FOR many years the well-kept secret of international ski enthusiasts, in recent years Japan has exploded onto the market as a major, mainstream ski destination.
Increasingly aware of the perfect powder and well groomed slopes of its many ski resorts, more and more Australians are making an annual pilgrimage to Japan.
With Tokyo only a nine-hour flight from Australia, the proximity allows for either short seven-night holidays or longer stays. Some of Japan’s ski resorts are
so small that they only operate one lift, but its primary ski destinations are very large and cater to crowds of international tourists. These larger resorts include the
towns of Niseko, Rusutsu and Furano on the north island of Hokkaido; and major resorts on the main island, close to Tokyo, such as Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen and Shiga Kogen.
Niseko, the best known resort, is hugely popular with Australian visitor; it sits out toward the south-west coast of Hokkaido, just 120km from Sapporo.
Japan’s snow season extends from early December to mid April, boasting annual snowfall of close to 16m; during the recently-finished 2011 season, Niseko alone received a record 20m of snow. Niseko offers a variety of accommodation options including Japanese lodges or hotels. It also has a large selection of western-style apartments, all built in the past eight years.
Facilities are first class, with a village at the base of the ski lifts and a variety of quality restaurants, bars and night spots.
The town’s ski schools are all managed by foreigners, and provide programs for children. There are also a number of quality equipment rental stores, again all western-managed.
For anyone even remotely interested in skiing, Japan is a ‘must ski’. Australian owned and managed Deep Powder Tours Ski Holidays has been booking snow holidays in Japan for more than 18 years.
In winter the company has an office open daily at the Niseko ski resort, providing guest services as required. Deep Powder also has a head office in Sydney. Deep Powder is an expert in booking and arranging skiing holidays in Japan.