Page 1

ISSUE 54 | WINTER 2015 | FREE

Further into Hokuriku Misstep in the Mountains Hakuba Mind Shift Upcycled Treasures in Yokohama JAN Snow Bulletin Board

N A P A J

W O SN ADVENTURE

PEOPLE

E D I U G

5 1 20

C U LT U R E

TRAVEL


WINTER 2015

3


I N S I D E I S S U E 5 4 ■ W I N T E R 2 015

14 F E AT U R E :

FURTHER INTO HOKURIKU 北 陸のススメ

12

22

24

29

F E AT U R E S

12

Upcycled Treasures in the Heart of the City

INSIDE

24

Misstep in the Mountains 山で犯した小さな失敗

14

Further into Hokuriku 北陸のススメ

22

Nozawa Onsen Pictorial

4

T R AV E L E R

06

From the Editor

08

Japan Angler Market Watch

編集後記

Beer Buzz

10

ビアー・バズ

29

11

ローカル 醸造

'Powder' is knowledge. Think deep!

56

トラベル & アドベンチャー ディレクトリー

Japan Snow Guide 2015 JAN Snow Bulletin Board ………… 32 Travel Tips ……………… 30, 40, 46 Hakuba Mind Shift ……………… 44

The Local Brew Travel & Adventure Directory


WINTER 2015

5


■ FROM THE EDITOR Gardner Robinson, Editor-in-Chief gardner@outdoorjapan.com

M

y first few months in Japan were spent among temples and autumn leaves in Kyoto; however my first home was in southern Nagano. Now, nearly 18 years later things have gone full circle as I’m back living in (northern) Nagano with my family. Any foreigner who has made Japan home remembers their first year in Japan, being assaulted by the sights, sounds, tastes and cultural discoveries happening every day. While the extraordinary sometimes feels ordinary after so many years, it is always fun to have visitors come and to watch their wide-eyed excitement while exploring and making their own discoveries and realizations about the people and the places they visit. One of my favorite memories is my first sho-gatsu (new year) in Japan. My friend Mark Fujiwara had come over on the same plane a few months before. While I joined a program in Kyoto, he unloaded his bike and cycled around Japan for the next few months. As winter set in, he took a job at a minshuku

(Japanese inn) in Togari Onsen run by the family of a Buddhist priest who also looked after the adjoining temple. When midnight came, the huge bell rang 108 times and sake flowed for everyone who came to the temple, climbed the stairs and said a silent prayer for the new year. Later, as I was walking back to my room, I heard an “Oi!” I peeked into the room, and the head priest with two other priests was in a small room drinking and eating peanuts, throwing the discarded shells onto the ground. The next few hours were a blur of sake , hand gestures and plenty of laughing and backslapping. When we’d had enough, the head priest grabbed my arm and led me to a room filled with beautiful paintings. From left to right, hanging diagonally from the ceiling were paintings depicting the stages of Buddha’s life. I’ll never forget staring at the images with the priest pointing up and explaining the meaning of each.

本へ来てしばらく、わたしはお寺と紅葉にかこまれ

ある民宿での仕事をみつけた。民宿は併設されているお

ていたのをよく覚えている。言葉はあまり理解できなかっ

た京都に滞在していたのだが、さいしょに家と呼べ

寺の僧侶の家族が経営しているものだった。

たが、あのお祭りさわぎの中、あの瞬間だけふしぎなくら

大晦日の夜12時を迎えると、お寺では除夜の鐘が 108回鳴りひびき、参拝客には酒がふるまわれ、だれも

いに静かでクリアだった。

しはふたたび長野の地へ家族とともにもどってきた。日 本在住の外国人ならだれもがさいしょの一年を覚えてい

が新年の祈りをささげていた。その後、自分の部屋に戻

反対側に住んでいる。人生のサイクルについての仏陀

るはずだ。見るもの聞くもの食べるものなど、日々新たな

ろうとしたら、だれかに「おい!」と呼ばれた。声が聞こえ

の教えには間違いなくなにかがある。きっとあの僧侶た

発見が怒 涛のように押しよせてくる。時とともにその感

てきた部屋をのぞいたら、住職がふたりの僧侶といっしょ

ちは人生の不条理について笑っているにちがいない。

る場所となったのは長野県だった。あれから18年、わた

Although I couldn’t understand many of the words, everything seemed quite clear, despite the festivities. I’m now living just across the river from the temple at Togari Onsen. No doubt there is something in Buddha’s teachings about the circle of life, and I’m sure somewhere one of those priests is chuckling at the absurdity of it all. This quiet area in northern Nagano will get a bullet train passing through from March 14, continuing on to the Japan Sea at Joetsu and even farther to Kanazawa. In winter, the ski resorts in this region will be even easier to access. The excitement is in the air for this season and it is off to a great start with early record snowfalls. Our winter issue, which includes our annual Japan Snow Guide, is full of info to help you get the most of your season. Also, be sure to download the free Japan Snow Guide mobile app for iOS and now Android, so you have all the info at your fingertips.

わたしは今、その戸狩温泉のお寺がある川を挟んで

動も日常へと変わっていくものではあるが、日本を訪れる

に酒を飲み、殻を床に放りなげながらピーナッツを食べ

この静かな北長野に、2014年3月14日に開通した新

人々が、日本人や訪れた場所についてさまざまな発見を

ていた。わたしは彼らと酒を飲み、ジェスチャーで会話し

幹線は、日本海側の上越を越え、金沢までつながる。ス

しているのを見るのはいつも楽しいものだ。

ながら大笑いの数時間をすごすこととなったのだが、じゅ

キーリゾートへのアクセスがさらによくなる。冬への期待

 わたしの思い出のひとつに、最初にお正月を迎えた

うぶんに笑ったところで、住職はわたしを美しい絵が飾ら

が高まるなか、早々に雪が積もって幸先のよいスタートを

ときのことがある。友人のマーク・フジワラはわたしより

れている部屋へ案内してくれた。左から右へ、そして天

切った。さて、今号には毎年おなじみのジャパン・スノー

数か月前に日本へ来ており、わたしが京都で、とあるプ

井からは対角線上に飾られていたのは、仏陀の人生を

ガイドが掲載されており、シーズンを楽しむための情報が

ログラムに参加している間、彼は数か月のあいだ、自転

表現した絵だった。住職にそれぞれの絵が意味すること

満載だ。また、ジャパン・スノーガイドは専用のアプリ (iOS

車で日本を旅した。冬がやってくると、彼は戸狩温泉に

を説明してもらいながら、すい込まれるように絵をながめ

とアンドロイド) もあるので、ぜひダウンロードしてください。

OUTDOOR JAPAN TRAVELER Published Seasonally Publisher Outdoor Japan Media

Media Coordinator Rie Miyoshi

Tim Rock, Robert Self, Justin Stein, Craig Yamashita

Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson

Contributing Editors Wayne Graczyk, Shigeo Morishita

Editor Bill Ross

Contributors Joan Bailey, Lee Dobson, Eddie Gianelloni, Bryan Harrell, Neil Hartmann, Abdel Ibrahim, Pauline Kitamura, Takashi Niwa, Tomoko Okazaki,

Translators Kumiko Kurosaki, Yoshine Lee, Eri Nishikami, Takeshi Sato, Lana Sofer

Art Director Yuki Masuko

Sales & Marketing media@outdoorjapan.com

©2015 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.

AIRLINE PARTNERS

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

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

6

T R AV E L E R

Outdoor Japan Media

6-6-55 Higashi Kaigan Minami Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa 253-0054 〒253-0054 神奈川県茅ヶ崎市東海岸南 6-6-55 Tel: (0467) 81-3212 Fax: (0467) 81-3213 EDITORIAL: editor@outdoorjapan.com ADVERTISING: ads@outdoorjapan.com SUBSCRIPTIONS: subscribe@outdoorjapan.com

www.facebook/japantraveler www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan

Cover Photo Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort


WINTER 2015

7


Time on the Water Equals Fish

F

our years ago, I would have laughed in the face of anyone who told me being a dad was going to kill my life as a fisherman. I had seen this scenario play out several times with some new-to-fatherhood fishing acquaintances whose wives quickly shut down all their recreational activities when the stork delivered their newborns. My reaction was, “Ha, that’ll never be me.” My daughter Eleanor came late in 2011 and, for the next year, I actually continued as usual, making my haunts to Kyushu and Aomori chasing tuna and yellowtail. Now it’s three years in for me, and even though I now build and sell handmade offshore fishing lures, I can count on one hand the times I fished in 2013 and 2014. During my late 20s, I had this notion I could

figure a way to organize my life around sport fishing, which would allow me to hit the water and do nothing else. However, these days I have to admit I can’t remember half the trips I’ve taken, and it makes me wonder what was the point of going so often. There’s more to life than just fishing. My friend Aki works as a guide in Tokyo Bay, and he recently discussed this topic with me on a charter in Sagami Bay. He acknowledged, as a new dad, he was also developing some reservations about going at it so hard but still felt the urge to chase specific species, namely tuna, when the bite was good in our area. It’s the same with me. Fatherhood didn’t shut me down as a fisherman so much as make me a lot more guarded about when and where I wet a line, and I suppose that’s a good thing.

By Joan Bailey

MARKET WATCH

E

arly Saturday morning at Sakae’s Oasis 21, the Nagoya Organic Farmers Market is the most happening spot in an area more renowned for late night partying. By 9 a.m., this lively market brims with seasonal fruits, vegetables and visitors. Market manager Takako Yoshino, a former reporter for a national newspaper, started the market 10 years ago with two vendors and an idea. She decided young farmers needed a place to sell and connect with customers. “If they don’t have that, they can’t survive,” says Yoshino. The wide covered walkway in front of Starbucks and Tourist Information in Oasis 21 looked just perfect. Today, her roster boasts 65 vendors, nearly 20 of which arrive weekly to serve about 1,000 customers. Summer visitors will find tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and okra, while those coming in the cooler months can take home four kinds

8

T R AV E L E R

of daikon (long and narrow, large and white, purple and stubby, and purple and white). Sansai (mountain vegetables) arrive in spring, while heady bouquets of flowers are always available. Teppei Ota, farming organically for nearly 40 years, radiates enthusiasm as he fills in visitors on his wares: vibrant green komatsuna, tightleaved cabbage, dusty potatoes and blaze white daikon. Handing out samples of a black kabu (turnip), Ota describes its spicy flavor as perfect

At the same time, experienced fishermen know good catches are less the result of our skill and tenacity than total flukes that happen randomly. This is especially true with big pelagic such as tuna and marlin, so putting time in the water is what matters most if we want to remember more than just taking long boat rides. Nowadays getting just one for the boat is a celebration and a story for us on which to dine out for the rest of the year. This last tuna season, I got zero tuna, but only went three times. Aki, on the other hand, scored three, the biggest being a 39-kilo yellow fin which he got on the 17th of his 20 trips in Sagami Bay. That’s dedication. Our non-fishing friends think we’re nuts, but we’re content with things as they are, and we wouldn’t even care to fish if it were easy.

for salad or miso soup. “It’s European,” he says when asked about its origins. “I’m growing it for the first time.” Just around the corner, a woman sells freerange eggs, her table a carefully controlled chaos of wildflower bouquets, cartons of eggs and photos of happy, plump, reddish brown chickens. The rich speckled brown eggs from Nagoya Cochin, a heritage breed, almost sparkle in their cardboard containers. Yoko Oike offers a selection of root vegetables and greens. After university, she returned to her hometown near Nagoya to, quite literally, dig into her work. “So far I only grow vegetables,” she says with a smile. “But one day I hope to have a rice field and raise a few chickens, too.” Keiko Hattori of Goen Farm in Shirakawago drives over the mountains from Gifu Prefecture with heirloom varieties of rice as well as bundles of brightly stemmed Swiss Chard. “It’s gone to seed now,” she says of this experimental crop. “But we’ll grow it again next year. People like it.” Her homemade sweet potato chips, salty and sweet with the perfect amount of snap, are a must nibble. Nagoya Organic Farmers Market Hours: Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Location: Oasis 21 in Sakae


WINTER 2015

9


BEER BUZZ

By Justin Stein

Cider (and Cidre) in Japan

W

hen I first told my Japanese friends that back in Ontario I made “cider” in my cellar, they were confused. “Cider? Like Mitsuya Cider?” they asked, baffled. After I explained the process of picking a variety of apples, pressing them by hand and fermenting the juice to create an alcoholic beverage, they replied, “Oh, you mean cidre!”(シードル) I still don’t know why the French pronunciation is used to distinguish alcoholic ciders (sometimes called “hard cider” in English), whereas “cider”(サイダー) is a soft drink. However, I did find that, despite a growing appreciation for craft beer, there is relatively little knowledge about craft cider in Japan. While the Japanese consider cidre to be a sweet drink, primarily for women and young people who dislike the bitterness of beer, ciders actually come in a stunning variety of flavors, ranging from sweet to dry with different levels of acidity and tannins. Unpasteurized ciders fermented with wild yeasts possess another level of complexity, with flavors ranging from earth to smoke. There are a few places around Japan, especially in the Tokyo area, to try these tasty, complex beverages, but perhaps nowhere with a selection comparable to Clive and Kae Poole’s The Full Monty British Pub and Cider House by the Ōoka River in Naka-ku, Yokohama. When they first opened in 2005, they were only able to get one cider on tap, but today, Clive and Kae stock about 35 varieties from Europe, the U.S. and South Africa. This expansion of cider varieties in Japan has occurred alongside a dramatic increase in cider sales overseas. The U.K., a longtime stronghold for ciders, saw 46 percent growth in liters per person between 2002 and 2011, according to The Economist, and Euromonitor International reports U.S. volume sales grew by 355 percent between 2008 and 2013, partly due to the entry of AB InBev and MillerCoors into the market. Notably, this growth accompanied declining beer sales in both countries. Could a similar cidre boom be awaiting Japan? Certainly there are factors that could help. Younger consumers abroad fueled cider’s rapid growth, and the Japanese youth’s palate for chū-hai should transfer to the sweet cidre made by large producers, such as Asahi’s Nikka (which had 72 p e r c e n t v ol u m e s h a r e i n 2 013 ) and Kirin, who recently entered the market. On the other hand, the growing craft beer subculture would apprec iate t he complex

10

T R AV E L E R

flavors of unpasteurized and barrel-aged cidre. Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, famous for apples, would be a natural location for craft cideries. While production has declined since the mid-2000s, Japan’s apple harvest in 2013 is roughly equal to that of Spain, a country renowned for its hard cider production. Moreover, cidre may be attractive to increasingly health-conscious consumers as, like wine, it is nutritious and gluten-free. Finally, cidre contains no malt, so it theoretically could be sold more cheaply than beers because of lower taxes. However Clive is skeptical of a craft cidre industry forming in Japan any time soon. “I don’t think there is much interest from people (at the moment), as it’s too much of a risk. Once it takes off, you’ll see people trying to produce.” Until that time, importers bring a number of excellent ciders to Japan, primarily from the U.K. and the U.S. Inn Beers brings in Sheppy’s Cider from a third-generation family farm cidery in Somerset (southwest England). Clive considers their bittersweet Vintage Reserve Oak Matured Cider (7.4 percent) to be “probably my favorite. “Roll it around in your mouth for the oakiness…amazing,” he says. Another of Clive’s favorites cideries is Aspall Cyder which has been making ciders in Suffolk (east England) since 1728. Their bittersweet Imperial Vintage Reserve (8.2 percent), is another vintage, wh ich mea n s a l l of it s apples come from a single harvest. Nagano Trading has introduced J.K.’s Scrumpy, a family orchard from Michigan that dates to the 1850s, whose unfiltered, wild yeast fermentations tend toward the sweeter side. Their Northern Neighbor (5.5 percent) incorporates juice from the Canadian Saskatoon berry and has a lovely red color. Ezo Beer brings us Original Sin, a New York-based producer that makes a variety of smooth, easy-drinking ciders, including a number of other fruits (cherry, elderberry and pear), and Atlas Cider Co., a Bend, Oregon, cidery that uses fresh-pressed fruit from the Pacific Northwest and is available on tap. So, if you think all ciders are sweet fizzy “alcopops,” try expanding your horizons a bit next time you see a craft cidre at a bar or bottle shop, and marvel at the flavors that master fermentationists can coax out of the juice of pressed apples. WINTER FESTIVAL ROUNDUP Jan. 23-25 Japan Brewers Cup Festival 2015 (Yokohama) Feb. 7-8 Nippon Craft Beer Festival 2015(Sumida, Tokyo)


By Bryan Harrell

Strange Brewing Minami Uonuma, Niigata ストレンジ・ブリューイング 新潟県南魚沼

O

nce you see how different this brewery looks, reminding you more of a science project than a typical brewery, you can understand why founder Tatsuo Aoki went ahead and called it Strange Brewing. Aoki is best known on the Tokyo beer scene as owner of Beer Club Popeye, the first and leading bar in Japan specializing in craft beer. It should be no surprise the only place you can drink Strange Brewing’s products is Beer Club Popeye in Ryogoku, Tokyo. So far, they have produced a Pale Ale named Golden Slumber, along with other popular styles such as Pig Head IPA, Sweet Home Uonuma Weizen, Red Fall Red Ale, Love Point Barley Wine, and Honky Tonk Imperial Stout. It is also good news the beers are priced so reasonably. Strange Brewing distinguishes itself from other craft breweries in that they culture a fresh yeast for each batch of beer from the 20 varieties of yeast archived in their freezer. Since the yeast is not used again for subsequent batches, the beers they brew are at

peak flavor, with a very clean intensity and an optimum focus of flavors and aromas. The brewer y also, as much as possible, grows its own hops. I have noticed some ver y distinctive f loral and herbal aromas from these hops that are unlike any other hops I have had, but so far cannot figure out how Aoki is able to coax the hops to take on their own slightly distinctive aromas. For all I know, it could be the microclimate in Uonuma or it could be some mysterious nourishment. Anyway, the reward is in the drinking. Aoki’s partner in crime is brewer Tatsuo Fujiki, who originally brewed at Waoh Beer in the 1990s. Fujiki is a movie buff who loves sake. It seems that keeping the yeast going and the hop plants tended is keeping both of them fairly busy, not to mention making a small range of tasty beers. Aoki says visits are possible if you contact him in advance, though he says there won’t be much to look at until the hops really start coming out in the summer.

