6 Reasons You'll Love Skiing Japan Besides The Snow
"Japan has the world's most epic snowfall"
"There's nothing like Ja-Pow"
"Japanese pow pow has a better consistency"
Does any of this sound familiar? We've all heard that the ski slopes of Japan get a sh!t ton of snow, but what else is there? Even if all you want in your life right now is that blindingly bright powdery snow, there's heaps more epic experiences and things to get you frothing for a trip to Japan's top snow destinations. From toasty toilet seats to $2 pre-mixers, here are a few reasons why Japan SHOULD be number one on your list of snow trip destinations.
Monkeys are always a trump card amirite. When those monkeys look like Rafiki out of the Lion King and chill in snowy hot springs, there’s just no competition for who the cutest animal in the valley is.
Just a couple of hours or less from ski resorts in Hakuba and Nagano lies Jigokudani Monkey Park, where Japanese macaques are commonly seen soaking up the thermal hot spring goodness like the were born in boardies. Be sure to arrive ready to 'gram.
If there were an Olympics for toilets, Japan would clean up the podium. When your bum is numb from skiing the powdery soft Japanese snow, park it on a heated toilet seat and take in the serenity. Use further bidet features at your own risk, that is, if you can decipher the diagrams…
If the toilet seat doesn’t do the trick, slip into the steaming water of an onsen and feel the minerals work their magic.
Japan’s volcanic geography means that natural hot springs can be found in every town. Look for one that is piped straight from the source and untreated, because escaping those overpowering chlorine fumes is half the joy.
Yes, you have to be completely starkers, but you’ll get over it, especially when you notice that the Japanese people are totally happy to waltz around in the buff. Try and bring a change of clothes, because putting on semi-frozen snow pants can be a real downer after the warm embrace of an onsen.
Last tip – if you’re packing a lot of ink, be aware that some onsens do not allow tattoo bearers entry, a throwback to times when Yakuza were the only ones with skin art. Sorry Biebs, you’re going to have to sit this one out.
Food and snacks
Japanese food is possibly the most awesome thing about a country that is full of awesome things.
On every corner, there’s a yakitori bar, ramen restaurant or izakaya (a bar serving food) that dishes up mysterious wonders and time-tested favourites. You still need to contend with ski resort prices, but they’re a lot more reasonable than you’d expect.
Need snacks to stash in your snowboard jacket? The conbini or convenience store is a snack-tastic foodie paradise. If you’re on a tight budget, you could probably live on conbini snacks and bento boxes quite happily. They’ll even heat it up for you on the spot.
Draught beer and chu-hais
There’s something about Japanese draught beer that is more satisfying than usual. We dare you to sip on an icy cold pint of Asahi or Sapporo without smacking your lips and saying a silent prayer thanking the beer-gods.
Non-beer drinkers are in luck – spirits are inexpensive, and the Japanese love to mix a fruity cocktail. The real sweet tooths will adore umeshuu, or plum wine. There’s no taste that compares to the syrupy sweetness of umeshuu, which needs to be drunk on ice or mixed with soda.
Back at the conbini? They also sell festive beverages, and Chu-hais are the can of choice for budget conscious travellers. Ranging from 4% - 9% alcohol with a variety of fruity flavours, these Japanese vodka pre-mixes come in at around AUD $2 per can.
Your new besties
Endearingly quirky and often filled with a cheekiness that belies their serene exterior, Japanese people are, quite simply, the bomb. Get to know your Japanese liftie, waiter, conbini cash register or hostel receptionist, because you're guaranteed to find a new long lost BFF.
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