© Jean-Luc Brassard/voyagesgendron.com
Hot springs and cold snow
There is a word to sum up skiing in Japan: powder — some of the driest and fluffiest on earth. In the north, the stuff literally comes down by the tonne; picture 15 metres annually. There are about 500 resorts in the country — some quaint and traditional with barely a lift; others are complexes swarming with Australians. Yet even Hakuba, which staged the Super-G, downhill and ski jumping in the ’98 Olympics, is shockingly affordable. The Hakuba Valley ticket package gives you two one-day lift tickets for $90, or three one-day tickets for $130, good for any of the valley’s nine resorts.
Which brings us to another shocker: the hills are often empty. Go mid-week and you’ll have even the best runs to yourself. Add to that a vibrant après-ski scene which always begins with a soak in an onsen, or hot spring, and in areas like Nagano, the pleasure of visiting snow monkeys in their own private onsen, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t come sooner. ilovejapan.ca.
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.