2011 年冬号の、 このコラムで 紹介

Morning Tour

ur

Afternoon To

9:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. Illumination

1:30 — 4:30 p.m.

Tour (Seasonal)

5:30 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.

Price: ¥6,700 + 8% tax

info@cyclingholiday.tokyo http://cyclingholiday.tokyo

WINTER 2018

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By Bryan Harrell

YOKOHAMA BAY BREWING Shinya Suzuki is a brewmaster in Yokohama with a sharp sense of dedication. On his brewery’s website, there is the stated goal of “Making Yokohama the craft beer city of Japan.” While that is clearly open to interpretation, it is certainly a worthy pursuit. Throughout his career as a brewmaster he has dedicated himself to mastering the art of brewing Pilsner beer, generally considered the world’s most popular style. It is also the most difficult to brew well. Suzuki has dedicated himself to the cause and his Bay Pilsner is considered one of the best in Japan. The other brews in Bay Brewing’s catalog are not far off, with his excellent versions of Bay Weiss and Piledriver IPA already sold out for the time being. By the time you read this, they should be available again along with a few other varieties. You may also order beer from the website for home delivery. Also of note is that Suzuki brews Baystars Ale for the Yokohama Bay Stars baseball team, selling it at their games and on their website along with Baystars Lager by Kiuchi Shuzo, brewers of Hitachino Nest Beer. Suzuki began brewing at Yokohama Brewery near Sakuragicho Station in 2005, soon working his way up to head brewer. He left in August 2011 to start Yokohama Bay Brewing. Located just south of the city in Totsuka, YBB has a remarkable record of success in a short time due to Suzuki’s efforts. They’ve opened a bar and restaurant near the brewery as well as another near Kannai Station in Yokohama. Should you visit either location, start with a cold Pilsner, then move on to whatever else they are serving. You’ll certainly not be disappointed. If you are interested in craft beer in Japan, Suzuki suggests making it out to the Japan Brewer’s Cup on January 26-28 at Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama. Visit the YBB website for details and restaurant opening hours.

Yokohama Bay Brewing www.yokohamabaybrewing.jp

YBB Kannai Bar & Restaurant 1F, 2-15 Fukutomi-cho Higashi-dori Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi (Three-minute walk from JR Kannai Station) (045) 341-0450 YBB Totsuka Bar & Restaurant 507-3-1 Kami-kurada Totsuka-ku, Yokohama-shi (Four-minute walk from JR Totsuka Station) (045) 392-6066

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By Justin Stein

I

Wood-Aged Beers

f you are a casual fan of craft beer, you might be surprised to hear that many of the world’s top-rated beers are aged in wooden barrels. The beer industry largely phased out the use of wooden barrels in the early twentieth century with the advent of metal kegs, which could be more easily sanitized. Today barrels are more associated with wine, spirits, or even sake (which has also largely moved away from its wooden ‘roots’) than beer. But barrel-aging has become hugely popular in the craft world. In fact, as of December 2017, three of the top five—and five of the top ten—on BeerAdvocate.com are bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stouts. Why has this technique become so popular? It is largely the same reason that wine, whiskey, rums and tequilas are aged in (primarily oak) barrels. Wood-aging infuses beer with a variety of compounds that add complexity to its flavor and mouthfeel. The nature and intensity of these compounds depend on a variety of factors, including the type of wood, its freshness, the size of the barrel, the length of contact and whether the wood was charred. For example, fresh oak can provide a spicy character and pronounced tannins whereas charred oak can provide a more vanilla—or coconut-like—character and more subtle tannins. A number of finished beers are being aged in barrels freshly emptied of spirits. These are typically strong beers with a solid malt presence, as the flavors and body of these beers will stand up better to the intense flavors of the spirits’ barrels. The most popular style of these beers is the bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout, as the sweetness, spice, coconut, and vanilla character imparted by a bourbon barrel perfectly complements the roasted malt (coffee, dark chocolate) and fruity esters of the imperial stout. Even as the beers that pioneered the style like Goose Island Beer Company’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (14.1%, first brewed in 1992) and Founders Brewing Company’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout (11.8%, first brewed in 2003) are scaled up to international distribution, their winter release dates remain anticipated events on craft beer fan’s calendars.

WINTER BEER FESTIVALS Jan. 12–21

Furusato Matsuri, Tokyo

Jan. 16–17

Japan Craft Beer Festival, Tokyo

Jan. 26–28 Japan Brewers Cup Festival, Yokohama

While barrels that contained spirits will be fairly sterile, others will include microbes l i ke b a c t e r i a o r yeast. This is important for producing sour and funky beers inspired by those of Belgium (previously discussed in Beer Buzz, Summer 2015) as well as traditional British old ales, Baltic porters and other stock (aged) beers to which wild yeast contributes notes of earth and leather. O n e way N o r t h A m e r i c a n b rewe r s work with wood is by investing in large oak fermenters called foeders that were highly uncommon just a few years ago. While fresh yeast cultures are generally still added to each batch, the wood in these vessels will harbor souring bacteria and wild yeasts that will give each brewer’s beer the flavor of its “house culture.” Some breweries in wine-making regions are either fermenting or aging their beers in barrels previously used for wine fermentation. This technique was pioneered about twenty years ago by Vinny Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California, in beers like Consecration (10%), a red ale aged in cabernet barrels with currants and Supplication (7%), a sour brown ale aged in pinot noir barrels with cherries. Some brewers are even racking fresh beer onto the leftover pomace (grape skins and pulp) in barrels after the wine has been bottled, which provides a variety of wild yeasts as well as ample vinous character. So far, barrel-aged beer remains fairly uncommon in Japan’s craft beer scene, although whiskey and sake barrels have been used to good effect by some local breweries. Kiuchi Brewing Company was one of the first brewers in Japan to work with wood, aging its Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale (7%) on Japanese cedar casks as a tribute to the sake industry and its Extra High (XH, 8%) in barrels. Let’s hope for more innovative uses of wood-aging in Japan, more collaborations between Japanese breweries and distilleries, and more importation of examples of these styles!

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By Rie Miyoshi

“Karakoro, karakoro…” The echo of geta (traditional wooden sandals) against the paved cement fits seamlessly into the soundscape at Togura Kamiyamada. A thriving center for successful Japanese businessmen in the 70s, this unassuming village tucked away in the foothills outside of Nagano City continues to keep its local charm and roots as place for hot springs, geisha and traditional music.

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ogura Kamiyamada isn’t the kind of place you’d easily discover in a guidebook. Cycling across the main bridge entering the town, you pass through an arched gate boasting the logos of the town’s ryokan (traditional inns) and public baths. Located a little south of central Nagano, this town used to serve as an overnight stop for businessmen and traders that flourished into a hot spring resort until the end of the bubble period in the early 90s. At one point, business was booming here, to the point you could line geisha from one end of the 300-meter bridge to the other (a famous photograph taken in 1980 attests to this). Today, 30 ryokan and a small population of geisha continue the tradition. Divided by Japan’s longest river, the Chikuma-gawa, Togura Kamiyamada is nestled between small hills, more suitable for quick walks or cycling rather than long hikes. As the sun sets, the town’ws kanji characters “戸倉上山田温泉” put off a red glow in the surrounding hills; it’s reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” film. Arato-jo (Arato Castle) looms above. It’s one of many fortresses purely built for defense across Japan during the 1400s. While most were destroyed, Arato-jo is the only one of its kind to be recently fully reconstructed. Visitors can drive (10 minutes) or walk (25 minutes) to the lookout and see the jagged peaks of Togakushi to the north.

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If you’re looking to immerse yourself into a local Japanese community, this is the place. The population is just 18,000, with few visitors (much less foreigners) even during the off season. The Chikuma River Cycling Path connecting Nagano and Ueda makes Togura Kamiyamada a popular in-between spot for cyclists and day-trippers looking for a quick bite and bath. The onsen water here is prized for its high sulfur content: even locals consistently opt for the public baths rather than their showers at home. While it’s recommended to stay at a local ryokan, if you don’t have the time or the budget, Togura Kamiyamada has seven public baths and some inns will allow visitors for about ¥500 to ¥1,000. The town’s newest addition, the Karakoro footbath, is located conveniently next to the local ice cream shop so you can rest your feet while enjoying a treat. You’ll also find a water fountain to drink onsen water (if you don’t mind the sulfuric flavor). Togura Kamiyamada has no chain stores or restaurants. Nearly every restaurant and izakaya is family run. The authentic local fare is not to be missed. While you’ll find your usual yakitori, ramen, soba, yakiniku and tonkatsu, there are a few lesser known delicacies. Tucked away in the backstreets you’ll find oyaki. A Nagano specialty, oyaki is made from fermented buckwheat dough wrapped around a stuffing of various vegetables, red bean paste and even apples, then roasted.

Think of it as a glorified dumpling. You’d normally find oyaki in roadside stalls, but Shichifuku is one of the few restaurants serving these dumplings as their main dish. A personal favorite is Kohaku, one of the few places in Japan serving oshibori udon. The broth consists of grated nezumi daikon radish, smaller than a regular daikon but with a sweeter, spicier flavor. This is paired with miso paste, bonito flakes and udon. Nighttime transforms Togura Kamiyamada. Old-school shateki booths (shooting salons often found in traditional onsen resorts) are still open for business. Red-faced patrons walk (or stagger) around the old bar district in post-bath yukata where karaoke “snack” bars and izakayas light up the streets. While it may not be for everyone, it’s definitely a peek into what an onsen town in the 70s looked like. When strolling around the village, chances are you’ll run into Tyler Lynch. Standing two meters tall and wearing the traditional jinbei pants-and-jacket combo, the Seattle native is hard to miss. After his father-in-law passed away, Kamesei, the family ryokan , was to be demolished and turned into a parking lot. Not wanting to abruptly end the ryokan’s 50-year history, Lynch and his Japanese wife moved back to Japan to continue the family business. Today, Lynch spearheads the town’s tourism plans, representing Togura Kamiyamada to the outside world and regularly appearing on TV as the gaijin

(foreigner) ryokan owner. “We’re truly blessed by nature, especially since our town is in a valley along the Chikuma River, surrounded nearly 360 degrees by mountains and onsen water with strong mineral content,” Lynch says. When he’s not running the inn, he hosts Zukudashi Eco Tours, taking his visitors cycling around the neighboring farms, apple orchards, mountain temples and along the river, stopping to chat with locals along the way and sharing stories about the town’s history. If the season’s right, you’ll get a chance to participate in the rice harvest and apple or apricot picking. For a traditional break from all the outdoor actives Nagano has to offer, visit Togura Kamiyamada’s narrow, compact town streets offering a nostalgic, authentic experience.

Getting There Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Ueda Station, then transfer to the Shinano Railway for Togura Station. The oneway trip takes approximately two hours from Tokyo. From Nagano Station, take the Shinano Railway to Togura Station (25 minutes). Togura Station is a 5-10 minute drive from Togura Kamiyamada Onsen town center. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/JapanTraveler for our “How-To” video series set in Togura Kamiyamada showing how to enjoy an authentic Japanese onsen town.

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SHUZENJI Sanctuary By Rie Miyoshi

“The day is mellow, like spring; My mind, flowing with the water, is empty. At the head of my bed, a single petal quietly falls into my sleep.” – Natsume Soseki

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estled in the hilly center of Izu Peninsula is Shuzenji Onsen, a hot spring village with a 1,200-year-old history. With ancient temples and cobblestone streets lined with ryokan, it’s earned its nickname as the “Little Kyoto of Izu.” The crowds and touristy shops you would normally associate with an onsen resort town are absent here. Spread out across the valley, the snug town home to 50,000 residents has a quiet and simple charm. Even on a cold, windy and rainy November day, Shuzenji Onsen still did not disappoint. Pulling into Shuzenji, it was apparent why Natsume Soseki, arguably Japan’s most famous novelist, described how arriving here felt like coming home after a long trip away. Shuzenji was built around Katsura River, where it is said that in 807 A.D., famed Buddhist high priest Kobo Daishi discovered Tokko-no-yu, Izu’s oldest hot spring. Warm up at the spring’s foot bath where a cosy, iconic gazebo sits in the center of the town, enclosed by the Amagi, Sugumo and Daruma mountains. From the gazebo, you can see fine traditional ryokan lining the riverbed including Kikuya, where Soseki checked in to recuperate from a illness. If you’re not sure who Soseki is, you might recognize him and his trademark mustache from the pre-2004 ¥1,000 notes. Prior to his visit, he was a successful, ambitious man planning a grand tour to Manchuria, Japan’s newly acquired colony after the Russo-Japanese War. However, life took its course and in 1910, he was struck with sudden illness. The country held its breath as Soseki teetered on the brink of death in the tatami rooms of Kikuya. Fortunately, he recovered and it was here where he produced some of his best work including “Kokoro” and “The Wayfarer.” His collapse, known as the “Shuzenji no Taikan” incident, significantly impacted his way of thinking and writing. Although ailing, he was touched by a spiritual calm and gratefulness for the essentials of life: family, friends and nature, which influenced his later work. This is the essence of Shuzenji: a refreshing focus on the simple things.

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If you’re looking for inspiration, Chikurin no Michi, which literally translates to “bamboo forest path” is a few steps away. The picturesque garden characterized by looming bamboo trees and the red Kaede Bridge over the river has a seating platform in the middle of the path and even lights up at night for a romantic post-onsen stroll. Back to the town center is the main Shuzenji Temple after which the town is named. The temple is the starting point for the annual Katsuradani Pilgrimage, following a trail dotted with 88 shrines built by Kobo Daishi who brought soil from Shikoku, mirroring the well-known Shikoku Pilgrimage. A three-day pilgrimage of easy hill climbs past rice paddies and waterfalls is held Nov. 7-9. Densely surrounded by forests, it’s easy to forget Shuzenji is located on a peninsula. But dinner at the local izakaya displays the best of Izu’s land and seafood: kani nabe (crab hot pot), sashimi, shiitake mushrooms and seasonal mountain vegetables, soba buckwheat noodles, oden and in the middle of the table, a massive wasabi root. Different from the usual wasabi paste that comes out of a tube, freshly grated wasabi (Japanese horseradish) has a raw kick and a subtle flavor that makes a perfect condiment for nearly every Japanese dish. If you’re feeling brave (or want to clear your sinuses), try the wasabi ice cream found all over town. No trip to Shizuoka is complete without a view of Mt. Fuji. A 20-minute drive up Mt. Daruma offers panoramic views of Mt. Fuji and Suruga Bay, a view that was highly praised when featured on a photography panel in the 1939 New York International Exposition. Year-round camping is also available and can be booked online at http://kanko.city.izu.shizuoka.jp (Japanese only). On your way home, a visit to Baird Beer’s Shuzenji Brewery is a must. The sustainableminded brewery and taproom celebrates its fourth year this June and cranks out a variety of craft beer using local and seasonal ingredients. There are free brewery tours on weekends and public holidays. For details visit www.bairdbeer.com.

Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Mishima (45-60 minutes, ¥4,000 yen one-way). From Mishima Station, it will take another half hour to Shuzenji Station. Shuzenji Onsen is a ten-minute bus or taxi ride from Shuzenji Station. Ryokan at Shuzenji tend to run on the higher end, with prices ranging from ¥15,000 to over ¥100,000 per night. If you’re on a budget, the cheaper minshuku lodges are located further up the hills. Onsen bathing is possible at the renovated Hakoyu public bath, although several of the ryokan and minshuku open their baths to daytrippers for around ¥1,000 during the day.

