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ISSUE 70 WINTER 2019

TRAVELER

EVERY SEASON IS A NEW ADVENTURE

A DECADE OF DANCHI

Looking Back with Filmmaker Neil Hartmann

MAD ABOUT POW IN MADARAO CENTRAL JAPAN’S OLD TOWN CHARM

2019 JAPAN SNOW GUIDE CYCLING JAPAN BEER BUZZ MARKET WATCH

FREE | ¥0


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INSIDE ISSUE 70

WINTER 2019

FEATURES

16 A Decade of Danchi 8 Old Town Charm in Hida Furukawa 11 Japan Snow Guide

24 Mad About Pow in Madarao

INSIDE

5 . . . . From the Editor

7 . . . . Market Watch

6 . . . . Cycling Japan

10. . . Beer Buzz

28 . . Winter News and Events

WINTER 2019

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FROM THE EDITOR Published Seasonally

T

his year marks the start of two momentous years for Japan with the Rugby World Cup being held nationwide in autumn and the Olympics the following year in summer. Furthermore, Japan is currently experiencing a historic tourism boom, with over 28 million visitors in 2017 and 40 million expected for 2020. In fact, I moved back from Hawai‘i to my hometown in Japan five years ago because I didn’t want to miss out on the action happening here. And while I still reminisce of the islands’ tropical warmth, I don’t regret my decision at all. Indeed, the past year in particular has proven to be an exciting time to be in the travel industry as the country readies for these monumental events and the millions of visitors to follow. While the well-traveled “Golden Route” of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka will be without a doubt teeming with travelers, local regions are stepping up to showcase their less-publicized countryside charm where travelers can experience a more authentic Japan. We’ve been fortunate to be a part of this movement by collaborating with tourism boards across Japan. We discovered waterfall trails and traditional town life in Central Japan at Hida Furukawa, where centuries-old crafts and festivals are still celebrated today. We’ve also been exploring Shizuoka, one of the host prefectures for the Rugby World Cup, producing videos showing off-the-beaten path experiences that are worlds away from the metropolitan crowds of Tokyo or Nagoya. Japan’s legendary powder is no longer a secret and Hokkaido started off strong this season with consistent snowfall starting in late November. Long-time OJ friend, contributor and Hokkaido resident Neil Hartmann shares some anecdotes about his recently released Car Danchi 10 snowboarding film. The Hokuriku Shinkansen whisks snow lovers to Honshu’s best resorts in less than two hours from Tokyo. One resort that has stayed under the radar is Madarao Mountain Resort. However as rumors have spread about its easy-access, powder-filled tree runs, more and more travelers have arrived. To keep up with their new popularity, the resort town is undergoing a major transformation with more foreign-owned lodges opening up. We teamed up with some Madarao locals to re-launch the MadaraoMountainResort.com website and created a video featuring locals and new lodge owners working together to develop the area. You can find more information on our annual Japan Snow Guide which lists some great ski resorts around the country. The guide is also available online or via the free app. Our 70th issue marks a thrilling beginning for us as we look for new ways to share the best of adventure travel in Japan and help our readers get out there to enjoy unforgettable experiences. Expect more from us on social media, new videos and a website makeover. Happy New Year from all of us at Outdoor Japan, get out there and enjoy the winter!

年は日本にとってふたつの重要なイベントを迎える元年となります。ひとつは秋に全国規模で開催されるラグビー・ワール ドカップ。そして翌年の夏に開かれる東京オリンピックです。日本は現在、歴史的といえる観光ブームに沸いています。その 数は 2107 年には 2,800 万人を超え、2020 年には 4,000 万人に達するだろうと期待を込めて予測されています。私が 5 年前にハワイから日本のホームタウンに戻ったのもこのブームが理由です。いまでも島のトロピカルな暖かさを懐かしく思いますが、 でも日本に戻る決断を後悔はしていません。 昨年は、日本の旅行業界に参加することこそがエキサイティングだったと思います。それはこの国で起きる歴史的イベントの開催 と、それにつづく数千万の旅行者に対しての期待の現れでした。外国人旅行者がかならず訪れる都市、東京、京都、そして大阪は「ゴー ルデンルート」として疑うことなく旅行者であふれるでしょう。そして地方は知られざる田舎としての魅力を放ち、古き日本を求める旅行 者たちへのショーケースと化すと思われます。 弊誌は幸運にもこのブームに乗ることができ、日本の観光を発信するメディアとして協力させていただいています。飛騨の古川町 では滝を愛でるトレイルや伝統的な日本の生活を発見しました。そこでは数百年つづく伝統工芸や祭りなどが現在でもつづいていま す。私たちはまたラグビー・ワールドカップのホストを務める静岡県を探索し、ビデオを外国の旅行者のためにプロデュースしました。 静岡は東京や名古屋からも近いところにあります。 日本のパウダースノーのクオリティはすでにシークレットではありません。北海道は 11 月の下旬から雪が降りつづき、シーズンイ ンしています。弊誌とは長い付き合いになるコントリビューターのニール・ハートマンは北海道在住で新作のスノーボード映画『Car Danchi 10』を最近リリースしました。 北陸新幹線を使えば東京から 2 時間弱で本州のベストスキーリゾートへとアクセスすることができます。そのひとつであまり知 られていなかったところが斑尾高原スキー場です。しかしながらアクセスの良さとパウダーのツリーランの噂はあっというまに広がって 訪れる人はどんどん増えています。その人口増加に対応するためにこのリゾートタウンでは大規模な改革がおこなわれていて、同時に 外国人のオーナーによるロッジもオープンしています。弊誌では斑尾のローカルたちとチームを組んでウェブサイトを立ち上げました。 MadaraoMountainResort .com では地元と新しいロッジのオーナーたちがお互いに力を合わせて地域を開発する映像を発信して います。日本のスキーについてもっと情報が欲しい人は Japan Snow Guide にアクセスするかアプリをダウンロードしてみてはいか がでしょう。全国のスキー場を知ることができます。 第 70 号は読者の皆さまがすばらしい冒険や旅行を体験できるよう、斬新な方法でご紹介しています。これからも弊誌が発信す る SNS や映像、ウェブサイトを期待してください。日本のアウトドア愛好家の皆さまがすばらしい新年を迎えられるように願っています。 さあ、外に飛びだして冬を楽しみましょう!

Publisher Outdoor Japan Media Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson Editor Bill Ross Multimedia Producer Rie Miyoshi Design Mojoworks Contributing Editors Rie Miyoshi, Shigeo Morishita Translators Yoshine Lee, Eri Nishikami, Lana Sofer Contributors Gint Atkinson, Joan Bailey, Amy Chavez, Lee Dobson, Bryan Harrell, Neil Hartmann, Yuske Hirota, Abdel Ibrahim, Pete Leong, Pauline Kitamura, Takashi Niwa, Tim Rock, Justin Stein

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 www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan www.instagram.com/outdoorjapan

—Rie Miyoshi

Assistant Editor / Multimedia Producer

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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。

©2019 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.

