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Skiing Japan

JAPAN | Friday, 7 July 2006 | Views [659]

There are a few reasons that Japan kicks a lot of ass as a ski destination.

It's not just the skiing - although it's great - that keeps drawing me back there.

Actually, it kind of is. I mean, Niigata which is just an hour or two out of Tokyo by Shin-Kansen (bullet train) had fantastic snowfall on the couple of times I skied there. At least a foot of fresh snow every night I was there! One one evening it was closer to three foot!

Another of the great things are the skiing habits of the Japanese public. For some reason, they only like to ski where others have skied before them. That means that on most runs, there will be a 5 meter wide trail of well-tracked snow that everybody follows. Right next to that track is often a couple of acres of virgin powder that nobody has even touched - a scenario that seems to last at least until early afternoon, by which time the Japanese skiers have started to follow the few foreigners onto the good stuff. Of course, there aren't that many foreigners where we went so a few times we were even getting to lay fresh tracks on the last run of the day!

One thing that kind of bugged me though was chairlift etiquette. Even if there were 200 people waiting for a lift up the mountain, the locals will only ever get on a chairlift if they know the other people on the lift - even if it means one person goes up in a quad! That is in stark contrast to other places I have skied where the chairlifts are a great place to make new friends.

But then again, there ARE Onsens. Onsen is the Japanese hotspring and they are a damn fine thing at the end of a hard day of skiing. Just the thing for tired muscles and bruised egos. (Be sure you're carrying travel accident insurance like World Nomads!)

The funny thing too, is that although Japan is generally a pretty expensive place, skiing in Japan is actually cheap - especially if you organise it with a Japan based agent. I had a couple of 4 day trips with everything included - transport ex-Tokyo, hire, accommodation, passes, food, ski-gear etc for about $350 which I was pretty happy with.

So happy in fact that I am going back again real soon! ;)

Tags: Snow

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