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DENALI By Bill Ross

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aisuke Sasaki has made a name for himself in the world of big-mountain skiing. The Hokkaido-based guide, climber and skier has been caught on film coming down huge, vertical faces in Alaska, the Himalayas, Greenland and the Japan Alps. Big lines, big turns, big air. His latest expedition, to a mountain who’s name literally means “big,” can be seen on a onehour show produced by NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster (plus a 100-minute follow-up). Denali is the tallest mountain in North America at 6,190 meters. In the native Athabaskan language it means “tall.” Forget that an orange-haired politician recently vowed to change the name back to McKinley, a name it carried for a mere 98 years as result of a gold prospector naming it after a presidential candidate, William McKinley. Even the Russians called the peak Bolshaya Gora when they owned Alaska—meaning “the big mountain.” There’s a strong Japanese connection to the peak. In 1970, Tsuyoshi Ueki became the first person to descend from the summit on skis. His first descent, while a historic achievement, is less known than then those of his more flamboyant contemporary, Yuichiro Miura. Since then, others have skied from the top, and many more have climbed the peak—and upward of 100 have died trying, yet it’s still something of an elite group that ascended to the top of Denali and then skied all the way down. For Sasaki, the journey turned into a threeyear project, bringing together a team of sixteen as well as cameramen, helicopters and the support of sponsors. The adventures included a near

disaster on a high icy slope and 38 days out on the big hill. “For me, it really goes back to when I was a kid,” he says. “I read adventurer Naomi Uemura’s book when I was in primary school. He talked not only about climbing mountains and skiing, but also adventure. In junior high school I climbed, and in high school I really worked hard on climbing because I wanted to be a guide. During the winters, I was in Yuichiro Miura’s ski school too, so I was kind of on an elite course for both climbing and skiing.” “The first mountain the older guys took me to was Denali,” he continues, pulling up a photo on his computer of a group of happy, naked guys out in the snow at base level below the peak. “After that, I went to many mountains around the world and gained a lot of experience. But for me, it was never just about skiing, it was also about climbing. The three of us who skied Denali on this trip wanted to climb too—we’d been talking about it for ten years. The mountain had a lot of meaning for me.” Even for a well-known skier, attracting the substantial resources of NHK and gathering all the people needed for a serious expedition in the wilds of Alaska is no easy task.“It was a bit of us wanting them, and them wanting to work with us,” Sasaki says. “They said, OK, we want to bring in all these cameras and I had a group of guides that I knew and trusted, so we brought them in to support the whole thing. That meant team building, which was my responsibility. It was a big production!”

During his presentations he gives across Japan after returning from Denali, Sasaki plays a tape of the conversations between the three people who actually skied the mountain—Sasaki, Kyoichi Karino and Takao Araiba—and the camera-carrying helicopter above. Sasaki’s English is perfectly understandable while the American pilot’s voice is completely garbled. “The shooting worked out OK, but it was hard,” he explains. “At low altitudes, a helicopter can hover with no problem, but at high altitude it has to move back and forth. The tough thing for us was that we couldn’t just ski when we were ready to go— we had to wait for the helicopter to move into position before we started. Then we couldn’t understand anything he was saying, so we just had to wait until we could see that the helicopter was in a good position for shooting, hope the camera was ready, and then go!” Perhaps what makes Sasaki’s show particularly interesting (especially in a day when YouTube is full of first-person head-cam ski videos) is the closeness the viewer begins to feel with the three climber/skiers and their supporters. Six cameramen were positioned along the ski route, four with supporting climbers. Combined with the first-person shots and ongoing commentary, it made for a gripping moment when the skiers encounter sheer blue ice. Sasaki’s skis chatter and slide, but he moves to the side to safety. Araiba, however, took a serious, injuryproducing crash and slid directly above a cliff. “To try and keep our weight down—because we were carrying a lot of gear—we had two

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radios for three people,” Sasaki says. “I had a radio, and Karino-san, the third in line, had one. Araiba-san didn’t have one. He could hear it, but I think he was so exhausted that it just didn’t register. I was just thinking, ‘Stop! Stop!’ as he slid.” Luckily, the slide ended, and Araiba, with an injured knee, was helped to safety. “When he was hurt, we pulled off to the side of the slope, retreated a bit and rested for a night. The TV people just stopped at that point, saying it was too dangerous and they weren’t going to film any more. The helicopter was still available though, so we shot the lower section with my helmet camera from the helicopter. The NHK cameramen went down instead—but they did use the footage from my camera and the helicopter.” Araiba was able to descend on foot, while Sasaki and Karino continued skiing down on what was actually the best part of the descent, Sasaki says. “Below the point where he got hurt, the air got a lot thicker and you could breathe better, and the snow was softer and much more fun to ski on. Way up high it was tough—the air was thin and the snow was hard, it basically turned into a snow ridge. For both climbing and skiing, the lower half was much more fun. We were doing ice and rock climbing that was more technical and challenging; the middle and lower sections were the best part of the climb.” After this successful trip, does he want to give the summit of Denali one more try? “Never!” he immediately says in English. “Skiing a bit of the Normal Route would be a lot of fun, and climbing parts of the mountain without skis would also be fun to do. But when you’re shooting for TV, you’re limited in when you can actually do the skiing. There are so many things involved in getting the show done.” That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have other big mountains in mind—just not quite so icy. “East Tibet,” he says. “Unfortunately, it’s been closed to travelers for ten years. In the far eastern part of Tibet, the snow has more moisture; winds come up from the Bay of Bengal, so it’s very snowy. Nepal is dry and icy, but in this part of Tibet it’s much wetter and the slopes are steep. It’s a lot like the coastal ranges of Alaska, where it’s steep but the snow really sticks to the mountains. The peaks are about 6,000 meters high. If you get too high, it just gets tough and it’s hard to ski. Six thousand meters is good; at 7,000 meters, it’s hard to breathe and it’s tough work.” Maybe, if the area opens up, we’ll once again get to see this big mountain skier on those high, snowy slopes— although probably not with quite so many others in tow.

Denali

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サムライ・スノーボーダー、ヒロタ・ユウスケ・インタビュー

Interview with

SNOWBOARDING SAMURAI

YUSKE HIROTA If a picture speaks a thousand words, Yuske Hirota’s life is a novel. The 40-year-old photographer and backcountry guide was first drawn to mountaineering after seeing photographs of backcountry skiing in the U.S. and Europe almost two decades ago. Since then, he’s been a driving force in progressing the grassroots backcountry scene in Japan, from slow beginnings to becoming the first Japanese person to pass the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Ski Guiding Course on a splitboard.

一枚の写真が千の言葉を発するならば、廣田勇介の人生は小説だ。40 歳に なるこの写真家兼バックカントリー・ガイドは、20 年前に欧米のバックカン トリー・スキーの写真と出会い、山の魅力に取り憑かれた。彼は日本でバック カントリーの本質を追求すべく実績をゆっくりと積み重ね、アソシエーション・ オブ・カナディアン・マウンテンガイドのスプリットスキーの認定試験に日本 人として初めて合格した。 Rie Miyoshi: The last time we met was three years ago; you’d just returned from an Alaska expedition. Yuske Hirota: Has it been that long? Really glad we could meet up as I’m off to Hakuba (Nagano), it’s going to be a great winter. RM: Did you grow up in the mountains? YH: No, I was born and raised in Tokyo. I have two brothers—I’m the middle child—and for a Japanese family back then, it was a pretty big family because most people would only have one or two kids. When we went on family trips, we would always go camping because, as you can imagine, three boys at a ryokan (traditional inn) would be expensive and chaotic. Before skiing or mountaineering, the ocean was my playground. My mom is from Hayama, a small fishing town south of Tokyo, and my uncle is a commercial fisherman, so even though I grew up in the city, I would go to the beach and fish a lot. My school was in Oomori, a half-hour bicycle ride to Heiwajima along Tokyo Bay. Today it’s all

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三好利恵 (以下、RM): 以前お会いしたのは 3 年前 でしたね。アラスカ遠征から戻ったところでした。 廣田勇介 (以下、YH): そんな 昔でした?白馬でし たよね。この冬良いシーズンになりそうですね。 RM:子供のころは山で育ったんですか? YH:いえ、生まれも育ちも東京です。私には兄弟が 2 人います。私はその真ん中でした。日本の家庭は 子供が1人か 2 人が普通ですから、大家族でした。 だから家族旅行といえばキャンプでした。男の子 3 人で旅館に泊まるとお金もかかるし、大騒ぎにもな りますから。スキーや登山をする以前は、私は海が 大好きでした。母親は神奈川の葉山町の出身で、叔 父は漁師でした。ですから東京育ちといっても海や 魚と触れ合う機会はたくさんあったんです。小学校 は大森で、東京湾の平和島には自転車で 30 分ほど で行けました。そこは埋立地で、いまでは近代的な 街になりましたが、30 年前は野原でなにもありませ んでした。釣りには最高でスズキやワカシがよく釣 れました。放課後はよくそこで釣りをしたし、週末に はひとりか、もしくは友達とキャンプをしました。当 時、私はまだ 10 代だったんです。

Photos by Yuske Hirota


Snowboarder Arata Suzumura approaching Mt. Hakuba

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reclaimed land and very modern, but 30 years ago, it was nothing but grass fields and a great place to fish for suzuki ( Japanese sea bass) and yellowtail. Every day after school, I would cycle out there, and on weekends, I would camp out alone or with friends— this is when I was 10 years old! RM: So when did you become a mountain person? YH: In high school I joined the mountaineering club. Every Christmas, we would go on a gasshuku (field trip) to the Japan’s Southern Alps for ten days. When I was 21, while working part-time at Montbell’s retail shop, I saw the Japanese version of Powder Magazine. It just so happened to be a photo essay on backcountry skiing in the U.S. and Europe. I didn’t even know it was possible to ski such steep runs. My heart just told me then: “This is what you need to do.” At that time there was no way to learn about backcountry skiing in Japan, so I researched private schools where I could learn mountaineering, avalanche and first aid skills. The cheapest, longest course was in Canada so I took a year off university to study abroad. When I came back, I couldn’t bring myself to go back to university, so I dropped out and apologized to my dad. RM: Was he upset? YH: (laughs) I don’t know, I think so. I remember he took me to an izakaya ( Japanese pub) near Tokyo Station and we shared sake and beer, and for two hours he didn’t say a single thing about this. After that, he just said “Okay, let’s go home,” so I saw that as acceptance. I moved to Hakuba that season—this was right after the 1998 Nagano Olympics—and worked as an apprentice and assistant guide under Tomohito Tonegawa, the pioneer of backcountry skiing in Japan. RM: Backcountry skiing has really taken off in the last 25 years, but, before that, there was yama skiing, right? YH: Yes, but the difference is the seasons. Yama skiers ride in early to late spring and they use skinny skis to climb up and ski down the same track. It’s actually more like cross country skiing; you stay on ridges and don’t ski powder. There were no major differences between skiing and yama skiing for the longest time, because there were no chairlifts before the 1950s anyway. Today, it’s very popular with 60 to 70 year olds. RM: What were the challenges starting out as a backcountry guide in Japan? YH: I knew I needed more training. After four to five seasons in Hakuba, I had one incident. While guiding, one of my clients triggered a small avalanche and tumbled around 200 meters. He disappeared and I thought he had died. Fortunately he made it, but at that point I knew I had to improve my avalanche skills. I had already taken all the courses I could take here in Japan. RM: What brought you back to Canada? YH: I worked as an interpreter for the Japan Avalanche Network in Japan working with avalanche instructors we’d invite to Japan from overseas. For three years, I

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RM:山の人になったのはいつごろですか? YH:高校生のときです。山岳部に所属していて、クリ スマスのときには南アルプスへ 10 日間の合宿に行っ てました。それから 21 歳のときにモンベルのお店で アルバイトをしていたんですが、そこで『パウダーマガ ジン』の日本版を見たんです。その雑誌のフォトエッ セイで、欧米のバックカントリー・スキーが紹介され ていて衝撃を受けたんです。スキーでそんな急峻な斜 面が滑られるなんて思っていませんでした。 「これは やるしかないな」って、私の心が叫んだんです。当時 はバックカントリー・スキーを教えてくれるところが 日本にはありませんでした。そこでいろいろ登山から 雪崩や救助のスキルを教えてくれる学校を調べてみ ました。するとカナダなら安くて長いカリキュラムも学 べることがわかったんです。それで 1 年間大学を休学 して留学をすることにしました。でも帰ってきてから 大学には戻らず、ドロップアウトしました。父親に謝り ました。 RM:お父さんは怒りましたか? YH:( 笑 )わからないけれど、たぶんそうだと思 います。でも父親と東京駅の近くの居酒屋にふたり で飲みにいったことを思いだします。酒やビールを飲 みました。でも父はそのことについてなにも話しませ んでした。最後に「さあ家に帰ろう!」と言っただけ でした。許してくれたんだなとぼくは思いました。その 年の冬に白馬に引っ越しました。1998 年の長野オリ ンピックの後でした。そこで日本のバックカントリー・ スキーの草分けである利根川ともひと氏の見習い兼ア シスタントガイドになったんです。

Snowboarder Shoji Matsumoto tackles the last run of the day at Tateyama

RM:25 年前にバックカントリー・スキーがはじまり ましたが、それ以前は山スキーがあったんですよね? YH:はい、でもシーズンが違います。山スキーはシー ズン初めと春の終わりに細いスキー板で登り、おなじ コースを滑って下ります。それは、いうなればクロス カントリーに近いといえるでしょう。尾根を進み、パウ ダーは滑りません。スキーと山スキーには長いあいだ 大きな違いはありませんでした。1950 年以前にはリ フトがなかったからです。現在では 60 歳や 70 歳の 方にもスキーはポピュラーになりました。 RM: 日本でバックカントリー・ガイドをはじめるうえ で障害になったものは? YH:もっとトレーニングが必要でした。4 度か 5 度 目のシーズンのとき白馬である事件が起こりました。 ガイド中に客のひとりが雪崩を起こして 200m ほど 滑落してしまったんです。彼は視界から消えて、私は死 んだかもしれないと思いました。幸運にも彼は無事で したが、もっと雪崩について学ぶ必要があると痛感し ました。当時、日本で受けられる雪崩の講習はすべて 受けていたのですけどね。 RM:カナダに戻ったきっかけは? YH:私はジャパン・アバランシェ・ネットワーク・イ ン・ジャパンが海外から招待した雪崩のインストラ クターのための通訳をしています。ここ 3 年はネルソ ン B.C. のジョン バフ バフレーといっしょに仕事を しています。彼はかつてクレイグ・ケリーのメンター だった人で、カナダにおけるスノーボーディング・ガ イドの大物サポーターでもあります。スノーボードが 冬のガイドのツールとして知られる以前からです。あ るとき、彼が私をカナダに誘ってくれたんです。それで 彼と5シーズンをともにしました。そこで冬のガイドと しての認定を受けたんです。

Unnamed small Buddha statue at Hakuba

Sunrise over Hunakoshi, Hakuba


Tateyama skier Jyundai Nakashio on Mt. Masago

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worked closely with John “Buff” Buffrey, an instructor from Nelson, B.C. He was the late Craig Kelly’s mentor and one of the biggest supporters of snowboarding guides in Canada, even before snowboarding was recognized as a tool for winter guiding. One day he invited me to work for him in Canada so I joined him for five seasons. That’s where I got certified as a winter guide. RM: How difficult was it to get certified as a snowboarder? YH: To begin with, it’s really difficult to pass the certification. The competition is very high and most of the time, you have to wait two to three years to get into the program. I was chosen as I had enough experience in Japan so they recognized me right away. But the training was hard. There was one week of alpine exercises on a glacier with ropes, rappels and belay devices. After that, one week of ski training. There was also a lot of bias against snowboarders— when I showed up with my snowboard, the instructors looked at me and said, “What are you doing here? You’re crazy!” Then there was yet another week of mechanized skiing using snowcats. There’s a 50% chance of passing these challenges, but if you do, you have to complete a 10-day final exam. I was really fortunate to pass on the first try. RM: And you stuck with snowboarding… YH: I knew snowboarding was my way, my calling. After receiving this certification, I wanted to work in Canada but this was right after the Vancouver Olympics when they really cracked down on work visas. So I moved back to Japan and have traveled to Alaska, Peru, Patagonia, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada since then. Now I live in Tokyo, but in the winter I’m based in Hakuba when not traveling around the country with my clients. They always enjoy the winter landscape here—it’s not better or worse, just a different feeling, especially because there are more deciduous trees like buna (beech) making it feel more open. It’s always great guiding people here.