Cover Photo: Neil Hartmann

WINTER 2019

5


Enj oy the Sun set Pal mL i ne

cycl ing

Cam ellia

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

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TRAVELER

A

road

flow e

in th e nor

rs ar e

in blo

theas t

ern pa rt

om in m

of the is land

any pla ces from winter to spring ►

ferry ride away from Central Tokyo, the island of Izu Oshima entices many cyclists with its thrilling routes and stellar ocean views. Although you could do a day trip here, an overnight stay allows you to fully explore the island’s charm. There are two road biking options: a route around the island or a hill climb. The circular ride is 43 kilometers long. It’s recommended to go clockwise because riding on the left side of the road (it’s the law here) lets you ride closer to the shore. The route includes a challenging section along the eastern shoreline which ascends up to 300 meters. Alternatively, you could climb the volcano up to Gojinka Chaya, a teahouse nestled 550 meters above sea level. You can get there via the Ajisai Rainbow Line or Miharayama Tozan Doro (note that the Gojinka Skyline route is closed). Park your bike at the teahouse then circle the

rim of the volcanic crater where you can feel the natural power of our constantly changing earth. Cycling Izu Oshima is refreshing as the roads are relatively traffic free and there is a laidback, island feel with semi-tropical fauna thriving from the Kuroshio current breeze, complex volcanic terrain, hot springs and abundant seafood. Happy Holidays and hope you spend it cycling! Getting There A ferry service is available from Takeshiba Pier in Tokyo (takes eight hours one way). It leaves nightly and returns at 4:30 p.m. A highspeed Jetfoil boat will get you to Izu Oshima in just an hour and 45 minutes. You can bring your bike onboard a regular ferry as is or packed in a rinko bag. Jetfoils allow bag-packed bikes only.


MARKET WATCH By Joan Bailey

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SHIZUOUKA ORGANIC FESTIVAL

estled in a wooded corner of the Shizuoka Exercise Park, the Shizuoka Organic Festival might be difficult to find if it weren’t for the sounds of music and scent of freshly cooked food wafting through the trees. The first annual event held in December 2018 included 160 growers and producers offering everything from fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to bread, jam, pickles, and organic beer and wine. The event offered a little something for everyone, which was exactly what Maki Yumamoto, one of the eight-member crew that organized the event, hoped would happen. “We wanted to show people that everything they need is available in organic form here in Shizuoka. That’s why we chose tsunagaru (connection) as the theme for our first year,” she says.

Visitors indeed found a little bit of everything. Beauty products, clothing, accessories, and household items could be found in unique colors and designs, often using reclaimed materials or natural dyes. Workshops on wreath making, wood carving, alternative energy, green building, and seed saving all took place along with a seed swap and talks with growers and producers about what organic meant to them and why they believed it was particularly important now. Kanae Tanizaki of Yasashi Farm and Makoma Warashina of Damonde Farm both arrived from Fujinomiya to be on hand for the event with their array of fresh vegetables.

A self-taught organic farmer, Tanizaki started working her fields only five years ago and sells most of her produce to restaurants and organic shops. The deep green of her Lacinato kale is impossible to pass up as are the vivid colors of the heirloom carrots she displays. Warashina began farming just four years ago with a focus on growing sansai (mountain vegetables), some of which—like gobo (burdock root)—she uses as a rich, earthy tea, even though they are difficult to work with. “I like things that are challenging,” she says as she passes out samples of the tea. Eriko Hirano of Farmers Kitchen turns the organic produce and grains into cookies, sandwiches and mouth-watering sweets. Other bakers were scattered around the grounds, some pulling steaming fresh pizza from portable stone ovens on site, while others, like Kirkekafe Bakeri, brought their loaves, muffins, and other delectables in for the day. Fujiyama Hunter Brewery tapped tasty organic kegs of Yoki—a hinoki (cypress) flavored beer—along with a rice IPA. Peace Tea Factory, Kawane’s three-year fermented bancha tea, packed a subtler punch. Both were perfect companions for listening to one of the live music performances or watching children of all ages test their skills on a bamboo jungle gym, an improvised skateboard park or rope climbing. One day seemed too short to take in everything Shizuoka Organic Festival offered, but for now it will have to do.

Shizuoka Organic Festival www.shizuokaorganicfes.com

WINTER 2019

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estled in Central Japan is a charming town preserving traditional crafts, historical streets and authentic Japanese countryside life. But it’s not Takayama or Shirakawa-go’s thatched-roof farmhouses and picturesque alleys that have become immensely popular over the past few years. Hidden in a valley just 15 minutes by train from Takayama is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets: Hida Furukawa, literally translated into “Old Town.” Hida Furukawa is a castle town with a 400-year-old canal lined with whitewashed townhouses and a rich history in wood architecture and sake. During the Edo Period, the area was under the direct control of the Tokugawa shogunate and was a flourishing trading and business district. Today, the main street continues to be Hida Furukawa’s most iconic location and is conveniently within walking distance from Hida Furukawa Station. The Seto River runs through the streets and is inhabited by vibrantly colored carp. On both sides of the canal are sake breweries, temples, cafés, souvenir and craft shops and restaurants where you can try the local delicacy, Hida beef. Back in the day, the region was also famous for producing high-quality timber. Using local lumber, carpenters developed architectural techniques that do not use nails, which you can discover at the Takumikan Craft Museum. Hida Furukawa is busiest on April 19 and 20 during the annual Furukawa Festival. During the day, some of the nation’s finest floats are paraded down the main street. At night, it is one of Japan’s three great “Naked Festivals” as hundreds of men clad in loincloths carry the Okoshi

8

TRAVELER

Daiko, an enormous drum atop a tower. Even if you miss this spectacular event, you can view the intricately designed floats and watch a short film on the festival at the Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall. The town is just as attractive in winter (although the carp are relocated to warmer waters). Average snow accumulation is around 50 centimeters and snow tires are recommended between early December and late March. Hida Kawai Ski Resort is a popular ski resort nearby especially with its onsen and proximity to Hida Furukawa Station (a 20-minute drive). Beyond the Old Town Public transportation around this area is limi­ ted so it’s best to rent a car and explore different activities outside of the main town area. One of the best ways to start off your day here is by ascending the 1,048-meter Mt. Anbou for a panoramic view of unkai (sea of clouds). Hida Furukawa hides under thick fog every morning especially during autumn, but once 10 a.m. hits, the mist clears to reveal this underrated town. From Mt. Anbou, you can see the town and the nearby Japanese Alps mountain range. It takes a little less than two hours to the top but you can also drive up. An hour away from Hida Furukawa Station is Amou Prefectural Natural Park. The trail is popu­ lar for its variety of landscapes starting with vast marshes and massive katsura trees said to be between 300 to 500 years old. Hikers will also find native beech forests along the way. The trail leads up to the 1,710-meter Mt. Mominuka. It costs ¥500 per person to enter the park.

The drive up to Amou following Miyagawa River is especially striking in autumn. From the main road, you’ll notice small waterfalls that you can easily hike to although most do not have a designated trail. Miyagawa is the region’s primary river and famous nationwide for delicious ayu (Japanese sweetfish). Peak fishing season is during the beginning of the obon holidays in August. Located in Kamioka (a 30-minute drive from Hida Furukawa Station), Gattan Go is a locally built and run attraction allowing visitors to cycle through Hida Furukawa’s valley. It’s safe for kids too, as the mountain bikes are attached to old train tracks. While it may not be the most thrilling activity, it’s definitely an alternative for those looking to enjoy nature at a leisurely pace. Note this attraction is only open during the green season. Visit www.rail-mtb.com For travelers wanting more out of their stay, English-guided cycling tours around town and the neighboring farms are available with Satoyama Experience. During the winter, they operate snowshoe tours. For more information, visit www.satoyama-experience.com. Getting There Accessing central Japan without a car can be tricky as no major bullet trains stop here. However, you can access the Hida region by arriving at the closest shinkansen stops: Toyama on the Hokuriku Shinkansen or Nagoya on the Tokaido Shinkansen. From Toyama Station, take the JR Hida or Taka­ yama Line to Hida Furukawa Station. The JR Hida Line also runs from Nagoya Station. For more information, visit www.hida-kankou.jp.


