I used to like snowboarding. I liked it even though I didn't really get why people are so crazy about it -so many people on the slopes, so much stress sometimes, and these icy conditions... I can still hear the shrill noise of my board on the ice KRRRRRR -then the edge catch, and the fall. BAM! That was when I used to ski in France. Then I went skiing in Japan -and it literally changed my life. First days in that legendary powder and I was hooked. I went from enjoying it to LOVIN' IT!
There's skiing, and there's skiing in Japan. And that's two different things...
10 things that will make you pack your bags & go skiing in japan
01 | BEAUTIFUL TREE RUNS
Welcome in a true winter wonderland: Japow. From Hokkaido to the Japanese Alps, you will ride across the most scenic forests -the best tree runs we've had so far were in Rusutsu, Kiroro and Nozawaonsen. If skiing out-of-bounds is not heavily policed in Hokkaido, it's more taboo in Honshu, but it's always possible with lots of discretion and care of course.
02 | HEAPS OF POWDER
Imagine having a run for yourself, fresh tracks on a hip-deep powder. It's so light, turn after turn, dry powder birches your face -so much you have to stop laughing so hard because you're choking with snow. It is so light, it feels like dust. You can't stop, or you'll stay stuck so you go deep and steep, disappearing behind explosions of huge powder clouds. You're not snowboarding, you're flying on clouds, surfing on waves of snow, shredding... The snow machine never stops. You barely see the sunshine, it snows everyday, big flakes of champagne powder. Now you know you're screwed: once you've tasted the Japan powder, you're hooked.
03 | The delicious japanese food
Frenchies will say 'how can you go skiing and NOT have a cheese fondue?'. 1. When you have this much powder, you don't care about anything else. 2. Do you know how delicious the food is in Japan? Miso ramen, tempura, edamame, hot pot, delicious seafood... Everyday is a feast! 3. Everything is possible in Japow... and yes, you can have a cheese fondue in Niseko!
04 | cultural immersion in JAPAN
Mixing snowboarding / skiing with traveling has something magic! Every year we improve a little bit our Japanese vocabulary and culture, meet more amazing people -skiers or not-, and get to discover more of the country's beautiful traditions. Every year, we fall a little bit more in love with Japan.
05 | Stunning temples & gates covered with snow
Every little town in Japan hides a temple or a gate -you just have to find it. From all the places we have discovered, Kenmeiji Temple in Nozawaonsen was the most spectacular. Imagine a walk in a little pine trees forest, your shoe cracking on the snow, and this beautiful wooden temple proudly standing under falling snowflakes. It feels like being in the middle of a fairy-tale. And the best thing? This silence. You are alone.
06 | hot saké and whisky après-ski
There's nothing better than a hot saké to warm you up before a night ski session. It's just so damn good! [Discover my post: Après-Ski in Niseko]
07 | Japanese pop music on the lifts
Just kidding. You'll find it funny the first time. Then you will quickly realize it's terrible. But you're in Japan after all, who cares about the music!? Let it snow... let it snow...
08 | therapeutic TRADITIONAL ONSENs
Naked under the snow -that's the way to do it! The first time might feel strange, then you will get use to it and even LOVE it. The onsens are naturally formed hot springs in Japan. They contain healing powers due to their numerous mineral and chemical elements -therefore, they are hiiighly appreciated after a day riding in deep powder. It's our après-ski ritual in Japow. If you plan to go in Hokkaido, you should definitely make a stop in Jozankei -a beautiful hot spring village in Shikotsu-Toya National Park.
09 | Authentic Japanese villages
If you're looking for real authenticity, forget about Niseko and head to Nozawaonsen in Honshu. This village is made of wooden houses, traditional shops with delicious Japanese buns, many public onsens all over the place... It's beautiful!
10 | incredible views -whenever the sun it out!
I have to admit, most of the time, it's hard to get a view when you go skiing in Japan -it's mostly dumping snow everyday. Powder doesn't fall from blue sky, you know it! But whenever the sky clears up, you can get the most magnificent views -either it's the Japanese Alps, the sea or the beautiful Mount Yotei in Hokkaido... One tips: whenever it's sunny, take your camera with you and take some photos, the sun is shy when you go skiing in Japan...