Hakuba Snowboarder Masaki Murase at Happo-one

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RM:スノーボーダーとしてガイドの認定を受ける難 しさはありますか? YH:とにかく認 定 をパスするのはすごく難しい んです。この試験はハードルが高く、プログラムに参 加するだけで2∼ 3 年は待たなければなりません。私 が選ばれたのは日本で充分な経験がありましたから、 すぐにそれを彼らに理解してもらえたからです。でも トレーニングはハードでした。氷河でロープを使った ラペルやビレイのアルパインを 1 週間おこないます。 それから 1 週間のスキートレーニング。じつはスノー ボーダーには偏見があります。インストラクターの 前に私がスノーボードを持って登場したとき、彼は 見るなり「何やってるんだ?狂っているのか」と言い ました。それからもう 1 週間スノーキャットを使った スキーがあります。これらの挑戦にパスする確率は 50%、それから 10 日間の最終試験があります。私は 幸運にも最初の試験で合格できました。 RM:スノーボードが好きなんですね。 YH: スノーボードが 合っていると自分でも思い ますね。認定に合格してからカナダで働こうと思っ ていましたが、バンクーバー・オリンピックの後でし たから就業ビザが厳しくなってしまいました。だから しかたがなく日本に戻り、アラスカやペルーやパタ ゴニア、ニュージーランド、ネパール、そしてカナダへ と旅行に出かけました。いまは東京に住んでいます。 でも冬のあいだは白馬です。クライアントとどこかに 出かけてないときはここにいます。彼らはここの景色 を楽しんでいます。それが良くても悪くても雰囲気の 違いがいいのでしょう。ブナなどの落葉樹がありま すから、気分がオープンになります。ここにはすばらし いガイドの人々がいますよ。 RM:あなたは、以前はモンベルでアルバイトをして いましたが、いまではこのブランドのアンバサダーをし ていますね。 YH:はい幸運にもそうなんです。この会社は良心的 なブランドなんです。日本は災害が多い国です。洪 水や地震などです。そういう事態が起きたときモン ベルは、現場に駆けつけて救援を応援します。2011 年の震災では東京の多くの会社が業務を停止しま したが、モンベルは店をオープンし、ベースキャンプ のようになってテントや寝袋を支給しました。なぜそ こまでするのかと、彼らに訊いたことがありましたが、 「男ならばば一番槍でいかなあかんやろう」と心意 気を伝えてくれました。それはサムライの心構えです。 もし戦いがはじまったら槍を持って一番先に挑んで いかなければならない。それは相手の準備が整う 前に矢じりのごとく突っ込んでいくという意味でもあ ります。


Hakuba’s three peaks

Suwa Shrine, Hakuba

Snowboarder Takayuki Sonoda’s first turn of the season in November at Tateyama

November at Hakuba Happo-one

RM: Things seem to have come full circle. You started off working part-time at Montbell and now you’re their brand ambassador. YH: Yes, I’ve been really lucky and they’re such a conscientious brand. Japan has a lot of natural disasters—floods, earthquakes and more—but every time something happens, Montbell is on the scene, helping out. During the 2011 disaster, a lot of companies in Tokyo shut down. But Montbell kept their shops open as base camps, giving tents and sleeping bags away. I talked asked them why they do what they do, and they said something that really resonated with me: “Otoko nara ichiban yari de ikana akanyaro.” It was used by the samurai who believed that when you’re in battle and have your lance with you, it’s your responsibility to be the first to take charge. Basically, spearheading the movement, especially when no one else is stepping up. RM: It’s great to be supported by progressive-minded people. Can you tell us a bit about your guiding company—Tao of Pow—and your tours? YH: In Japan, we have a deep association with yama, the mountains. For example, before we eat, we say “Itadakimasu.” The kanji character for this is the same one we use for “mountain peak.” This means we appreciate the mountains for providing the ingredients for our meals. Not many people know this. There’s history, nature, beautiful temples and tradition, and the yama serve as reminders of the forgotten past. It’s our responsibility to learn about these things and then pass them down to the next generation or they’ll be lost. When people come to Japan, I want them to enjoy the whole experience. RM: Where do you go after the snow melts? YH: I’m still be up in the mountains, either taking photos or guiding hiking tours. I write for a Japanese outdoor magazine for women called Randonnée and each issue, I focus on a particular mountain with a spiritual background to it. You know how Kyuya Fukada started the Hyakumeizan list of “100 Famous Japanese Mountains?” I’m making my own “Top 100” list, choosing mountains based on the historic culture behind them. For example, I wrote about Miwayama in Nara Prefecture. It’s only 300 meters high but is home to 3,000-year-old shrine, one of the oldest around.

RM:ポジティブな人たちからのサポートを受けられ てすばらしいですね。ところであなたのガイドカンパ ニーの話を聞かせてくれますか? Tao of Pow と言う のですね。 YH:日本の文化は山と深いつながりがあります。た とえば、食事の前に私たちは「いただきます」と言 いますが、それは頂、山の頂上を意味します。これ は山の幸が私たちの食物になっているという意味な のです。そこまで理解している人はあまりいませんけ れどね。とにかくこの国には歴史や自然、美しい神 社仏閣、そして伝統があり、山は過去の伝統を思い起 こしてくれます。そのような伝統や文化をよく学び次の 世代に伝えていくことは、私たちの使命だと感じます。 そうしなければ忘れられてしまいますから。外国から 来る人々にもそんな伝統や文化を知って楽しんでもら いたいと思っています。 RM:冬のシーズンが終わったらどうするんですか? YH:雪が解けても山に行って写真を撮ったり、ハイキ ングのツアーガイドをします。私は日本のアウトドア・ マガジン『ランドネ』のライターも務めていまして、そ こでいろいろな山にまつわるスピリチュアルなストー リーなども書いています。深 田久 弥がはじめた日本 百 名山を知っていますか?私もいろいろな山にまつわ るヒストリーをもとに自分の百名山をつくっています。 たとえば、奈良県の三 輪山はたった 300m の高さし かありませんが、そこにはその周囲でもっとも古い約 3000 年の歴史がある神社があるんです。 RM:いままでにいくつの山を登りましたか? YH:現在、42 です。地方の田舎でローカルと会話を するのは楽しいです。ときどき彼らが私の知らない山 を教えてくれるときがあります。そんなストーリーをみ んなでシェアしたいんです。

廣田勇介の写真や文章をもっと知りたい方は、 彼の新しい e-book『 Yama Skiing in Japan』が おすすめ。彼のバイリンガルなフォトエッセイが楽し める。ダウンロードは Amazon で。 もしくは下記 URL まで。 http://yuske-prism.wixsite.com/labo/contact

RM: What number mountain are you on right now? YH: I’m on No. 42. It’s always great talking to the locals in the inaka (countryside), oftentimes, they’re the ones who introduce me to new mountains. These are the stories I like to share.

To check out more of Yuske Hirota’s photography and writing, download his new book, Yama Skiing in Japan, a bilingual photo essay of his backcountry adventures around Japan. The e-book, designed by Junko Saga, will be available on Amazon. To find out more visit him online at: http://yuske-prism.wixsite.com/labo/contact

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東北・とっておきのパウダースノー

By Gint Atkinson

Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures. This region offers some of the best lift-accessed deep powder riding in the off piste, sidecountry and backcountry. Geto, Tazawako, and Ani are three local resorts with frequent deep powder dumps, amazing 30-degree old growth glades, few people and rarely any foreigners. These three destinations are located in north central Tohoku and have distinctive weather patterns and microclimates that ensure fresh, deep powder at one or more locations. They are within an hour or two of each other, making for easy storm chasing over a long weekend. Geto and Tazawako are near the Tohoku Shinkansen and Ani is best accessed by car (about an hour drive north of Tazawako). The countryside cuisine is also delicious and rustic with kuma-nabe (bear stew), kiritanpo (fresh mochi skewered on a bamboo stick), Yokote yakisoba and other local delicacies.

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東京から新幹線を利用すればたった数時間で、秋田や岩手にそびえ立つ山々にアクセスできるのをご存知だ ろうか。このエリアにはゲレンデのリフトを使ってベストのひとつといえるディープなパウダースノーのスキー 場がある。そこでの楽しみ方はオフピステ、サイドカントリーそしてバックカントリーとなんでもある。 その場所は、夏油、田沢湖、阿仁という 3 つのスキー場で、東北の中北部に位置し、特有の気象条件でフレッ シュでディープなパウダースノーに恵まれている。すばらしい斜度 30 度の深い森はいつもライダーがまばらで 外国人はほとんど見かけない。 またそれぞれのスキー場へ1∼2時間でアクセスできるために、ストームの動きを追いかけながら週末を充実に楽しむことができる。夏油と田沢湖へは東北新幹線 の駅が近い。阿仁へのアクセスは車がベストだ(田沢湖の北、車で 1 時間ほど)。ここの地域は伝統の食べ物もすばらしい。熊鍋やきりたんぽ、そして横手やきそばなど、 それ以外にもおいしい郷土料理がたくさんある。

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TAZAWAKO RESORT & AKITAKOMAGATAKE

田沢湖スキー場&秋田駒ケ岳

Akitakomagatake is located between Ani in the north and Geto Kogen to the south. It is on the west side of the range with Tazawako Resort facing west to the Sea of Japan and adjacent to Lake Tazawa, a large alpine lake that creates substantial dumps. The resort is far enough away from the sea that the snow is much drier than Japan’s Northern Alps. Unlike the large Kanto resorts that groom and fence in the pistes, Tazawako leaves the forests accessible and the top half of runs ungroomed. Combined with low rider traffic, the powder takes a day or two until it’s tracked out on piste while the side country remains untracked for days. The top half of the resort has nice 28-degree terrain that is fun to blast full speed on a fresh powder day or stormy low visibility day. Bluebird days beg for a more serious assault on the sidecountry terrain that is accessible after a 20-minute hike up the ridge directly above the top lift. However, be sure to have skins or snowshoes to return inbounds. Experienced backcountry riders will want to follow the ridge up as high as 1,330 meters then select a descent point on rider's right of the ridge below that height for the first couple runs. As you descend rider’s right below the ridge go in the direction returning towards the top of the summit lift with occasional short direct drops down the fall line. About 100 vertical meters above the summit lift, start cutting over to rider’s left and cautiously approach the ravine while staying to the rider’s right of the cliff band. At 850 meters cut to rider’s right to enter the piste and repeat the process. Always take caution to be aware of riders above and below and have the proper equipment and experience. For the more adventurous alpine tourist, Tazawako operates a snowcat that takes you up into the caldera of Akitakomagatake (1,300 meters) in the morning and retrieves you in the afternoon. Up in the caldera you will find a wide array of terrain from mild to wild reaching up to 300 meters from the caldera bottom to the peak at 1,637 meters. Many of the aspects have extensive cliffs and drop zones with a mellow ridgeline for skinning back up to the top. Come fully prepared for the back country even though access is mechanized. From Tokyo Station it’s less than a four-hour trip on the comfortable Akita Shinkansen to Tazawako. An hourly bus is available as well as taxis to take you the remaining six kilometers to the resort. A great place to stay is the Tazawako Sports Center at the bottom of the lifts. Shared rooms are ¥6,400 a person with breakfast and lunch included. Booking.com can find many other luxury accommodations available at nearby onsen resorts or in Morioka City. 秋田駒ケ岳は、北の阿仁と南の夏油高原のあいだにあり、田沢湖スキー場とともに日本海に向いている。田沢湖 は豪雪になることで知られている。このスキー場は日本海から離れているために北アルプスに降る雪よりもドライという 特徴を持っている。フェンスに囲まれ、人工的に手入れの行き届いたと関東圏のピステと異なり、田沢湖は自然の森が 手付かずでしかもゲレンデの半分より上部は圧雪していない。ここにはパウダーに不慣れなライダーが多いから、ピステ でもパウダーが降れば 2 ∼ 3 日は楽しめる。もしトラックアウトしたときは、サイドカントリーがノートラックだから、さ らに数日そこで楽しめる。ゲレンデ頂上から半分までの地形は斜度 28 度、フルスピードでブラストするのは超楽しい。 フレッシュなパウダーの日はもちろんのこと、ストーミーな視界の悪い日でも関係ない。ブルーバードデイ(パウダーが 積もった晴天の日)にはもっとシリアスなセッションを願ってもいい。最上部のリフトから 20 分ハイクアップして尾根か ら滑り降りるのがそれだ。でも必ずスキーシールかスノーシューは携行しないとインバンドに戻れなくから注意が必要。 経験豊富なバックカントリー・ライダーならば標高 1,330m までつづく尾根にハイクしたくなるだろう。そこまで登っ たら右手側に降下するポイントを選び、最初のランを楽しむ。その尾根の右を下ると頂上リフトの上部に到着するが、 そのあいだのフォールラインには短いドロップがある。頂上リフトの約 100m 上部から左にカットし慎重に進み、右に ある帯状の崖にたどり着く。850m ほど滑ってから右にカットしてピステに戻り、そのプロセスを繰り返す。バックカント リー中はつねにほかのライダーの存在に注意すること。また充分な装備と経験が必要なのはいうまでもない。 さて、もっとアルパインな冒険がお望みならば田沢湖ではスノーキャットのサービスがあり秋田駒ケ岳のカルデラ (1,300m)まで連れていってくれる。カルデラには朝に到着し午後には戻ってこられる。そのカルデラではマイルドな 地形からもっとワイルドなやつとさまざまなスロープがある。1,637mの頂上からカルデラまでは 300mの高低がある。 広大な崖からドロップして穏やかな尾根を使ってスノーシューで戻る。メカナイズなトランスポートだが、効率の良い バックカントリーが楽しめる。 田沢湖へは東京駅から快適な秋田新幹線で 4 時間足らず。1時間ごとに運行するバス、またはタクシーが利用で きスキー場までは約 6km。リフト乗り場にある田沢湖スポーツセンターは滞在には最高だ。シェアルームは1人 6400 円で朝食と昼食が付いている。Booking.com ならば温泉で有名な盛岡市の高級旅館なども探すことができる。

Tazawako Ski Resort たざわ湖スキーリゾート Tel: (0187) 46-2011 Web: www.tazawako-ski.com

Tazawako Sports Center 田沢湖スポーツセンター Tel: (0187) 46-2001 Web: www.tazawako-sports.com

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夏油高原スキー場

GETO KOGEN For lift-accessed off-piste powder in Tohoku, Iwate’s Geto Kogen is often considered at the top of the list along with Hakkoda in Aomori. Geto typically has a five to seven-meter base and the off-piste trails are expanded for the 2018 season to include much steeper terrain that reaches 38 degrees in well-spaced glades. Weekends attract 1,600 riders a day while weekdays see only about 400 riders leaving the off-piste runs nearly untouched, taking days for the powder to get tracked out. If a storm arrives at Geto Kogen, you’ll want to settle in for a few days as the piste is still easily ridden even during stormy conditions and the off piste is also frequently manageable. With a comfortable and speedy gondola to the summit, Geto offers many days of huge powder vertical. Simply bring your helmet, poles, skins or snowshoes and you will quickly rack up some of your largest days of liftaccessed powder. After the storm passes, you’ll have some amazing powder days. On-site facilities include an onsen with stunning views and a hostel that charges ¥6,400 for bed, breakfast and dinner on weekends. Several food stalls and restaurants are on site as well. Less than two hours south of Tazawako on the Tohoku expressway or Akita Shinkansen, Geto Kogen is quickly accessible from Kitakami Station via shuttle bus. Access from Tokyo is similarly very convenient with a three-hour Shinkansen to Kitakami Station. Very little English is spoken at Geto Kogen and booking for the hostel is available on the Geto website. Many more accommodations can be found on Booking.com for nearby Kitakami City. リフトアクセスのできるオフピステ・パウダーとして、いつも八甲田とともにトップリストに挙 げられるのが岩手県の夏油高原だ。夏油の雪の深さは約5∼7m、そしてオフピステが 2018 年シーズンより拡張、かつ急峻なスロープも増やされ、場所によっては 38 度近いところもある。 週末は 1,600 人ほどのライダーがやって来るが、平日はたった 400 人ほどになる。そうなれば 無垢のオフピステを滑って刻んだトラックを語り合えるくらい、のんびりできる。もし夏油高原に ストームがやってきたら、数日はピステで滑ったほうが楽だろう。もちろんオフピステも滑ること ができるけどね。頂上へは快適で高速なゴンドラを利用する。夏油高原はパウダーの急斜面を 毎日のように楽しむことができる。だからヘルメットやポールやシールやスノーシューを携行した ほうがリフトへのアクセスが楽だし、貴重な日を有効に使える。ストームが過ぎた翌日は驚異の パウダーが待っていると思っていい。 現地の宿は、眺望が最高の温泉付きホステル、スキーヤーズ・ベットがある。週末でも朝食 と夕食付で 6,400 円。食べ物屋台やレストランも現地にはたくさんある。アクセスは田沢湖から 東北自動車道を南に 2 時間。秋田新幹線ならば北上駅で下車し、シャトルバスで夏油へ。東京 からなら約 3 時間で北上駅に到着する。夏油高原では英語がなかなか通じないので、ウェブサ イトで宿を確保しておいたほうがいい。Booking.com なら北上市にたくさんある宿泊施設を予 約もできる。