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“Hidden in a valley just 15 minutes by train from Takayama is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets: Hida Furukawa, literally translated into ‘Old Town.’”

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WINTER 2019

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By Justin Stein

Beer,Outdoor Sports and Your Body

L

ike many outdoor sports enthusiasts, I enjoy a cold beer or two after a hike, a long bike ride or a day on the ski slopes. Interestingly, a 2009 study based on a survey of about 230,000 Americans found that people who drink alcohol tend to exercise more than those who don’t, and moderate drinkers exercise more than light drinkers. This raises a number of interesting questions. Why is there this correlation? And what effect does the combination of exercise and alcohol have on our bodies? The aforementioned study hypothesized that both drinking and vigorous activity (particularly outdoor sports like skiing, kayaking, diving, and mountaineering) could be considered part of sensation-seeking and risk-taking lifestyles. The authors also thought that maybe drinkers were more motivated to exercise to compensate for those calaries lost. Others have pointed to physical activity (like group sports) leading to social situations where there may be drinking or people rewarding themselves for working out with drinks, particularly as drinkers tend to drink more on days when they are physically active than days when they are not. The effects of post-workout beers on our bodies seem to be similarly complex. They can vary based on personal factors (such as body weight, liver size and genetically determined variants of the enzymes that metabolize alcohol), behavioral factors (how quickly you drink, whether you have food as well) and factors around what type of beer you drink. Clearly, there are many varieties of beer, from the ubiquitous light lagers to hoppy IPAs to strong malty ales like barleywines, imperial stouts and Trappist beers. The type of beer you choose will have a major impact on how it impacts your body after a workout. An Australian sports nutritionist published studies in 2013 and 2015 concluding that beer could be a good beverage for rehydration after working out. These received a good deal of media attention, but many of these articles ignored two important factors: the beer they found to be

the most rehydrating was only 2.3% alcohol by volume (ABV) and it had salt added to it. This low-alcohol, salted beer is somewhat evocative of the gose, a straw-colored tart wheat ale from Germany that is flavored coriander seeds and salt, typically 3–5% ABV. Unfortunately, gose doesn’t seem to have really caught on in Japan yet, but keep a lookout for it as a refreshing and tasty “recovery beer.” Until then, you might try adding a pinch of salt to your pint, particularly a tart saison like Yo-Ho Brewing’s Boku Bīru, Kimi Bīru (5%). The new style of “session IPAs” (that is, light-bodied IPAs with ABVs under 5%) seems well suited to the post-workout setting. Not only are they refreshing and contain lower alcohol, but also the anti-inflammatory properties of hops (rich in polyphenols) theoretically might mean that one of these beers might help your body recover better than a similar beer with lower hop content (although heavy drinking can override this positive effect). Look for one of Shiga Kogen’s lower-alcohol offerings like Kasumi IPA (4.5%) or Coedo’s Mahihana Session IPA (4.5%). Another option that’s probably the best for your body is to go for a non-alcoholic beer. There’s a reason why Germany’s Olympic athletes at Pyeongchang drank 3,500 liters of non-alcoholic Krombacher and why Erdinger markets its non-alcoholic wheat beer as a “sports and fitness drink.” German studies have shown that regularly drinking non-alcoholic beer significantly reduces inflammation and prevents respiratory infections. I haven’t found a tasty non-alcoholic beer in Japan yet, but here’s hoping our brewers catch onto this trend! However, if after a day on the slopes you crave a stronger malty beer (which has rich flavors and warming qualities that perfectly complement winter nights), try to sip it slowly, accompany it with salty food and water to moderate the alcohol’s dehydrating effects, and consider a lighter (or non-alcoholic) option if you have a second. The next morning, when the powder is dumping and you’re racing to the lift, you’ll thank yourself.

Festival Roundup Jan 11–20 Furusato Matsuri, Tokyo Jan 25–27 Japan Brewer’s Cup, Yokohama Feb TBA Sapporo Winter Beer Festival 10

TRAVELER

Feb TBA Beer1 Grandprix Festival, Tokyo Mar TBA Snow Monkey Live, Shiga Kōgen (Nagano)


Download the free app from iTunes and Google Play

Photo courtesy of Niseko Tourism

WINTER 2019

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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 canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go any farther north in Japan than Hokkaido,

and the area rightfully creates the biggest buzz for people in search of

Furano

Kiroro Snow World

Sahoro

Niseko Grand Hirafu Niseko Village

deep powder. The reason for this is simple: Hokkaido consistently gets

Niseko Annupuri

the best snow conditions, and Niseko in particular is recognized as a world-class ski resort, rivaling the long-established ski areas in Europe

Rusutsu

and North America. However, anyone thinking Hokkaido is a one-trick pony will be pleasantly surprised to find there are some great ski areas all

Tomamu

over Japanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s north island.

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

NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU, NISEKO ANNUPURI, NISEKO VILLAGE RESORT, NISEKO HANAZONO

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

23% 1

Niseko Village Resort 36% 1

32% 4

32% 2

27

courses

30

courses

Niseko Annupuri 30% 1

13

courses

www.japansnowguide.com

12

40% 5 1

40% 1

Niseko HANAZONO Resort 30% 4

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

¥5,400 ¥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 GRAND HIRAFU (0136) 22-0109 www.grand-hirafu.jp End of Nov. - May 6 8:30 - 20:30 (16:30 - 20:30) 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥5,900 ¥3,600

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. 1 -Apr. 7 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Youth Kids

www.niseko-village.com 8:30 - 20:00 (16:30 - 20:00) ¥5,900 ¥4,500 ¥3,600

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. 1 - Apr. 7 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

https://hanazononiseko.com 8:30 - 16:00 ¥5,900 ¥3,600

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

13


RUSUTSU RESORT (0136) 46-3331 Nov. 23 - Apr. 7

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

30% 4

40% 7

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/ Dec. 8 - Beg. of May 9:00 - 20:00 (16:30 - 19:30)

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,900 ¥3,100

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% 1

37% 4

Advanced

10

courses

Longest Co Top Elev Base Ele

26% 4

Park

NOZAWA BACKCOUNTRY TOURS

ACCESS

SAPPORO KOKUSAI (0115) 98-4511 Nov. 22 - 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

¥4,500 ¥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

Intermediate onBeginner traffic Gondola Lifts

Advanced

Park

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 2

7

courses

SAPPORO TEINE 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,200 ¥2,600

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.

Beginner

Intermediate

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

www.japansnowguide.com

14

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

60% 1

10% 2

7

courses

60 1

Longest C Top Elev Base El

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

Sapporo, Hokkaido

(0116) 82-6000 www.sapporo-teine.com Beg. of Nov. - Beg. of May 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

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

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

15

courses

30 1

Longest Co Top Elev Base Ele


SAHORO RESORT (0156) 64-4121 Dec. 1 - Apr. 14

Shintoku, Hokkaido

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

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,600 ¥4,500

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

40% 2 1

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,500 ¥3,900

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

30% 1

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

Park

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

(0167) 22-1111 www.princehotels.co.jp/newfurano Nov 24. - May 5 8:30 - 19:30 (17:00 - 19:30)

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥5,700 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

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

Advanced

Shimukappu, Hokkaido

(0167) 58-1111 www.snowtomamu.jp Dec. 1 - Beg. of Apr. 9:00 - 19:00 (16:00 - 19:00)

ACCESS

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2 1

10

courses

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

www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

15

10

courses

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


Neil Hartmann looks back at more than a decade of Car Danchi adventures and his latest film, “Car Danchi #10: Arigato."