学の実験を彷 彿とさせるようなこのブルーワリー

使いまわさないので、 とにかく風味が最高で、 クリーンな強

を見たら、 オーナーの青木辰夫がなぜここをストレ

さと豊かな香りが特徴だ。

ンジ・ブリュワリーと名づけたかがよくわかるはずだ。青

ここではホップもできるかぎり自家製のものを使って

木は日本初のクラフトビール専門店、麦酒倶楽部ポパ

いる。わたしがいままで飲んだことのあるホップとはまった

イのオーナーとして東京のビールシーンではよく知られて

くちがい、花やハーブの香りを感じさせるホップで、青木

いる。 ストレンジ・ブリュワリーのビールが楽しめる唯一の場

FRESH FROM THE BREWERY huge variety of bottles 8 rotating taps brewery merchandise & american food Dine in Take out Cold SHIPPING

WE DELIVER ALL OVER JAPAN Order online at: WWW.antenna-america.com

がこの独特のアロマをどのように引きだしているのかは、

所は東京、両国にある麦酒倶楽部ポパイだ。ラインナッ

なのか、 それともなにか秘密の栄養でも与えているのか、 とにかくその恩恵は飲めば味わうことができる。 

IPA、 スイートホーム魚沼ヴァイツェン、 レッドフォール・レッ

青木には、 ‘90年代に倭王というビールを醸造していた

ドエール、 ラブポイント・バーレーワイン、 ホンキートンク・イ

藤木辰夫というお酒と映画が大好きなパートナーがいる。

ここのビールがほかと違うのにはわけがある。 ここでは

bottle shop & tasting room

けっきょくわからず終いだった。魚沼の微気候のなせる業

プはペールエールのゴールデンスランバー、 ピッグヘッド

ンペリアルスタウトなどで、手ごろな価格もうれしい。

AMERICAN CRAFT BEER

自家製のイーストとホップづくり、 そしておいしいビール造 りでふたりはいつも忙しく働いている。 まえもって予約をす

冷凍庫に保管してある20種類以上のイーストから、 ビー

れば見学も可能だが、 ホップができ上がる夏にならないと、

ルづくりに使うイーストを毎回選んで培養する。 イーストを

見学するものはあまりないそうだ。

Strange Brewing

ストレンジ・ブリューイング

Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture 新潟県南魚沼市

Phone: (025) 775-7333 Web: www.lares.dti.ne.jp/~ppy/Brewery1.htm

Beer Club Popeye

麦酒倶楽部 POPEYE 2-18-7 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

東京都墨田区両国2-18-7

EVERYDAY OPEN yokohama, Japan 045-315-5228

5 MIN FROM JR KANNAI 関内 ST. facebook.com/antennaamerica twitter.com/antennaamerica

Phone: (03) 3633-2120 Web: www.70beersontap.com WINTER 2015

11


Upcycled Treasures in the Heart of the City By Rie Miyoshi

12

T R AV E L E R


O

n an unassuming street minutes away from Tokyo’s Sumida River, the Ozeki Lab construction team is hard at work transforming a 50-year-old, broken-down Japanese apartment into a multiresidential “sharehouse.” Inspired by his travels and the great outdoors, Tokyo-born-and-raised Koji Ozeki designs and creates unique living establishments, restaurants and even a café treehouse, all while making a conscious effort to use all-natural materials. It was actually through a surprise discovery of the Nanjya Monjya Treehouse Café in my local neighborhood that led me to Ozeki Lab and, soon after, I had the opportunity to meet Ozeki at the construction site of his sixth sharehouse. Laid back with an easily recognizable pointed goatee, Ozeki points out the half-finished second floor deck that will eventually be a BBQ co-space area for future residents, although it currently holds bright construction tarp and a couple of surfboards on the side. He half-jokes that he never plans out his projects—he just thinks up the interior structure of the building as he creates and tries to use recycled materials as much as possible and avoid plastic. Being an avid freestyle skier and having even entered several mogul contests, Ozeki took a ski trip to Utah during his university days and was astounded by the beauty of the mountains and the surrounding nature. This moment triggered his decision to start his own company—a business where he could travel independently instead of being cooped up in an office with a limited number of vacation days a year. Shortly after working in the trading and import business

and graduating from architecture university, he started his own izakaya (Japanese-style pub) for a steadier income. Little did he know this idea would set off a string of future projects. After looking into the cost of hiring a professional to build his restaurant, Ozeki figured he could design and create for himself and started his first construction project, working on everything from carpentry and layout to interior design and painting. The restaurant is still operating today and is located near Keio University. Ozeki loved the building experience and the amount of personal creativity that went into it, so much so, that he continued constructing. After working on several restaurant-related projects, it was time to add a new project: refurbishing homes. About eight years ago, he started building sharehouses; buying deteriorating homes in the city and turning them into brand-new, dorm-like establishments for working adults in their 30s. The only sharehouse built from scratch is the one below the Nanjya Monjya Treehouse Café in Yokohama. “The land there was so cheap because it was on a steep slope with bamboo growing wild. Plus there was this giant tree right in the middle,” Ozeki laughs. The area is also on a narrow road where there is no way for construction trucks to drive through. While most people were turned off by these unfortunate factors, Ozeki saw this situation as a challenge. He noticed all the neighboring houses were old Japanese homes, built during a time when there was limited equipment, and he wanted to prove you don’t need machinery to construct. In 2012, the Nanjya Monjya Treehouse Café and a new sharehouse built around the base of the tree opened. As if

your childhood imagination came to life, this treehouse is a snug and quirky café with indoor and balcony seating and even a small second floor that can only be accessed via a staircase in the kitchen. Like Ozeki’s other projects, being inside surrounded by the natural architecture makes you temporarily forget you’re in the heart of the city. Like it’s straight out of a children’s book, the treehouse attracts raccoons, cats and other critters in late evenings or early mornings, providing shelter and a hope for some leftover bites. The café is located near Mitsuzawa Shimocho Station and open Mondays to Saturdays from noon to 5:30 p.m. (Closed on Sundays and during poor weather). Today, Ozeki is living his dream of traveling the world, gaining inspiration from his recent visits to Alaska, Portugal and parts of Asia while working on three to four construction projects a year. He also surfs in Chiba and, in the winter, he goes to his winter home in Gunma to enjoy alpine living and chasing fresh powder. When asked what his life motto is, Ozeki states confidently, “Genkai wo sukoshi demo koeru chousen,” which translates to “Challenge yourself to overcome your limits.” His life certainly reflects that, as he continues to venture into new directions. “When I was working on restaurant construction, it was stable but repetitive. Now, increasing the number of sharehouses is easy and safe, but I want to work on hotel and B&B construction in the future. I always want to challenge myself with something new,” he said. For more information on Ozeki Lab, visit www.ozekilab.jp (Japanese language only). ✤ WINTER 2015

13


A sleek new bullet train will soon blaze a trail past Nagano City, through majestic mountains and on to the Japan Sea, whisking travelers from Tokyo to winter resorts and areas of pristine natural beauty in record time. まもなくあらたな新幹線が、長野市、そして雄大な山々を越えて日本海へと開通する。 東京から、冬のリゾート地や自然のままの風景を楽しみたい旅人たちがやってくる。

FURTHER INTO

北陸のススメ

HOKUR By Gardner Robinson

14

T R AV E L E R


Photos courtesy of Iiyama Tourism

RIKU

WAKURA ONSEN

KUROBEUNAZUKI ONSEN ITOIGAWA JYOUETSU-MYŌKOŌ IIYAMA

KANAZAWA

TOYAMA SHIN-TAKAOKA

NAGANO

UEDA SAKUDAIRA

Hokuriku Shinkansen ANNAKA-HARUNA TAKASAKI KARUIZAWA

HONJŌ-WASEDA KUMAGAYA

ŌMIYA UENO

TOKYO

Sanyō Shinkansen KYOTO

MAIBARA

NAGOYA

Tōkaidō Shinkansen

SHINŌSAKA ŌSAKA

WINTER 2015

15


16

T R AV E L E R

Photos by Nozawa Tourism


FURTHER INTO HOKURIKU

T

he last time Tokyo hosted a summer Olympics was in 1964, the same year the first Shinkansen (bullet train) was completed in Japan. Since then, new routes have been extending to nearly every region of the country, and Japan has hosted two more Winter Olympics—in Sapporo and most recently Nagano. This year, just five years before the Olympics will return to Japan’s capital, a new route will extend from Tokyo beyond Nagano City to Toyama, the gateway to the Tateyama-Kurobe area, and onward to the garden city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture. The Hokuriku Shinkansen will get travelers from Tokyo to Toyama in just two hours, whereas it previously took about three-and-a-half hours, and Tokyo to Kanazawa in about two-and-a-half instead of more than four. Leaving Nagano Prefecture, passengers emerge from a tunnel as 3,000-meter peaks rise on one side of the train with the Japan Sea extending out of sight on the other. Travelers can hop off in the seaside town of Joetsu and jump on a high-speed ferry to beautiful Sado Island. Or perhaps stay on board and enjoy peaceful strolls through Kanazawa’s exquisite gardens. Toyama Prefecture is blessed with some amazing natural scenery as well. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is one popular with mountain climbers, although only accessible from mid-April to mid-November due to the area’s heavy snowfall. April and May are particularly popular months for

backcountry skiers as well as those coming to see the huge valleys of snow called “Yuki no Otani.” The snow walls that reach as high as five meters dwarf tour buses passing through streets dug out in the snow.

CLOSER TO THE SNOW Until now, most visitors to Nagano City in winter jump on a bus for the many great ski resorts in Hakuba, Myoko Kogen or Shiga Kogen. The Iiyama area is often overlooked, although of late winter sports enthusiasts have discovered Nozawa Onsen as a more traditional alternative to the more international Niseko and Hakuba resorts. The new bullet train makes it easier than ever to explore the many resorts in the Iiyama area. What used to be a 50-minute ride on a local train from Nagano City to Iiyama now takes just 12 minutes. There are three ski resorts within the Iiyama—Madarao Kogen Ski Resort, Togari Onsen Ski Resort and Hokuryu Onsen Family Ski Resort—and Kijimadaira is just across the Chikuma River, as are the infamous snow monkeys in Jigokudani National Park. While Nozawa Onsen is no longer a secret, the village manages to retain the traditional charm that has attracted many visitors looking for an authentic experience by preserving centuries-old traditions and staying loyal to domestic skiers and snowboarders. The village has a proud Olympic tradition, deep roots with its sister city in Austria, and the community keeps a tight reign on development.

幹線が開通したのは、前回の東京オリン

雪の大谷と呼ばれる雪の壁を見ることができる。雪かきでつ

ピックが開催された1964 年、以来、新幹

くった、5mにもおよぶ壁に挟まれた道を小型バスで通る。

線は日本中を走るようになり、冬のオリン ピックが札幌と長野で開催された。

次の東京オリンピックまであと5 年という今年、新たな新 幹線のルートが開通する。東京から長野市、そして立 山

CLOSER TO THE SNOW

長野へのスキー客はたいていバスで、白馬、妙高高原、 志賀高原といったリゾートへむかう。飯山エリアは見落とさ

黒部エリアの入り口となる富山、そして石川県にあるガーデ

れがちなエリアだが、最近では、ニセコや白馬といったイン

ンシティ金沢へとつづくラインだ。

ターナショナルリゾートではなく、この昔ながらの野沢温泉を

この北陸新幹線の開通で、以前は3時間半かかっていた 東京から富山までは2時間に、4時間以上かかっていた東京 から金沢までは2時間半に短縮される。 長野を出てトンネルをくぐると見えてくるのは、片側に広 がる日本海をしたがえた3,000m級の山々だ。海辺の町・上 越で下車し、高速フェリーで佐渡島へ行くこともできる。そ

選ぶ客も増えている。 新しい新幹線の開通で、この飯山エリアへのアクセスも 格段によくなる。長野市からは電車で50分だったのが12分 に短縮されるのだ。 飯山には、斑 尾高原スキーリゾート、土 狩温泉スキー リゾート、そして北 竜温泉ファミリースキーリゾートがあり、

のまま新幹線で気品あふれる金沢の庭園を楽しむのもよい

木島平も千曲川を渡ってすぐだし、サルで有名な地獄谷野

だろう。

猿公園もすぐちかくだ。

富山は自然のうつくしさでも有名だ。立山黒部アルペン

野沢温泉はもはや秘密の場所ではなくなってしまったが、

ルートは登山家たちにもっとも人気なルートだが、雪のため

何世紀にわたってつづく伝統を守り、地元のスキーヤーとス

アクセスできるのは4月から11月のみとなる。

ノーボーダーを大切にすることで、多くの観光客が昔ながら

バックカントリーにお薦めなのは、4月と5月。この時期は、

のよさが残る野沢温泉を訪れるようになった。 WINTER 2015

17


JAPAN’S OLYMPIC VILLAGE

Photos courtesy of the Japan Ski Museum

“There is one small street in our village where three Olympians live. People say there must be something in the water,” says Yuki Mori. Considering both of Yuki’s parents competed in the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo and her brother-in-law and uncle have raced in the Winter Games as well, there might be something to this theory. Stroll the narrow village streets, and you are serenaded by the sound of water everywhere you go. It flows beside cobblestone roads and bubbling up into 13 free onsen (hot springs) in the village. If you aren’t ready to join locals in one of the scalding traditional baths, you can dip your toes into onsen culture at one of the footbaths in town. In winter, Nozawa Onsen’s narrow streets and pathways are lined with deep snow as huge icicles hang from lampposts. The dense village opens onto terraced rice fields before reaching the banks of the Chikuma River below. It is a traditional Japanese country village in every way, yet a faint European influence is also palpable. A little more than a century ago, residents would have toppled over laughing in the rice fields if you suggested skiing would become the lifeblood of the village. In 1911, an Austria-Hungarian soldier named Major Theodor Edler von Lerch introduced skiing to Japan in nearby Joetsu. A year later, skiing was formally introduced to Nozawa Onsen. However, the sport didn’t really take root until a ski instructor, Hannes Schneider, visited Nozawa Onsen. In 1930, the world-famous Austrian “skimeister” from St. Anton, a small ski village roughly the same size as Nozawa Onsen, demonstrated his Arlberg technique, his instructions translated and relayed over megaphones as eager Japanese skiers looked on. This ushered in the modern age of skiing in Japan as the sport caught on with such fervor that the International Olympic Committee chose Sapporo to host the 1940 Winter Games. An approaching World War II intervened, but Sapporo would get a second chance to hold the games in 1972. Twenty-six years later, Nozawa Onsen would host the biathlon as part of the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

18

T R AV E L E R

Schneider’s landmark visit left a mark on Nozawa Onsen and created strong ties to his hometown of St. Anton. The Schneider Course—Japan’s first competition course—and The Schneider Hotel, near the Hikage Gondola, still bear his name. On Feb. 7, 1971, the two villages became sister cities and, today, middle school students do annual homestay exchanges. Mikio Katagiri, a two-time Winter Olympian (1976, 1980) moved to St. Anton when he was 17 to join the racing team. After his skiing career ended, he opened a boutique hotel in Nozawa Onsen called Haus St. Anton. His son Kensaku is a celebrated chef who runs the restaurant at the hotel. Katagiri served as Japan’s Olympic National team coach for 20 years, director of the alpine national team (until the recent Olympics in Sochi) and is now the president of Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort. “Fifteen villagers have represented Japan at the Winter Games since 1955,” Katagiri says proudly. With less than 4,000 year-round residents, Nozawa Onsen may have the highest number of Olympians per capita in the world. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is jointly owned and run by the village and a community organization called the Nozawa Gumi Sodai which manages and preserves cultural activities in the village. The partnership has kept development under control and preserves the cultural assets and ambience that have been lost in other ski towns in Japan. While international tourism is welcome and greatly supports the village, many lodges still primarily cater to Japanese guests who have shorter windows to enjoy skiing at the resort, often only on weekends. Katagiri believes this is essential to preserve the village’s identity while nurturing skiing in Japan. “One thing I like about our resort is the family course near the top of the mountain,” he explains. “The easiest courses are usually at the bottom of the hill, so beginners never go to the top. Feeling what it is like at the top of the mountain— the fresh air, the view and the excitement—is part of skiing. If you are tired at the end of the day, getting down can be difficult and dangerous, but we encourage beginners to take the gondola back down safely.”