Geto Kogen

夏油高原スキー場

Tel: (0197) 65-9000 (North Japan Resort Co., Ltd.) Tel: (0197) 65-9005 (Accommodation / Onsen) Web: www.geto8.com/english/

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阿仁スキー場

ANI SKI RESORT

Visible from Tazawako and less than a two-hour drive north, Ani Ski Resort has very few visitors on weekends and is frequently empty on weekdays. Located on Mt. Moriyoshi and accessed from the town of Aniai, the resort’s pistes face the nearby Sea of Japan and frequently get hammered with maritime powder dumps while other destinations in Tohoku are running dry. Take the gondola to the top and, if you have a bluebird day, continue skinning/hiking up to the top of Moriyoshi-san for great views and a mellow powder cruise back to the resort where you will want to ride down to the summit lift on rider’s right. On weekday powder days there will be little need to ride into the sidecountry as the piste will have virtually no tracks. Drop into the adjacent sidecountry, staying close to the trails and avoiding the deep drainages, then hop onto the summit lift to repeat the process all day. Ani is a good destination to find powder when other Tohoku locations are dry, tracked out or crowded. The terrain is moderate with a great fun factor when the powder is deep. The location is seriously in the deep mountains and facilities on mountain and in Aniai town are very sparse so it is better to make a day trip from Tazawako. If needed, the closest accommodation can be found in Kitaakita or Odate. Similarly, public transportation is challenging and slow so driving the best option.

田沢湖からも見える距離に位置し、北へ車を利用して 2 時間ほどで到着。阿仁スキー場は週末でも人が少なく、 平日にはだれもいないこともよくある。森吉山に位置し、電車でのアクセスは秋田内陸線の阿仁合駅で下車。ゲレンデ は日本海にダイレクトに面しているから海上からのパウダーが大量に降り積もる。ほかのスキー場の雪が足りなくなっ てきてもここは大丈夫だ。 さて、ゴンドラでゲレンデの最上部へ、もしブルーバードデイだったらゴンドラの昇降場から森吉山の頂上へハ イクアップもできる。そこはすばらしい景色が望めるし、メローなパウダークルーズがつづき、頂上リフトまで戻るこ とができる。平日ならピステはたいていノートラックで、わざわざサイドカントリーに入る必要はほとんどない。サイ ドカントリーに入ったときは側溝にはまらないようにゲレンデ沿いに滑り、そこから頂上リフトに戻る。一日中その繰 り返し。東北のほかのスキー場の雪が少なくなってきたり、トラックでズタズタだったり、もしくはスキーヤーで混んで いたら阿仁はおすすめの場所。ゲレンデのコースはそこそこ良く、パウダーがディープになったときはすばらしい。アドバ イスとして阿仁スキー場は深い山の奥にあり、阿仁合の町は閑散としているから田沢湖などからの日帰りがお勧めだ。 それでももし宿泊が必要ならば北秋田市か大館市で探すといい。公共交通機関はのんびりしているから、車を利用す るほうがいいだろう。

Ani Ski Resort

阿仁スキー場

Tel: (0186) 82-3311 Web: http://aniski.jp/englishpanf.pdf

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HOKKAIDO

Kamui Ski Links

T

he general rule with skiing is, the farther north you go, the better the snow. Well, you can’t go any farther north in Japan than Hokkaido,

and the area rightfully creates the biggest buzz for people in search of deep powder. The reason for this is simple: Hokkaido consistently gets the best snow conditions, and Niseko in particular is recognized as a

Furano

Kiroro Snow World

Sahoro

Niseko Grand Hirafu Niseko Village Niseko Annupuri

world-class ski resort, rivaling the long-established ski areas in Europe and North America. However, anyone thinking Hokkaido is a one-trick

Rusutsu

pony will be pleasantly surprised to find there are some great ski areas all

Tomamu

over Japan’s north island.

NISEKO Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido Niseko United: www.niseko.ne.jp

NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU, NISEKO ANNUPURI, NISEKO VILLAGE RESORT

Niseko Grand Hirafu 37% 1 8 Park

Park

Niseko Annupuri

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,156m Base Elevation: 400m Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Niseko HANAZONO Resort

Longest Course: 4,550m Top Elevation: 1,030m Base Elevation: 308m

Niseko Grand Hirafu

Advanced

Longest Course: 5,600m Top Elevation: 1,200m Niseko Village Base Elevation: 240m Longest Course: 5,000m Top Elevation: 1,175m Base Elevation: 280m

40% 5 1

23% 1

36% 1

32% 4

32% 2

27

courses

30

courses

Niseko Annupuri 30% 1

40% 1

Niseko HANAZONO Resort 30% 4

13

courses

For more Hokkaido information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

34

Niseko Village Resort

25% 3

11

courses

63%

12%


Niseko gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It is the most international ski resort in Japan and consistently gets some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The mountain, Mt. Annupuri (which, in Ainu, means White Mountain), is home to three ski resorts: Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village (formerly Niseko Higashiyama) and Niseko Annupuri.

Collectively they form Niseko United and share a common lift pass. The Hanazono area of Niseko Grand Hirafu is independently managed, and one of the more progressive areas on the mountain, featuring three terrain parks and the only FIS Half Pipe in Japan, which is well maintained throughout the season, and a bag jump, where you can safely practice your freestyle tricks. Niseko Village (which is a 10-minute drive from the main Hirafu Village area) also has nice facilities and a lot of activities. Niseko Annupuri keeps the lowest profile of the three, but has some nice areas that can be less crowded. Other nearby resorts are Niseko Moiwa and Niseko Weiss. The lifts are no longer running at Weiss, but cat tours service the area. While a few other resorts may challenge Niseko’s claim to the best powder in Japan, there is no doubt Niseko has the best, and widest, selection of restaurants and accommodations in Japan. The infrastructure is well organized, with efficient bus service to/from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport and a shuttle bus that takes visitors to the various resorts. On one of those rare mid-season clear days, the view of Mt. Yotei from the slopes is the quintessential image of skiing in Japan.

NISEKO ANNUPURI (0136) 58-2080 www.cks.chuo-bus.co.jp/annupuri End of Nov. - Mid-May 8:30 - 20:30 (16:30 - 20:30) 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,900

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport

NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU (0136) 22-0109 Nov. 23 - May 6 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

www.grand-hirafu.jp 8:30 - 20:30 (16:30 - 20:30)

¥5,200 ¥2,900

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station By Car: 160 minutes from Sapporo City and 180 minutes from New Chitose Airport

NISEKO VILLAGE (0136) 44-2211 Dec. 9 - Apr. 8 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Youth Kids

www.niseko-village.com 8:30 - 20:00 (16:30 - 20:00) ¥5,000 ¥3,950 ¥3,100

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport

NISEKO HANAZONO RESORT (0136) 23-0103 Dec. 2 - Apr. 8 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

https://hanazononiseko.com 8:30 - 16:00 ¥5,200 ¥2,900

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

35


RUSUTSU RESORT (0136) 46-3331 Nov. 25 - Apr. 8

Rusutsu, Hokkaido

www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com 9:00 - 20:00 (16:00-21:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,900 ¥3,000

Park

Rusutsu is more than a good day trip from Niseko. It’s an excellent all-round mountain with 37 courses over three mountains: Mt. Isola, East Mountain and West Mountain. Powder lovers will love the big valleys full of deep tree runs funneling down to the modern, efficient lifts, and everyone will enjoy the views of the back side of Mt. Yotei and the quieter alternative to bustling Niseko. The ski-in/ski-out Rusutsu Resort Hotel is the most convenient place to stay with hot springs, day care, fireworks during Christmas and New Year and a variety of great activities.

30% 4

40 7

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 7

30% 4

Advanced

37

courses

Longest C Top Ele Base Ele

30% 7

Park

ACCESS

Beginner By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station Lifts By Car: 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

KIRORO SNOW WORLD

Longest Course: 3,500m Top Elevation: 994m Base Elevation: 400m

37

courses

Akaigawa, Hokkaido

(0135) 34-7111 www.kiroro.co.jp/english/ Nov. 23 - Mid-May 9:00 - 20:00 (16:30 - 19:30)

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,500 ¥2,800

Kiroro is a relatively new (opened in 1992) ski resort just 30 kilometers west of Sapporo. The resort has great facilities, some amazing views of the Japan Sea and the natural surroundings and gets a lot of snow from midDecember until early May. Kiroro makes up for its lack of challenging terrain by offering a few powder pockets and plenty of gentle slopes for beginners and children. The ""Powder Zone"" opens middle of January to middle of March. Kiroro also has one of the best base lodges in Japan, complete with a hot spring to soak away the day’s bumps and bruises and an adjacent hotel with good restaurants.

Park

37% 1

37 4

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

37% 4

37% 1

Advanced

10

courses

Longest Co Top Elev Base Ele

26% 4

Park

NOZAWA BACKCOUNTRY TOURS

ACCESS

SAPPORO KOKUSAI (0115) 98-4511 Nov. 17 - May 6

Untracked powder, BC knowledge, Riding tips, Professional guides

www.nozawaski.com nozawaskischool@gmail.com

080-9083-2172

Sapporo, Hokkaido

www.sapporo-kokusai.jp 9:00 - 17:00 (-18:00 on weekends)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥3,200 ¥1,000

If you ski or snowboard, Sapporo is hard to beat. Residents can get a few quick runs just 15 minutes from downtown at Sapporo Bankei. However, many families make the one-hour drive out to “Kokusai,” which offers more choices for beginners and intermediate skiers and has a nice park. Although this is a day-trip resort, it does attract a spattering of international guests who find it hard to stay in the city when snow is falling. Most will be pleasantly surprised as this coastal resort gets its fair share of powder days and offers some varied, albeit fairly short, runs and a small, but decent park. Night skiing is not available. Park

ACCESS

By car: One hour from Sapporo city center, depending

onBeginner traffic Intermediate Lifts Gondola

Advanced

Park

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

60% 1

10% 2

30% 2

7

courses

SAPPORO TEINE (0116) 82-6000 Nov. 18 - May 6

Longest C Top Elev Base El

Longest Course: 3,600m Top Elevation: 1,100m Base Elevation: 670m

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,200 ¥2,600

Beginner

Intermediate

By Car: 30 minutes from Sapporo city center, depending Lifts on traffic Gondola

Advanced

Park

40% 1

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

15

courses

30% 1

Advanced

30%

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,023m Base Elevation: 340m

For more Hokkaido information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

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7

courses

60 1

Sapporo, Hokkaido

www.sapporo-teine.com 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

If someone mentions the Winter Olympics in Japan, you’ll undoubtedly think of the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Yet 26 years earlier, Sapporo hosted its own Winter Games at a resort just 30 minutes from downtown Sapporo. Yet, what might be most surprising is this resort, Sapporo Teine, offers some steep and deep powder fun for intermediate and advanced riders. The off-piste terrain is up in the Teine Highland area, accessible without having to duck ropes or elude the patrol. The Teine Olympia is a kinder, gentler area, which has a lively park scene. Night skiing available until 9 p.m.

ACCESS

Longest Course: 4,050m Top Elevation: 1,180m Base Elevation: 570m

10 Advanced By Car: About 30 minutes by car from Otaru or 80 minutesBeginner by car Intermediate from downcourses Lifts Gondola town Sapporo

15

courses

30 1

Longest Co Top Elev Base Ele


SAHORO RESORT (0156) 64-4121 Dec. 2 - Apr. 15

Shintoku, Hokkaido

www.sahoro.co.jp 9:00 - 18:00 (15:00 - 18:00)

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,000 ¥4,000

Park

Sahoro is a well-run resort that caters to families. There are 17 nicely groomed courses, some “semi-backcountry,” a cross-country course and a terrain park. Like Tomamu, it’s a place where you can have fun whether you are a skier or not, with lots of activities. Two all-inclusive hotels service Sahoro Resort: The Sahoro Resort Hotel, an attractive luxury hotel, and the Club Med Sahoro. English ski lessons are available and lots of organized fun for the whole family. Sahoro is not for the budget traveler, but makes for a great family getaway.

ACCESS

By Train: 94 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Shintoku Station Beginner Intermediate Lifts Gondola By car: 200 min. from Sapporo to Shimukappu I.C.

30% 1 2 Beginner Lifts

30% 1 2

Advanced

HOSHINO RESORTS TOMAMU (0167) 58-1111 Dec. 1 - Apr. 3

40% 2 1

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,400 ¥3,800

30% 1

SNOWBOARD WITH THE LOCALS Nagano ◊ Niseko Alaska ◊ USA ◊ Canada

Park

By Train: 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport to TomamuBeginner StationIntermediate Lifts Gondola By Car: 100 minutes from New Chitose Airport

25% 1

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

25% 1

Advanced

15

courses

30% 1

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,030m Base Elevation: 420m

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,030m courses Base Elevation: 420m

FURANO RESORT

Advanced

45% 3

15

courses

30% 2

www.cloudlinetours.com

45% 3

30% 2

Longest Course: 4,200m Top Elevation: 1,171m Base Elevation: 597m

Longest Course: 4,200m Top Elevation: 1,171m Base Elevation: 597m

Furano, Hokkaido Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,000 FREE

Park

Central Hokkaido's Furano Resort is known for blue skies, yet manages nearly nine meters of snow each year. There are two sides to the mountain, serviced by a 101-person cable car (Japan’s fastest). The nearby Tokachi Range is a popular backcountry playground. The ski-in/skiout New Furano Prince Hotel has a new hot springs facility. Join the Host Program and get a tour from a local or a bus tour from January to March to Lake Shikarebetsu’s ice village and bathe in ice bathhouses or enjoy a drink at the ice bar built on the frozen lake.

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

25% 1

Bus or car access is recommended: 60 minutes from Asahikawa Airport toAdvanced 15 Beginner Intermediate courses Furano Station Lifts Gondola

KAMUI SKI LINKS

Advanced

45% 3

40% 1 5

23

courses

40% 1

20% 2

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,209m Base Elevation: 245m

30% 2

Longest Course: 4,200m Top Elevation: 1,171m Base Elevation: 597m

Asahikawa, Hokkaido

(0166) 72-2311 www.kamui-skilinks.com Dec. 1 - Mar. 31 9:00 - 17:00

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥3,100 ¥1,500

Park

Kamui Ski Links is a resort run “by skiers, for skiers.” Those who enjoy powder and tree skiing will understand why this little resort 20 kilometers outside of Asahikawa has so many admirers. Management has no restrictions on tree skiing and has even left several courses in which to play ungroomed. On top of that, the snow quality is excellent. You may find yourself in some short lines for the lifts on weekends, but on weekdays it is nothing but fresh lines down the hill. Be sure to warm up by the fireplace at Café 751 at the top of the gondola.