Car Danchi #1: The Hokkaido Story The year was 2004 when I picked up a video camera and set out to document the unique lifestyle of the snowboarders around me here in Hokkaido, Japan. Traveling across the island for weeks at a time, living out of our cars, cooking in the back seat and doing our best to stay warm in the deep cold winters. We broke out of the ski area boundaries and discovered an endless world of powder, backcountry and good times with friends. I named the movie “The Hokkaido Story” and the wheels were in motion—the Car Danchi crew and movie series were born. Car Danchi #2: The Day The second movie in the series was a long one—two separate DVDs—one about our season in Hokkaido and the other about a month-long trip through Honshu. We took our skill of living the mobile lifestyle to the main island and found success exploring new resorts and sidecountry hot spots. The crew solidified and so did the word “Car Danchi.” People started calling us the Danchi Crew and we made new friends wherever we went. It also happened to be a big snow year in Hokkaido and this movie captures places like Niseko before the tourist crowds arrived. Car Danchi #3: A Powder Celebration The global snow scene was in the process of making a big shift from snow parks and freestyle to freeriding and backcountry that continues even today. We were riding the front of that wave and I dedicated the movie to the movement with the title “A Powder Celebration.” We focused on better filming techniques, more exploration of Hokkaido’s backcountry and a higher quality of riding. We were progressing as a film crew and fine tuning our skills! I had originally planned to end the series at number three, but decided to keep on going as the popularity of our fun, free-ride, backcountry movie had been established. Car Danchi #4: Rent The global economy took a turn for the worse and times were starting to get really tough. A recession became a spring board for the progression of our Car Danchi lifestyle. Gas prices were high, but we found ways to save and continue doing what we love. This era also became the beginning of a more spiritual vibe amongst the crew with several members becoming full-blown yogis. This led to a more soulful style of riding with longflowing lines becoming the norm. We all started to realize that our bodies needed love and care if we were to continue our lifelong mission of riding. As always the powder was deep and plentiful! Car Danchi #5: Dream Cars The massive earthquake off the coast of Tohoku created a disaster of massive proportions on March 11. Japan was knocked off its rails and struggled to recover. We had a great season filming, but I debated whether it was right to release a new movie at such a time. In the end I decided to release the movie in hopes that it raises the spirits of the many people affected by the tragedy. I also slipped in an anti-nuclear power message on the cover for good measure. I decided it was time for a more storybased feel for this film. We followed the riders as they wove in and out of “reality” and a dream state filled with powder, blue skies and big lines. Although things would never be the same again, there was a feeling of unification amongst the snow community. Ride on!

16

TRAVELER


Car Danchi #6: D.I.Y. The do-it-yourself era of filmmaking was upon us in full force now! I acquired wearable action cameras and sent them out to the crew. DIY style, we captured snowboarding and skiing from a new and fresh angle. The editing process was time consuming, but it became a fresh way to observe the Car Danchi lifestyle up close and personal. There was a new feeling of intimacy in the movie that can only be captured when everyone works together towards a common goal. Car Danchi #7: 7th Gear The movie series has now reached the point of no return! We had a new goal of reaching ten editions and it felt like we were in high gear, cruising speed—7th gear. By this point, the Danchi lifestyle had now become quite commonplace in Japan. Parking lots that used to be empty were full of vans and cars with people camping out waiting for the next big storm. We saw ourselves become leaders of a new culture as what was once considered “crazy” became the norm. The cinematic quality of the movie series changed as well with high-vision 16:9 camera work and better editing technique. Car Danchi #8: Forever Ride New younger faces appeared in this film alongside original cast members: the Danchi family is certainly growing! The freeriding and backcountry moment became center stage and snow tourism reached dizzying proportions in Japan. However, the goal of blazing new lines and creating an original culture and style remained unchanged for the Car Danchi crew. Although snowboarding is a young sport for young people, I put out a strong message that we can all ride forever or forever ride. Car Danchi #9: “Drives” A play on the words “nine lives,” “nine drives” suited the mood for the ninth edition of the series. It felt like we’ve been given a new lease on life. This was released in 2015, marking a decade of making these movies. Our dream has been realized and we can continue to ride powder and have fun as a group and a community. Many members of the crew received a strong international following. Board design changed dramatically from when we started in 2004. A sense of returning to the roots while continuing to progress is very evident in this edition. Car Danchi #10: Arigato A thank you note, a look back, a new direction and three years in the making, Car Danchi 10 is many things. I took an especially long time to put this one together. Obviously this tenth film was a big one. Although many would be happy to stop at ten, I feel like the Car Danchi series is a never-ending project that will continue to grow, change and reflect what is happening in the snow scene here in Japan. With a new English narration, the movie is more accessible to the global audience who have a high interest in the Japanese snow scene. The continuing return to the roots can be seen clearly with a strong section on the yuki ita (binding-less snowboarding) snow surf movement. The exploration of far-reaching areas of Japan like Nozawa Onsen and even Japan’s southernmost ski area—Gokase Highland in Kyushu—is the start of a new, more travel-oriented path. Let’s keep this fantastic snow journey going and enjoy it together. Many thanks for the support over the last 15 years. Arigato! 

tire series t and future. The en en es pr , st pa s: m chi fil can find Enjoy the Car Dan h Vimeo. Collectors ug ro th se ha rc pu nt or are available for re on Amazon Japan. most of the DVDs WINTER 2019

17


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,

Miyagi Eboshi

Alts Bandai

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

Photo courtesy of JapowTours.com

T

Hachimantai Resort

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

APPI KOGEN

Hakkoda, Aomori

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

Adults

1 DAY TICKET

Kids

(0195) 73-6401 Dec. 1 - May 8

5 Times (on Ropeway) ¥5,050 ¥2,250

Hachimantai, Iwate

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

Park

Adults Kids

¥5,600 ¥3,300

Park

Tour Route Area Tour Route Area

20% 1

60% 1

20%

30% 2 1

Park

The eight peaks of Hakkoda attract Japan's most APPI is a giant Longest Course: 5,000mresort (41K of trails) with a long season 21 Beginner Intermediate Advanced 5 (thanks devoted powder lovers. It is basically backcountry with a to the1,324m many north-facing slopes) plus some great Top Elevation: Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Lifts Gondola courses Lifts Gondola 100-person gondola that takes 10 minutes to the top with Base Elevation: 660m facilities (thanks to bubble era spending). Unlike many refour trips every hour. Once you get off, you can choose from sorts in Japan that have relatively short runs, the average 40% 30% 30% 20% 20% 60% "Direct" or "Forest" trails. You won't get course length at APPI is 2,100m; the longest 5,500m. It’s Tour many blue bird Route Area 2 3 11 days here, and visibility can be difficult during snowstorms, possible to do Appi as a long day-trip from Tokyo but, with 1 1 Tour Route Area which happen often. So if you are a Hakkoda newbie and two ski-in/ski-out hotels and an annex hotel, which collecwant to explore the terrain, it's best to grab a local guide. tively sleep 4,100 guests, why not stay and soak away sore Hakkoda Sansou, across the parking lot from the gondola, muscles at one of the two natural hot springs after a day Longest Course: 5,500m Longest Course: 5,000m Top Elevation: 1,328m is the closest accommodation. Up the road, Sukayu Onon the mountain. Families will appreciate Kids Park. Advanced 21 Beginnerthe Intermediate 5 Top Elevation: 1,324m Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Lifts Gondola courses Base Elevation: 660m Base Elevation: 828m sen is a mixed hot spring with a 300-year history Lifts Gondola and a 1,000-person bath. By Bus: 80 minutes from Aomori Station By Train and Bus: 50 minutes from Morioka Station to APPI. ACCESS ACCESS By Car: 35 min. from Aomori I.C. and Ishiguri I.C. By Car: 15 minutes from Matsuo-Hachimantai I.C. or Ashiro I.C.