FURTHER INTO HOKURIKU

JAPAN’S OLYMPIC VILLAGE

温泉には彼の出身地サンアントンと強いつながりができた。

「村にとても小さな通りがあるんですが、その通りだけで

日本初の試合用コースとなったシュナイダーコース、そして

3人のオリンピック選手が住んでいるんですよ。この村の水

日陰ゴンドラの近くにあるシュナイダーホテルは、彼とこの町

のおかげじゃないかっていわれています」というのは森ゆきさ

の関係を示しているし、1971年2月7日には姉妹都市となり、

んだ。

毎年交換留学生がホームステイするようにもなった。

彼女の両親は札幌オリンピックに出場、義理の兄弟と叔 父も冬季オリンピックに出場したことがあることを考えれば、 この話はまんざらウソではない。

冬季オリンピック (1976年、1980年)に2回の出場経験が ある片桐幹雄は、17 歳のとき、レースチームに参加するた めにサンアントンに住みはじめた。スキーのキャリアが終わる

村を走るせまい路地を歩けば、水の音が聞こえてくる。そ

と、彼は野沢温泉にハウス・サンアントンというブティックホ

の水は石畳の小道のわきを流れながら、村にある13の無料

テルをオープン。息子の健作はホテルのレストランを取り仕

温泉へと流れつく。地元では人気の、やけどしそうなほど熱

切る有名シェフだ。

い温泉がムリならば、足湯を楽しめばよいだろう。

片桐は日本のオリンピックナシュナルチームのコーチを20

冬になると、野沢温泉の路地は深い雪におおわれ、街

年務め、ソチオリンピックまでは、アルペン・ナショナルチー

灯にはつららが垂れさがる。密集した村は、千曲川の河川

ムのディレクターでもあり、現在は野沢温泉スキー場の社

敷を見下ろす段々畑へとつづく。どこまでも古き善き日本の

長を務める。

風景なのだが、ここにはあきらかにヨーロッパの影響を見て とることもできる。

「1955年から15人もの村民がウィンターゲームで日本代表 として戦ったんですよ」と誇らしげに片桐は語る。年間人口

一世紀とすこし前に “スキーがこの村の生命線になる” と

が4,000人以下ということを考えれば、野沢温泉が輩出した

言ったなら、村人は笑い転げて田んぼに倒れこんだにちが

オリンピック選手の人口あたりの割合は、世界でもっとも高

いない。1911年、オーストリア/ハンガリー人の軍人テオドー

いといえるのではないだろうか。

ル・エードラー・フォン・レルヒによって、スキーが上越付近

野沢温泉スキー場は村と、村の文化活動を守っている

にもたらされ、その一年後、野沢温泉にも正式にスキーが

野沢組惣代という地域組織の共同経営なのだが、この提

やってきた。 しかし、じっさいスキーが根づいたきっかけとなったのは、

携のおかげでほかのスキーリゾートのような過剰な開発はま ぬがれ、文化資産やその雰囲気も損なわれていない。

1930年にハンネス・シュナイダーが野沢温泉を訪れてからで

外国人観光客ももちろん歓迎ではあるが、野沢温泉の

ある。野沢温泉とほぼおなじくらいの大きさの町、サンアント

旅館の多くは、たいてい週末のみの短期滞在となる日本人

ンからやってきたオーストリア人のスキーマイスターによるア

観光客向けとなっている。これは、日本のスキー市場を育て

ルペンスキーの技法は、日本語に訳され、熱心な日本のス

ると同時に、村としての存在価値を保つのに必要なことだ

キーヤーによって受け継がれた。

と片桐はいう。

現代日本のスキーシーンは大いに盛りあがりはじめ、オ

「このスキー場で気に入っているのは、ファミリーコースが

リンピック委員会は1940 年の冬季オリンピックの開催地と

頂上付近にあることなんです。通常、簡単なコースはたい

して札幌を選んだ。間もなく第二次世界大戦が起こって

ていふもと付近にありますから、初心者は山の上のほうへ行

しまったが、札幌は1972 年にふたたび冬季オリンピックを

くことがあまりありません。頂上付近の新鮮な空気や景色、

開催する運びとなり、それから26 年後、1998 年の長野オリ

そしてワクワク感もスキーの一部ですから、ここではそれを感

ンピックでは、バイアスロンの会場として野沢温泉が選ば

じてもらうことができます。一日中滑って疲れはててくだるの

れた。

は難しくて危険なので、初心者の方にはゴンドラで戻るよう

シュナイダーの訪問は野沢温泉にその足跡を残し、野沢

奨めています」 WINTER 2015

19


PASSING THE TORCH Jan. 15 is the biggest day of the year in Nozawa Onsen. For centuries, the Dosojin Hi-Matsuri has been a rite of passage for men in the village. The winter fire festival culminates in an epic battle and attracts a lot of foreign and domestic tourists; rooms are booked months in advance. While guests may feel impelled to be part of the action, they should respect the tradition and enjoy the unique spectacle from a safe distance. Warm socks and good footwear are recommended, and note that snow mixed with ash and burning embers can destroy your favorite winter jacket. As the torch is passed from one generation to the next, the latter seems ready to run with it. Akira Mori manages Sakaiya, winner of the World Ski Award for Japan’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel in 2013. Akira is the 18th generation of his family to run the Ryokan. “Niseko and Hakuba have been important gateways to Japan for skiers, but people also want something more traditional, more Japanese,” says Akira. “Tradition and culture are still strong here, it is not made up, it’s a natural a part of every day life,” his wife Yuki adds. Katzu Kono’s family has been running Hotel Shirakaba for half a century. They also run a rental shop at Hikage Gondola and one in The Schneider Hotel. He lived in Austria for a

PASSING THE TORCH

1月15日は野沢温泉にとって大切な日である。何世紀に もわたり、道祖神火祭りは村の男の通過儀礼となっている。

number of years, and he and his brother Kenji competed on the World Cup Tour. “Before the (2011) earthquake there were a lot of foreign guests; it got pretty quiet after, but for the last two years it’s even busier than before,” he says. “Its more compact than Hakuba, but there are many valleys to explore and some interesting terrain,” Katzu says. His cousin, Yuta Ueno, also an ex-World Cup skier, runs Compass House with his wife Manami who competed at the Sochi Olympics. They opened a new shop near the Nagasaka Gondola called Mt. Dock, carrying high performance gear and organizing junior ski camps and events. When the snow melts, they do bike rentals and tours in the area. He and his family have been working hard to make it an all-season resort. “Bike rentals were up 150 percent this summer. You can take your bike up on the gondola and enjoy downhill and cross-country courses. Winter is what Nozawa is most famous for, but spring and autumn tours are especially good and shows Nozawa in a new light,” he says. The quintessential Japanese ski town continues the delicate balancing act of preserving traditions while welcoming foreign tourists. Other areas in the region may soon be seeing more visitors as the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which begins operation on March 14, will make it easier to explore northern Nagano and beyond. ✤

経営している。オーストリアに住んだこともあり、弟のケンジ さんとともに、ワールドカップツアーで戦っていた。 「 (2011年の)地震の前は外国人客も多かったんですが、

命がけの戦いでクライマックスを迎えるこの祭りは、日本人

地震後はしばらく来なくなって。ただ、この2年は以前にもま

はもちろん外国人観光客にも人気なので、部屋は何か月も

して忙しくなりました。ここは白馬よりコンパクトですが、谷も

前にいっぱいになってしまう。

多いし見どころがたくさんありますから」とかつさんは言う。

思わず祭りに参加したくなる気持ちもわかるが、ここでは

彼のいとこで、元ワールドカップのスキーヤーでもある上

伝統を観客として見守るのが得策である。暖かい靴下と冬

野雄大さんは、妻でソチオリンピックの代表も務めたまなみ

用の靴があったほうがいいだろう。灰まじりの雪と燃え残り

さんとともに、コンパスハウスを経営しており、最近、長坂ゴ

の火はお気に入りのコートを台無しにしてしまうこともあるの

ンドラの近くに、Mt Dockというショップもオープンした。ハイ

でご注意を。 次の世代へと松明が渡されると、受け継いだ世代はそれ

パフォーマンス用のギアの販売や、ジュニアスキー・キャン プやイベントのオーガナイズもおこなっている。雪がとけたら

をもって走りだす。2013年、ベスト・スキーブティックホテル

自転車のレンタルやツアーをおこなうなど、この地域を通年

でワールドスキー・アワードを受賞した旅館さかやの専務で

リゾート地として活性化するのが彼らの目標である。

ある森晃さんは18代目だ。

「この夏、自転車のレンタルは150%でしたよ。ゴンドラで

「ニセコと白馬は日本のスキーにとって入口ともいえる場

自転車を持ってあがって、ダウンヒルやクロスカントリーの

所ですが、もっと日本の伝統を体験したいという旅行客が多

コースを楽しむことができます。もちろん野沢は冬が有名で

いですね」と森さんが言うと、妻のゆきさんが「ここは、つくら

すが、春と秋のツアーも最高にお薦めです」

れたものではない、本来の日本の伝統と文化がしっかり残っ ていているんですよ」とつけ加えた。 河野かつさんは半世紀にわたってホテル白樺、および日 陰ゴンドラとシュナイダーホテル内にあるレンタルショップを

20

T R AV E L E R

この独特のスキータウンは日本の伝統を守りながら、外 国人客を受け入れるというバランスを絶妙に保っている。3 月14日、北陸新幹線の開通とともに、北長野やそのほかの エリアもアクセスがよくなり、観光客が増える見込みだ。✤


FURTHER INTO HOKURIKU

WINTER 2015

21


PICTORIAL:

NOZAWA ONSEN In search of some early season shredding, pro snowboarders Ralph Backstrom and Ryland Bell go deep into Nozawa Onsen with photographer Meg Haywood-Sullivan.

22

T R AV E L E R


The friendly locals, culture, good food, combined with the deep snow and the beautiful vistas from higher up on the resort, made the small hillside town of Nozawa Onsen a super fun and unique place to visit. —Ralph Backstrom

After an 11-hour flight, five-hour layover, and a four-hour drive in an overstuffed car, we finally made it to Nozawa. It was like stumbling upon a dream. Narrow, bustling streets with aromas of foods we’ve never tasted filling the air. And the snow. Snow piled high on the rooftops and choking the tree-filled peaks above the town. Home to some of the kindest people I have ever met on the road. I’m already looking to return to Nozawa for another adventure. —Meg Haywood-Sullivan

WINTER 2015

23


MISSTEP in the MOUNTAINS 山で犯した小さな失敗 By Michael Blodgett

Completely soaked from head to toe, I manage to work my way down the snow-covered mountain stream with some optimism. I think to myself, “OK, if I can make it to lower ground, I might be able to get out of here before it gets dark.” Suddenly, I nearly go face first over a 20-meter waterfall, a bed of rocks and cold rushing water far below. I catch myself just in time, then panic takes over. "This cannot be happening to me!” I say out loud. つま先から頭の先まで完全にずぶ濡れの状態で、 私は雪に覆われた山 間の沢を下った。「このまま 下っていけば、暗くなるまでには抜けだせるだろう」 と私はわずかばかりの楽観的な気持ちを胸に秘め ていた。ところが、その先でとつぜん私は滝に出く わし、およそ20m 下の滝 壺にあわやのところで転落 しそうになってしまった。 「どうしてこんなことになって しまったんだ?」と、私はそれまで耐えていた心の混 乱を堪えきれず大声で叫んでしまった。

24

T R AV E L E R


A

few years back, I had some time off from my day job as an English teacher at a junior high school in Osaka and was looking for a place to kick back for a few days, relax, read and do a bit of winter wandering in the mountains. After an Internet search, I stumbled upon a quaint village in southern Nara known as Dorogawa Onsen. It was close enough that I could get there in a few hours by public transportation, yet far enough away to feel like I was "getting away.” I arrived in the afternoon on a crisp wintry day. It was still relatively early, but the sun was already starting to set. The town was covered in snow and there wasn`t a soul to be seen, but yet there was an instant charm about it. The main street was filled with Japanese inns and little shops selling traditional herbal medicine, mostly closed or empty. I plodded along until I came to my guesthouse and checked in. Early the next morning, I attended a daily ritual at a local Shugendo temple; Shugendo is a somewhat mysterious religion that combines aspects of Buddhism and Shintoism, nature worship and rigorous ascetic training in the mountains. Its headquarters, Ominesanji Temple, is a sacred site that stands atop Mt. Sajogatake in Dorogawa Onsen, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Pilgrimage route, and has been in use for more than 1,000 years. For close to an hour, the group of monks sat quietly chanting while a few individuals rhythmically beat Taiko drums and others trumpeted away on horagai (large conch shells). I was almost in a trance when it ended. This is where I was first introduced to the head priest, Shinchoku Sensei. He told me unbelievable tales of his mountain piety. As a young man in his 20s, he had gone into the mountains looking to communicate directly with the gods and stayed

there for three years, until he felt he had finally reached his purpose. During that time, he did not eat, drink or sleep. He merely existed. Naturally, hearing such a far-fetched story, I had my doubts, but something about the way he spoke was quite convincing. In those moments I felt a connection different than any I`ve had with another human being. Afterwards, we had breakfast with his group and said farewell. I expressed a desire to return someday. The following year my wife and I were expecting our first child. However, before our daughter arrived, I wanted to make a pilgrimage to Ominsanji Temple and meet Shinchoku Sensei to share our good fortune. I would hike my way up the same snowy mountain I had ascended on my first trip to Dorogawa Onsen the previous winter. Once I reached the temple, I would stop and pray for the healthy birth of our daughter. By sheer coincidence, the day I arrived in town was also the day of the annual local festival celebrating the Shugendo founder En No Goyja. Naturally, Shinchoku Sensei had his hands full but still took time out of his busy schedule to meet with me before I climbed the mountain. He was elated with my news and looked forward to the chance to meet our daughter. He handed me a small gift envelope which I reluctantly accepted. I made it to the top of the mountain and entered the temple, purchased a small omamori (charm) for the healthy birth of our child, then walked outside and stood alone near the top of the mountain looking out at a broad landscape of peaks and endless trees, feeling a great sense of anticipation. In March of 2014, my wife was pregnant with our second child. Again, I found myself on an empty bus heading toward Dorogawa Onsen. I would stay for a couple of days and

年前のこと、大阪の高校で英語の講師を

が、彼のその話す態度は真剣であった。いままで経験して

にある小屋を提供してくれるという。私はその申し出をありが

していた私は、休日を利用して仕事の疲れ

きたことのない霊的なものに私は触れたような気がした。そ

たく受けた。

を癒す場所を捜していた。読書をしてリラッ

の後、私たちは修験者たちと朝食を食べて別れた。また機

クスしたり、冬山を登ったりできるところだ。

会を見て訪れたいと伝えた。

return to the top of the mountain to pray for the health of our daughter due in May. I arrived around 7 p.m., and the town was lifeless and cold. I hadn't made a reservation, so stopped by a campground where I had previously stayed. As I walked down a dark road toward the campground, a car slowed down and pulled up next to me. "Hey, what are you doing here?" said an excited voice from inside the car. "I am looking for a place to stay the night. Any chance I can stay at the campground?" I replied. Turned out the lady in the car was the owner of the campground where I was heading. "Sure, hop in." she said. There had been a big snow fall two days prior, and the town was still covered in a white blanket. She offered to let me stay in the lone cabin on the property instead of pitching my tent on the frozen ground. I gladly accepted. The next morning, I got up early to get ready to hike. There was a lot of snow in the town, and she suggested there might be two meters or more up in the mountains. I had a large backpack with my tent, sleeping bag and supplies but decided to leave my heavy stuff behind, opting to quickly work my way to the peak and get back for an afternoon dip in one of the hot springs in town. It was not a difficult trek up the mountain, the snow adding a peaceful beauty to the scenery rather than causing any hindrance. The trail was empty and after three and a half hours I found myself at the top, staring at the shuttered temple with snow piled up to the top of the doorway. I thought to myself, "There goes any chance getting an omamori.” I tossed a ¥5 coin on the snow-covered prayer box