20% 1

Bus or car access is recommended: About 25 minutes from downtown Beginner Intermediate Lifts Gondola Asahikawa on Route 12

Advanced

40% 7

40%

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 1

Advanced

40% 7

40%

Park

ACCESS

17

courses

Shimukappu, Hokkaido

www.snowtomamu.jp 9:00 - 19:00 (16:00 - 19:00)

(0167) 22-1111 www.princehotels.co.jp/newfurano Nov. 22 - May 6 8:30 - 19:30 (17:00 - 19:30)

ACCESS

Advanced

17

Tomamu has excellent facilities and a beautiful location. Many courses are suited for beginners, yet a challenging double black diamond course and cat-ski tours will challenge advanced riders. Tomamu is a destination in itself with a plethora of ways to entertain the whole family. There’s a good selection of restaurants, an indoor wave pool, Kids Park, ice village and a variety of spa and relaxation options. The resort has also expanded the Family Adventure area and connected the two mountains (no more walking).

ACCESS

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2 1

10

courses

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 750m Base Elevation: 150m

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

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10

courses

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 750m Base Elevation: 150m


Niseko Hanazono Resort

Niseko Annupuri

S E T O N L E V T RA HOKKAIDO

Tomamu Resort

Japan’s first ski-in, ski-out village (built on piste) is now open. Tomamu Resort’s Hotaru Street features fashionable cafés and bars where you can enjoy a hearty Italian, Japanese or steak meal and then shop for high performance snow wear at the Fullmarks store. For a truly Arctic experience, head over to Ice Village for drinks at Bar Icewood before checking into the luxurious Ice Hotel—complete with furniture made of ice, an outdoor bath and a whiskey cellar. Then step out for some fun on the ice rink and the ice slide. Take the gondola up 1,088 meters to Muhyo Terrace, for a magnificent view of the slopes while muhyo (crystalized fog) drifts through the air. The terrace serves delicious hot rum, coffee and fondant chocolate and is open from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. Niseko Hanazono Resort’s Hanazono Banked Slalom is an exciting race with more than 100 local and international contestants of all ages (last year’s youngest rider was 7 years old!). On Mar. 18, the upper half of Hanazono Terrain Park will be the main stage for the competition. Each competitor has to run two timed trials. On the following weekend, three big kickers will be built on the lower half of the park for the Hanazono Slope Style (Mar. 25). Online and walk-in registration available. The resort will also celebrate Chinese New Year with festive traditional taiko drumming and lion dance on Feb. 16. Every day offers a different special during Niseko Annupuri Week (Mar. 12-18). Special lunch services, treasure hunts, traditional sweet potato digging, discounted lift rates and free hot cocoa at the top of the gondola—and fireworks on Mar. 17! If you want to try your hand at traditional calligraphy, there will be a shodo workshop on Mar. 7.

38

TRAVELER

Feel like you’re at the North Pole at Rusutsu’s Reindeer Stardust Avenue. Experience a festive reindeer sleigh ride in front of the hotel and take photographs with two adorable reindeer. The ski resort has also increased its First Tracks dates to Jan. 1-8, 14, 21 and 28 and Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 8:15 a.m. Skiers can now enjoy first tracks from the top of Mt. Isola before the rest of the ski area opens. Reservation required (e-mail info@rusutsu.co.jp).

TOHOKU Ski first tracks every day at Alts Bandai for just ¥1,000! From Dec. 23-Mar. 25 the resort will start its lifts early: 8:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends and public holidays. APPI Resort gets a facelift this season with renovated rooms, restaurant, tea lounge, bar and expanded rotenburo (outdoor bath). There’s also a new café overlooking the slopes from the mountaintop. The resort will hold its popular annual festivals including the Jazzy Sport Concert (Jan. 13), the Spring Festival (Feb. 10-18) and the magical Hachimantai Appi Snow Festival (Feb. 10-28).

Rusutsu

Appi Resort


Joetsu Kokusai

NASPA New Otani

Joetsu Kokusai

a banked slalom contest and the annual Jokoku Winter Carnival. This festive winter celebration features sake, fireworks and taimatsu kasso — a performance of skiers riding with torches. Younger children may enjoy snow rafting on Feb. 10.

NIIGATA It’s been more than a decade since Arai has been open. The Lotte Arai makes a comeback this season with the opening of the brand-new, world-class resort. Formerly known as Arai Mountain Resort and Spa, this Myoko resort features five ski lifts and an impressive 951-meter vertical descent. The terrain is located in a bowl, so you can hike from the top of the gondola or enjoy a 1,101-meter descent from Mt. Ogenashi and Mt. Kogenashi. With the longest course measuring up to 5,200 meters and four advanced powder areas, the slopes are best suited to intermediate riders. The resort is close to the Sea of Japan and receives an average of 15 meters snowfall! After a day on the slopes relax in one of 250 rooms. The resort also boasts, extensive spa and onsen facilities, a variety of restaurants, retail shops, an international snow school and alpine activities. You can also snow tube, go indoor bouldering or “fly” over the snow on Japan’s longest zipline which operates year round.

The concept of surfing on snow has been around for years, but Canadian brand Slopedeck Snowskates takes that to the next level using specially patented Morphteck Bases. Using an offset narrow base coupled with CNC machined arced grooves, Slopedeck will be launching in Japan for the first time this season. Test riding sessions will be held on Jan. 8, Feb. 12, Mar. 11 and 18 at Matsunoyama Onsen Ski Resort (Tokamachi City, Niigata) and Apr. 7-8 at Rokko Snow Park (Kobe City, Hyogo). Rentals are also available at these two resorts. To purchase in Tokyo, call (03) 3291-0802 or visit their showroom in Kanda.

NASPA Ski Garden celebrates its 25 th anniversary with a slew of promotions including special discounted lift ticket rates for 18 to 24-year-olds and first track runs on Jan. 8 and Feb. 12. The resort has also renewed its rental facilities and increased their gear and wear rental line-up, which includes premium Ice Peak wear. Stretch those muscles at Joetsu Kokusai’s yoga sessions on the slopes on Jan. 27-28, Feb. 24-25 and Mar. 24-25. For more fast-paced activities, participate in the Snow Undoukai on Feb. 3 and Mar. 10. Games include traditional (and hilarious) Japanese exercise games including dekapan racing, a twist on the three-legged race where you share one pair of giant shorts with your running partner, scavenger hunts, obstacle courses and tug-o-war. Also held on Mar. 10 are Slopedeck Snowskates WINTER 2018

39


Minakami Okutone

NAGANO Experience Shinshu countryside’s luxurious hot springs at the brand-new KAI Alps, a modern ryokan establishment in Omachi close to Hakuba Ski Resort. Enjoy a spectacular view of the Japanese Alps and snow melting into the river as you stay in traditional rooms furnished with a sunken kotatsu (low heated table) and rustic Shinshustyle fireplace. Hakuba is just a half-hour drive away. During the green season, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a popular hiking destination and is a 20-minute drive away.

KAI Alps

GUNMA The annual Minakami Vibes at Tenjindaira Tanigawadake is a must for snow junkies. Attracting riders, snowboarders, winter sports m a n u fa c t u re r s a n d b ra n d s , t h i s t wo - d ay freeriding event held every April features testride sessions where you can sample new models or check out vintage ski gear before heading to the after party. The resort will also hold a banked slalom contest in March. Dates to be announced at www.tanigawadake-rw.com.

Tenjindaira

Ride from sunrise to midnight at Minakami Okutone. Slopes are open until midnight on Friday, Saturday and public holidays and start at 6 a.m. on weekends and public holidays—perfect for people heading to the mountains after work. Every Tuesdays is Ladies’ Day—discounted tickets for ¥3,000. Warm up with complementary coffee served every weekday at 11 a.m. at the renewed Okutone Gatehouse.

GIFU Dynaland Night Skiing runs every evening from 6-11 p.m. To add to the fun, this year they are offering a beginner course, a bar right on the slopes and a bonfire—open from 6-11 p.m. until Mar. 17. If you’re more of a morning person, enjoy sunrise skiing.. Open from 5 a.m. on weekends and public holidays between Dec. 23-Mar. 18. Fireworks will also be held on Jan. 13 and 27 and Feb. 10 and 24.

Dynaland

40

TRAVELER

KAI Alps

Tsugaike Kogen

www.japansnowguide.com


s e r u t n e v d Winter A Every season is a new adventure! Japan is a winter wonderland with bottomless powder and hundreds of mountain resorts to explore. Discover some exciting winter tours on Outdoor Japan Adventures.

Traditional Culinary and Cultural Adventures

Hanazono Winter Fun

Niigata Ski Camps for Kids

Lay down some fresh tracks with friends on your private ski field. Niseko Hanazono Resort’s Niseko Weiss Powder Cats take guests on private full-day powder tours with six to seven runs per tour on average. The steepest run is about 30 degrees with a maximum vertical descent at 450 meters. Though the amount and quality of snow is magnificent, the altitude is not too high. The CAT base where the tour begins is located 450 meters above sea level and the drop-off peak is 930 meters above sea level. Explore the Hanazono forest at a slower pace by joining a Snowshoe Tour. Groups of no more than eight persons snowshoe among majestic trees, glittering snow and elusive wildlife on this hour-long tour.

The private Tsunan Ski Slope is run by English Adventure and not open to the public, making it the perfect place for cozy winter camps for kids of all skiing levels. Providing 100% English-only camp experiences in the mountains of Niigata, English Adventure hosts four-day ski camps for elementary and middle school students. The camp’s private lodge is located right next to the piste, so your kids can start skiing moments after they arrive. After a full day on the slopes, kids can enjoy night sledding, campfires and marshmallow roasting. Tours include lodging, meals, activity fees, insurance, ski lessons and round-trip transportation from Tokyo.

Backcountry Powder in Hokkaido

Experience authentic Japan with the help of Arigato Food Tours. Tokyo’s old district of Yanaka Ginza was one of the few areas that survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and Fire of 1923 and bombings during World War II. Stroll the shitamachi (downtown) filled with rustic cafes, local temples and traditional craft stores, enjoying street snacks, a tea ceremony and delicious teishoku (lunch set) along the way. If you’re in Kyoto, visit the nearly 400-yearold Gekkeikan Okvura sake museum. The Kyoto tour includes a three-hour tour of Kyoto’s Fushimi District, visits to two breweries, a guided museum tour, traditional lunch and sake tasting. For matcha lovers, the quieter Uji District, home to some of Japan’s finest green tea, is a must. The three-hour tour includes a walk around Uji, lunch, a visit to the outer grounds of Byodoin Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and of course a tea ceremony.

s.com anadventure p a rj o o td u www.o

Black Diamond Tours blends deep powder skiing with a rich cultural experiences. The Shimamaki Cat Skiing Tour heads to the top of Mt. Karina (1,520 meters) from where guests ride 4,000 vertical meters of powder on average and stay in the sleepy coastal village of Shimamaki, located just two hours from Niseko. Famous for abundant seafood and trophy salmon fishing, Shimamaki features rustic hot spring lodges at Motta Onsen and Chihasegawa Onsen. No trip to Niseko is complete without climbing Mt. Yotei, which dominates the Niseko Valley landscape. Sometimes windy and icy, Mt. Yotei is a rewarding experience for advanced skiers. The skin up takes between five to eight hours. As long-time locals, Black Diamond Tours has access to hidden backcountry stashes you won’t find on your own. Enjoy lift-assisted backcountry guided trips to Niseko Back Bowls. During strong wind conditions, locations may change to Rusutsu, Kiroro or Moiwa for gladed powder skiing. Avalanche safety equipment included. WINTER 2018

41


TOHOKU Hakkoda Ropeway Tazawako

Appi Kogen

he Tohoku Region represents about 35 percent of the area of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Running north-south through the center of Tohoku are the Gran Deco

Ou Mountains, ranging between 1,500-2,000 meters. When the famous poet,

Photo courtesy of JapowTours.com

T

Hachimantai Resort

Miyagi Eboshi

Alts Bandai

Matsuo Basho, wrote The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi),

Yamagata Zao

these were the mountains toward which he walked. Today they are full of some of Japan’s least crowded ski resorts. Tohoku may seem far away, but it’s only two-to-four hours by bullet train or you can jump on a domestic flight. Regardless, it’s never too far to go to find good snow.

HAKKODA ROPEWAY

Hakkoda, Aomori

(017) 738-0343 www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp 9:00 - 15:20 Middle of Dec. - Beginning of May Adults

1 DAY TICKET

Kids

5 Times (on Ropeway) ¥5,050 ¥2,250

APPI KOGEN (0195) 73-6401 Dec. 2 - May 6

Hachimantai, Iwate

http://www.appi-japan.com/ 8:00 - 20:00 (16:00 - 20:00) 1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥5,400 ¥3,100

Park

Tour Route Area Tour Route Area

Park

The eight peaks of Hakkoda attract Japan's most devoted powder lovers. It is basically backcountry with a Beginner Intermediate Advanced Lifts Gondola 100-person gondola that takes 10 minutes to the top with four trips every hour. Once you get off, you can choose from 60% 20% 20% "Direct" or "Forest" trails. You won't get many blue bird days here, and visibility can be difficult during snowstorms, 1 1 which happen often. So if you are a Hakkoda newbie and want to explore the terrain, it's best to grab a local guide. Hakkoda Sansou, across the parking lot from the gondola, Longest Course: 5,000m is the closest accommodation. Up the road, Sukayu On5 Top Elevation: 1,324m Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Base Elevation: 660m sen is a mixed hot spring with a 300-year history and a 1,000-person bath. By Bus: 80 minutes from Aomori Station ACCESS By Car: 35 min. from Aomori I.C. and Ishiguri I.C.

HACHIMANTAI RESORT (0195) 78-4111 Dec. 15 - Apr. 1

Hachimantai, Iwate

www.hachimantai.co.jp 8:30 - 20:00

APPI is a giant resort (41K of trails) with a long season (thanks to the many north-facing slopes) plus some great facilities (thanks to bubble era spending). Unlike many resorts in Japan that have relatively short runs, the average course length at APPI is 2,100m; the longest 5,500m. It’s possible to do Appi as a long day-trip from Tokyo but, with two ski-in/ski-out hotels and an annex hotel, which collectively sleep 4,100 guests, why not stay and soak away sore muscles at one of the two natural hot springs after a day on the mountain. Families will appreciate the Kids Park.

ACCESS

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 3

30% 2

21

courses

Advanced

30% 11

Longest Course: 5,500m Top Elevation: 1,328m Base Elevation: 828m

By Train and Bus: 50 minutes from Morioka Station to APPI. By Car: 15 minutes from Matsuo-Hachimantai I.C. or Ashiro I.C.

TAZAWAKO SKI RESORT

Tazawako, Akita

(0187) 46-2011 www.tazawako-ski.com Dec. 15 - Apr. 8 9:00 - 16:00 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,800

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥1,000

Park PANORAMA

SHIMOKURA

It’s easy to get confused because there are two Iwate Hachimantai resorts and another in Akita. Iwate’s Hachimantai Resort, is a great family ski destination. Hachimantai Resort covers two main areas, Panorama ski area and the Shimokura ski area. Both are well sheltered from the weather, and Panorama features a huge night skiing area. There are high-speed lifts and mainly beginner or intermediate courses. Beginner

ACCESS

Intermediate

Advanced

When it snows in Tazawako, and it usually does, there is courses deep powder and a good variety of courses to enjoy. When it is not snowing, you are treated to one of the great views of any ski resort in Japan, with Lake Tazawa below providing a 40% 30% 30% stunning backdrop. For this reason, Tazawako is a popular ski resort for people in Tohoku, but the lines are still relatively short 1 1 5 when compared to resorts in other areas of Japan. The lifts run directly from the Tazawako Onsen hotel area. The selection of runs should keep everyone happy; on one side is a beginner Longest Course: 2,700m and intermediate area, and on the other is a more challenging 14 Top Elevation: 1,000m courses Base Elevation: 540m advanced course. Powder lovers won’t want to miss the Komagatake Panoramic Cat Tour. Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka Station (2 hours , 11 minutes), then about 90 minutes by bus to Hachimantai Resort

ACCESS

Beginner Lifts

30% 2

13

courses

Intermediate Gondola

30% 4

Advanced

40%

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,186m Base Elevation: 608m

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Tazawako Station (3 hours), then 30 minutes by bus to the ski resort

For more Tohoku information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

42

Park

Park


EBOSHI RESORT

Zao-machi, Miyagi

(0224) 34-4001 www.eboshi.co.jp Dec. 1 - Apr. 1 9:00 - 22:00 (17:30 - 22:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,500 ¥2,800

Park

Miyagi's Eboshi Resort is on the other side of the mountain from the more famous Yamagata Zao Onsen Ski Resort. It's much quieter, the lift lines are shorter on this side of the track, and the views are fantastic. Although it's a decent sized resort with well laid-out courses and a variety of ways to descend the mountain, it is more geared for beginners or advanced riders, as there is not a lot of challenging terrain. Powder hounds will be salivating on some of the areas outside the lines.