40 3

Longest C Top Elev Base Ele

Park

HACHIMANTAI RESORT

TAZAWAKO SKI RESORT

Hachimantai, Iwate

(0195) 78-4111 www.hachimantai.co.jp Dec. 15 - Mar. 31 8:30 - 20:00

Tazawako, Akita

(0187) 46-2011 www.tazawako-ski.com Dec. 21 - Apr. 7 9:00 - 16:00 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,800

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥1,000

Park

40% 1

PANORAMA

30% 1

20% 5

30% 2

30% 4

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 PANORAMA sheltered from the weather, and Panorama features a huge night skiing area. There are high-speed lifts and mainly beginner or intermeSHIMOKURA diate courses. Park

Beginner Lifts

ACCESS

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

Park

Longest Course: 2,700min Tazawako, and it usually does, there is Longest Cou When it snows 13 Top Eleva Top Elevation: 1,130m Beginner Intermediate Advanced powder and a good variety of courses to enjoy. When it courses courses deep Lifts Gondola Base Elev isBase not Elevation: snowing, 540m you are treated to one of the great views of any ski resort in Japan, with Lake Tazawa below providing a 30% 40% 30% 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 4 2 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: 3,000m Longest Course: 2,700m and intermediate area, and on the other is a more challenging 13 Top Elevation: 1,186m 14 Top Elevation: 1,000m Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Base Elevation: 608m courses Base Elevation: 540m advanced course. Powder lovers won’tLifts want toGondola miss the Komagatake Panoramic Cat Tour. Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

14

Park

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

ACCESS

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

www.japansnowguide.com

18


EBOSHI RESORT

Zao-machi, Miyagi

(0224) 34-4001 www.eboshi.co.jp Dec. 11 - Mar. 31 9:00 - 22:00 (17:30 - 22:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,600 ¥2,900

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.

50% 1

30% 1

20% 6

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

50% 1

Advanced

30% 1

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

10

courses

20% 6

Park

ACCESS

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 Lifts Gondola minutes) then about an hour to the ski resort

YAMAGATA ZAO SKI RESORT (023) 694-9328 Dec. 8 - May 6

Yamagata-shi, Yamagata

www.zao-ski.or.jp 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

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

40% 1 3

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1 3

Park

Advanced

40% 3 27

26

courses

40% 3 27

20% 5 1

Longest Course: 10,000m Top Elevation: 1,660m Base Elevation: 780m

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 Lifts Gondola then 40 minutes by bus to Zao Onsen

HOSHINO RESORTS ALTS BANDAI

Bandai, Fukushima

(0242) 74-5000 www.alts.co.jp Dec. 22 - Mar. 31 8:00-21:00 (17:30-21:00) Night Ski 17:30-21:00

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.

Park

35% 1 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

35% 1 1

Park

ACCESS

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

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

GRANDECO SNOW RESORT (0241) 32-2530 Dec. 11 - May 6

www.grandeco.com 8:30 - 17:00

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

29

courses

Advanced

40% 2

29

courses

25% 5

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

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

40% 2

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

Park

40% 1

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

www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

19

8

45% 4

15% 2

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

courses Base Elevation: 1,010m


NAGANO N

Togakushi

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

Hakuba Cortina Tsugaike Hakuba Iwatake Hakuba Happo

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

to some of the finest, steepest and biggest resorts in Japan, and boasts arguably the most breathtaking scenery. Within Nagano,

Nozawa Onsen Madarao

Okushiga Yakebitaiyama Shiga Kogen Area Hoppobundaira Higashitateyama Nishitateyama

Hakuba 47

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

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

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 47

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-2101 www.hakubagoryu.com/e/index.html Mid-Dec. - Beg. of May 8:00 - 22:00 (18:00 - 22:00)

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-3533 www.hakuba47.co.jp Mid-Dec. - Beg. of May 8:00 - 16:20 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,700

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,000 ¥2,700

Park

Park

40% 3

35% 1 1

30% 1

25% 9

40% 1

Hakuba Goryu is not the largest resort in Hakuba, but it Hakuba 47 is a relatively new resort (opened in 1990), Longest Co Longest Course: 5,000m 8 Top Eleva 16 andTopthey’ve is one of the most scenic and pleasant places to ski. Soak been trying to take some fresh, progressive Elevation: 1,624m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Ele BasetoElevation: up the view as the Japan Alps soar behind you, and then steps making a950m 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. Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola 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

Park

Park

HAKUBA HAPPO-ONE

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 72-3066 www.happo-one.jp Mid-Dec. - Beg. of May 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)2

HAKUBA IWATAKE SNOW FIELD

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 72-2474 iwatake.jp Dec. 14 - Mar. 31 8:00 - 17:00 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥5,200 ¥3,000

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,400 ¥2,600

Park

30% 1 2

Park

50% 5

20% 4 Park

30% 1 12

50% 1 1

South Side North Side Longest Co Longest 8,000m Happo is a huge resort that is heaven for skiers who If theCourse: crowds at Happo are too much for you, head 26 Top Eleva 13 ToptoElevation: Beginner Intermediate Advanced 1,831m The base of the resort looks up at Beginner Intermediate Advanced enjoy well-groomed, long courses. There are many runs, nearby Iwatake. courses Base Ele coursesoverBase Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola good challenging terrain and a nice park and the Hakuba Hakuba’sElevation: highest760m 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 South Side 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 Gondola Lifts Gondola it can get crowded, especially on longLifts weekends. Base Elevation: 760m Park

ACCESS

Park

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)

www.japansnowguide.com

20


HAKUBA CORTINA SKI RESORT (0261) 82-2236 www.hgp.co.jp Dec. 27 - Mar. 31 8:30 -17:00 (Sun-Fri: 17:00 - 20:00, Sat: 17:00 - 21:00)

Hakuba, Nagano 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,400

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) Lifts By Car: 90 minutes from Nagano I.C. to hotel

Intermediate Gondola

Park

40% 2

Beginner Lifts

16

Advanced

courses

Adults Kids

¥5,100 ¥3,000

30%

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

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

Park

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

MT. NORIKURA

Advanced

50% 1 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

14

courses

Advanced

30% 1 9

50% 1 1

Park

14

courses

30% 1 9

20% 9 2

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

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. 15 - Beg. of Apr. 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.

Park

ACCESS

30% 5

16

courses

30%

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 Mid-Dec. - May 6 8:00 - 17:00 (8:00 - 20:50 on Sat.)

