Hello, this is Yuko.
The winter in Japan in 2022 is colder than usual, and snow is piled up even in areas where there is usually no snow.
It has been a warm winter in Japan for the past few years, so it wasn’t an environment where we could fully enjoy snow sports, but I think we can enjoy very much this year. So, do you like playing on the slopes?
So today I will talk about snow sports that you can enjoy in Japan!
- Types of winter sports in Japan
- How to enjoy at the slopes
- Popular slope BEST3
- Be active for sporting in the winter
Types of winter sports in Japan
There are several types of snow sports in Japan. Here are five main types you can see on the slopes.
Snowboarding is the most popular snow sport in Japan. As you all know, snowboarding is a sport where you slide your feet on a long board. It is a sport that has become a major sport in Japan since the late 1990s. Young people at the time demanded fashion and coolness from snowboarding, and it quickly became a popular sport.
Ayumu Hirano, a Japanese player, came in second in the Olympic half-pipe, a competition in which he slides on a semi-cylindrical snow and competes for points by deciding techniques such as jumps, turns and somersaults. Thanks to that, it has become an increasingly popular sport.
The trend of snowboarding in recent years is a flat burn trick called a ground trick. The appearance of freely manipulating it is very cool!
Skiing is also popular. Before snowboarding became popular, skiing was the most popular Japanese snow sport.
Now that the skiing population is declining and young people are away from skiing, there are fewer skiers on the slopes. Especially in skiing, the competition to slide down the snow hump called moguls is popular.
Short skis have a short ski length of 1 m or less and do not use stock.
Short skiing is a sport that you can easily enjoy because it is easy to turn and carry. However, because the board is shorter than normal skis, it is easily affected by the snow surface, and you need to step harder when turning.
Snowfeet has been seen in Japan for a few years. Snowfeet is a Czech-origin snow gear that is about 40cm long and weighs just under 700g, and is very light. It is characterized by the way it slides as if you were skating on the slopes.
It’s not so major in Japan yet, and there aren’t many ski slopes where you can snowfeet, but it’s a very fun sport.
If you have small children, you can also enjoy sledding with your child. The sled can be enjoyed by one child or two parents and children.
There is almost always a kids park area on the slopes of Japan, where you can often see families enjoying sledding.
I have experience in all snow sports except sledding. Every snow sport has its own way of enjoying, so every time I go to the slopes, I bring different snow gear.
How to enjoy at the slopes
On the slopes where you can enjoy snow sports, they offer a variety of services to satisfy customers besides sports. Among them, restaurants are regarded as important.
Thirty years ago, the restaurant on the slopes sold set meals such as curry and ramen in a simple building.
But now there are restaurants like fashionable cafes, meals made with delicious local ingredients, and sweets that are popular with women. For example, on the slopes I went to at the beginning of the year, there were such one-plate lunches and lantern parfaits.
Music is played on the slopes and there are radio DJs. Many slopes are open for requests of music to be played on the slopes.
When you listen your favorite music, you get really excited! So, if you see a request is open, please apply!! The tips to be chosen are to write down the reason for choosing the requested song and the impression of the slope of the day.
The slopes are in the mountains. Hot spring kingdom In Japan, there are often hot springs near the slopes, and even if there is no hot spring, there may be a spa. In a bath that warms your cold body, you may feel the happiest of the day!
Popular slope BEST3
3rd place: Zao Onsen Ski Resort (Yamagata Prefecture)
Zao Onsen Ski Resort, located in Yamagata Prefecture, is the largest single ski resort in Japan where you can see silvery white juhyo.
Juhyo (tree ice) is the growth of water particles that have fallen below 0 degrees Celsius, hit and stick to the cold trees, and then freeze. Zao’s juhyo is the most famous in Japan.
I have been to Zao ski resort, but it was snowing all the time during my stay and I could not see the juhyo…too bad.
Zao is also famous for its hot springs, which may be another secret to its popularity.
2nd place: Niseko (Hokkaido)
Niseko is the collective name for the four ski resorts located at the foot of Mt. Niseko United is a vast ski area consisting of Niseko HANAZO Ski Resort, Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort, Niseko Village Ski Resort, and Niseko Annupuri International Ski Resort.
Hokkaido and Tohoku in Japan have outstanding snow conditions, and Niseko is especially popular.
Before Corona, many Australians used to stay in Niseko to enjoy snow sports.
In addition to the slopes, Niseko offers a wide range of other activities such as hotels, hot springs and restaurants.
1st place: Shiga kogen (Nagano prefecture)
Shiga Kogen Ski Resort is the collective name for all 18 ski resorts in the Shiga Kogen area of Nagano Prefecture.
It is one of the largest ski areas in Japan, divided into four areas, each consisting of various ski areas of different sizes. It is too big to ski in one day, so most people stay overnight to enjoy snow sports.
I have also visited Shiga Kogen to enjoy snow sports. It is very, very big and I had to check where I was every time or I would get lost. Because it is so large, it is also famous for its large number of group visitors, such as school ski camps and university students’ clubs.
Others: Which slopes can be reached on a day trip?
I recommend Mt. Hakodate (Shiga Prefecture). It is located in the northwest part of Lake Biwa, and although it is not a big slope, it is easily accessible from the Hanshin area and can be enjoyed on a day trip.
If you want your little ones to experience snow play, Rokkosan Snow Park is also a good choice.
There is only one course and it is made of artificial snow, but the fact that you can go there whenever you feel like it is a big attraction.
There are many families with small children and relatively few skiers and snowboarders, making it a safe slope for children to practice.
Be active for sporting in the winter
The cold season is still continuing. Japan is a country with four seasons, so I believe that playing sports and having fun according to the four seasons is the best way to enjoy Japan.
The quality of the snow is better than ever this year, so please come and visit the slopes.