次の日、私は早朝に起床して、登山の準備をはじめた。 キャンプ場のオーナーは、山はここよりもさらに2m以上は雪

インターネットでそんな場所を検索していると、奈良の南部

翌年、私は妻とともにこれから生まれる子供に期待を寄

が深いだろうと注意する。私はテントとシュラフをバックパッ

にある洞川温泉という古風な村を発見した。そこは公共の

せていた。子供が誕生するまえに私は大峯山寺にお参りを

クに詰め込んでいたが、それならば軽装で頂上をめざし、午

交通機関を利用して数時間ほどのところで、しかも日常の

して神直先生からご利益をいただこうと思った。その前年に

後には下山して温泉に浸かれるようにしようと決断し、重い

生活から離れられる気分になれる。

洞川温泉を訪れたときのように、私は寺を参拝して、健康な

荷物を置いて出発した。

凍りつくような冬の午後、私はその村を訪れた。太陽は

女の子の誕生を願うつもりだったのだ。だがこのときは、修

登山は難しくなかった。雪はうつくしく障害というよりはす

すでに暮れようとしていた。村は雪で覆われ人の気配は感じ

験道の開祖である役行者を祝う祭りと偶然にも重なってし

ばらしい景色に感じられた。山道に人影はなく、3時間半ほ

られなかったが、それでも興味をそそるものはいくつか見受け

まった。そのため神直先生は大変忙しかったが、それでもス

どで頂上に着く。だが雪の積もった寺の山門は閉じられて

られた。大通りは宿屋や漢方を売る店が並んでいた。その

ケジュールを調整して先生は、私が山に登るまえに時間を

おり、私は呆然とそれを見つめた。

ほとんどの店は閉まっているか、開店していても閑散として

つくってくれていた。彼は私の報告にたいそうお喜びになり、

いた。私は予約していた宿までとぼとぼと歩き、チェックイン

子供の顔を見る日を楽しみにしていると、祝儀袋を差しださ

は500円玉を雪が覆った賽銭箱に投げ入れると、静かに祈

した。

れた。私が丁重にお断りしても譲らなかった。その後、上の

りを込めて頭を下げた。その日はすばらしい快晴で、私の心

「お守りを手に入れるチャンスがなくなってしまった」。私

次の日の早朝、私は修験道の寺に赴き、日課のようにお

寺に参拝した私は、そこで小さな出産祈願のお守りを購入

は2ヶ月後に生まれる4人目の新しい家族のことで一杯だっ

こなわれている儀式に参加した。修験道は仏教と神道が

した。そして寺を出て山頂の景色を愛でた。山々の峰々や

た。足取りは軽く、まるでスキップでもするように私は山を下

混在した神秘的な宗教である。彼らは山の中で自然を崇拝

樹海、私はこれから起きる期待に心を震わせた。

りながら麓の温泉を思った。

し、厳格な修行をおこなっている。総本山である大峯山寺 は洞川温泉の山上ヶ岳にある。そこはユネスコの世界遺産

2014年の3月、妻が2人目の子供を妊娠したとき、ふたた

やがて階段が壊れ通行止めになっているところに出た。

び私は乗客のいないバスに揺られて洞川温泉をめざした。 しかたがなく数 m 先の平行した山道へ迂 回しようとしたが、

に登録され、千年以上の歴史がある熊野古道の一部でも

私は2日間滞在し、そのあいだに山をめざして5月に生まれる

そのとき私は滑落してしまった。まるで人間ソリのように私は

ある。一時間ほど座を組みながら経を唱える修 験者と、独

子供の安産祈願をするつもりだった。

滑落していった。雪のおかげで止まることができたときには

特な太鼓や法螺貝の音色を聴いているうちに私はトランス 状態のような気分に陥ってしまった。 その場所で私は修験者のリーダーである神直先生を紹介 された。彼は修行の驚くべき話をしてくれた。 先生がまだ20歳だったころ、彼は山に籠って神と直接対 話をしようと試みたことがあったという。彼がその願いを達成

村に到着したのが午後7時、村はすでに静まり寒かった。 宿の予約はなく、私はキャンプ場にむかった。私が歩いてい

山道からすでに70mも下にいた。私はその山道を見上げ、 わずかな希望と苦痛で心が入り乱れた。私は深呼吸をして

ると車がゆっくりと接近してきた。 「何をしているのですか?」

気持ちを整え、斜面を這いあがろうとしたが、さらに滑落して

とすこし大きな声が聞こえた。 「今夜キャンプできるところを

しまった。私は危うい状態で山の斜面にぶつかりながらさら

捜しているんですが、キャンプ場は開いていますか?」。その

に滑り、200m下の極寒の川に落ちた。そして、その2時間

声の女性は私がむかっているキャンプ場のオーナーだった。

後に私は滝に出くわしたのだった。私は滝から後ずさりし、

するのに3年がかかった。その間、彼はなにも食べず飲まず 「もちろん大丈夫よ」 眠らないという修行をおこない、死ぬ寸前まで自分自身を追

この辺りは2日間の大雪が降り、村は白い毛布が覆って

い込んだ。にわかには信じられない話ではあり、私は疑った

いるようであった。テントで眠るよりはと、彼女はキャンプ場

重い足取りで近くの尾根にむかった。心臓は高鳴り、ずぶ 濡れの衣服からは水が滴り落ちた。太陽のシルエットは峰 の向こう側に消え、無情にも夕暮れの空が迫っていた。

WINTER 2015

25


26

T R AV E L E R


MISSTEP IN THE MOUNTAINS and bowed my head in silent prayer. It was a brilliantly sunny day, and my heart was full. In a couple of months our family would grow to four. I was light on my feet and practically skipping down the mountain trail. I imagined the hot spring bath waiting for me when I returned to town. I came to a path that seemed closed due to some broken steps. As I attempted to reach a parallel path, just meters away, I slipped. Suddenly I was sliding down the mountain like a human sled until I came to an abrupt halt in the snow some 70 meters from the trail. I looked back up at the trail with hope and anguish. I paused to catch my breath. I tried to crawl my way up the slippery slope, only to fall further down, faster this time. My body dangerously caromed down the side of the mountain until I toppled into a frigid mountain stream a couple hundred meters below. A couple hours later I arrived at the steep waterfall. I retreated and trudged my way up to a nearby ridge. I stood there with my heart pounding through my chest; water dripping from my clothes. The last silhouette of the sun was passing behind the peak revealing the evening sky. I tried to calm myself and take note of my situation. I was completely wet. It would soon drop to below freezing temperatures as night came. My cell phone was lost during the fall. All I had was a Ziploc bag of nuts, a small pack of dried dates and my empty water bottle. I was choking with fear. I turned my head around to survey my surroundings. All I could see were trees and snow until deep down in the cedar trees something caught my eye. Was it a house? My heart leapt with hope. Maybe there was someone there. At the very least, I would have some sort of shelter for the night. I scrambled down the steep snowy slope in the dark and arrived at a hut. It was clearly abandoned and derelict. I forced my way through a broken window, sat down on a ratty

old tatami mat and willed myself to stay awake until morning. I survived for six nights in that broken down hut. A search and rescue team was organized. There were men, dogs and helicopters. One passed over my head as I looked up and screamed "Help!" at the top of my lungs. They didn’t see the hut or me inside the thick forest. On the sixth night, I sat inside an old goemboro (traditional cauldron-style bathtub) resigned to the fact I would not be seeing my wife, daughter or unborn child. I was breaking. The hut had provided enough shelter to keep me alive; however, I wouldn`t survive many more nights if I didn`t get myself off the mountain. As despair was absorbing my last hopes, I had a vision of my sweet, little daughter. It was as if she was right there with me saying, "Daddy, don`t give up. You can get back up the mountain." It was strange, but a sense of calm washed over me. I would give all I had left in me to climb to the top and find my trail out, even if it meant freezing to death in the process. I sat there violently shivering in the darkness, preparing myself for a dawn that seemed would never arrive. The next morning, as rain was pouring down in buckets, I said goodbye to the hut for the last time. I promised myself I would keep working my way up the mountain until I could go no further. I slowly made progress, mostly crawling my way through the wet snow. It must have been afternoon; I could not say for sure, but I saw something that looked like a wooden structure on top of a cliff. I dragged myself closer, trying to locate some kind of viewpoint. I tumbled over the rail onto a wooden platform. I sat there for some moments, frozen. I picked myself up and looked over the other side to see a snow-covered trail leading down the mountain. For the first time in nearly a week, I was believing I would make it out alive. Hours later, I stumbled back into town and stopped at

the first house I found and rang the intercom. When they answered, I responded, "It`s Michael. Please help. Please help. Please help." The door opened, and I was helped inside. I fell to my knees and began to weep. I was alive and safe inside Shinchoku Sensei`s house. Just over an hour later, I was reunited with my family. I have never felt more joy than in those precious moments. I spent some time at a hospital and later at home recovering both physically and mentally. I even returned to Dorogawa Onsen a month later to thank in person everyone who had helped search for me. The intensity of the experience has begun to wane, but I kept thinking back to the hut. Who built it and why? I wanted to know more but assumed the questions would go unanswered. Later someone suggested it might be related to the timber industry. I randomly got in touch with a wonderful young lady, Norie Masutani, who works for a timber company in Yoshino, Nara, not far from Dorogawa Onsen. She had heard about my accident and wanted to help if she could. She was friends with an old lumberjack from Kawakami, a neighboring village of Dorogawa Onsen. He supposedly knew the mountains inside and out. I decided to send a few pictures of the hut and a map of where the hut was located. She showed them to the 81-yearold lumberjack, Tatsuo Tsujitani. A few days later, I got a surprise message. She informed me that Tsujitani built the very hut I found. Naturally I was shocked. In November, I had a chance to sit down with him to talk about his life as a lumberjack and the hut that saved my life. We instantly hit it off, much like I had with Shinchoku Sensei nearly five years before. In several return visits to Dorogawa, local people have quickly thrown out the word tairyoku (stamina) when they meet me. I am starting to believe unmei (destiny) might be more fitting. ✤

がら、夜明けを見ることはないかもしれないと思った。翌朝、

の奈良吉野にある材木会社に勤めていた。今回の事故を

ずぶ濡れだった。夜になればすぐに気温は氷点下におちる

土砂降りの雨がバケツのなかに溜まった。私は小屋に最後

知ってから、なにかできることがあればお手伝いがしたいと

だろう。所持しているものはジップロックに入ったナッツと乾

の別れを告げ、力の限り山を登ることを心に誓った。私は

彼女は考えていたようだ。彼女には川上村に住む老齢の木

燥ナツメ椰子、そして空っぽの水筒。私は恐ろしさで首を絞

ゆっくりと濡れた雪のなかを這うように進んだ。

こりの友人がいて、彼なら山のことならなんでも知っている

私は平常心を保つように心がけ、状況を分析した。私は

められたような気分になった。私は辺りの様子を注意深くう

たぶん午後になっていたと思う。私は木造の建物が崖の

かがった。しばらくは木々と雪のほかにはなにも見つけられ

上に立っているのを見つけた。私はそこに接近し助かるため

なかったが、やがて杉の森の向こうになにかがあることに気

の手がかりがないか捜した。そのとき、木製のプラットフォー

だろうといった。 私は小屋の写真とその地図を彼女に送った。彼女はそれ をその老人に見せたという。彼の名前は辻谷達雄といい、

がついた。家のようなものだろうかと、私は希望を抱いた。

ムのレールにつまずいてしまった。私は凍りついたようにしば

81歳であった。数日後、私は驚きの便りを得た。彼女によ

だれかいるかもしれない、いなくてもそこで一夜を過ごせるか

らくそこに座りつづけた。そしてよく見ると、そこに雪に覆わ

ると、その小屋を建てたのは辻谷氏本人だという。11月に、

もしれないと私は思った。

れた山道を発見したのだった。それは、ほぼ一週間におよ

私はその辻谷氏に会いにいき、彼の木こりとしての人生や、

ぶ絶望のなかで、初めて希望を見いだした瞬間でもあった。

その小屋の話を聞くことができた。私たちはすぐに意気投合

暗闇のなか、雪のスロープをもがきながら下り、その小屋 にたどり着いた。そこはすでに潰れかけた小屋だった。私は

数時間後、私はやっとの思いで村に到着し、最初に見

した。まるで神直先生と出会ったときとおなじようであった。

壊れた窓から中へ入り、ぼろぼろの畳に座って翌朝まで眠

つけた家のインターフォンを鳴らした。 「マイケルといいます。

洞川温泉に戻るたびに、地元の人々は私を見て口々に 「体

らないように務めた。けっきょく、私はこの潰れかけた小屋

助けてください。助けてください、助けてください」。ドアが開

力があったから」と言う。でも私にとっては、 「運命」という

で6日間滞在することになった。人と犬とヘリによる捜査隊

き、私は中に入ると同時にふらふらと跪いた。思わず涙が

言葉のほうがもっとしっくり感じるようになっていた。✤

が組織され、一度はヘリが頭上を通過し、私は声を限りに

込みあげてきた。私は生還し、神直先生の家にたどり着くこ

「助けて」と叫んだが、虚しく通り過ぎてしまった。

6日目の夜、私は古い五 右衛門風呂に座ったまま、もう

とができたのだ。一時間後、私は家族と再会することがで き、そのときの喜びは人生で最高のものであった。

二度と妻や子供、そして新しく生まれる子を見ることはできな

病院で検査の後に家に戻り、体力と精神の回復を待っ

いだろうと考えた。いままでこの小屋にいたので命をしのぐこ

た。一ヶ月後、私は洞川温泉に戻り、捜索にかかわった人々

とはできたが、もうこれ以上体力はもたない。山から自力で

に感謝の気持ちを伝えた。

脱出しないかぎり助かる道はないだろうと悟ったのだ。私は

この遭難でうけた心の傷はしだいに癒えていったが、私は

小さな娘が「パパ、負けないで!自分で山から脱出するのよ」

あの小屋のことを考えつづけていた。だれがあそこになにの

と叫ぶ情景を思い描いたが、すぐに絶望的な気持ちに襲わ

目的で建てたのだろうかと。その答えを知りたいと思ったが、

れた。しかし奇妙だが、やがて静かな精神状態が私の心の

だれにも答えられないのだろうとも考えていた。しばらくして、

雑念を洗い流していった。私は全力で崖を登り、山を脱出

だれかが、その小屋は材木会社が建てたのかもしれないと

する手がかりをつかむしかなかった。もしくはその過程で凍り

教えてくれた。そんなときに、桝谷紀恵さんというすばらしい

ついて死ぬかだろう。暗闇と容赦のない寒さのなかに座りな

女性と私は出会うことができた。彼女は洞川温泉から近く WINTER 2015

27


MISSTEP IN THE MOUNTAINS

28

SURVIVAL TIPS

遭難したときのサバイバルのヒント

Looking back, I definitely would have done certain things differently. However, if you ever find yourself lost in the mountains in winter, here are five things I learned that may help others in a similar situation.