Intermediate Gondola

30% 5

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

Advanced

Ski goods,Ski Rental

Park

30% 2 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2 1

20

Advanced

40% 1

20

40% 1

30% 5

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

courses Base Elevation: 1,500m

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

www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

21


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. 1 - May 6 8:00 - 16:00 (18:00 - 20:00) 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥4,500 FREE

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 Mid-Dec. - May 6 7:30 - 16:30 1 DAY TICKET

ACCESS

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,000

35% 5

20%

Park

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

22

45% 1

Beginner Lifts

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. 15 - Mar. 31 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

TANGRAM SKI CIRCUS Park

Beginner Lifts

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

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2 1

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/eng 8: 30 - 16: 30 (17:30 - 20:30) Mid-Dec. - Beg. of Apr.

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. 15 - Apr. 1 8:30 - 16:30

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥3,600

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 Dec. 10 - 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

www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

23

36

courses

30% 5 1

40% 3 1

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


Mad About Pow

A powder pocket, sitting smack dab on the border of Nagano and Niigata prefectures, has recently become a hot spot for snow lovers dreaming of owning and running their own lodge and the locals have taken note, opening up more tree skiing and powder courses at Madarao Resort.

By Rie Miyoshi

M

adarao Mountain Resort is located just a half-hour drive high above Iiyama Station, which is just 100 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo. The 1,382-meter Mt. Madarao has 13 lifts and more than 45 trails, with 60% of the courses being un­groomed for some of the region’s best powder skiing. Boasting some amazing tree runs, this little-known resort was rated by Powderhounds as the best value for skiing in Japan for its comparatively cheap accommo­ dation and lift tickets. Madarao has also been the pioneer of many events, like the World Cup Madarao, Japan’s first freestyle skiing competition, and the Newport Jazz Festival in the ‘80s, which hosted legends including B.B. King, the Dizzy Gillespie quartet, Spyro Gyra, Woody Herman and Dave Brubeck. With the bullet train to Iiyama Station and inbound snow travelers on the rise, the resort town is adapting to become more foreigner friendly. Although small, the town is undergoing several major changes—a big one being increasing the number of foreign-owned lodges. “Madarao is a really easy place to live. The locals are relaxed, it’s a beautiful place to wake up to every day and I never get tired of the view of Shiga Kogen or over the back towards Mt. Myoko,” says Mark Stahnke, owner of Madarao Mountain Lodge. He and his wife Abe have been running the lodge since 2016 and cater their restaurant on the first floor

24

TRAVELER

to foreigners. Mark worked ski patrol at Madarao and has lived in Japan for nearly 20 years. “We’ve included plenty of vegetarian and even gluten-free options, and provide both Japanese and Western options,” says Stahnke. The lodge’s rooms on the second floor are spacious. Bathrooms have been converted into private shower cubicles as opposed to the traditional public bath. “There’s an onsen nearby at Madarao Kogen Hotel but we felt that public baths weren’t something that foreigners want everyday.” Small snow resort towns like Madarao still have limited English-speaking services. To make winter travel as painless as possible, Mark and Abe give advice on transportation times from major cities to Madarao, arrange taxi pick-ups, make bookings at restaurants whose owners don’t speak English and organize takyubin so skiers can send their winter gear direct from their city address to the lodge. Just down the road is First Tracks Madarao, a lodge owned by Kiwi Michael Stowers. “My family and I love Madarao because it’s compact and you can walk everywhere—you don’t need a car to get around, unlike most resorts in other parts of the world,” says Stowers. “The mountain has something for the whole family as well. In Japan, off-piste skiing is usually illegal but here at Madarao, it’s actually encouraged.”


Getting There Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Iiyama Station. Buses are available from Iiyama Station to Madarao for only ¥500 (one way). For more information, visit www.madaraomountainresort.com.

Madarao is open and surrounded by forest, making it feel less contained compared to other ski towns. The backcountry and tree skiing is safer and more accessible than Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen, making this location a good introduction to backcountry and off-piste skiing. “Powder riding is very popular especially with foreigners. This season welcomes so many foreign-owned properties and we’re excited to be part of Madarao’s rejuvenation,” says Cassandra Lyons from Australia. Cassandra and her husband Chris are renovating Chill Madarao and reopening with a new look this season, expanding the rooms to cater to long-stay travelers and big families. Locals like Akifumi Kitamura, co-founder of North Nagano Outdoor Sports, are equally excited about this new wave of foreigners entering the resort. “I’m a snowboard and ski instructor in the winter, and I make sure all my staff can speak English because we receive so many international visitors,” says Kitamura. “A lot of the young folks from here have moved away to the city, so it’s great to see foreigners settling into Madarao as locals.” Most of the lodge owners are starting to reach their retirement ages, so long-time residents like Hiroshi Yamada are passing the baton down to new owners. “I moved from Osaka to Madarao a long time ago because I wanted to

raise my family surrounded by nature,” says Yamada. “I’ve dedicated my life to maintaining and taking care of my lodge, and I feel assured that the next owners have promised to do the same.” Formerly known as Belgrand Lodge, Yamadasan Lodge (named as a tribute to the previous owners) will be run by Australian Marcus Shimbel. Madarao is also close to other major ski resorts in the region like Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Arai and Hakuba. It is also around an hour drive to the world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, where you can watch Japanese macaques bathe in natural onsen baths. During the summer, Madarao’s ski grounds become an ideal campground especially with fresh breezes cooling the mountain and natural hot springs available nearby. Mountain bikers can enjoy 11 kilometers of downhill cycling through Madarao’s old mountain roads. If you’re not a cyclist, you can attempt the 80-kilometer Shin-etsu Trail which starts at Madarao. For kids and families, the 13-course Zipline Adventure Madarao offers a bird’s eye view of the Japanese countryside. There’s even a “Night Rider” package running from 8-9 p.m. 

WINTER 2019

25


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 GALA YUZAWA STATION

NUNOBA

Mt. NAEBA KAGURA • MITSUMATA

NUNOBA FAMILY IPPONSUGI SKI RESORT

Mt. NAEBA KAGURA • TASHIRO

ECHIGO YUZAWA STATION

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

Mt. NAEBA • SHIRAKABA Mt. NAEBA • ASAGAI

GONDOLA ROPEWAY

MT. NAEBA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 89-2211 http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/naeba/index.html Dec. 8 - Mar. 31 (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 Dec. 15 - End of May 8:00 - 17:00

¥5,700 FREE

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,700 ¥3,800

Park

To Naeba

30% 3

40% 5

30% 5

Kagura Area Park

Tashiro Area

45% 3 1

35% 5

To Naeba TheseCourse: three 4,000m connecting ski areas form one big resort. If Mt. Naeba calls itself "The Station Moritz of the East" and Longest Co Longest 23 Top Eleva Naeba,1,789m the total rideable area is 368 hectares. From is a popular choice for Kanto trendsetters wishing to get away 22 youTopcount Beginner Intermediate Advanced Elevation: Beginner Intermediate Advanced courses Base Ele coursesNaeba, Lifts Gondola you’ll be lifted above Lake Tashiro to wider and less for a convenient ski weekend. The crescent-shaped Prince Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 900m crowded slopes and better snow quality, but the area closes at Hotel cuts an imposing figure at the base of this classic ski-in/ Kagura 35% 20% 45% 40% 30% 30% 4 p.m. and the lift line back to Naeba can be long, so beware. ski-out resort and features all the trappings you would expect Area A 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 To Naeba can then traverse across Tashiro in about 40 minutes to Kagura, children’s services, hot springs and other amenities and, on the Tashiro Area 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 To Naeba 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 Beginner Intermediate Advanced Intermediate Advanced the Mitsumata Ropeway on Route 17. 15 minutes, so there are 44 trails exploreBeginner if you have the time. courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 620m Base Elevation: 900m Park

Park

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)

www.japansnowguide.com

26


GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT (0257) 85-6543 Dec. 15 - May 6

Yuzawa, Niigata

www.gala.co.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

25% 3

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

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 2

NASPA NEW OTANI

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 7

20%

20

courses

40% 7

20%

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

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

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)

Yuzawa, Niigata

(025) 780-6888 www.naspanewotani.com Dec. 21 - Apr. 1 8:30 - 17:00

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,200 ¥3,200

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.

