12 Jun Japan is a ‘must’ ski destination….just don’t tell anyone!
Last season I was lucky enough to take a whistle-stop tour of some of the lesser known ski resorts in Japan, with the help of jet planes, 4x4s and bullet trains.
I had heard enough gloating about ‘JAPOW’, so I went in search of the legendary powder myself. As the legend goes, snow is delivered from Siberia with almost daily Japanese efficiency. It turns out the legend is indeed ‘fact’. The white stuff just arrives whenever you look at a cloud. It falls cold and fluffy, and it stays that way.
On my very first descent in between the absolutely stunning ‘snow monsters’ of Hakkoda (the little-known holy grail of powder resorts), I turned round to smugly take a look at my tracks, but they had already disappeared into a glistening freezing sea of snow fluff.
‘Like skiing through a soufflé!’
The powder was waist-deep, but it was like skiing through a soufflé. And to add to my slightly nausea-inducing brag, we’d only gone and landed a bluebird day! If that was my last run ever, I could die happy, without any ski regrets (well, with the possible exception of that girlfriend in Kitzbühel….)
Ok, so the lift systems aren’t exactly cutting edge, but it made no difference at all. Actually it added to the charm of the whole experience, and there was a great deal of charm and kindness with every encounter in this beautiful and intriguing country.
I went for the skiing, but despite the epic snow, the powder soon became a close second to the food. We indulged in several Kaiser (a traditional Japanese multi-course meal), and after my second ‘best ever’ meal, memories of certain French Michelin-star lunches congealed into ‘that expensive pub lunch’. The food is so beautifully prepared, fresh, and mouth-wateringly tasty. My new favourite food is now sea urchin (ok maybe I’m getting a little caught up in the moment but who cares?)
‘You must go…’
The big fat point is that skiing in Japan is more than a ski trip, it’s an amazing experience. While the earth is still round and a long haul flight to Tokyo costs less than a child’s flight to Geneva at half term, you MUST go.
Experience the Onsens; the restorative qualities of the natural volcanic spring water are utterly amazing. The bullet train is so brilliant, it made me laugh out load at what we call a ‘rail service’. I was made very ‘happy in Appi’, one of the bigger resorts with some magical skiing through trees. The film set landscape of Zao Onsen is powder heaven for beginners. The wooden chair lift without a safety bar in Hakkodo- there was a safety net of 3 metres of fluffy snow to break any fall! The bizarre and hilarious noodle eating competition in Matsushima. The Temples. The very blurry night out in Tokyo- karaoke baseball at 5am anyone? And we had barely scratched the surface of what there is to do….
The Niseko Experience – the powder capital of Hokkaido
Kaluma Travel is launching a very special trip so you can also experience the very best of Japanese skiing and food. It’s the one place where we would definitely recommend a ‘hosted ‘trip, and more than anywhere else, knowledge is powder!
We’ve teamed up with a brilliant ski guide and local expert to help us put together the best itineraries possible:
- 7 nights’ accommodation in a 5 star chalet or apartment or hotel
- Limousine transfers from Chitose Airport
- Fully hosted
- 6 days’ guiding including transportation in our comfy 4WD vans
- All lift passes – options to ski Niseko United, Kiroro, Kokusai, Moiwa and Rusutsu
- Avalanche safety gear
- Japanese dining experiences
- Down day (if requested) for cultural experiences such as visiting the Nikka Whiskey Distillery; seaside town of Otaru with its beautiful canals; day trip to Lake Toya and Toyako Onsen
- Optional heli ski or cat ski day
Please call our experts today on +44 (0) 1730 260263 or email [email protected] and let us make your next ski trip a memorable one.