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Welcome to Japan

JAPAN IS A WINTER WONDERLAND

Even in the era of global warming, Japan still enjoys the distinctive four seasons, and winter still thrives as the time for conventional winter sports.  The Japanese archipelago has a long mountain range just like a backbone of the long main island.  Located on the volcanic Pacific Rim, this mountain range receives perfect climate for winter sports.  Chilly wind from Siberia generates excellent aquality of snow from Hokkaido, the northern island, to the central mountain region on Honshu, the main island of the archipelago.  Japan has hosted two Winter Olympic Games in the past in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998.  This proves the top snow quality and the landscapes that are perfect for the high-level winter vacation for everybody. 

While a growing number of Japanese travel to overseas for new winter sports experience, more and more foreign visitors come to Japanese ski resorts in recent years, looking for new winter vacation destinations.  In particular, the recent wave of Australian vacationers to the Japanese ski resorts has made the Japanese ski mountains easier and more Westerner-friendly.

For those who are looking for something more than snow boarding and skiing, Japan is the place to go.  The snow quality and the level of ski runs are both world-class quality, and après ski would be much more unique and interesting with Japanese beer, volcanic hot springs, centuries-old culture in local towns and authentic Japanese food.  Despite the small size of the country, Japan is surprisingly diverse in culture from region to region, and each ski village has its own food and hot springs. 

Thank goodness that Japan is a small country:  Ski resorts are very accessible from most of the major cities.  Only a few hour ride on the world famous bullet train from Tokyo takes you to major ski regions such as Nagano, Niigata and Tohoku.  Japan offers unique winter vacation experience with excellent snow and unique Japanese culture that embraces both old and new traditions.

NAGANO
Located in central Honshu, the main island of Japan, Nagano is very accessible from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka by the world famous bullet train.  Within Nagano, transportation and resort facilities were developed to the world-class for the Winter Olympics, and the mountains are perfectly located for winter sports.  Among scattered natural hot spring spots, Jigoku-dani Yaen Koen (Jigoku-dani wild money park) is famous for Japanese monkeys taking hot bath just like humans.

HAKUBA

Among several ski resorts, Hakuba is the one of the challenging ski areas for Alpine skiing and the magnificent view of the mountain ranges.  Hakuba is fully equipped with facilities and programs for beginners and expert skiers, snowboarders and families.  The mountain averages 10 feet of dry snow every winter.  Their wide ski resorts have over 3,500 feet vertical elevation, plenty of chair lifts and 8 restaurants and cafés, and attract beginners to advanced skiers every season.

www.vill.hakuba.nagano.jp/e/index.htm

SHIGA-KOGEN

Another major ski resort in Nagano is Shiga-Kogen, one of the largest ski resorts in the country.  Within the 21 base villages, the 66 chair lifts and shuttle buses connect multiple mountains.  The resort opens eight chair lifts for night skiing, maximizing your winter vacation.  Just like in Hakuba, the snow is dry and powdery, and this large resort has a rich variety of ski runs.

www.shigakogen-ski.com

HOKKAIDO
RUSUTSU

Rusutsu has been awarded as “Best Small Resort” in the Great Skiing & Snowboarding Guide 2008, an internationally respected British ski magazine.  The award was selected upon the votes by winter sports writers and actual visitors from overseas.  The award was given to Rusutsu for its plentiful amount and great quality of powder snow that last throughout the season and dining scenes and accommodation quality.  In particular, Rusutsu is highly valued by the Westerners for varieties of après ski activities and local experience.

www.rusutsu.co.jp

NISEKO

Niseko is one of the most popular ski resorts in the country for the view of Mount Yotei, which is shaped just like the famous Mount Fuji.  Wide open terrain with fabulous deep snow keeps attracting many skiers, and in recent years, a soaring number of Australian vacationers are on the slope.  Therefore, part of Niseko’s resort development has been facilitating customer service in English as well as Western style restaurants and bars.  Niseko should be quite comfortable even only in English.

www.niseko.ne.jp/en/index.html

FURANO

Furano is located in the center of Hokkaido.  With amazing scenery of the rolling hills and rich nature, Furano Resort also offers activities other than skiing such as dog sledding, snow mobile rides and local festivals.  Connected by shuttle bus services, there are several local and cultural destinations are so accessible that après ski is so much exciting.

www.furanotourism.com 

– Nori Akashi: Marketing Specialist at the New York Office of JNTO

 

Getting tired of the crowds on the main island?  Take a quick domestic flight from Tokyo to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido.  Hokkaido is the northern most island of the Japanese archipelago, just 200 miles off Siberia, Russia.  The geography is reminiscent of the Midwest of the United States rather than busy winding streets and neon lights, and you would be surprised by the magnificent landscapes.  Hokkaido is an outdoor lovers’ paradise all year around, and once they receive the finest snow in the country, the mountains turn into the best ski resort in the country.  In recent years, this outdoor activity environment attracts a rapidly growing number of foreign vacationers from the Western countries.  Accordingly, it is fair to say that Hokkaido is Japan’s most friendly ski resort to the Westerners. 

Nagano has a nice cozy urban area where there are plenty of historic and cultural landmarks as well as modern Japanese culture experience.  With very accessible ski areas from the city center, Nagano is proud that their resorts combine the civilization and the unique deep nature and wildlife, and that attracts visitors from in and out of the country. 

 
The Mountain
Summit
Base
Vertical Drop
Hakuba
6,007.00
2,493.00
3,514.00
Shiga-Kogen
7,562.00
4,396.00
3,166.00
Furano
3,996.50
803.80
3,162.70
Niseko
4,294.60
984.25
3,310.00
Rusutsu
3,261.00
1,378.00
1,833.00
 
 
Trails
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
Hakuba
35%
40%
25%
Shiga-Kogen
50%
37%
13%
Furano
40%
40%
20%
Niseko
40%
40%
30%
Rusutsu
40%
43%
30%
 
 
Longest Trail
Lifts
Hakuba
4.9miles
135
Shiga-Kogen
2.5miles
71
Furano
2.5miles
10
Niseko
3.5miles
38
Rusutsu
2.2miles
18
 
 
SKI TOURS TO JAPAN IN 2008 ARE AVAILABLE MORE THAN EVER!
More and more ski vacation products are now available from multiple travel agents in the United States:

 

HOLIDAZE SKI TOURS offers a comprehensive ski tour to Hakuba for both individual and group trips.  Not to mention the ski vacation in Hakuba, you can extend your trip to Tokyo and Kyoto.  Take advantage of this specific week for lower prices from January 5 to 13, 2008.  For details, go to www.holidaze.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?current=11&subcurrent=85&site=holidaze.

 

JTB USA, Inc. (Japan Travel Bureau USA, Inc.) offers ski tours to Niseko, Hokkaido, the Northern Island of Japan.  One of the oldest Japanese travel agencies provides affordable prices for the winter vacation tours to the most popular resort in heavenly Hokkaido.  The package starts from $499 (land only) per person for double occupancy.  The trip is available from the minimum of two travelers.  For details, see www.jtbusa.com/enhome/campaign/07_niseko/

 

JR EAST, the major national railway company from Japan also offers ski packages to accessible destinations from the greater Tokyo area.  Within just a little over an hour ride on the bullet train, there are already fabulous snow mountains and the resorts are very family-oriented.  The convenience of the destinations such as Gala Yuzawa and Karuizawa is a tremendous attraction for urban dwellers’ weekend getaway in the snow.www.jalpak.com

JNTPJapan National Tourist Organization
New York Office
One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1250, New York, NY 10020
TEL: 212-757-5640 www.Japantravelinfo.com