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Snowboarding Japan...?


Guest Mr.Shorty
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Guest Mr.Shorty

I am applying to teach english in Japan, and I have some choice over where I am able to go. I am trying to find out about different ski areas/resorts in Japan so that I can live near one. Currently I live in Bellingham WA USA and I am a Mt. Baker snowboard instructor. Anyone out there ride Japan and have some suggestions?

Thanks

Jerm

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<img src="http://www.snowjapan.com/e/features/images/whisper-f.jpg" align="right" hspace="10" vspace="10">First, check out <a href="http://www.snowjapan.com/e/index.php">Snow Japan</a>. There's masses of information there, and there's also a forum where you could repeat your question and probably get about 50 different answers.

Anyway, the best place for snow is Hokkaido (the northern island). There's not a lot of people there, and so the teaching opportunities are fewer, but if you can wrangle it, Hokkaido is the place. (Note that the west side of Hokkaido has the mountains and snow, not the east side.) The photo is from Niseko (the best resort in Hokkaido, and maybe the world). It shows a typical winters day there - foggy and snowing. Fresh powder every morning.

Japan basically has mountains running up its spine, from Nagano (south-west of Tokyo), right up to the north of Honshu (the main island). I'm not familiar with the Nagano area (popular with people from Tokyo), but one area I can recommend is the Bandai area in ***ushima prefecture (that's an F U K that the dumbo auto-censor is blanking out). Lots of powder, and a good choice of local resorts. The nearest big(ish) towns are Aizu-wakamatsu and Koriyama.

Another place for big snowfalls is Niigata prefecture.

If you end up in Tokyo, be aware that living in the far-western part of Tokyo puts you a lot closer to the mountains than if you were in central or eastern Tokyo.

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Originally posted by Baka Dasai

Japan basically has mountains running up its spine, from Nagano (south-west of Tokyo), right up to the north of Honshu (the main island). I'm not familiar with the Nagano area (popular with people from Tokyo), but one area I can recommend is the Bandai area in ***ushima prefecture (that's an F U K that the dumbo auto-censor is blanking out). Lots of powder, and a good choice of local resorts. The nearest big(ish) towns are Aizu-wakamatsu and Koriyama.

Another place for big snowfalls is Niigata prefecture.

If you end up in Tokyo, be aware that living in the far-western part of Tokyo puts you a lot closer to the mountains than if you were in central or eastern Tokyo.

Nagano is rather dull, crappy snow and uninspiring...Niigata isn't any of the above...I much prefer it to Nagano...I'm still trying to figure out why the Olympics were there...like holding the Olympics at BigBear...nice thing about Japan the trains go everywhere and taking a train to ski is a lot easier than driving at times of heavy snow anyway.

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Mr. Shorty,

As Baka Dasai mentioned, there are many places to ride in Japan because of the mountainous terrain. Would also recommend to check out snowjapan.com as it includes a lot of good resource information on resorts and there is forum with several foreign members. Many of them are teachers.

My winter experience over the last few seasons has been great.

I am based out of the Nagoya area and have spent the last 3 seasons riding mosty in Gifu Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture with an occassional jaunt to Niigata Prefecture. My work commitments are pretty hectic but still managed 25 days on the snow last season. Even snuck in 1 race and about 5 days of gate training. Have had some unbelievable powder days here as well - one thing I never expected.

The alpine scene here is a little stronger than in the US. Joined a shop club last season and made some good Japanese alpine friends. There is an organization called the JSBA that runs quite few races and instructor clinics all over Japan. Like the US, Freestyle and Freeriding are very popular. You will have no trouble meeting people who are into Freeriding.

How is your Japanese? Mine is pretty weak so living in a bigger city has made life a little easier. If you will have a car with a navigation system and snowtires you can get to the resorts fairly easy. If your Japanese is good, you can get around on trains and buses without too much trouble.

One recommendation is to bring most of the equipment you plan to ride with you. Boards, bindings and boots are really pricey here. Many current model alpine decks are in the $900 to $1000 range. There are some decent board companies here (Moss, Gray, Ogasaka and BC Stream) but again the prices are way steep.

Hope this helps!

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