ACCESS

Park

Beginner Lifts

50% 1

YAMAGATA ZAO SKI RESORT www.zao-ski.or.jp 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

Advanced

30% 1

courses

20% 6

Longest Course: 4,300m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 650m

10 Beginner Intermediate By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shoroishi-Zao Station (1 hour, Advanced 54 courses minutes) then about an hour to the ski resort

(023) 694-9328 Dec. 9 - May 6

Intermediate Gondola

Yamagata-shi, Yamagata 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,500

Ski resorts each have their own personalities; it is one of the joys of exploring new resort areas. Zao Onsen has a big bubbling personality. The town is literally bubbling with hot springs, and the ski resort offers a unique ski experience—skiing among the famous Zao Snow Monsters (juhyo). The resort is big with four gondolas, 35 lifts and a 10K downhill course. Skiers will enjoy the layout more than snowboarders (too much traversing), but the highlight, undoubtedly, is riding among these huge creatures formed of ice and wind. The peak season is February, and the juhyo illumination is spectacular.

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1 3

Advanced

40% 3 27

courses

20% 5 1

Longest Course: 10,000m

ACCESS

26 Top Elevation: 1,660m By Train and Bus: 2 1/2 hours by bullet train from Tokyo toBeginner Yamagata Station, Intermediate Advanced courses Base Elevation: 780m then 40 minutes by bus to Zao Onsen

HOSHINO RESORTS ALTS BANDAI (0242) 74-5000 www.alts.co.jp Dec. 23 - Mar. 25 8:00-21:00 (17:30-21:00) Night Ski 17:30-21:00

Bandai, Fukushima 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,700 ¥2,000

With 30K of rideable terrain, nearly 30 courses and progressive free-style parks, it is no surprise ALTS is a favorite of many of the top park riders in Japan. The resort is the largest in southern Tohoku and was the home to the Asia Open. This year ALTS features a new Cat Ski area on the west side of the resort where visitors can enjoy some deep turns. Slide into Yama Cafe for a drink or relax in the hotel's great hot springs. ALTS is a south-facing resort, so it’s bright and features some nice terrain for free riding, but powder lovers will want to head next door to northfacing Nekoma.

ACCESS

Beginner By Train: 90 minutes from Tokyo Station to Koriyama Station By Car: 75 minutes from Fukushima International Airport.

Intermediate

(0241) 32-2530 www.grandeco.com Nov. 29 - May. 7 8:30 - 17:00

Park

Beginner Lifts

By train: 45 minutes from Inawashiro Station via local bus. Beginner By car: 35 minutes from Inawashiro Bandai Kogen I.C.

29

courses

Advanced

40% 2

courses

25% 5

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,280m Base Elevation: 700m

Aizu Ura Bandai, Fukushima 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,700 ¥3,500

Grandeco Snow Resort is a medium-sized resort with first-rate facilities, which include a gondola and express chairlifts and artificial snow-making capabilities to guarantee early and late-season riding. There is also a luxury hotel and SIA certified Snow Academy. Although the resort is best suited for beginners and intermediate riders, there are tree runs for advanced riders and a well maintained park. Gran Deco is one of the highest resorts in the area, which means good quality snow. The nearby Hotel Gran Deco has western-style rooms, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool (open in winter), Jacuzzis, saunas, hot spring baths, restaurants and bars.

ACCESS

Intermediate Gondola

35% 1 1

Advanced

GRANDECO SNOW RESORT

Park

Intermediate

Advanced

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

8

Advanced

45% 4

15% 2

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,590m

courses Base Elevation: 1,010m

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

43

courses


NAGANO Togakushi

N

agano is the traditional center of the Japan snow scene, and

Hakuba Cortina

at the heart of it is the Japan Alps. The prefecture is home

Nozawa Onsen Madarao

Tsugaike

to some of the finest, steepest and biggest resorts in Japan, and

Hakuba Iwatake

boasts arguably the most breathtaking scenery. Within Nagano,

Hakuba Happo Hakuba Goryu

natural beauty known as the Japan Alps slashing through the prefecture. This area is as much a Mecca for photographers as it is

Yakebitaiyama Shiga Kogen Area Hoppobundaira Higashitateyama Nishitateyama

Hakuba 47

the sheer volume of ski areas is due to the jagged spine of rugged

Okushiga

Norikura Kogen

for skiers, with its many onsen, snow-swept valleys and bristling peaks. Backcountry fun here is limited only to your preparedness and daring. Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa and the Iiyama areas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

HAKUBA GORYU

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-2101 www.hakubagoryu.com/e/index.html Nov. 21 - May 6 8:00 - 22:00 (18:00 - 22:00)

HAKUBA 47

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-3533 www.hakuba47.co.jp Nov. 23 - May 6 8:00 - 16:20 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,800 ¥2,500

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,700

Park

Park

Hakuba Goryu is not the largest resort in Hakuba, but it Hakuba 47 is a relatively new resort (opened in 1990), is one of the most scenic and pleasant places to ski. Soak and they’ve been trying to take some fresh, progressive Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola up the view as the Japan Alps soar behind you, and then steps to making a better resort experience. There are loads head down to the Escal Plaza, one of the best base lodges of activities and events, an extensive snow park with lots 40% 25% 35% 40% 30% 30% in Japan. There is a ski/snowboard rental shop, a nice of jibs, kickers and things to launch off, and a great half selection of restaurants and even a bath open until 9 p.m. pipe. The resort also has some excellent intermediate 1 9 1 4 3 1 daily. If you’re on a tight budget, there is a “resting room” courses, a challenging mogul course and a shared ticket where you can wait for the lifts to open. It’s a common 1 with Goryu, so no shortage of courses from which to space that fits up to 100 people (no reservations required). choose. If you were wondering about the name, the goal Longest Course: 5,000m Longest Course: 6,400m Serious skiers can challenge themselves on the Champions of the resort is to offer a great mountain experience “4” 16 Top Elevation: 1,624m 8 Top Elevation: 1,614m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Base Elevation: 950m courses Base Elevation: 820m expert run, and Goryu also shares a common lift pass with seasons and “7” days a week. Hakuba 47. By Train and Shuttle: Shinkansen to Nagano Station and the direct bus to By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 ACCESS ACCESS Hakuba. A shuttle service runs between Goryu and Hakuba 47 hour, 45 minutes), then an Alpico Bus to Hakuba (60 minutes) Park

Park

HAKUBA HAPPO-ONE (0261) 72-3066 Dec. 8 - May 7

Hakuba, Nagano

www.happo-one.jp 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

HAKUBA IWATAKE SNOW FIELD (0261) 72-2474 Dec. 15 - Apr. 1

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

Hakuba, Nagano

iwatake.jp 8:00 - 17:00

¥5,000 ¥2,500

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,400 ¥2,600

Park

Park

Park

South Side North Side Happo is a huge resort that is heaven for skiers who If the crowds at Happo are too much for you, head Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced enjoy well-groomed, long courses. There are many runs, courses coursesover to nearby Iwatake. The base of the resort looks up at Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola good challenging terrain and a nice park and the Hakuba Hakuba’s highest peaks for a spectacular view while you Banks Park opens on Feb. 1. Happo hosted the downhill enjoy the slopes. The resort itself is surprisingly big, mak50% 20% 30% 50% 20% 30% races during the 1998 Olympics and, if you want to test ing it a great place to go to get away from the crowds and your meddle, head to the top of the men’s downhill course. explore the 26 courses. It’s mostly beginner and intermedi4 1 1 5 1 1 While advanced riders will love Happo, beginners may get ate runs, but there is a nearly four-kilometer cruiser and a 2 12 1 frustrated with the many narrow paths leading down the small terrain park. Lift lines are relatively short by Hakuba mountain. If you need a break, there are plenty of restaustandards, and you can often find some pockets of powder North Side Longest Course: 8,000m Longest Course: 3,800m rants to stop for a bite. Note the resort’s popularity means here after it has been tracked out at other nearby.Advanced 26 13 Top Elevation: 1,831m Top Elevation: 1,289m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginnerresorts Intermediate courses courses Base Elevation: 539m it can get crowded, especially on long weekends. Base Elevation: 760m

ACCESS

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour, 45 minutes), then an Alpico Bus to Hakuba (60 minutes)

ACCESS

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour, 45 minutes), then an Alpico Bus to Hakuba (60 minutes)

For more Nagano information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

44


HAKUBA CORTINA SKI RESORT (0261) 82-2236 www.hgp.co.jp Dec. 16 - Apr. 1 8:30 -17:00 (Sun-Fri: 17:00 - 20:00, Sat: 17:00 - 21:00)

Hakuba, Nagano 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥3,600 ¥2,000

If you are looking for a place to spend a quiet, romantic ski weekend in the Hakuba area, head over to Cortina. The massive Green Plaza Hotel with northern European architecture is impressive. If your ski partner is just starting out, the course right outside the door of the hotel is a gentle slope and great for beginners. Although most of the runs are in the beginner to intermediate range, there are some steep courses, and they have adopted a progressive approach to tree skiing and power areas in which guests are responsible for themselves if they get into trouble. The Hakuba Cortina Resort also offers a convenient shuttle from Nagano Station (one-way, 1,000 yen).

ACCESS

Beginner By Train: From Shinjuku to Minami Otari: 4 hours (By Azusa) By Car: 90 minutes from Nagano I.C. to hotel

Intermediate

Park

Beginner Lifts

16

Advanced

courses

Adults Kids

Beginner Intermediate By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour, 45 minutes), then a shuttle to Hakuba Cortina (80 minutes)

MT. NORIKURA

30%

Longest Course: 2,025m Top Elevation: 1,402m Base Elevation: 872m

¥4,900 ¥2,800

Park

Advanced

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 1 9

50% 1 1

14

courses

Advanced

courses

20% 9 2

Longest Course: 4,630m Top Elevation: 1,704m Base Elevation: 800m

NOZAWA

Norikura Kogen Onsen, Nagano

(0263) 93-2645 www.norikura.co.jp Dec. 9 - Apr. 8 8:30 - 16:30

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,100 ¥2,000

The base of Mt. Norikura (not to be confused with the smaller Hakuba Norikura) starts at 1,500 meters, meaning the snow quality is excellent, and you’ll spend more time riding than in lift lines. It is a relatively small, local resort, yet the dedicated locals have created a progressive and challenging terrain park and good facilities for beginners to learn to ride. There is no ATM, so bring cash and make sure to pack chains or have a 4WD, since Norikura is nestled deep in the Northern Alps. After a day on the mountain, don’t miss the great rotenburo at Yukemurikan.

ACCESS

30% 5

courses

Otari, Nagano 1 DAY TICKET

Tsugaike is actually located in Otari Village, just up the road from Hakuba. The resort could be considered one of the most underrated, considering it has some huge bowls, a big gondola, terrain park, cross-country course, good night skiing and some interesting runs. There are even heli-skiing tours in spring and good places to hike to get fresh turns. The Children’s Square is great for kids just starting out on the slopes. Most of Tsugaike’s runs are in the intermediate range, but there are a few expert areas as well. To finish off a great day, head over to Tsuga no Yu hot springs, just 100 meters from the gondola.

ACCESS

Advanced

40% 2

HAKUBA TSUGAIKE KOGEN (0261) 83-2515 www.tsugaike.gr.jp Nov. 23 - May 6 8:00 - 17:00 (8:00 - 20:50 on Sat.)

Intermediate Gondola

Beginner Intermediate By Train: Super Azusa Express train from Shinjuku to Matsumoto (2 hours, 37 minutes. Transfer at Matsumoto, then on to Shin Shimashima (30 minutes)

Advanced

Ski goods,Ski Rental

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2 1

20

Advanced

40% 1

courses

30% 5

Longest Course: 5,000m Top Elevation: 2,000m

courses Base Elevation: 1,500m

OPEN 8:00~10:00/15:00~20:00 TEL 0269-67-0224 www.compasshouse.jp

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

45


SHIGA KOGEN Shiga Kogen, Nagano www.shigakogen-ski.com

Shibutouge

Okushiga Kogen

Terakoya Yokoteyama

Yakebitaiyama Yama no Kami

Ichinose Family

Hoppo Bunadaira, Higashidateyama, Nishidateyama

Tanne no Mori

Diamond

Kumanoyu Giant Hasuike

Kidoike SunValley

Maruike

If you include all 19 interlinked ski resorts, Shiga Kogen in northern Nagano is Japan’s largest ski resort area. Surrounded by 2,000-meter mountains, Shiga has good elevation and is a great place to get in some early or late season runs, as the season stretches from late November to early May. Shiga Kogen hosted the women’s downhill, slalom, the super giant slalom and both snowboarding events for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games. With more than 80 accommodations scattered around the area, there is no shortage of places to stay, although it has retained an “old school” feel with most restaurants found inside hotels; some serving Shiga Kogen’s excellent microbrew. There are many onsen in the area to soak in after a day on the mountain, yet the most famous in the area is off-limits to humans. Jigokudani Yaen Koen is a sanctuary for resident snow monkeys that lounge in their own hot springs, while visitors snap away with their cameras. Shiga Kogen has limited ATM access (ATM is available at the Shiga Kogen Post Office in the Hasuike area), so bring some cash. Starting this year, a common ski lift pass will be available for Shiga Kogen Resort’s 13 ski areas which are part of the “Shiga Kogen Resort Chuo Area.” These resorts include Sun Valley, Maruike, Hasuike, Giant, Happo Bunahira, Higashi Tateyama, Teragoya, Takamahara Mammoth, Nishi Tateyama, Tanne-no-mori Okojo, Ichinose Family, Ichinose Diamond and Ichinose Yama-no-kami. If you plan to try all the ski areas, you’ll need to give yourself at least a few days to explore the various terrain.

Okushiga Kogen is known as “Skiers Paradise” as it remains a skiers-only resort, (along with Kumanoyu), while Yakebitaiyama is a Prince Resort with excellent facilities. The Hoppo Bunadaira area is great for beginners and families with small children while Higashidateyama is best suited for advanced skiers, although there is a gentle woodland course as well. The resort hosted the men’s and women’s giant slalom in the 1998 Olympic Games, and it boasts an extremely challenging downhill course. The restaurant at the summit of Mt. Higashidate boasts incredible panoramic views and is the starting point to get to other ski areas such as Terakoya.