Park

Beginner Lifts

38% 2

Advanced

37% 1

25% 2

25% 2

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

8

courses

Minamiuonuma, Niigata

(025) 782-1028 www.jkokusai.co.jp Dec. 15 - Beg. of Apr. 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,500 ¥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)

Intermediate Gondola

37% 1

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)

JOETSU KOKUSAI SKI RESORT

38% 2

Park

Park

ACCESS

25% 3

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

40% 2

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.

ACCESS

40% 1 4

16

courses

40% 1 4

Yuzawa, Niigata

(025) 787-3211 www.iwa-ppara.com Mid-Dec. - Beg. of Apr. 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

www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

27

22

courses

50% 4

20% 18

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


JAPAN SNOW GUIDE

HOKKAIDO Globe-trotting riders will be pleased to know Niseko United will be joining the Ikon Pass connecting 38 iconic mountains across North America, Australia and Japan. The Ikon Pass offers seven non-consecutive days at Niseko United’s resorts. The Ikon Base Pass offers five non-consecutive days at Niseko with ten blackout days. Niseko Promotion Board will be holding Niseko Shootout, an Instagram photo contest. Take a photo that falls into the ski, snowboard or landscape category and post on Instagram using #NisekoShootout to enter. Prizes include a Gentemstick snowboard, Icelantic skis, lift passes, bindings, goggles and other exciting winter gear. The contest runs until Mar. 10. Save the time and hassle with Tomamu Resort’s Auto Gate System which starts this season. Instead of bothering with long lines at the ticket booth, purchase lift tickets in advance online. Scan the QR code on the online ticket at one of the resort’s ticket machines to receive an IC-chip-embedded lift ticket. Instead of showing your lift ticket to the staff, the gondola gates will automatically let you pass. Challenge yourself to Hanazono’s New Year Fun Jump (Jan. 2). Up to 80 participants can compete for a chance to win exciting prizes. Registration starts from 9-11 a.m. at Hanazono 308. Later in the season, the Hanazono Banked Slalom will be held with over 100 local and international contestants of all ages. On Mar. 17, 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. 24). Online and walk-in registration available. Ride first tracks at Rusutsu’s Mt. Isola for only ¥2,000. Meet at 8:15 a.m. at the main entrance of Rusutsu Resort for the bus to the base of Mt. Isola. You’ll be at the top of the mountain by 9 a.m. First track riding is available on Jan. 1-14, 20 and 27 and Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24. Up to 60 people are allowed per day. To reserve, email info@rusutsu.co.jp. Families will enjoy feeling like they’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. Brave the harsh but stunning winter scenery of the Sea of Okhotsk on an exciting fullday tour walking on drift ice and even taking a dip in the ocean (with wetsuits of course). The tour starts at Utoro Sir-etok roadside area where you will be picked up for snowshoeing at a nearby forest before heading to the coast to view the drift ice. Tours will be held on Mar. 2 and 17 and costs ¥10,000 per person (lunch included). To sign up, visit event.montbell.jp (Japanese only).

28

TRAVELER


TOHOKU

NIIGATA

Chill Japan, a non-profit organization started by Burton, will be hosting two-day snowboarding trips inviting 30-50 elementary school children whose families have been affected by the March 11 disaster. The trips will take place at Kunimidaira Ski Resort, Iwate (Feb. 9-10), Grandeco Resort, Fukushima (Feb. 23-24) and Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Iwate (Mar. 9-10). Volunteers are required to teach the children how to snowboard and play with them outside of lesson hours. You do not need to be a professional ski instructor, as there will be instructors at the camps. All meals, lodging and lift passes for both days will be covered. To get involved as a volunteer or to donate, visit www.chilljapan.org or contact info@chilljapan.org.

New Year celebrations continue throughout January as Myoko Suginohara celebrates tradition at Dynamite Carnival (Jan. 19). People whose Chinese zodiac year is the same as the new year’s light a fire praying for prosperity, health and wealth. Mochi (rice cakes) is also cooked over this fire. The night concludes with an impressive firework show. Warm up with local sake in an igloo at the Akakura Kamakura Festival at Akakura Kanko Ski Resort. Held at the beginning of February, the festival started off as a New Year event where locals built igloos while singing songs to ward off harmful birds from the fields. Yuzawa’s normally quiet nights are filled with the sound of taiko drumming and mikoshi shrine procession at the Yuzawa Winter Festival on Mar. 3. Yuzawa Kogen ropeway will be lit up with 1000 candles and a procession of skiers bearing torches will make their way down the slopes.

NAGANO

Australian surfer, musician and National Geographic presenter Nick Saxon will be heading to Japan this season for surf, snow and shows. After a day on the slopes, catch Nick live at Roots Café in Hakuba on Feb. 15 and Winterland Lodge and Taproom in Nozawa Onsen on Feb. 16 and 17. Tickets will be limited so be sure to reserve ahead by contacting Roots Café at 0261-72-5150 and Winterland at 0269-67-0700 or winterlandlodge@gmail.com.

Photo Courtesy of free

rideworldtour.com

Celebrate one of Japan’s most famous fire festivals, the Dosojin Matsuri Fire Festival held annually on Jan. 15. Nozawa Onsen’s beloved matsuri is an annual bonfire mayhem. Local men who have turned 25 and 42-years-old (considered unlucky ages in Japan) build a 65-foot shrine which is burned at night as a purification ritual to prepare for the coming year.

J. Bernard

Part of the world-class freeride tour, Freeride World Qualifier returns to Hakuba for the third time running on Jan. 15-17. Designed to develop the talent and skills of up-and-coming athletes, the contest will take place over two days in the alpine backside of Hakuba Valley. Local and international riders including Travis Rice are listed in the roster. Just because it’s snowing doesn’t mean you can’t cycle! Feel like you’re floating as you downhill cycle over snow at Togari Onsen Ski Resort’s Snow Bike Park. The resort’s fat bikes are stable over snow and suitable for beginners. Lifts specifically for bikes are available. The snow bike park is open from Dec. 22 to Mar. 31 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and costs ¥5,000 for two hours (rental included).

Photo Courtesy of free

rideworldtour.com

J. Bernard

WINTER 2019

29


GUNMA If you’re just getting into snowshoeing, join the Minakami Snowshoe Festival on Jan. 26. Starting at Tanigawadake Drive In, trek along Yugiso River. The tour is ¥4,000 including lunch, snowshoe rentals, insurance and a guide, but if you are staying at Minakami you will receive a discounted rate at ¥2,500. To book, call 0278-62-0401.

