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JAPAN’S SKI RESORTS WELCOME VISITORS TO A SNOWY WONDERLAND


Japan is fast becoming a top international ski destination. What was relatively unknown a decade ago has now become a global phenomenon. Cold air from the north and the Sea of Japan creates a winter wonderland of high-quality powder in some cases over 15 meters across the nation’s resort areas. Add world-beating off-piste cuisine, luxury accommodations, and a fantastic transportation network, and you have a recipe for exceptional winter tourism. Let’s not forget the onsen (natural hot springs), cultural attractions, and excellent shopping. all helping to create the best ski destination in Asia.

There are over 600 ski slopes in Japan, but here are two of the most renowned: Niseko in Hokkaido Prefecture and Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture.



NISEKO

If you want the ultimate winter destination, then head to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. It’s been at the center of the recent ski boom and is extremely popular with foreign tourists. About a two-hour drive from Sapporo (itself a popular destination for its gourmet seafood spots and winter festivals), Niseko comprises four ski resorts—Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and An’nupuri.


All of these are nestled right beside each other and interlinked. The area is renowned for its quality powder and long, consistent season. Lengthy runs cater to all levels, from open powder bowls to off-piste forest runs, and all with stunning views of Mount Yotei. The apres ski scene is lively and there is a vast selection of accommodation options many geared toward families.



HAKUBA

Famous for staging the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture draws winter sports enthusiasts from around the world. From Tokyo, the area can be reached by shinkansen (bullet train) and boasts 11 resorts, 146 lifts, and over 200 runs. The two most popular areas are Happo and Echoland. Both welcome international tourists but have a definite local charm, mixing high-end accommodation brands with traditional ryokan (Japanese inns).


Apres ski activities here are legendary and it’s a popular destination for young people.


For More information: Japan Tourism: www.japan.travel

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