ACCESS

By Train and Bus: 110 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station, then bus (70 minutes) to Shiga Kogen resorts

HOPPO BUNADAIRA - HIGASHITATEYAMA - NISHITATEYAMA

(0269) 34-2301 www.facebook.com/ShigaKogen.Ski Mid-Dec. - Beg. of Apr. 8:30 - 16:30 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,500

50% 1

40% 4

10% 1

Park

By Train: 110 minutes from Tokyo Stn. to Nagano Stn. By Car: 300 minutes from Tokyo

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

Longest course: 3,500m Top Elevation: 2,030m

7

courses Base Elevation: 1,325m

YAKEBITAIYAMA (0269) 34-3117 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/shiga_kougen.html Dec. 2 - Apr. 8 8:00 - 16:00 (18:00 - 20:00) 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,500

45% 2

35% 2

20% 1

Park Park

By Train: 110 minutes from Tokyo Stn. to Nagano Stn. By Car: 300 minutes from Tokyo

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

14

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 2,000m

courses Base Elevation: 1,550m

OKUSHIGA KOGEN SKI FIELD (0269) 34-2225 www.okushigakogen.com Dec. 20 - May 20 7:30 - 16:30 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,500

45% 1

20%

Park

By Train: 110 minutes from Tokyo Stn. to Nagano Stn. By Car: 300 minutes from Tokyo

Beginner Lifts

For more Nagano information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

46

35% 5

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

9

Longest Course: 2,200m Top Elevation: 2,000m

courses Base Elevation: 1,460m


MADARAO MOUNTAIN RESORT

Iiyama, Nagano

(0269) 64-3214 www.madarao.jp Dec. 16 - Apr 1 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,500 ¥1,500

Located in northeastern Nagano just above Iiyama Town, Madarao Kogen features 16 lifts and 22 courses across a bowl-shaped terrain on Mt. Madarao (1,382 meters). The resort has a nice variety of courses, groomers, a tree run area, free ride park, wave courses and kids park, and the resort is free to kids under 12. They claim 60 percent of the course is ungroomed so, if you like riding powder, there should be plenty in which to play. There is also a joint ticket available for Tangram Ski Circus, a small, pretty resort. Backcountry tours can be arranged through the resort.

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

29 By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano CityBeginner (1 hour,Intermediate 28 minutes) Advanced courses Lifts Gondola then by bus to Tangram Madarao

TANGRAM SKI CIRCUS

Advanced

40% 3

30% 2 1

Park

ACCESS

30% 2 1

TANGRAM SKI CIRCUS

29

courses

40% 3

30% 5

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 440m

30% 5

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 440m

Madarao, Nagano

(026) 258-3511 www.tangram.jp/foreign/english.html 8: 30 - 16: 30 (17:30 - 20:30) Dec. 16 - Apr 1

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,200 ¥3,200

Tangram Ski Circus sounds like a great place for kids—and it is. The ski-in/out Hotel Tangram sits right at the bottom of this family-friendly resort. Facilities include hot spring baths and a heated indoor swimming pool. The resort features 14 courses on the northwest side of Mt. Madarao, with well-groomed runs, great for mom and dad to get in some leg burners with the kids. The trees look tempting, but beware the ski patrol is vigilant here. However the resort is connected to Madarao Kogen, giving you 30 courses to explore if you get bored with the runs right outside your door.

Park

30% 2 1

MADARAO MOUNTAIN RESORT Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 2

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 3

30% 1

29

courses

40% 3

30% 5

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 440m

Longest Course: 2,500m

ACCESS

14 Top Elevation: 1,320m By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano City (1 hour, 28 minutes) Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Base Elevation: 800m Lifts Gondola then by bus to Tangram Madarao

TOGAKUSHI

Togakushi, Nagano

(026) 254-2106 www.togakusi.com Dec. 16 - Apr. 1 8:30 - 16:30

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,500

Togakushi is an interesting, medium-sized resort. The name “Togakushi” means “hidden door,” it derived from the Japanese myth and the resort is owned by Nagano City, yet it is still relatively unknown to people outside the area. The best way to describe Togakushi is pleasant. The conditions always seem to be pretty good, course is variegated and there are often great powder days. Best of all, it never seems to get as busy as the more popular Nagano resorts, and it has retained a very local feel. Togakushi Village is in itself an interesting place. It is famous for soba, and there are some beautiful shrines, temples and onsen nearby to finish off a great day on the mountain.

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station Beginner Intermediate (1 hour, 30 minutes), then less than 1 hour to Togakushi byLifts bus Gondola

19

Advanced

NOZAWA ONSEN

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2

Park

ACCESS

Park

Advanced

40% 5

30%

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,750m

courses Base Elevation: 1,200m

30%

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,750m

courses Base Elevation: 1,200m Nozawa Onsen, Nagano

(0269) 85-3166 www.nozawaski.com Nov. 25 - May 6 8:30 - 17:00 (16:30 - 20:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,800 ¥2,200

If you’re looking for the quintessential Japanese ski experience, Nozawa Onsen is hard to beat. This traditional hot spring village sits at the base of a great mountain (Mt. Kenashi, 1,650m). The resort is one of the oldest ski grounds in Japan, getting consistent snowfall. There are two gondolas and a large selection of courses to choose from. The town also features 30 hot springs scattered around the village (including 13 free baths in town) and the Dosojin Matsuri (Fire Festival) held on Jan. 15, which is a spectacle to behold.

Park

Park

40% 2 10

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 2 10

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

30% 5 1

40% 3 1

Longest Course: 10,000m By Train: Tokyo Station to Nagano Station by Shinkansen (109 minutes), then Iiyama 36 Top Elevation: 1,650m Intermediate Advanced Line to Togari-Nozawa Onsen St. (60 minutes) and taxi or shuttleBeginner bus to Nozawa courses Base Elevation: 565m Lifts Gondola Onsen. By Car: 75 minutes from Nagano Station Park

ACCESS

19

40% 5

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

47

36

courses

30% 5 1

40% 3 1

Longest Course: 10,000m Top Elevation: 1,650m Base Elevation: 565m


NIIGATA O

ne day in 1986, the good people of Joetsu, a coastal city in Niigata, were deluged by 232 centimeters of snow—in one

day. That’s roughly enough to bury a one-story building. Although this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day, Niigata gets some of

Joetsu Kokusai NASPA Ski Garden

the heaviest snowfalls in Japan. The town of Yuzawa was where Yasunari Kawabata penned his award-winning novel “Snow

GALA Yuzawa

Iwappara

Country” (Yukiguni). It is also Niigata’s most popular of winter sports Charmant Hiuchi

areas, due to the easy access from Tokyo (77 minutes) and the variety of ski resorts a snowball’s throw from the station. Just over the

Seki Onsen

border from Nagano Prefecture, in the southeastern part of Niigata,

Akakura

the Myoko Kogen area is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets. This scenic, mountainous area stretches all the way to the Sea of Japan

Myoko Suginohara

coast and features some great resorts in its own right.

Kagura Tashiro Mitsumata

GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT

Naeba

YUZAWA KOGEN Bi#C6:76@6<JG6™B>IHJB6I6

GALA YUZAWA STATION

NUNOBA NUNOBA FAMILY IPPONSUGI SKI RESORT

Bi#C6:76@6<JG6™I6H=>GD

:8=><DNJO6L6HI6I>DC

NASPA SKI GARDEN

IWA-PPARA WINTER RESORT

KANDATSU KOGEN LUDENS YUZAWA SKI

YUZAWA PARK SKI YUZAWA NAKAZATO KAYAMA CAPTAIN COAST NAKAZATO SNOW WOOD Mt. NAEBA

Bi#C6:76™H=>G6@676 Bi#C6:76™6H6<6>

GONDOLA ROPEWAY

MT. NAEBA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 89-2211 http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/naeba/index.html Dec. 9 - May 6 (Closed Apr. 9 - Apr. 27) 8:00 - 17:00 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

KAGURA - TASHIRO - MITSUMATA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 88-9221 www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/kagura Nov. 23 - May 27 8:00 - 17:00

¥5,700 FREE

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,700 ¥3,800

Park

Kagura Area Park

To Naeba

Tashiro Area

To Naeba These three connecting ski areas form one big resort. If Mt. Naeba calls itself "The Station Moritz of the East" and you count Naeba, the total rideable area is 368 hectares. From is a popular choice for Kanto trendsetters wishing to get away Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses coursesNaeba, you’ll be lifted above Lake Tashiro to wider and less Lifts Gondola for a convenient ski weekend. The crescent-shaped Prince Lifts Gondola crowded slopes and better snow quality, but the area closes at Hotel cuts an imposing figure at the base of this classic ski-in/ 35% 20% 45% 40% 30% 30% 4 p.m. and the lift line back to Naeba can be long, so beware. A ski-out resort and features all the trappings you would expect better option is to access the Tashiro Ropeway on Route 17. You from a Prince-managed resort hotel. Off the mountain, there are 14 3 5 3 5 5 can then traverse across Tashiro in about 40 minutes to Kagura, children’s services, hot springs and other amenities and, on the a popular backcountry zone and a great option for early and late mountain, a terrain park, kids park, family snow park and more. 1 season skiing. The Mitsumata area has a small boarder's park, Naeba is connected to Kagura, Tashiro, and Mitsumata ski Longest Course: 6,000m Longest Course: 4,000m a few jumps and two good slopes for learning. Accessible by areas via the "Dragondola," which travels 5.5 kilometers in just 23 Top Elevation: 1,845m 22 Top Elevation: 1,789m Intermediate Advanced the Mitsumata Ropeway on Route 17. Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses 15 minutes, so there are 44 trails exploreBeginner if you have the time. courses Base Elevation: 900m Base Elevation: 620m Park

ACCESS

By Train and Free Shuttle: Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo to Echigo Yuzawa Station (77 minutes) then free shuttle bus for staying guests to Naeba Resort (50 minutes)

ACCESS

By Train and Shuttle Bus: Take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa Station (77 minutes) then shuttle bus to the resort (approx. 30 minutes)

For more Niigata information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

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GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT (0257) 85-6543 Dec. 16 - May 6

Yuzawa, Niigata

www.galaresort.jp/winter/english 8:00 - 17:00

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,600 ¥2,300

Park

If you want a quick, convenient day-trip from Tokyo, you can’t get any easier than GALA Yuzawa. The ski resort has its very own bullet train and train station that doubles as the ski lodge. The amazing efficiency means you won’t be alone on the hill. However, get up to the mountain, get in a few runs with friends and be back in time to buy your favorite designer goods in Harajuku. The resort is geared toward recreation and families with kids, but it does connect to other resorts, so there are more options for serious skiers. And if you just want to have fun in the snow for a day with friends, you can’t beat the convenience.

Park

Beginner Lifts

By Train: 77 minutes from Tokyo Station to GALA Yuzawa Beginner Station Intermediate Gondola By Car: 5 minutes from Yuzawa I.C. (Kanetsu Expressway)Lifts

16

Advanced Descent Course

courses

IWAPPARA 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,500

Although Iwappara looks like a relic of Japan’s bubble era, with big pink apartments along the course, it is still one of the more popular resorts in the Yuzawa area. It’s super convenient from the station (10 minutes) by shuttle bus, so it is quite possible to do a day trip from Tokyo. The main course is very wide open, making it a great place for beginners to practice their turns without fear of being run over by a speedy skier (or vice versa). The views from the top are nice, and the village area around the ski area has a nice selection of restaurants.

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,181m Base Elevation: 358m

25% 3

Park

40% 2

Beginner Lifts

40% 2

NASPA SKI GARDEN ¥4,200 ¥3,200

40% 7

20%

20

courses

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 985m Base Elevation: 400m

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 985m Base Elevation: 400m

JOETSU KOKUSAI SKI RESORT

38% 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

38% 2

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

37% 1

25% 2

37% 1

25% 2

Longest Course: 2.2km Top Elevation: 690m Base Elevation: 430m

8

courses

Longest Course: 2.2km Top Elevation: 690m Base Elevation: 430m

8 Beginner Station Intermediate By Train and Free Shuttle Bus: Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa (77 Advanced courses Lifts Gondola minutes) then free shuttle bus to NASPA Ski Garden (5 minutes)

Minamiuonuma, Niigata Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,000 ¥2,500

To the north of Yuzawa Town is a 634-room, Europeanstyle hotel that anchors the Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort. The runs are relatively short here, but there is a long 6K trail and a 38-degree “Daibetto Slope” that will challenge anyone’s courage. The resort also has an extensive terrain park and two half-pipes; one used for the World Cup, and regularly hosts events such as the Nippon Freeskiing Competition. It’s also a great place for kids featuring the Kids Paradise areas with snow tubing and air slides, Sori Land (Sled Land), the Sponge Bob Kids Park and a “day nursery.”

Park

30% 3 Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 3

Park

By Train and Bus: Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo to minutes) then train to Joetsu Kokusai (15 minutes)

Advanced

20%

Park

Park

(025) 782-1028 www.jkokusai.co.jp Dec. 9 - Apr. 8 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

Intermediate Gondola

40% 7

Yuzawa, Niigata Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

NASPA is a relatively new ski resort (opened in 1992) whose claim to fame is being one of the last skiers-only resorts left in Japan. The ski hill is behind the deluxe New Otani Hotel. The resort definitely caters toward families who ski and want to stay in luxury. Guests can enjoy the excellent hot springs, Jacuzzis, a swimming pool, fitness center and a selection of restaurants. Its location near the station makes for a quick, convenient ski weekend from Tokyo, if you want to get in a few turns (on skis) with the family.

ACCESS

25% 3

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,181m Base Elevation: 358m

20 By Train and Shuttle Bus: 77 minutes from Tokyo Station toBeginner EchigoIntermediate Yuzawa Advanced courses Lifts Gondola Station then shuttle bus from Echigo Yuzawa Station (10 minutes)

(025) 780-6888 www.naspaskigarden.com Dec. 22 - Apr. 1 8:30 - 17:00

ACCESS

40% 1 4

16

courses

40% 1 4

Yuzawa, Niigata

(025) 787-3211 www.iwa-ppara.com Dec. 9 - Apr. 8 8:00 - 20:00 (17:00 - 20:00) (Saturdays: 8:00 - 21:00)

ACCESS

Intermediate Advanced Descent Course Gondola

35% 1 2

Park

ACCESS

35% 1 2

Intermediate Advanced EchigoBeginner Yuzawa Station (77 Lifts Gondola

22

courses

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

50% 4

20% 18

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,017m Base Elevation: 200m

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

49

22

courses

50% 4

20% 18

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,017m Base Elevation: 200m


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AKIRA SASAKI 4-time Olympic Slalom Skier

Travelers hungry for new, authentic experiences are increasingly discovering Japan is an untapped land where rich culture and ancient traditions exist within cultu a beautiful natural landscape offering countless outdoor activities and exciting adventures. Whether adventure to you is getting lost in the backstreets of pottery villages or laying down deep turns in Japanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legendary powder, Outdoor Japan Ja Adventures will help you discover tours and travel with professional guides throughout Japan. Outdoor Japan Adventures introduces local tour operators passionate about unique experiences for travelers exploring Japan. Whether you are an independent traveler, on a family holiday or a quick business trip, find your next Japan adventure.

MANAMI UENO Olympic Freestyle Skier

DAVE ENRIGHT Hakuba Backcountry Guide

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MYOKO SUGINOHARA (0255) 86-6211 www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/myoko Dec. 23 - Apr. 1 8:30 - 16:30

Myoko, Niigata 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,500 ¥3,900

Myoko Kogen is simply one of the naturally prettiest ski areas in Japan. Suginohara is part of the Prince Resorts family (although there is no hotel here), and the facilities are well maintained. The runs above the gondola are where advanced skiers and powder hounds will have the most fun, and there are English backcountry guides available. The resort has 16 trails, a terrain park, kids sledding area (ask about kids skiing free), hot springs and six on-hill restaurants. Suginohara also boasts Japan’s longest top-to-bottom, an 8.5-kilometer thigh burner that will test anyone’s meddle if left for the last run of the day. The stunning view of Lake Nojiri below from the gondola makes it worth the trip alone.

ACCESS

By Train: 120 minutes from Tokyo Station to Myoko Kogen Beginner Station Intermediate By Car: 160 minutes from Tokyo

Advanced

AKAKURA ONSEN (0255) 87-2125 Dec. 16 - Apr. 8

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 2

20% 2

40% 1

courses

Longest Course: 8,500m Top Elevation: 1,855m Base Elevation: 731m

16

courses

Akakura Onsen, Niigata

www.akakura-ski.com 8:30 - 22:00 (17:00 - 22:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,200 ¥3,000

Akakura Ski Resort is located at the bottom of Mt. Myoko and is the largest resort in the Myoko Heights area. The resort has a nice variety of courses as well as powder stashes and some challenging courses on the old “Champions” side of the mountain. The town’s hot springs date back to 1814, and there is no better way to finish off a day on the mountain. The Akakura Resort & Spa sits majestically on the slopes. It’s a great place to stay if you want ski in/ski out luxury. The area averages about 13 meters of snow annually, so there is plenty of fluffy stuff, and it has a pleasant natural beauty. Akakura has a nice variety of courses, but the most challenging runs are on the old “Champions” side of the mountain.