たとき、私が経験から学んだ5つのことを思いだしていただければ、おなじような状況で役に

事故をふりかえると、ほかにも助かるための選択肢があったと思う。でも、もし冬山で遭難し 立つかもしれない。

1. Don't panic. You are bound to make a hasty decision that may cost you your life. Take a moment to relax and logically consider your best course of action. 2. Stay as dry as possible. It may seem obvious, but if you’ve been in the mountains in winter, it is easier said than done. You may sweat from strenuous activity or get wet from snow or water. Avoid these things at all cost because, when the sun goes down, you will freeze. 3. Stay hydrated. There are many ways to become dehydrated while stranded and in distress. Your body is constantly losing water, and it is impossible to replenish it just by eating snow. If you have a water bottle or some container, fill it with snow and tuck it inside your clothes so it melts quicker. Repeat again and again. 4. Use previous knowledge or experience to your advantage. The day before my accident, I was reading a book explaining how humans can generally survive without water for three days and food for three weeks. Having only a bag of nuts and some dried dates, I knew I needed to immediately start rationing my food. However, I also knew it would be a long time before I would actually starve to death. This information gave me some peace of mind and allowed me to concentrate on more immediate concerns such as shelter and warmth. 5. It is recommended to stay put, but if you have to move, always go back up, not down. It may seem counterintuitive; however, seeking lower ground can be a bad idea for two reasons. First, there is a good chance you will become even more lost in the mountains as the terrain expands. Second, if there is search-and-rescue underway, it is best to give them the smallest possible area to consider. By going up, you are giving them a much better chance of locating you, and it will be easier to find a trail leading out.

1. パニックにならない。慎重な決断があなたの命を救う。まずは時間をかけて落ちつき、行

Michael Blodgett is an English instructor at a private high school in Osaka. He spends most of his free time with his family enjoying the lovely outdoors of Japan. He is writing a book about his mountain incident hopefully to be published in 2015.

マイケル・ブロケットは大阪にある私立高校の英語講師。週末は家族とともに日本のアウト ドアを楽しんでいる。彼は今回の事故を基に本を執筆中。希望としては2015年中に出版 したいと思っている。

T R AV E L E R

動について論理的に考えよう。

2. 可能な限りドライを保つ。あたりまえのように聞こえるが、でもじっさいに冬山にいるとこ れが容易なことではないのがわかる。急激な活動からの発汗だけでなく、雪や水によって 衣類が濡れてしまうことがある。全力でドライを保たなければならない。夜になると気温は 急激に落ちあなたの身体を凍りつかせる。

3. 水分補給。遭難によるストレスの状態で脱水症状を引き起こすのは珍しくない。身体は つねに水分を体外に放出している。雪を食べて水分を補給することは重要だ。水筒など があればそこに雪を詰め、体温で暖めると溶かすことができる。それを何度もくり返す。

4. 過去の知識や経験を生かす。事故のまえに私はある本を読んでいた。それは水なしで3 日間、食料なしで3週間を生き延びるという内容だった。この本による知識のおかげで、 一袋のナッツと乾燥ナツメ椰子を持っていた私はすぐにそれを配給制とした。  さらに餓死にいたるまでは時間がかかるということもわかっていた。そのおかげで、私は 気持ちを落ちつかせることができ、直近の問題であった避難所を捜すことと保温の解決 に集中することができた。

5. 一定の場所に留まることは正しい。だがもし移動しなければならないとした場合は、上を めざし下ってはならない。  これは常識的には考えにくいかもしれないが理由がふたつある。ひとつ目は下をめざす と地形が拡大してさらに迷ってしまう可能性が高くなる。ふたつ目は空からの捜査と救出 の場合、捜索者にとっても遭難エリアを限定し、発見しやすい。さらにロープで遭難者を 吊りあげるのも容易になる。


Hakuba Iwatake

Download the free App from Apple Store and Google Play

Park

ICON LEGEND

Park

Halfpipe

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Night Skiing

Ski School

Ropeway

Gondola

Quad Lift

Gear Rental

Kids Facilities

Triple Lift

Double Lift

Single Lift

Snow Carpet Resort opening and closing times and lift schedules may vary from day to day and season opening and closing dates may change depending on conditions. Please check with the resort directly before you go.

WINTER 2015

29


HOKKAIDO

Kamui Ski Links

T

he general rule with skiing is, the farther north you go, the better the snow. Well, you can’t go any farther north in Japan than Hokkaido, and the area rightfully creates the biggest buzz for people in search of deep powder. The reason for this is simple: Hokkaido consistently gets the best snow conditions, and Niseko in particular is recognized as a world-class ski resort, rivaling the long-established ski areas in Europe 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 over Japan’s north island.

Furano Kiroro Snow World

Sahoro

Niseko Grand Hirafu Niseko Village Niseko Annupuri Rusutsu Tomamu

NISEKO NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU, NISEKO ANNUPURI, NISEKO VILLAGE RESORT

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

Niseko Grand Hirafu 37% 1 8 Park

Park

Niseko Annupuri

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

Intermediate Gondola

Niseko HANAZONO Resort

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

Niseko Grand Hirafu

Advanced

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

40% 5 1

23% 1

T R AV E L E R

36% 1

32% 4

32% 2

27

courses

30

courses

Niseko Annupuri 30% 1

40% 1

Niseko HANAZONO Resort 30% 4

13

courses

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

30

Niseko Village Resort

25% 3

11

courses

63%

12%


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

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

NISEKO ANNUPURI (0136) 58-2080 Nov. 22 - May 6

www.cks.chuo-bus.co.jp/annupuri 8:30 - 21:00 (16:30 - 20:30)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,800

Park

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

NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU (0136) 22-0109 www.grand-hirafu.jp Nov. 22 - May 6 8:30 - 20:30 (16:30 - 20:30) 1 DAY Adults ¥4,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station ACCESS 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

www.niseko-village.com 8:30 - 20:00 (16:30 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,800

Park

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

NISEKO HANAZONO RESORT (0136) 21-6655 Dec. 6 - Apr. 6

www.hanazononiseko.com 8:30 - 16:00

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,600

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station ACCESS to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2015

31


JAN’s New Snow Bulletin Board By Yuske Hirota

32

T R AV E L E R


T

he first place the powder snow season begins each year in Japan is that sacred area called Tateyama. As powder-lovers returned to this pristine area in late autumn, still fresh in everyone’s mind is the major avalanche that occurred last year on Masago-dake, one of the peaks within the Tateyama area, in which seven people were killed. What can we learn from an accident like this? How can we be sure to do everything possible to stay safe as a new snow season approaches? The Japan Avalanche Network (JAN) is the partner of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), an organization specialized in avalanches and avalanche safety. Within Japan, JAN is working to provide a standardized avalanche educational program, as well as providing webbased avalanche and snowpack information through the “Yuki no Keijiban”— Snow Bulletin Board. The contributors to the Keijiban are people active in the snow zone areas— guides, ski patrollers, ice and snow scientists and even regular “weekend warriors” on the hills. In some areas where there are enough contributors, they combine the avalanche information and release it as a group. In Hakuba from January to March, every morning at 7 a.m., a five-level evaluation of avalanche hazards conducted to North American standards, is released. Following last year’s accident, JAN has started this season to provide avalanche information for the Tateyama region as well.

level evaluation without even scanning the other items and thinks, “What, it’s the same ‘Moderate’ level as yesterday?” and simply hurries out the door. Thinking about it in terms of weather, lots of people only look to see if there’s a sun or rain mark in the forecast, but a more serious backcountry skier will look at temperature changes and the probability of precipitation and take a good look at the weather map to better understand the total weather picture. It’s the same thing for avalanche information. Avalanche information includes (1) risk assessment, (2) avalanche potential, (3) overview and (4) advice on what action should be taken. Possible avalanche information includes what kind of avalanche, in what kind of terrain and what scale of avalanche is likely to occur. The overview provides a general look into the conditions of a snowpack representative of the area. No. 4 is an item not included in weather reports, but rather advice for that day as to about what a person

should be careful, and what actions should be taken. This includes hazards other than avalanches, such as cornices, crevasses/cracks, trees, streams and other factors of the winter mountains. To make good use of avalanche information, keep these four items in mind as you set up your plan for the day.

Previous Avalanche Accidents in Tateyama This year, JAN made a list of the fatal avalanche accidents that have occurred in the Tateyama mountains during the past 20 years, as well as an outline of the four cases in which JAN performed a site survey after the accidents. Published as a booklet, it was distributed free to the mountain lodges in the Murodo area of Tateyama. These are not places where avalanches are sure to occur, but many of them are in what is known as “Complex” terrain—varying terrain that can be hard to predict—and which people should avoid entering any time the avalanche forecast is “Considerable” or higher. People accessing the backcountry in Tateyama should refer to these materials before taking action.

Participation and Assistance The avalanche information provided by JAN comes from volunteers, so it must seek a variety of means of support. Details are available at the membership page of the organization’s website: www.nadare.jp/join. JAN also receives actual observations of avalanches through Twitter, using the hashtag #nadare2015. When making a tweet, always include a photo, elevation and aspect information. Providing a continuous stream of avalanche eyewitness information and other avalanche information is an invaluable resource, so everyone’s cooperation is very much welcome. Taking part in these activities will help ensure the safety of the entire backcountry community and make sure you make it home safely to ski or ride another day. ✤

Making Sense of Avalanche Information Working skillfully with avalanches requires a certain degree of knowledge. In other words, if you don’t really understand the detailed avalanche information being presented, the best course of action is to stay away from any avalanche terrain on any day where the evaluation is for “Considerable” risk or higher. What often happens is that someone looks only at the five-

参加と支援

本で最初にパウダースキーの恩恵にあずかれ

る聖地、立 山。昨年、その立山真 砂岳で起

JANでは、これらの雪崩

きた大規模雪崩インシデントはまだ記憶に新し

情報の提供をボランティ

い。私たちは事故から何を学び、何を活かし、 しか目に入らないタイプの人をさすが、熱心なBCユーザーで

きたるべき新しいスノーシーズンを迎えるのか? 私たち日本雪崩ネットワーク (JAN)は、カナダの雪崩専門 機関であるカナダ雪崩協会とパートナーシップを結ぶ唯一

あれば、気温の推移、降水確率、さらには天気図を確認し

アでおこなっているため、 さまざまな形での支援を

たほうが、より天気予報の理解につながることがわかる。雪

募っている。詳しくはホー

崩情報でも同じことがいえる。雪崩情報は、1・危険度評価、

ムページhttp://nadare.

の団体で、日本国内において標準化された雪崩教育の機

2・留意すべき雪崩、3・概要、4・行動への助言から成りたっ

jp/join/ を参考にしてく

会を提供したり、雪山を楽しむ人々のために雪崩や積雪情

ており、2ではどういったタイプの雪崩がどのような場所で、

ださい。また、JANでは雪

報を共有するWEBベースのデータバンク 「雪の掲示板」を提

どれくらいの規模で起こりうるかを示している。3は、このエリ

山で雪崩を目撃した際に

供している。この「雪の掲示板」の協力者 (Contributer)は

アにおける代表的な積雪状態が示されている。4は、天気

Twitterにおいてハッシュ

各地で活動する山岳ガイド、スキーパトロール、雪氷学者、

予報にはない項目で、その日、どのようなことを注意して行

タグ #nadare2015をつけ、

そして週末戦士の一般ユーザーから構成されている。ある

動すればよいかが示されている。この項目には雪崩以外の

ツイートをしてもらえるよう

地域において、 この協力者からの書き込みがじゅうぶんに集

ハザード、雪庇、クレバス、立木、小川などへの転落など、

呼びかけている。 その際、

まると、それらをまとめて雪崩情報として発信することができ

雪山で遭遇するハザードが示されている。雪崩情報を上手

かならず写真、標高、方

る。現在、白馬地域において1∼3月の毎日朝7時に、北米

に活用するために、上記の4つの項目を頭に入れ、その日

角が入っていることが前

において標準化されている5段階評価の雪崩ハザード情報

の行動を組み立ててほしい。

は今シーズンより立山地域の雪崩情報の発信を開始した。

雪崩情報の見方

提となる。真新しい雪崩 の目撃情報は、雪崩情

を提供しているが、立山における昨年の事故を受け、JANで

立山の過去の雪崩事故

報の継続的な提供にあ

JANでは今年、立山山域での過去20年間の雪崩死亡事

たってひじょうに大切なリ

故のリスト、およびJANが現場調査した4つの事例の概略を

ソースとなりうるため、ぜ

雪崩情報を上手に活用するには、ある程度の知識が必

示した冊子を作成し、立山室堂周辺の山小屋や関係する

ひご協力いただきたい。

要だ。言い換えれば、雪崩情報の内容を詳しく理解できな

場所に設置し、無料で配布している。これらの場所におい

これらの活動に参加して

い場合は、 「Considerable」以上の日は、雪崩地形には立ち

てかならず雪崩が発生するわけではないが、これらの多くの

もらうことにより、将来的

入らないことをおすすめする。よくありがちなのが、5段階の

場所が、雪崩情報がConsiderable以上によっては立ち入り

にそれらがコミュニティ全

評価のみを見て、それ以外の項目に目を通さず、 「あ、昨日

を避けるべき複雑な地形( Complex) といっていい。立山を

体の安 全に繋がり、自

と同じModerateでしょ?」とそそくさと滑りにいってしまうケース

利用するBCユーザーはぜひ手にとって、行動への参考にし

分の元に帰ってくること

がある。天気予報で表示されるお陽さまマークと傘マークに

てください。

になる。✤ WINTER 2015

33


RUSUTSU RESORT

Rusutsu, Hokkaido

(0136) 46-3331 http://en.rusutsu.co.jp Nov. 22 - Apr. 5 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥5,100 TICKET Kids ¥2,550

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.

Park

30% 4

4

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 7

30% 4

Advanced

37

courses

Longest Top E Base E

30% 7

Park

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

Advanced

KIRORO SNOW WORLD (0135) 34-7111 www.kiroro.co.jp/english/ Nov. 21 - May 6 9:00 - 20:00 (16:30 - 19:30)

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

37

courses

Akaigawa, Hokkaido 1 DAY Adults ¥5,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

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

3

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

37% 4

37% 1

Advanced

10

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E

26% 4

Park

Beginner byIntermediate car from ACCESS By Car: About 30 minutes by car from Otaru or 80 minutes Lifts Gondola downtown Sapporo

Advanced

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

10

SAPPORO KOKUSAI

Sapporo, Hokkaido

(0115) 98-4511 www.sapporo-kokusai.jp Nov. 22 - May 6 9:00 - 18:00

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥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

Beginner Intermediate By car: One hour from Sapporo city center, depending Lifts on traffic Gondola

Advanced

Park

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,300

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.

(With Mother Natures Blessing)

Come in December, March or April and beat the crowds and save some money!

tel. 050 5532 6026 www.nozawaholidays.com ACCESS

T R AV E L E R

7

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E

10% 2

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

7

courses

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

Advanced

Park

40% 1

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

30% 1

Advanced

30%

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,023m courses Base Elevation: 680m

15

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

34

Advanced

Sapporo, Hokkaido

(0116) 82-6000 www.sapporo-teine.com Nov. 22 - May 6 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

Season runs from December 3rd to May 6th

60% 1

30% 2

SAPPORO TEINE

SKI JAPAN

Intermediate Gondola

6

15

courses

3

Longest Top Ele Base E


SAHORO RESORT (0156) 64-4121 Dec. 1 - Apr. 5

Shintoku, Hokkaido

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

1 DAY Adults ¥4,830 TICKET Kids ¥3,780

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.

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

30% 1 2 Beginner Lifts

30% 1 2

Advanced

17

courses

TOMAMU (0167) 58-1111 Nov. 30 - Apr. 6

40% 2 1

Advanced

17

courses

30% 1

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

30% 1

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

Shimukappu, Hokkaido

www.snowtomamu.jp 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥3,600

Park

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, dog sledding, nighttime air-balloon rides and a variety of spa and relaxation options. Tomamu is celebrating its 30th year by opening a new high-speed quad, expanding the Family Adventure area and connecting the two mountains (no more walking). Beginner Station Intermediate ACCESS By Train: 70 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Tomamu Lifts Gondola By Car: 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport

25% 1 2 Beginner Lifts

25% 1 2

Advanced

Intermediate Gondola

45% 2

Advanced

15

courses

45% 2

30% 5

Longest Course: 4,500m Top Elevation: 1,210m Base Elevation: 699m

30% 5

Longest Course: 4,500m Top Elevation: 1,210m courses Base Elevation: 699m

15

FURANO RESORT

Furano, Hokkaido

(0167) 22-1111 www.princehotels.co.jp/newfurano Nov. 29 - May 6 8:30 - 17:00 (17:00 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids 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/ski-out 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

Park

40% 1 5

23 Beginner Intermediate Advanced Asahikawa Airport courses ACCESS Bus or car access is recommended: 60 minutes from Lifts Gondola to Furano Station

KAMUI SKI LINKS (0166) 72-2311 Dec. 1 - Apr.5

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2 1

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

Advanced

40% 25% 1 52

15 23

courses

40% 45% 30% 20% www.hokkaidopowderguides.com 52 12

Longest Course: 4,000m 4,500m Top Elevation: 1,209m 1,210m Base Elevation: 699m 245m

20% 2

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

Asahikawa, Hokkaido

www.kamui-skilinks.com 9:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥3,000 TICKET Kids ¥1,500

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.

