Let’s face it – there are numerous places all over the planet that offer world class skiing. One of my favorite places is to ski is at Vail, yet there are so many other places around the world I am itching to explore. One of those places is Japan. With a rich culture, a completely different cultural experience, delicious food and breathtaking slopes, it’s not a surprise that so many people travel to the Far East to indulge in their favorite sport. I have listed 4 things you must know before landing to tackle the snowy parts of Japan.
Make sure to ski in these two regions
While there are over 500 ski resorts around the island of Japan, there are two specific regions you want to head to – Hokkaido and Nagano. Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo, is located 2 ½ hours north of Tokyo and is home to the popular resort in the small country. As the region is in alignment with the storms from Siberia, the region receives over 45 feet in a single season. With numerous options for ski resorts, you’ll have plenty to choose from. If you find the Hokkaido region to be too crowded, try the Nagano region instead. 90 minutes west of Tokyo, there are six different resorts to visit. With beautiful powder and rich in culture, the Nagano region has steeper mountains then Hokkaido.
Everything is on time!
The one thing people often forget is how punctual the Japanese culture is. If a train, activity or hours is set for a specific time, then those will be the times that they adhere to. Unlike America, where train delays are common, it’s important to be early and ready for when your train pulls up.
It’s not as pricy as you would imagine
One fear people have is that Japan is too expensive. Of course you can make your trip as expensive if you eat at the higher priced places every night or get a five star hotel. However, it is possible to stay within the budget you have set for yourself. It’s a matter of researching and looking up restaurants or hotels before you go. AirBnB is a great way to stay on lodging while immersing yourself into the full experience of Japanese culture.
Brush up on those Japanese words & manners
The number one thing you should adhere too when traveling is learning the culture and basic language of the country you are traveling too. Not only does it show your appreciation for the country, it helps because English is not the first language. While ski resort employees may speak better English than the locals due to the nature of the business, don’t assume. Learn the basic words for skiing and phrases you’ll be using the most. Besides the language, learning the basics of Japanese culture will ensure you are not accidentally offending a host or employer. Here is a great resource to navigate the differences in etiquette.
For more tips, check out this great article on 10 things you need to know before Skiing in Japan!