ACCESS

Park

By Train: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hr.,Beginner 45 min.),Intermediate then take Advanced the JR Shinetsu Honsen Line to Myoko Kogen Station, then 10 minutes by bus

SEKI ONSEN

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

30% 4

50% 2

20% 9

A little-known place awesome for Longest Course: 3,000m 20 Top Elevation: 1,200m courses Base Elevation: 650m

Seki Onsen, Niigata

(0255) 82-2316 www.sekionsen.com End of Dec. - Beginning of May 9:00 - 17:00

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥3,000

Seki is the highest ski area in the Myoko Kogen area and, even though there are just two lifts, there is access to many powder runs. This is a locals mountain, and they check the weather reports and know when the storms will hit, sometimes dropping one or two meters of new snow overnight. It pays to get up early if you want first tracks. Don’t expect groomers; this is natural terrain and free riding at its finest: tree runs, natural pipes and some good hits.

courses

Park

Skiing & Snowboarding

MINAKAMI GUNMA Alpine Lodge Ski & Snowboard Lessons Backcountry tours Snowshoe tours

Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

30% 1

50%

courses

Longest Course: 1,600m

ACCESS

6 Top Elevation: 1,620m Intermediate By Train: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1Beginner hr., 45 min.), then Advanced courses Base Elevation: 1,000m take the JR Shinetsu Honsen Line to Sekiyama Station, then 20 min. by taxi

CHARMANT HIUCHI (025) 568-2244 http://charmant-hiuchi.jp Dec. 22 - May 5 8:30 - 16:30

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥3,000

Charmant is a locally owned and operated ski resort most of your friends do not know about but may wish they did. The resort is literally right on the Japan Sea (you can see it from the top lifts) and gets some of the heaviest snow dumps around. It is also a healthy drive from Tokyo (four hours), but is worth the trip if you enjoy short lift lines and uncrowded slopes. There are lots of ungroomed areas and advanced terrain including a 1,000-meter powder course. The proximity to the sea means there is some excellent seafood nearby as well, and you can ski straight through Golden Week.

ACCESS

+81-278-72-2811

Itoigawa, Niigata 1 DAY TICKET

Beginner Intermediate Car access is recommended: Train and bus service is inconvenient. From Tokyo it takes 4 hours by car, depending on traffic and weather

Advanced

www.canyons.jp

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

16

courses

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

45% 2

35%

courses

English Ski & Snowboard Lessons Snowshoe tour

Longest Course: 2,700m Top Elevation: 1,009m Base Elevation: 501m

+81-80-9083-2179

For more Niigata information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com) WINTER 2018

51

www.canyons.jp


GUNMA

Okutone Snow Park

Kawaba

Minakami Houdaigi

Tenjindaira Tanigawadake

Oze Iwakura

Norn Minakami Manza Onsen Kusatsu Kokusai

W

hile neighboring Niigata gets most of the attention, Gunma quietly has some great snow resorts of its own. Located in northeast Gunma near the border with Niigata, Minakami

has 10 ski resorts and is just 90 minutes from Tokyo. Oze Katashina is another quality area that flies under the radar. Katashina Town lies in the shadows of mighty Mt. Hotaka and Mt. Shirane and features nearby resorts such as the popular Oze Iwakura, Hotaka Bokujo, a boarder’s park, and Oguna Hotaka, a nice mid-sized resort. Manza, to the east of Katashina, the popular ski and onsen areas of Manza and Kusatsu Resort & Spa are great places to relax before or after a good day on the mountain.

MINAKAMI HOUDAIGI

Minakami, Gunma

OKUTONE SNOW PARK (0278) 72-8101 Dec. 14 - Apr. 1

(0278) 75-2557 www.hodaigi.jp Dec. 16 - Apr. 8 8:00 - 16:30 Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,300 ¥2,900

Minakami, Gunma

www.okutone.jp 8:00 - 22:00 (weekends & holidays 6:00 - 24:00)

(17:00-22:00) (Until 24:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and the days before National Holidays)

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Minakami Houdaigi ski resort is the largest in the Minakami area. The resort, due to the higher elevation, also gets good quality snow. Although there are many beginner and intermediate runs, there are a few advanced courses as well, including a killer 40-degree slope and a 2,600-meter cruiser. Parents can let their kids have fun safely on tubes and airboards in the “Kids Land,” and older kids can enjoy the “Action Land” with tabletops, waves and banks. Beginner

ACCESS

Intermediate

Advanced

Adults ¥4,200 Kids Free for children <12

Park

Park

Park

If rails, pipes and jumps are your thing, Okutone ski Beginner Intermediate Advanced coursesarea is the place to go in Minakami. The park staff takes Beginner Intermediate Advanced Lifts courses Lifts Gondola good care of guests who come to perfect their style at the 30% 20% 50% resort’s park. The night sessions are popular, since they 40% 30% 30% keep the lights on until midnight on Friday and Saturday 1 2 5 nights and before national holidays. The north-facing 6 1 courses have nice snow quality, and you can enjoy some turns on the 3,900-meter long course. Okutone is just two Longest Course: 1,400m hours from Tokyo, making it super convenient. They offer Longest Course: 3,900m 16 Top Elevation: 1,400m 10 Top Elevation: 1,083m free tickets to kids under 12 and freeBeginner coffee Intermediate if you come Advanced courses Base Elevation: 830m courses before 10 a.m. on weekdays. Base Elevation: 550m

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) then bus to Houdaigi (70 minutes)

NORN MINAKAMI

Minakami, Gunma

(0278)-72-6688 www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/gunma/minakami/norn-minakami Dec. 22 - Mar. 31 8:00 - 22:00/24:00 (16:30 - 24:00) 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

ACCESS

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) then bus to Okutone (40 minutes)

TENJINDAIRA TANIGAWADAKE

Minakami, Gunma

(0278) 72-3575 www.tanigawadake-rw.com 8:30 - 16:30 End of Nov. - Late May

¥4,500 ¥3,600

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥3,500 ¥2,000

Park

Park Park

Situated just three kilometers from the Minakami Interchange, Norn Minakami is the most convenient of the Minakami Resorts if you are coming by car. The resort is great for families. They’ve created “family zones” where the average slope is just 13 degrees and a Day Care Center where parents can drop off the little ones and enjoy some time on the mountain themselves. Norn is open from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends, so you can enjoy a long day on the slopes and, like all Minakami resorts, it is not far from some great hot springs. Beginner Intermediate Advanced

ACCESS

Although Tenjindaira is better known to most for trekBeginner Intermediate Advanced courses king in summer, when the tram is packed with hikers, the courses Lifts Gondola resort is a popular stop on the backcountry trail. The resort itself is relatively small, but lift lines are usually short and 40% 30% 30% 20% 20% 60% the snow quality can be excellent if it’s not too windy up top. However, the secret to “Tenjin” is off the main trails. 1 4 2 2 Those who like their riding steep and deep head for the backcountry. This is “enter at your own risk” territory and not a place to go without avalanche gear (and the knowlLongest Course: 4,000m Longest Course: 2,000m edge how to use it). Better yet, hire one of theIntermediate knowledge10 Top Elevation: 1,500m 5 Top Elevation: 1,220m Beginner Advanced courses courses Base Elevation: 820m able local guides and enjoy some "Japow!" Base Elevation: 750m Beginner Lifts

Intermediate

Advanced

By Train: 150 minutes from Tokyo Station to Minakami Station, then free shuttle. By Car: 90 minutes from Tokyo (Nerima IC) via Kanetsu Expressway

ACCESS

By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, then change to the Joetsu Line to Minakami Station, then 20 minutes by bus to Tenjindaira

For more Gunma information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

52


KAWABA (0278) 52-3345 Dec. 2 - Apr. 15

Kawaba, Gunma www.kawaba.co.jp 8:30 - 16:00

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,500 ¥3,200

There’s something different about Kawaba. You’ll notice it the first time you pull into the covered parking area of the eight-story Kawaba City center house. There are six floors of parking and the seventh and eighth floors are filled with restaurants and ski/board shops. On the mountain, Kawaba is progressive as well with a nice balance of park and powder. Within the 10,790 meters of skiable terrain is the “Powder Zone,” a section of the mountain left ungroomed for powder lovers. There is a good mogul course, the Free Ride Park (back by popular demand) and a 3,300-meter trail for cruising. Kawaba City also includes a ski school, kids corner and locker rooms.

Park

20% 3

40% 1

40% 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 3

Advanced

40% 1

10

Longest Course: 2,000m Top Elevation: 2,020m

courses Base Elevation: 1,290m

40% 1

Park

Intermediate By Train and Shuttle Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75Beginner minutes), then a ACCESS 50-minute shuttle bus ride to Kawaba Lifts Gondola

Advanced

10

Longest Course: 2,000m Top Elevation: 2,020m

courses Base Elevation: 1,290m

KUSATSU KOKUSAI (0279) 88-8111 Dec. 16 - Apr. 8

www.kusatsu-kokusai.com 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

Kusatsu, Gunma 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,200 ¥3,200

Although Kusatsu is famous as one of the country’s best onsen resorts, the area also features a quality ski resort that has been around since the Taisho Era and is open nearly six months out of the year. Kusatsu Snow & Spa has an eight-kilometer downhill course, one of the longest in Japan (along with Myoko Suginohara), a Kids Square where the little ones can enjoy activities such as snow tubing, and a variety of courses for all levels. However, Heliport the best part of being at Kusatsu is the fact you can enjoy some world-famous hot springs after a great day on the mountain.

Park Heliport

20% 1

50% 2

30% 8

Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

50% 2

30% 8

Longest Course: 8,000m Top Elevation: 2,171m

9

courses Base Elevation: 1,245m

Park

Longest Course: 8,000m

9 Top Elevation: 2,171m Beginner (72 Intermediate Advanced By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Karuizawa Station from Tokyo minutes), courses Base Elevation: 1,245m Lifts Gondola ACCESS then 55 min. by direct bus from Karuizawa Station

MANZA ONSEN (0279) 97-3117 Dec. 9 - Apr. 1

Tsumagoi, Gunma

www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/manza/ 8:30 - 17:00

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,800 FREE

Manza Onsen is another of Prince Resorts signature properties, and the hotel’s buildings command an imposing presence at the bottom of the hill. The resort features a lot of good beginner and intermediate runs and is a great place for families. There are not a lot of challenging runs for advanced skiers, but the scenery is beautiful, the snow quality excellent as it is one of Japan’s highest resorts and the hotel has a nice rotenburo (outdoor bath) for after-ski soaking. The facilities and amenities are on a par with what you’d expect from Prince Resorts, making for a stress-free ski experience.

Park

40% 1

40% 4

20%

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 1

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 4

20%

Longest Course: 2,000m Top Elevation: 1,994m

9

courses Base Elevation: 1,646m

Park

ACCESS

Beginner IntermediateStation Advanced By Train & Bus: Shinkansen to Takasaki Station (50 minutes) then to Manza-kazawaguchi Lifts Gondola (90 minutes). Then change to the Seibu Kanko Bus to Manza Onsen (50 minutes).

Longest Course: 2,000m Top Elevation: 1,994m

9

courses Base Elevation: 1,646m

OZE IWAKURA (0278) 58-7777 Dec. 16 - Apr. 8

Katashina, Gunma

www.oze-iwakura.co.jp/ski/ 8:00 - 21:00 (16:30 - 21:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,600 ¥2,500

Oze Iwakura is the largest of the Katashina ski resorts. It was also one of the longest skiers-only holdouts. The mountain itself has a timeless, genteel feel to it, where visitors enjoy breathing in the fresh air and taking in the views. This year Oze Iwakura celebrates its 40th anniversary, and with the new Shisaka Tunnel, access from Numata I.C. has never been easier. If you get tired of groomers, you’ll find some nice powder on the fringes while some areas outside the lines will be tempting. Yet Iwakura remains a skier's mountain at heart, and skiers will enjoy the long, cruising runs, moguls and some challenging steep terrain. Park

Park

30% 11 9

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 11 9

Advanced

40% 1

30% 2

Longest Course: 3,200m

ACCESS

16 Top Elevation: 1,703m Advanced By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) thenBeginner by bus toIntermediate Oze Iwakura courses Base Elevation: 1,006m Lifts Gondola (90 min.) More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2018

53

16

40% 1

30% 2

M.O.C Nagata Longest Course: 3,200m

Top Elevation: 1,703m

courses Base Elevation: 1,006m


GIFU Takasu Snow Park Dynaland

A

s far as resorts in central Honshu go, Gifu gets much less attention than Nagano, Niigata and Gunma. Nonetheless there are a number

of quality resorts in the region that primarily service the Nagoya and Kansai regions. Less than a couple hours from the main Gifu ski resorts is the Edo-style town of Takayama, known as “Little Kyoto.” Takayama’s master carpenters built some beautiful shrines and temples here at the base of the Japan Alps. Also in the region, along the border of Gifu and Toyama prefectures are the World Heritage villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokoyama, known for the thatched roof houses built in “gassho-zukuri” (praying hands) style. These A-frame farmhouses are constructed to withstand the heavy snowfall that blankets the region each year. If you are looking for good skiing and mixing in some great cultural experiences, Gifu is a great winter destination.

TAKASU SNOW PARK (0575) 72-7000 www.takasu.gr.jp Beg. of Dec. - May 6 8:00 - 16:30

Takasu, Gifu 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,900 ¥2,000

Takasu is well known to park riders. The resort has a large free ride park that includes kickers, rails, boxes and one of the biggest super pipes in Japan. There is also a 600-meter professional boarder cross course and a mogul course. The resort is the training grounds for many of Japan’s rising stars and has hosted a number of competitions including the FIS Snowboard World Cup. Aside from the amazing pipe and park, winter sports enthusiasts of all levels can enjoy the open-faced free ride terrain including a 4,800-meter trail, one of longest in western Japan, and several other 4,000-meter trails. There are even some backcountry tours through Dainichi Valley.

ACCESS

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

35% 1

12 Beginner Intermediate Advanced By Bus: A bus leaves Nagoya at 8 a.m. stopping at both Takasu and Dynacourses land. The trip takes about 2 hours, 45 minutes

Takasu, Gifu 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,900 ¥3,600

Dynaland is the largest of the Takasu ski resorts. There are 19 runs; the longest a 3,200-meter thigh burner. There is a shared ticket to neighboring Takasu Snow Park and two places on the mountain that connect the resorts. If you want to get out on the slopes first thing in the morning, the Hotel Villa Mon-Saint is right in front of the resort, and there are 5 a.m. openings for first tracks on selected dates. The resort has featured a resident DJ who will take music requests, and you can do some good for Mother Nature while having a lunch break since the Dynaland Eco Project collects proceeds from resort restaurants to support a Gifu tree planting project. Night skiing runs until 11 p.m.

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 3

20 Beginner Intermediate Advanced By Bus: A bus leaves Nagoya at 8 a.m. stopping at both Takasu and Dynacourses land. The trip takes about 2 hours, 45 minutes For more Gifu information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

54

courses

30%

Longest Course: 4,800m Top Elevation: 1,550m Base Elevation: 950m

DYNALAND (0575) 72-6636 www.dynaland.co.jp Dec. 9 - Apr. 1 8:00 - 16:30

ACCESS

35% 3

Advanced

32% 2

Advanced

28%

Longest Course: 3,200m Top Elevation: 1,430m Base Elevation: 983m

courses


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癒しの空間で... 波を心いくまで満喫...

Feel at home... Enjoy the ride... 58

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Outdoor Japan Traveler | Issue 66 | Winter 2018  
Outdoor Japan Traveler | Issue 66 | Winter 2018  

The Winter 2018 issue of Outdoor Japan Traveler (Issue #66) includes our annual Japan Snow Guide as well as plenty all the travel, adventure...

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