Park

20% 1

40% 7

40%

Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

Intermediate Gondola

40% 7

Advanced

10

courses

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

40%

Park

10 Beginner from Intermediate downtownAdvanced courses ACCESS Bus or car access is recommended: About 25 minutes Lifts Gondola Asahikawa on Route 12

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

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2015

35


JAPAN SNOW GUIDE 2015

TRAVEL TIPS

Rusutsu Resort

Manza Onsen - Powders

Kamui Ski Links

36

T R AV E L E R


Rusutsu Resort: Powder Snow for All Levels at the Side Country Park Rusutsu Resort’s Side Country Park, created last season for advanced-level snow enthusiasts, will be expanding to include an area designated for intermediate skiers and snowboarders and a “Mash Corner.” This expansion is located next to the West Tiger Pair Lift in the “Tree Run Area,” right outside the West Mountain Elite Course. Enjoy being surrounded by nature while gliding through powder runs, taking advantage of the challenging terrain that makes this obstacle course of jumps and log slides much more enjoyable. This area will be open from the beginning of January to the end of February from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, Rusutsu Resort will have hands-free, electronic lift tickets available this season that will automatically be scanned, so you won’t have to fumble for your pass before getting on the lift. For more information, visit http://en.rusutsu.co.jp

Norn Minakami: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Guests at Norn Minakami Ski Resort might just walk away with some cash this season. Open from Dec. 18 to Mar. 29 (103 days), the resort will be giving out a grand total of ¥1,030,000 (¥10,000 yen for each day they’re open). Every day, an item will be hidden in the ski area which can be exchanged for ¥10,000 in cash. Unfound items can be carried over to the next day. If you’re skilled at hide-and-seek, you’ll have a chance to collect up to ¥100,000 per person (sorry, not a million, but close enough). Investigate the room’s bulletin board, website, Twitter and Facebook every morning to find clues that lead to the item of the day. Web: www.norn.co.jp Rusutsu Resort

Niseko Village: Where Traditional Culture and Modern Design Converge New developments are underway at Niseko Village, adding contemporary aesthetics while maintaining its rustic charm. Stroll through the streets of The Village, designed as a traditional Japanese town while offering a relaxing and elegant shopping and dining experience. Visitors can choose from a selection of outdoor gear, omiyage ideas, beauty and fashion products and goods at the Wakka Shop, inspired by Hokkaido’s native Ainu people. Meanwhile, the new Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse at the base of Mt. Niseko Annupuri is moments away from the resort’s ski lifts and runs. There are eight threebedroom townhouses available for those wanting to try some alpine living this winter. For more information, visit http://niseko-village.com/en

Manza Onsen: Convenient and Upgraded Rentals at Powders Manza Onsen Ski’s ski and snowboard rental shop has been rebranded this season as “Powders.” With more convenient and personalized services for visitors of all ages, Powders offers a new and wide selection of skis, snowboards, outerwear and more. Renters can choose which ski and snowboard outerwear they want to wear from a wide selection of jackets and pants, instead of the usual shop assistant picking out an outfit for you. Participants in the ski school will be assisted by staff on rental sizes. For children up to elementary school, all skis and snowboard rentals are only ¥500 per day and come in fun prints of favorite Japanese characters. Web: www.princehotels.com/en/ski/manzaonsen

Madarao: Ninja Training in Madarao’s Slopes Be swift and stealthy at Madarao Mountain Resort’s new “Ninja” Tree Run Course, which opened at the end of December. This latest addition to the other eight Tree Run Courses is the resort’s first tree run trail with a jump course and a Wood Log Jump — two logs stuck together at seven meters above the ground at the edge of a small dirt hill. Practice jumping and even some street-style tricks, surrounded by the forest and fluffy powder estimated to be four-to-five meters high to cushion every landing. The Ninja Course is 450 meters long and 80 meters at its widest and is located between the No. 12 and No. 15 lifts. Open from 9 a.m. until about 3:30 or 4 p.m. depending on sunset. Web: www.madarao.jp

Kamui Ski Links: Reach the Peak in Half the Time What used to take 15 minutes to get to the fine, dry powder waiting at the top of Kamui Ski Links now only takes eight. Starting this season, the ride is faster, thanks to the resort’s newly renovated gondola. Additionally, this upgraded gondola will have Swissmade racks able to stack up to four snowboards and skis 130 mm. wide — including fat skis. The gondola starts at a renovated base station twice as big as last year’s building. The pair lifts will also be upgraded within the next two years but will still be in operation. The gondola runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., depending on the weather and sunset. If you’re looking to explore northern Hokkaido and want to get away from the more populated ski areas, Kamui Ski Links offers quiet, undisturbed slopes, some of the best powder in Hokkaido and is located only 20 minutes from downtown Asahikawa. Web: www. kamui-skilinks.com

Kamui Ski Links

WINTER 2015

37


TOHOKU Hakkoda Ropeway

Hachimantai Resort

Tazawako

HAKKODA ROPEWAY

Hakkoda, Aomori

Appi Kogen

Gran Deco Miyagi Eboshi Alts Bandai Yamagata Zao

APPI KOGEN

Photo courtesy of JapowTours.com

T

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 Ou Mountains, ranging between 1,500-2,000 meters. When the famous poet, Matsuo Basho, wrote The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi), 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 twoto-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.

Hachimantai, Iwate

(0195) 73-6401 www.appi.co.jp/foreign_country/english/ Dec. 6 - May 6 8:00 - 20:00 (16:00 - 20:00)

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

1 DAY Adults ¥5,200 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

1 DAY Adults 5 Times (on Ropeway) ¥4,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,200 Park

Park

Tour Route Area Tour Route Area

20% 1

60% 1

20%

30% 2 1

Park

4 3

Longest Course: Longest APPI5,000m is a giant resort (41K of trails) with a The eight peaks of Hakkoda attract Japan's 5 Top Elevation: 21 Top Ele 1,324m(thanks to the many north-facing Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced long season most devoted powder lovers. It is basically courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: Base E slopes) 660m plus some great facilities (thanks to backcountry with a 100-person gondola that bubble era spending). Unlike many resorts in takes 10 minutes to the top with four trips 40% 20% Japan that have relatively short runs, the average course 30% 20% 60% 30% every hour. Once you get off, you can choose from "Direct" or Tour length at APPI is 2,100m; the longest 5,500m. It’s possible to "Forest" trails. You won't get many Route blueAreabird days here, and 1 1 2 3 11 Tour Route Area do Appi as a long day-trip from Tokyo but, with two ski-in/skivisibility can be difficult during snowstorms, which happen out hotels and an annex hotel, which collectively sleep 4,100 often. So if you are a Hakkoda newbie and want to explore guests, why not stay and soak away sore muscles at one the terrain, it's best to grab a local guide. Hakkoda Sansou, Longest Course: 5,000m Longest Course: 5,500m of the two natural hot springs after a day on the mountain. across the parking lot from the gondola, is the closest 5 21 Top Elevation: 1,328m Top Elevation: 1,324m Beginner Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced Families will appreciate the Kids Park. accommodation. Up the road, Sukayu Onsen Intermediate is a mixed hot courses Base Elevation: 660m courses Base Elevation: 828m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola spring with a 300-year history and a 1,000-person bath. Park

ACCESS By Bus: 80 minutes from Aomori Station By Car: 35 min. from Aomori I.C. and Ishiguri I.C.

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

HACHIMANTAI RESORT

Hachimantai, Iwate

TAZAWAKO SKI RESORT

(0195) 78-4111 www.hachimantai.co.jp Dec. 13 - Apr. 5 8:30 - 16:30 (2/27-1/4 everyday 16:30-21:00. 1/10-3/21every Saturday.)

(0187) 46-2011 www.tazawako-ski.com Dec. 19 - Apr. 19 9:00 - 16:00

Tazawako, Akita

1 DAY Adults ¥3,700 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥3,800 TICKET Kids ¥1,000

Park

Park

40% 1

PANORAMA

30% 1

20% 5

30% 2

3 4

SHIMOKURA Park

Longest Longest Course: 2,700m When it snows in Tazawako, and it usually It’s easy to get confused because there are 13 Top Ele 14 Top Elevation: 1,130m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced does, there is deep powder and a good variety of two Iwate Hachimantai resorts and another in courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base E Base Elevation: courses 540m to enjoy. When it is not snowing, you are Akita. The smaller Hachimantai in Iwate is a treated to one of the great views of any ski resort three-lift powder resort known for free riding. 40% 30% 30% in Japan, with Lake Tazawa below providing a stunning backdrop. 40% 30% 30% PANORAMA Iwate’s Hachimantai Resort, on the other hand, is larger and For this reason, Tazawako is a popular ski resort for people in is a great family ski destination. Hachimantai Resort covers 1 4 1 5 2 Tohoku, but the lines are still relatively short when compared to two main areas, Panorama ski area and the Shomokura resorts in other areas of Japan. The lifts run directly from the ski area. Both are well sheltered from the weather, and SHIMOKURA Tazawako Onsen hotel area. The selection of runs should keep Panorama features a huge night skiing area. There are highLongest Course: 2,700m Longest Course: 3,000m happy; on one side is a beginner and intermediate area, speed lifts servicing mostly beginner or intermediate courses 14 Top Elevation: 1,000m everyone 13 Top Elevation: 1,186m Beginner room Intermediate Advanced Advanced and on the other is a more challengingBeginner advancedIntermediate course. Powder that are wide open, so plenty of breathing for beginners courses Base Elevation: 540m courses Base Elevation: 608m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola lovers won’t want to miss the Komagatake Panoramic Cat Tour. or kids wanting to bomb down the hill. Park

Park

Park

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka Station (2 hours, 26 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

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

38

T R AV E L E R


EBOSHI RESORT

Zao-machi, Miyagi

(0224) 34-4001 www.eboshi.co.jp Dec. 1 - Apr. 5 9:00 - 22:00 (17:30 - 22:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,300 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

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.

Park

50% 1

30% 1

20% 6

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

50% 1

30% 1

Advanced

10

courses

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

20% 6

Park

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

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

YAMAGATA ZAO SKI RESORT

Yamagata-shi, Yamagata

(023) 694-9328 www.zao-ski.or.jp Dec. 6 - Early May 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

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

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Advanced

40% 3 27

Advanced

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 Top Elevation: 1,660m courses Base Elevation: 780m

26

ALTS BANDAI

Bandai, Fukushima

(0242) 74-5000 www.alts.co.jp Dec. 20 - Mar. 22 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,700 TICKET Kids ¥3,700

With 30K of rideable terrain, nearly 30 courses and progressive freestyle 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. They offer budget backpacker accommodations and have shuttle bus service directly from Narita. After crankin’ big air in the pipe, slide into the Riders’ Café 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 north-facing Nekoma.

Park

35% 1 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Advanced

GRANDECO SNOW RESORT

Intermediate Gondola

35% 1 1

Park

Beginner StationIntermediate ACCESS By Train: 82 minutes from Tokyo Station to KoriyamaLifts By Car: 60 minutes from Fukushima International Airport. Gondola

(0241) 32-2530 www.grandeco.com Nov. 29 - May. 6 8:30 - 17:00

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1 3

Park

Beginner Intermediate to Yamagata ACCESS By Train and Bus: 2 1/2 hours by bullet train from Tokyo Lifts Gondola Station, then 40 minutes by bus to Zao Onsen

40% 1 3

29

courses

40% 3

Advanced

29

courses

40% 3

25% 7

Longest Course: 3,300m Top Elevation: 1,280m Base Elevation: 700m

25% 7

Longest Course: 3,300m Top Elevation: 1,280m Base Elevation: 700m

Aizu Ura Bandai, Fukushima 1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥3,400

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

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

Park

40% 1

Beginner Lifts

40% 1

Intermediate Gondola

45% 4

Advanced

8

45% 4

15% 2

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

courses Base Elevation: 1,010m

15% 2

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,590m courses Base Elevation: 1,010m

8

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2015

39


JAPAN SNOW GUIDE 2015 TRAVEL TIPS

Members Only Tree Riding Zone Alts Bandai

40

T R AV E L E R

Alts Bandai


Hakuba 47

Grandeco

Ring in the Holidays at Niseko’s First Learning Trail for Kids Niseko International Snowsports School presents Strawberry Bells Adventure Trails, Niseko’s first learning trail designated for children as well as Hokkaido’s first planned adventure trail. Designed to be a fun and exciting yet a safe place to experience Niseko’s powder, this one-kilometer trail can be accessed by entering the Hanazono Strawberry Field gates. See progress as your curious young learner is challenged to navigate past trees and down slopes, past five bell stations that signal their arrival or departure and 25 colorful sign posts to guide their way through this new course. There are plenty of spots to practice little jumps or take family photos deep in the woods. Open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the trail is accessible for visitors of all ages, so whether your kid is enrolled in a NISS program, or your whole family is set to explore the Hanazono woods, there is guaranteed fun for all.

Deco Land Expansion a Perfect Training Ground for Snow Newbies Grandeco’s Deco Land Snow Park

Grandeco’s Deco Land Snow Park, designed not just for children but also for beginner-level adults who want to play in the snow, will expand this season. This year, the obstacle course will include a new 70-meter moving belt in addition to the current 50-meter belt, and an originally designed inflatable slide near the entrance. Deco Land is located at the base end of the beginnerlevel Rainbow 3,500 course and is perfect for families with toddlers or visitors who have little experience in snow sports. Admission is ¥600 for a half-day and ¥1,000 for a full day. Children under 3 get in free. Web: www.grandeco.com

Fun on the Slopes for All Levels at Alts

Montbell Hakuba Happo Store

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’ll want to get up to Alts Bandai for this season’s park updates. The Fundemic Park has kickers and more for intermediate and advanced-level skiers and snowboarders to practice. Beginner level riders may enjoy warming up at the milder Candy Park. Or travel back in time a bit at the ’90s Neo-Classic Park while still enjoying a course created by the natural terrain. For children and beginners, the new Family & Beginner Area at the left side of the resort has a snow escalator available for guests to choose a course with which they are comfortable. For those who want to venture out of the Family & Beginner Area, the nearby No. 2 pair lift that has been shut down since the 2011 earthquake is now back in operation. Web: www.alts.co.jp

Exclusive Members Only Tree Riding Zone Imagine whizzing past approximately 10,000 square meters of fresh powder–that’s twice the size of the Tokyo Dome baseball field. For those seeking adventure in Hakuba’s mountains, you’ll be happy to know Hakuba 47 is expanding its Tree Riding Zone (TRZ). Formally reserved as the Double Black Diamond Zone, this space between advance-level Routes 2 and 3 is now split into two TRZ zones for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy fresh powder deep in the forest while enjoying the natural scenery. The Tree Riding Zone is for members only; register first then enjoy some fun in the trees. You will then receive a bib that serves as your “ticket,” which must be returned by 3 p.m. each day. Web: www.hakuba47.co.jp

Snake Gliss and Snow Tube at the Snow Fun Park Want your kids to get out in the snow, but not sure if they’re able to handle skiing yet? Get on board the Snake Gliss sledge train or enjoy some snow tubing at Tsugaike Snow Fun Park which opened last season at Tsugaike Kogen. This family-catered area is located on the left side of the resort at “Kane no Naru Oka Grande” in the Beginner’s Area. Take the “Kane no Naru Oka Sky Liner III” lift up and make your way down this safe and fun slope for both children and adults. Open from the end of December to March from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Web: www. tsugaike.gr.jp

Apparel for All Sizes and Extreme Hiking Mountain Gear Enjoy a great view of Mt. Shiroumadake before hitting Happo-One Ski Resort at Montbell’s new Hakuba Happo store. Located on the second floor right above Happo Information Center, the Montbell Room Hakuba Happo store has apparel in all sizes, with snow wear coming in sizes larger than usual Japanese sizes, and mountain climbing gear including crampons, ice axes and waterproof spats for serious winter hikers. There are also plenty of sporty and fashionable outfits, and children’s snow wear is available. During the green season, the store will offer hiking gear and apparel to travelers attracted to the area’s famous peaks and trails. Happo Information Center is a five-minute drive from Hakuba train station. Web: www.happo-one.jp and www. montbell.com

WINTER 2015

41


NAGANO N

agano is the traditional center of the Japan snow scene, and 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, the sheer volume of ski areas is due to the jagged spine of rugged natural beauty known as the Japan Alps slashing through the prefecture. This area is as much a Mecca for photographers as it is for skiers, with its many onsen, snow-swept valleys and bristling peaks. Backcountry fun here is limited only to your preparedness and daring. Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa and the Iiyama areas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

