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7 reasons to book your last-chance Japan trip

Published November 16th, 2018

Powder hounds, snow bunnies, and après ski connoisseurs need look no further than Japan. The Japan ski season runs from December to March, offering a wide travel window to take advantage of a white Christmas or short break when everyone’s gone back to work. And the best part, you don’t have to plan a year in advance! Here’s why you can – and need to – book a last-minute trip to Japan.

Japan is actually affordable

Reason number one to book a Jap-pow ski holiday: you can have your avo toast and eat it too! Obvs aside from the epic travel deals, you don’t have to break open your piggy bank or trust fund to have a good time. Get your snacks sorted at the many cheap and cheerful conbini (convenience stores) that sell more than your average 7-Eleven fare, like baked goods, cheap sake and beers, onigiri rice cakes and other weird and wonderful treats to enjoy on the go; seek out happy hole-in-the-wall local restaurants serving up cheap eats; and enjoy included ski-gear rental with your offer. Hot tip: apartment-style hotels are becoming the new norm, offering budget-savvy travellers a way to feel right at home and save a few yen – kitchen facilities mean you don’t have to eat out every meal time too!

The quality snow of snow is good – really good

We need to geek out on science here for a minute to explain why Japan is such a hot ski destination. It's mountain ranges aren’t nearly as high as European or American peaks, which means, for the uninitiated, you won’t be faced with unnerving runs, but gentler slopes and easier terrain, perfect for newbies and cruisers.

The topography also has a positive effect on the snow produced, resulting in drier, fluffy white stuff, compared to icy high-altitude snowfall. What does that mean? When you fall over, it’ll feel more like a soft, spongy cloud rather than landing on an ice-skating rink.

There’s a run for every ability

With it's fluffy white snow and consistent snow conditions – up to a whopping 13 metres per season – Japan overall is fast becoming a go-to destination for skiers and snowboarders. Myoko is popular with experienced riders, while Nozawa is perfect for newbies with its chill vibes and easier terrain. Madarao is also another great option for beginners, with uncrowded runs through picturesque trees and cheap accommodation, without forsaking any local charm in place of westernised developments.

Good food, everywhere you (heel-side or toe-side) turn

A foodie with a penchant for first tracks? You’re coming to the right place. Post-shred sustenance options are nek level at literally every resort and are one of the biggest highlights of a Japanese ski holiday. You won’t find overpriced pies or chicken nugs, but restaurant-quality ramen, oodles of noodles, katsu curries and sushi galore to fill you up before graduating onto the blue or black runs! Oh, and we can’t forget washing it all down with a nip or two of warm sake. Bring your appetite.

Get your dose of culture

Sure, you could spend every daylight hour on the slopes, but you’d be missing out on an incredible cultural experience. Pencil in a rest day or two to take advantage of the myriad leisure pursuits found just beyond the ski fields.

You may want to start with the art of onsen, natural hot pools to soothe those achy muscles (first timers will find great relief in the warm waters after a big day on the slopes), which can be easily found in any resort you choose. Then there’s the red-faced, fluffy snow monkeys of Nagano fame that frolic in the steamy waters of Joshinestu Kogen National Park to check out. Other rest-day things to consider include soba noodle-making classes, temple visits and karaoke fun!

You’ll feel safe and sound

Locals are so generous and accommodating that even if you are totally unprepared for your visit, they’ll be more than willing to point you towards the best onsen or karaoke bar if you get a little lost. Japanese people who can speak English also love showing what they’ve learnt. Before you go, have a few conversational greetings up your sleeve and watch that language barrier fall right over. Compliments on English skills will make you a friend for life!

It’s all about those bragging rights

You know those free spirits on the ‘gram you hate-follow just to see what unusual destination they end up in next week? Now’s your chance to be one of those people. What better bragging rights, other than the fact you’re hitting that pow pow, then by saying you’re ‘just’ jetting over to Japan next month for a ski trip?

Anna Howard

I thrive on discovering hidden gems and local haunts wherever I travel, from hole-in-the-wall cafes and dive bars, to antique stores and eclectic markets. I feel just as content in a cosy cabin in the wilderness as I do lost in the crowd of a buzzing city.