While you’re riding at Minakami, enjoy the luxuries this onsen town has to offer on an onsen and beer day tour starting at Jomo Kogen Station. Soak in Okudaira Onsen and enjoy local soba for lunch then head to Yu-Terume Tanigawa Onsen. After another dip in the bath, enjoy four different types of award-winning craft beer at the local Tsukiyono Brewery. For more information, visit www. enjoy-minakami.jp.

CENTRAL JAPAN & KANSAI Spend a two-day weekend at Mikata Highlands Winter Festival in Hyogo on Jan. 19-20. Great for families looking for a leisurely paced winter adventure, the festival includes snowshoe and trekking tours, airboarding and night hiking. Organized by Montbell, the event starts at Osaka Station where participants will board a bus taking them to Mikata Kogen. Accommodation, activity fees and three meals included for ¥15,500 per adult (¥14,000 for children). For more information, visit http://event. montbell.jp.

30

TRAVELER

Dynaland’s slopes are open every evening for night skiing from 6-11 p.m. To add to the fun, this year they’ve added a beginner course, a bar on the slopes and a pole burn. Open from 6-11 p.m. until Mar. 17. If you’re more of a morning person, enjoy the sunrise while 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. 


NIIGATA

MYOKO SUGINOHARA (0255) 86-6211 www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/myoko Dec. 22 - Apr. 1 8:30 - 16:30

Myoko, Niigata Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,500 FREE

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.

Park

40% 1

40% 2

20% 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 2

20% 2

40% 1

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

16

courses

Park

ACCESS

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

Advanced

AKAKURA ONSEN

Akakura Onsen, Niigata

(0255) 87-2125 www.akakura-ski.com Dec. 11 - Beg. of Apr. 8:30 - 22:00 (17:00 - 22:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,800 ¥1,000

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. Park

ACCESS

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

16

courses

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

SEKI ONSEN

Park

50% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

30% 4

50% 2

20

courses

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥3,500 ¥2,800

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.

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,200m Base Elevation: 650m

A little-known place awesome for

Longest Course: 3,000m 20 Top Elevation: 1,200m courses Base Elevation: 650m

Skiing & Snowboarding

MINAKAMI GUNMA

Park

20% 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

20% 9

20% 9

Seki Onsen, Niigata

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

30% 4

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

30% 1

50%

Alpine Lodge 30% Ski 50%& Snowboard Lessons Backcountry tours 1 Snowshoe tours

Longest Course: 1,600m Top Elevation: 1,620m

6

courses Base Elevation: 1,000m

Park

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 Lifts Gondola 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. 14 - May 6 8:30 - 16:30

+81-278-72-2811

Itoigawa, Niigata 1 DAY TICKET

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.

www.canyons.jp

Park

20% 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

45% 2

35%

16

courses

45% 2

35%

English Ski & Snowboard Lessons Snowshoe tour

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

Park

ACCESS

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

Advanced

16

courses

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

+81-80-9083-2179

www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

31

www.canyons.jp


GUNMA

Kawaba

Minakami Houdaigi

Okutone Snow Park 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

OKUTONE SNOW PARK

Minakami, Gunma

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

¥4,300 ¥2,900

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

50% 2 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. Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate

Advanced

Intermediate

30% 5

50% 2

30% 5

¥4,200 FREE

Park

20% 1

30% 6

40% 1

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Adults Kids

1 DAY TICKET

Park

ACCESS

Minakami, Gunma

(0278) 72-8101 www.okutone.jp Dec. 8 - Beg. of Apr. 8:00 - 22:00 (weekends & holidays 6:00 - 24:00)

(0278) 75-2557 www.hodaigi.jp Dec. 15 - Beg. of Apr. 8:00 - 16:30

Longest Course: 1,400m If rails, pipes and jumps are your thing, Okutone ski Top Elevation: 1,400m coursesareaBase is Elevation: the place830m to go in Minakami. The park staff takes

16

Advanced

20% 1

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

good care of guests who come to perfect their style at the resort’s park. The night sessions are popular, since they 40% 30% 30% keep the lights on until midnight on Friday and Saturday 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 hours from Tokyo, making it super convenient. They offer Longest Course: 3,900m 10 Top Elevation: 1,083m free tickets to kids under 12 and freeBeginner coffee Intermediate if you come Advanced courses Lifts Gondola before 10 a.m. on weekdays. Base Elevation: 550m

10

courses

Longest Co Top Eleva Base Elev

Park

Longest Course: 1,400m 16 Top Elevation: 1,400m courses Base Elevation: 830m

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

NORN MINAKAMI

ACCESS

TENJINDAIRA TANIGAWADAKE

Minakami, Gunma

(0278)-72-6688 www.norn.co.jp Dec. 20 - Mar. 31 8:00 - 22:00/24:00 (16:30 - 24:00)

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

(0278) 72-3575 www.tanigawadake-rw.com Dec. 10 - May 8:30 - 16:30 1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,500 ¥3,600

1 DAY TICKET

Park

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥2,500

Park

30% 2

50% 2

30% 1

20%

40 4

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 Park

Lifts

ACCESS

Longest Course:Tenjindaira 2,000m Longest C Although is better known to most for trek5 TopinElevation: 10 Top Elev Beginner Intermediate Advanced summer,1,220m when the tram is packed with hikers, the courses kingBase courses Base El Lifts Gondola Elevation: 820m 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!" Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 750m Beginner Lifts

Intermediate

Advanced

Park

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

www.japansnowguide.com

32


KAWABA

Kawaba, Gunma

(0278) 52-3345 www.kawaba.co.jp Dec. 1 - Mid-Apr. 8:30 - 16:00

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,800 ¥3,500

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

Kusatsu, Gunma

(0279) 88-8111 www.kusatsu-kokusai.com Dec. 15 - Mar. 31 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,000 ¥3,000

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

Tsumagoi, Gunma

(0279) 97-3117 www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/manza/ Dec. 13 - Mar. 31 8:30 - 17:00

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,600 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

Katashina, Gunma

(0278) 58-7777 www.oze-iwakura.co.jp/ski/ Dec. 15 - Beg. of Apr. 8:00 - 21:00 (16:30 - 21:00)

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,900 ¥2,800

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.) www.japansnowguide.com WINTER 2019

33

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

Takasu, Gifu

(0575) 72-7000 www.takasu.gr.jp Dec. 15 - May 6 8:00 - 16:30

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.

Park

35% 1

35% 3

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

35% 1

35% 3

Advanced

12

courses

Longest Co Top Eleva Base Elev

30%

Park

ACCESS

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

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

DYNALAND

Takasu, Gifu

(0575) 72-6636 www.dynaland.co.jp Dec. 15 - Beg. of Apr. 8:00 - 16:30

1 DAY TICKET

Adults Kids

¥4,900 ¥2,000

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

40% 3 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 3

32% 2

Advanced

28%

Park

ACCESS

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

34

32% 3

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

18

courses

Longest Co Top Eleva Base Elev


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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 cultu culture and ancient traditions exist within 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 Ja Japan 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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Outdoor Japan Traveler | Issue 70 | Winter 2019  

Outdoor Japan Traveler magazine features the best of travel and adventure in Japan. Issue 70 | Winter 2019 includes the 2019 Japan Snow Guid...

Outdoor Japan Traveler | Issue 70 | Winter 2019  

Outdoor Japan Traveler magazine features the best of travel and adventure in Japan. Issue 70 | Winter 2019 includes the 2019 Japan Snow Guid...

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