HAKUBA GORYU

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-2101 www.hakubagoryu.com/e/index.html 8:00 - 21:30 (18:00 - 22:00) Early Dec. - May 6

Nozawa Onsen

Togakushi

Okushiga

Madarao

Hakuba Cortina

Yakebitaiyama Shiga Kogen Area

Tsugaike Hakuba Iwatake Hakuba Happo

Hoppobundaira Higashitateyama Nishitateyama

Hakuba 47 Hakuba Goryu Norikura Kogen

HAKUBA 47

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-3533 www.hakuba47.co.jp 8:00 - 16:20 End of Nov. - May 6 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Park

Park

35% 1 1

40% 3

25% 9

30% 1

4

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

Park

Park

Park

ACCESS By Train and Shuttle: Shinkansen to Nagano Station and the direct bus to Hakuba. A shuttle service runs between Goryu and Hakuba 47

HAKUBA HAPPO

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 72-3066 www.hakuba-happo.jp Early Dec. - Early May 8:00 - 17:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

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

HAKUBA IWATAKE SNOW FIELD

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 72-2474 www.tokyu-hakuba.co.jp/english/winter/iwatake/ Dec. 19 - Mar. 29 8:00 - 17:00 1 DAY Adults ¥4,600 TICKET Kids ¥2,300

1 DAY Adults ¥3,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,200

Park

Park

Park

30% 1 2

50% 5

20% 4 Park

30% 1 12

5

South Side North Side Longest Course: 8,000m Longest If the crowds at Happo are too much for you, Happo is a huge resort that is heaven for 13 Top Elevation: 15 Top Ele 1,831m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced head over to nearby Iwatake. The base of the skiers who enjoy well-groomed, long courses. courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 760mup at Hakuba’s highest peaks for Base E resort looks There are many runs, good challenging terrain a spectacular view while you enjoy the slopes. and a nice park and the Hakuba Banks Park 50% 20% The resort itself is surprisingly big, making it a great place to 50% 30% 20% 30% opens on Feb. 1. Happo hosted the downhill races during the go to get away from the crowds and explore the 24 courses. 1998 Olympics and, if you want to test your meddle, head to 4 1 5 1 1 1 It’s mostly beginner and intermediate runs, but there is a the top of the men’s downhill course. While advanced riders nearly four-kilometer cruiser and a small terrain park. Lift will love Happo, beginners may get frustrated with the many 2 12 1 lines are relatively short by Hakuba standards, and you can narrow paths leading down the mountain. If you need a South Side Longest Course: 8,000m Longest Course: 3,800m often find some pockets of powder here after it has been North Side break, there are plenty of restaurants to stop for a bite. Note 13 Top Elevation: 1,831m tracked out at other resorts nearby.Beginner Intermediate Advanced 15 Top Elevation: 1,289m Intermediate Advanced the resort’s popularity means it canBeginner get crowded, especially courses Base Elevation: 760m courses Base Elevation: 539m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola on long weekends. Park

Park

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

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

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

42

T R AV E L E R


HAKUBA CORTINA SKI RESORT

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 82-2236 www.hakubacortina.jp 1 DAY Adults ¥3,300 TICKET Kids ¥1,700 Dec. 13 - Apr. 5 Sun-Fri 8:30 - 17:00, Sat 8:30 - 17:00 (Sun-Fri: 17:00 - 20:00 Sat: 17:00 - 21:00) 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). Beginner Intermediate ACCESS By Train: From Shinjuku to Minami Otari: 4 hours (ByLiftsAzusa)Gondola By Car: 90 minutes from Nagano I.C. to hotel

Advanced

Park

40% 2

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 5

40% 2

16

courses

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

30%

Otari, Nagano 1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

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. Park

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

MT. NORIKURA (0263) 93-2645 www.norikura.co.jp Dec. 6 - Mar. 5 8:30 - 16:30

16

courses

30%

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

HAKUBA TSUGAIKE KOGEN (0261) 83-2515 www.tsugaike-kogen.com Nov. 22 - Early May 8:00 - 17:00 (18:00 - 20:50 on Sat.)

Advanced

30% 5

Advanced

Park

50% 1 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 1 9

50% 1 1

Advanced

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 courses Base Elevation: 800m

14

Norikura Kogen Onsen, Nagano 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

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

Park

30% 2 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2 1

40% 1

Advanced

20

40% 1

30% 5

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

courses Base Elevation: 1,500m

30% 5

Longest Course: 5,000m 20 Top Elevation: 2,000m Beginner Intermediate Advanced (2 hours, 37 courses ACCESS By Train: Super Azusa Express train from Shinjuku to Matsumoto Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 1,500m minutes. Transfer at Matsumoto, then on to Shin Shimashima (30 minutes)

A family-run, ski-in ski-out hotel in Nozawa Onsen Village www.schneiderhotel.com More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2015

43


HAKUBA MIND SHIFT By Damian Barnwell

I

f you have already discovered what is so special about backcountry skiing and splitboarding, you may also have realized Hakuba is a great backcountry launching point. However, I see many aspiring backcountry visitors come to Hakuba who never quite click with the valley and miss out as a result. Hakuba’s ski resorts only go a small way up the local mountains, mostly facing east. If you want to benefit from higher altitudes, or select from a wide variety of terrain on different aspects, you need to leave the resorts. For many, this is a new journey. To turn your back on the ski lifts and make the most of Hakuba’s diverse backcountry terrain requires you to make a few mental shifts.

The Commitment Shift The first is a commitment shift. Like many long journeys, it begins with small steps. It’s an investment in the future where every bit counts. At least 50 percent of what you do today is for the benefit of tomorrow. The Hakuba Valley richly rewards that investment over time as you encounter many days where there is no good off-piste skiing in the resort or in the lift-accessed backcountry zones. Yet, there is often so much untouched and

44

T R AV E L E R

seemingly unwanted powder in the backcountry, which is all yours, in return for the time you’ve put in. Hint: Do recon missions when the snow isn’t good, then return armed with access and terrain knowledge when the snow is great.

Perception Shift The second mental shift is seeing appropriate terrain and perceiving yourself in it. I don’t mean fantasizing about being a backcountry skier or boarder on an epic run. I mean actually seeing and analyzing terrain followed by appropriate action. It is hard for new backcountry riders to conceptualize their place in the backcountry, yet everyone has a place out there so long as they have enough technical riding skills to go along with fundamental avalanche training and the right equipment. Where in Hakuba’s back country is your place? Those beautiful backdrops are not cardboard cutouts; they are yours to ski and snowboard. As you try to identify appropriate terrain you would like to experience, keep in mind a lot of the good stuff is not visible from the valley. This is where maps help a lot. Also, the best valleybottom views are often from roads visitors would never visit.

You can’t see a mountain when you are on it, or very close to it, so find places in Hakuba that will give you a wider view. Remember there is good terrain, which you may not even notice, in the shadow of the bigger picture-postcard eye-grabbers. There could be low-hanging fruit near the lifts as well. Hakuba has an abundance of such terrain, but don’t be blinded by it alone. Try to see what others ignore. Look beyond the popular and obvious choices; it doesn’t have to be great to be good. Also, when you are in the mountains on the big side of the valley, look east. Look at those hills and valleys and how they roll into bigger features, all the way toward distant Myoko. Hakuba is just a town, a dot on a map, a starting point. The Hakuba Valley has two sides and two ends; explore them all. On one side of the valley is a small stretch of the much larger Kita Alps, and there is no other mountain range like it anywhere else in Japan. A lot of it is simply too big and steep to be practical, but there are significant zones within this range which are accessible and offer excellent ski touring itineraries for people with an advanced level of backcountry experience and training. My message is simply to stop “looking” and start “seeing.”


Put yourself in the picture and make it happen. Backcountry skiing and splitboarding takes the technical riding skills acquired through repetition in resorts and allows you to use them to develop your own personal art-form of backcountry travel into terrain you may never have otherwise seen, only looked at. It is probably time for a reality check. If you put an unprepared person lacking common sense into a snowy mountain environment, the mountains can suddenly be very dangerous. More accurately, it is ourselves who are dangerous; the mountains just make it obvious and sometimes fatally so. Humility and patience, quality training, appropriate gear and preparation, and mentorship from someone genuinely more experienced are all vital in your journey as a new backcountry rider. Every day in the backcountry can be a day of valuable experience; however expect to score a lot of dud days. A lot of terrain is actually pretty bad. Sometimes, after all the effort to identify and get to a zone with the right incline, aspect, elevation and location—with respect to snow quantity—you arrive in a sweat to find it is convoluted and full of scrub and regrowth rather than well-spaced mature beech trees.

Hint: Look for beech and avoid oak and cedar plantations. Also, if an area looks convoluted on a detailed Japanese government topo map, it will be convoluted. Quality 1:25,000 scale Japanese maps with their 10-meter contour lines seldom lie.

Time-frame Shift You can ski in Hakuba and the wider Kita Alps for six months, non-stop, starting in late November. Yet few people experience December, despite it being when the sun is lowest in the sky. This allows for good, sunny aspects to remain skiable for longer. Likewise, April is under-appreciated and when a few summer access roads are opened and reliable corn is on offer. If you want to be a backcountry rider who makes the most of the Hakuba Valley and the Kita Alps, it is very limiting to look at Hakuba through the January-February lens. Other than the classic winter conditions in January, December and April are the best backcountry months.

Spatial Shift Think of Hakuba as a staging area for a wide area of

terrain. Break the valley into distinct zones which have their own attributes. Tsugaike is a great place to start exploring one zone within the Kita Alps. From the top of the gondola, you can go for half a day, half a week or more. Most of the distant terrain is not even visible, unless you get yourself into just the right spot on the far side of Tengu-para. Other terrain surrounding the valley is accessed via penetrating roads, so the trick is to learn which ones are cleared in winter. The hard part is finding a place to park your car with 200-cm. snow walls on either side of the road. If your road is not cleared, can you get deeper into the terrain on skins? The summer road to Sarukura is an in-town example of this. If it has been windy above tree line, the large area generally referred to as Otari and then Itoigawa is your friend. Too warm and sunny with no new snow? Then you need north-facing slopes and higher altitude. You can find that in Tengu-para if you look for those special pockets that accumulate and preserve snow. Finally, the south end of Kita Alps gets less snow, which is sometimes a benefit, though the tree type and spacing can be a gamble. ✤

WINTER 2015

45


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

Okushiga Kogen

Shibutouge Terakoya Yokoteyama

Yakebitaiyama Yama no Kami

Ichinose Family Tanne no Mori

Hoppo Bunadaira, Higashidateyama, Nishidateyama

Diamond

Kumanoyu Giant

Kidoike

Hasuike

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 thirteen 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 - HIGASHIDATEYAMA - NISHIDATEYAMA (0269) 34-2301 www.shigakogen.co.jp.e.aafw.hpf.transer.com/ Dec. 13 - Apr. 5 8:30 - 16:30 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,400

50% 1

Park

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

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 3

10% 1

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. 6 - May 6 8:00 - 16:00 (17:00 - 19:00) 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,400

35% 2

Park

35% 2

30% 2

Park

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

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

15

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

courses Base Elevation: 1,550m

OKUSHIGA KOGEN SKI FIELD (0269) 34-2225 www.okushiga.jp Dec. 12 - May 10 8:30 - 16:30 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,400

45% 1

Park

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

Beginner Lifts

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

46

T R AV E L E R

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

35% 5

20%

Longest Course: 2,200m Top Elevation: 2,000m courses Base Elevation: 1,460m

9


MADARAO MOUNTAIN RESORT

Iiyama, Nagano

(0269) 64-3214 www.madarao.jp Dec. 19 - End of Mar. 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids <12 FREE

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

Beginner City (1 Intermediate hour, 28 ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Lifts Gondola minutes) then by bus to Tangram Madarao

Advanced

Park

30% 2 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2 1

40% 3

Advanced

29

courses

30% 5

SNOWBOARD WITH THE LOCALS

Longest Course: 2,500m 29 Top Elevation: 1,350m courses Base Elevation: 440m

TANGRAM SKI CIRCUS

Beginner City (1 Intermediate hour, 28 ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Lifts Gondola minutes) then by bus to Tangram Madarao

Advanced

30% 5

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

Nagano ◊ Niseko Alaska ◊ USA ◊ Canada

Madarao, Nagano

(026) 258-3511 www.tangram.jp/foreign/english.html 1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥3,200 Dec. 20 - Mar. 30 9:00 - 16:30 (from 8:30 on Sat.&Sun.) (16:30 - 20:00 on Saturday) 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.

40% 3

www.cloudlinetours.com

Park

30% 2 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2

29

courses

30% 5

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

30% 1

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,320m Base Elevation: 800m

14

courses

TOGAKUSHI

40% 3

Advanced

40% 3

Togakushi, Nagano

(0262) 54-2106 www.togakusi.com Dec. 13 - Apr. 5 8:30 - 16:30

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Togakushi is an interesting, medium-sized resort. The name “Togakushi” means “hidden door,” and the resort is owned by Nagano City and managed by Tokyu Resorts, 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, 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. Park

Beginner NaganoIntermediate Station ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station toLifts Gondola (1 hour, 45 minutes), then less than 1 hour to Togakushi by bus

Advanced

NOZAWA ONSEN

Park

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2

40% 5

Advanced

19

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

19

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

(0269) 85-3166 www.nozawaski.com Nov.29 - May 6 8:30 - 17:00 (16:30(17:00) - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,600 TICKET Kids ¥2,100

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

Park

40% 2 10

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 2 10

By Train: Tokyo Station to Nagano Station by Shinkansen (109 minutes), then 36 Intermediate ACCESS Iiyama Line to Togari-Nozawa Onsen St. (60 minutes) andBeginner taxi or shuttle bus to Advanced courses Gondola Nozawa Onsen. By Car: 75 minutes from Nagano Station Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 5 1

Advanced

36

courses

30% 5 1

40% 3 1

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

40% 3 1

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

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2015

47


JAPAN SNOW GUIDE 2015 TRAVEL TIPS

The North Face - By the Week

The North Face - By the Week

The North Face  Mountain Gear Stand 2013-2014

Hakuba Cortina

Hakuba Iwatake

48

T R AV E L E R


The North Face - Gravity Niseko

Tanbara Ski Resort

One-Stop Shops for Winter Essentials at Niseko and Tomamu

More Powder at Popular Hakuba Slopes

If you’re a fan of The North Face, you’ll want to visit their latest stores in Hokkaido. The two-story The North Face Gravity Niseko is a fun place to browse through a wide selection of ski wear, gear and boots for snow sports, backcountry skiing, or daily wear. Hang out with friends at the coffee bar on the first floor and chat with the friendly and experienced staff for tips and advice on Niseko powder and slopes. Be sure to ask about events and tours to be held throughout the season for guests who want to experience backcountry skiing in Niseko. Ski wear, skis and boot rentals are also available on the first floor. By the Week is another store in Moiwa based on a “week-long vacation” concept offering practical, everyday items needed for a one-week winter stay, including MXP and C3fit compression sports underwear which uses odor-neutralizing technology. The kiosk also offers The North Face apparel and is located at the futuristic Lodge Moiwa 834, a capsule hotel run by The North Face. The Mountain Gear Stand Tomamu is a pop-up store open during the snow season at the Tomamu Resort Center. Starting off as an experimental project last winter which gained immediate positive feedback, By the Week is set up inside a shipping container, providing as a compact one-stop shop for all your snow wear needs, including winter essentials you may have forgotten to pack. Choose from a wide selection of TNF and other Goldwin brand jackets, backpacks, beanies and boots. Staff is available to help you with fittings and advice on snow sportswear. Web: www.goldwin.co.jp/tnf/

Given the rising popularity of powder runs, Hakuba Iwatake’s Hikage Lift, which last operated 10 years ago, will start carrying powder enthusiasts to Hikage, the resort’s latest powder course addition. Only accessible via the Hikage Lift, the Hikage courses A and B are 1,200 meters up in the mountains and 520 meters long with plenty of open space. Although the resort opens from mid-December, the lift will start operating depending on snowfall and is planned to run only in the mornings. Hakuba Iwatake has six other powder courses, including last year’s newly opened Sonezawa Course, which leads into the Hikage Course, and the Dangan Course. After a day in the snow, refresh yourself at the hot springs (Iwatake no Yu) at the base of the mountain. Web: http://iwatake.jp

New Upgrades for New Season at Tokyu Resort Service If you’re heading to Tokyu Resort Service resorts such as Tanbara Ski Resort (Gunma) or Hunter Mountain (Tochigi) this winter, you will enjoy their season upgrades with comfortable facilities and fun for the whole family. For the first time in 26 years, Tanbara Ski Park has expanded its Resort Center, which now includes comfortable changing rooms and a Kids Corner three times bigger than before. Women will also enjoy the new powder room where they can freshen up and relax. Tanbara Ski Resort is a two-hour drive from Tokyo on the Kanetsudo Nerima I.C. Web: www. tambara.co.jp/skipark/ At Hunter Mountain, take a break from the snow at the resort’s entrance mall. The resort collaborated with creative retail brand Tokyu Hands to open up a machi (town) with a fun lineup of stores selling ski and snowboard goods, original merchandise and omiyage for your friends back home. You’ll also find the ticket counter and information desk at the entrance mall. Hunter Mountain is a little over two hours from Tokyo by bullet train to Nasu-Shiobara Station and then a shuttle bus or taxi to the resort. Web: www.hunter.co.jp

Telemark at Japan’s Largest Freeheel Ski Event Enjoy the freedom of free heel skiing down Shiga Kogen’s trails at the 9th annual Tele-makuri, Japan’s largest telemark and freeheel ski event held at Ichinose Diamond Ski Resort in Shiga Kogen on March 7-8. The high altitudes of the Ichinose slopes and heavy snowfalls make for a great environment for powder runs and freeriding. For those who want to fully immerse themselves in telemark skiing, sign up for the two-day Yokubari Experience Course, available for all levels from minitours for beginners to skiers aiming to be professional telemarkers. All lessons will be guided by Shiga Kogen’s Telemark Ski School instructors. A free-heel cross contest will also take place this year, as teams of five battle for the Tele-makuri Cup. Unwind after the sun goes down at Restaurant Diamond with food, drinks and live music. Have a great view of the mountain at night while mingling with free-heel riders and friendly ski maker staff. Web: www. telemakuri.com

WINTER 2015

49


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 the heaviest snowfalls in Japan. The town of Yuzawa was where Yasunari Kawabata penned his award-winning novel “Snow Country” (Yukiguni). It is also Niigata’s most popular of winter sports 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 border from Nagano Prefecture, in the southeastern part of Niigata, 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 coast and features some great resorts in its own right.

Joetsu Kokusai NASPA Ski Garden GALA Yuzawa

Iwappara

Charmant Hiuchi

Seki Onsen Akakura Myoko Suginohara Kagura Tashiro Mitsumata

GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT YUZAWA KOGEN GALA YUZAWA STATION

NUNOBA

Mt. NAEBA KAGURA • MITSUMATA

Naeba

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 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/mtnaeba/index.html Dec. 13 - May 6 8:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

KAGURA - TASHIRO - MITSUMATA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 88-9221 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/mtnaeba/index.html Nov. 23 - May 25 8:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥5,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥2,100

Park

Park

To Naeba

30% 3

40% 5

30% 5

Kagura Area Park

Tashiro Area To Naeba

45% 3 1

3 5

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

Park

Park

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

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

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


GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT (0257) 85-6543 Dec. 20 - May 6

Yuzawa, Niigata

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

1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,200

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

Advanced Descent Course

Park

35% 1 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Advanced Descent Course Gondola

35% 1 2

16

courses

40% 1 4

16

courses

40% 1 4

25% 3

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

25% 3

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

IWAPPARA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 87-3211 www.iwa-ppara.com Dec.6 - Apr. 5 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00) (Weekdays, Sundays, holidays: 17:00-20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Although Iwappara looks like a relic of Japan’s bubble era, with big pink apartments along the course, it is still one of the more popular resorts in the Yuzawa area. It’s super convenient from the station (seven 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.

Beginnerto Echigo Intermediate Advanced Yuzawa ACCESS By Train and Shuttle Bus: 77 minutes from Tokyo Station Lifts(7 minutes) Gondola Station then shuttle bus from Echigo Yuzawa Station

Park

40% 2

Beginner Lifts

40% 2

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 7

12

courses

Snow-Country

20%

Super Pass

Yuzawa, Niigata 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

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

(025) 782-1028 www.jkokusai.co.jp Dec. 6 - Apr. 5 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

38% 2

Park

38% 2

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

JOETSU KOKUSAI SKI RESORT

YUZAWA;

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

37% 1

Advanced

20%

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

Longest Course: 4,000m 12 Top Elevation: 985m courses Base Elevation: 400m

NASPA SKI GARDEN (025) 780-6888 www.naspa.co.jp/ski/ Dec. 20 - Apr. 5 8:30 - 19:00 (17:00 - 19:00)

40% 7

8

courses

25% 2

01. NAEBA 01. NAEBA-ASAGAI 02. KAGURA 03. LUDENS YUZAWA 04. NAKAZATO SNOW WOOD 05. YUZAWA NAKAZATO 06. YUZAWA PARK 07. IWAPPARA 08. NASPA SKI GARDEN Longest Course: 2.2km 09. IPPONSUGI Top 10. Elevation: 690mKOGEN YUZAWA Base 11. Elevation: GALA430m YUZAWA 12. MAIKO

37% 1

25% 2

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

Minamiuonuma, Niigata 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

To the north of Yuzawa Town is a 634-room, European-style 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

Beginner Intermediate Echigo Yuzawa ACCESS By Train and Bus: Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo toLifts Gondola Station (77 minutes) then train to Joetsu Kokusai (15 minutes)

Advanced

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow

Park

30% 3 Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 3

Intermediate Gondola

50% 4

Advanced

20% 18

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

22

22

courses

50% 4

20% 18

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

MINAKAMI; 13. NORN

MUIKAMACHI; 14. MUIKAMACHI 15. HAKKAISAN

TOKAMACHI; 16. MATSUNOYAMA-ONSEN

SAKAE VILLAGE; 17. SAKAE CLUB


MYOKO SUGINOHARA (0255) 86-6211 www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/myoko Dec. 20 - Mar. 29 8:30 - 16:30

Myoko, Niigata 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

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

4 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2

40% 1

Advanced

16

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E

20% 2

Park

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

Advanced

AKAKURA ONSEN (0255) 87-2125 Dec. 13 - Apr. 5

Skiing & Snowboarding

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

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

Akakura Onsen, Niigata

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

1 DAY Adults ¥3,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

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.

A little-known place awesome for

16

courses

Park

50% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 4

50% 2

Park

20 Beginner Advanced (1 hr., 45Intermediate min.), then take courses ACCESS By Train: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station Lifts10 minutes Gondola the JR Shinetsu Honsen Line to Myoko Kogen Station, then by bus

SEKI ONSEN

Advanced

20

courses

3 4

Longest Top Ele Base E

20% 9

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

Seki Onsen, Niigata

(0255) 82-2316 www.sekionsen.com Dec. 20 - May 10 9:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥3,500 TICKET Kids ¥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.

Park

20% 1

3 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 1

20% 1

Advanced

Longest Top Ele

6

courses Base Ele

50%

Park

+81-278-72-2811 www.canyons.jp

Longest Course: 1,600m 6 Top Elevation: 1,620m Beginner(1 hr., Intermediate Advanced 45 min.), then courses ACCESS By Train: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station Gondolaby taxi Base Elevation: 1,000m take the JR Shinetsu Honsen Line to Sekiyama Station,Lifts then 20 min.

CHARMANT HIUCHI

Itoigawa, Niigata

(025) 568-2244 http://charmant-hiuchi.jp Dec. 19 - May 10 8:30 - 16:30

1 DAY Adults ¥3,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,800

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.

Park

20% 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 1

45% 2

Advanced

35%

Park

16 Beginner Intermediate From Advanced is inconvenient. courses ACCESS Car access is recommended: Train and bus serviceLifts Gondola Tokyo it takes 4 hours by car, depending on traffic and weather At Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort Below Hikage Area Mos Burger

52

T R AV E L E R

www.shirakaba8.com/rental

4 2

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

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

16

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E


Minakami Houdaigi

Kawaba

GUNMA

Okutone Snow Park Tenjindaira Tanigawadake

Oze Iwakura

Norn Minakami Manza Onsen

W

Kusatsu Kokusai

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 the popular Oze Iwakura, Hotaka Bokujo, a boarder’s park, and Oguna Hotaka, a nice midsized 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

(0278) 75-2557 www.hodaigi.jp Dec. 13 - Apr. 5 8:00 - 16:30

(0278) 72-8101 Dec. 19 - Mar. 29

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Minakami, Gunma

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

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

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids Free for children <12

Park

Park

50% 2

30% 5

20% 1

30% 5

4 1

Park

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

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate

Advanced

Park

Longest Course: 1,400m Longest C If rails, pipes and jumps are your thing, 16 Top Elevation: 10 Top Ele 1,400m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced Okutone ski area is the place to go in courses courses Lifts Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 830m Base E Minakami. The park staff takes good care of guests who come to perfect their style at the 30% 20% resort’s park. The night sessions are popular, since they keep 50% 40% 30% 30% the lights on until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights 1 2 5 5 1 and before national holidays. The north-facing courses have nice snow quality, and you can enjoy some turns on the 3,000-meter long course. Okutone is just two hours from Longest Course: 1,400m Longest Course: 3,000m making it super convenient. They offer free tickets to 16 Top Elevation: 1,400m Tokyo, 10 Top Elevation: 1,083m Intermediate Advanced kids under 12 and free coffee if you Beginner come before 10 a.m. on courses Base Elevation: 830m courses Base Elevation: 550m Lifts Gondola weekdays. Park

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

NORN MINAKAMI

Minakami, Gunma

(0278)-72-6688 www.norn.co.jp Dec. 18 - Mar. 29 8:00 - 22:00/24:00 (16:30 - 24:00)

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

TENJINDAIRA TANIGAWADAKE

Minakami, Gunma

(0278) 72-3575 www.tanigawadake-rw.com End of Nov. - Late May 8:00 - 16:30 1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥3,400

1 DAY Adults ¥3,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,000

Park

Park

30% 2

50% 2

30% 1

20%

4 4

Park Park

Longest C Longest Course: 2,000mTenjindaira is better known to Although Situated just three kilometers from the 10 Top Ele 5 Top Elevation: 1,220m Beginner Intermediate Advanced most for trekking in summer, when the tram is Beginner Intermediate Advanced Minakami Interchange, Norn Minakami is the courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Base E Base Elevation: 820mhikers, the resort is a popular stop packed with most convenient of the Minakami Resorts if on the backcountry trail. The resort itself is you are coming by car. The resort is great for 40% 30% 30% 20% relatively small, but lift lines are usually short and the snow 20% 60% families. They’ve created “family zones” where the average quality can be excellent if it’s not too windy up top. However, slope is just 13 degrees and a Day Care Center where parents 1 4 2 2 the secret to “Tenjin” is off the main trails. Those who like can drop off the little ones and enjoy some time on the their riding steep and deep head for the backcountry. This mountain themselves. Norn is open from 7 a.m. to midnight is “enter at your own risk” territory and not a place to go on weekends, so you can enjoy a long day on the slopes and, Longest Course: 4,000m Longest Course: 2,000m avalanche gear (and the knowledge how to use it). like all Minakami resorts, it is not far from some great hot 10 Top Elevation: 1,500m 5 Top Elevation: 1,220m without Beginner local Intermediate Beginner Intermediate Advanced Better yet, hire one of the knowledgeable guides andAdvanced courses springs. courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Base Elevation: 750m Base Elevation: 820m enjoy some "Japow!" Park

Park

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

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

For more Gunma information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com) WINTER 2015

53


NOZAWA ONSEN

KAWABA (0278) 52-3345 Dec. 6 - Apr. 12

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

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

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.

ENGLISH SKI & SNOWBOARD LESSONS

Park

20% 3

4 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 3

40% 1

Advanced

10

Longest Top Ele

courses Base Ele

40% 1

Park

Longest Course: 2,000m 10 Top Elevation: 2,020m Beginner Intermediatethen Advanced (75 minutes), a courses ACCESS By Train and Shuttle Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 1,290m 50-minute shuttle bus ride to Kawaba

KUSATSU KOKUSAI

Kusatsu, Gunma

(0279) 88-8111 www.kusatsu-kokusai.com Dec. 13 - Apr. 12 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,200

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

+81-80-9083-2172 www.nozawaski.com

Park Heliport

20% 1

5 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 1

50% 2

Advanced

Longest Top Ele

9

courses Base Ele

30% 8

Park

Beginner Intermediate from Tokyo (72 ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Karuizawa StationLifts minutes), then 55 min. by direct bus from Karuizawa Station Gondola

Advanced

Longest Course: 8,000m Top Elevation: 2,171m courses Base Elevation: 1,245m

9

MANZA ONSEN (0279) 97-3117 Dec. 13 - Apr. 5

Tsumagoi, Gunma

www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/manza/ 8:30 - 17:00 (17:30 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,300 TICKET Kids ¥0

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

4 5

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

40% 5

Advanced

Longest Top Ele

9

courses Base Ele

20%

Park

Longest Course: 2,100m 9 Top Elevation: 1,994m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Manza-Kazawaguchi courses ACCESS By Train & Bus: Takasaki Line from JR Ueno Station to Lifts Gondola(50 min.) Base Elevation: 1,646m Stn. (160 min.) then change to the Seibu Kogen Bus to Manza Onsen

OZE IWAKURA (0278) 58-7777 Dec. 13 - Apr. 5

English Ski & Snowboard Lessons Snowshoe tour

Katashina, Gunma

www.oze-iwakura.co.jp/ski/ 8:00 - 17:00 (16:30 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,600 TICKET Kids ¥3,600

Oze Iwakura is the largest of the Katashina ski resorts. It was also one of the longest skiersonly 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

+81-80-9083-2179 www.canyons.jp

54

T R AV E L E R

Beginner then byIntermediate bus to Oze ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) Lifts Gondola Iwakura (90 min.)

Advanced

Park

30% 11 9

Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 11 9

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

Advanced

30% 2

Longest Course: 3,200m Top Elevation: 1,703m courses Base Elevation: 1,006m

16

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow

16

4 1

Longest Top Ele

courses Base Ele


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 region. 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. 6 - Apr. 19 8:00 - 16:30

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥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 openfaced 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

30%

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

35% 1

35% 3

Advanced

12

courses

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

30%

Park

BeginnerTakasu Intermediate and ACCESS By Bus: A bus leaves Nagoya at 8 a.m. stopping at both Gondola Dynaland. The trip takes about 2 hours, 45 minutes Lifts

Advanced

12

courses

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

DYNALAND

Takasu, Gifu

(0575) 72-6636 www.dynaland.co.jp Dec. 6 - Apr. 5 Weekdays 8:00 - 16:30 (18:00 - 23:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥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

32% 3

28%

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 3

Intermediate Gondola

32% 2

Advanced

18

courses

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

28%

Park

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

Advanced

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

20

For more Gifu information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com) WINTER 2015

55


TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY HOKKAIDO

HOKKAIDO

Amazingly Dry Powder Snow

Head to Hokkaido's last frontier ' ' www.facebook.com/HokkaidoPowderBelt ■ NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

56

T R AV E L E R

GUNMA


SAITAMA

TOKYO

TOKYO

TOKYO

NARA

SHIZUOKA

TOKUSHIMA

KOCHI

PPYRA A H

OKINAWA

rR te

SHIKO FT

n`s B est Whi te pa -W Ja a

i ng a nd Ca nyo a ft ni ng

res. ntu ve Ad

. KU

SHIZUOKA

ft.com appyra 0 info@h 50 0 5 7 7 ho 088 toyo-c ahara O n 789-0158 10-4 Iw e k ih c o com ft..c raft a-gun K ap pyra Nagaok ://www.h

ft http aft HappyR

WINTER 2015

57


TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY OKINAWA

MICRONESIA

MICRONESIA

THAILAND

KOH LANTA  KRABI  THAILAND

email: reservation@pimalai.com

www.pimalai.com

Discover Nature, Discover Yourself. ■ NEPAL

BALI 癒しの空間で... 波を心いくまで満喫...

サーフィンガイド サーフィンコーチ ラグジャリーな宿泊施設

Surf Guiding Surf Coaching Luxury Accommodation

Feel at home... Enjoy the ride... TAIWAN

58

T R AV E L E R

VIETNAM

www.thechillhouse.com VIETNAM


Just one more ...

allpress.co.jp


Outdoor Japan Traveler - Issue 54 - Winter 2015  

Enjoy the Winter Issue of Outdoor Japan's Traveler magazine featuring the 2015 Japan Snow Guide, winter travel and tips at resorts throughou...

Outdoor Japan Traveler - Issue 54 - Winter 2015  

Enjoy the Winter Issue of Outdoor Japan's Traveler magazine featuring the 2015 Japan Snow Guide, winter travel and tips at resorts throughou...

Advertisement