Avid skiers and snowboarders may have been discouraged from taking their winter trips in Japan’s popular ski areas this season. The 2015-2016 season did not get off to a great start, as December 2015 looked to be the start of a record warm winter. The snow levels were not up to their usual heights and perhaps many lovers of winter sports were worried about the remainder of the season. But there is no need to worry now as January’s snowfall showed an encouraging return to Japanese ski resorts’ usual conditions!
January is normally the high season for ski resorts in Japan such as Niseko in Hokkaido or Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture. The snowfall in all three places jumped up dramatically in 2016 once temperatures began to drop! For instance, in Niseko, the amount of snow from December 2015 to January 2016 practically doubled! Nozawa Onsen’s new snowfall was similarly more impressive and Hakuba went from a total of 64 cm in December to 202 cm in January.
So worry not, winter travelers! The season may be off to a late start, but it is not too late to ski in these wonderful areas! The snow forecast is looking good. If you were hoping to go to one of the three famous places mentioned above, below is some information for the remainder of the 2015-2016 season!
For those who are unfamiliar, Niseko in Hokkaido can be the name of several things. It can refer to the mountain range in the area, the town of Niseko or to any of the resorts that make up Niseko United. The resorts are as follows: Niseko Hanazono Ski Resort, Niseko Village Ski Resort, Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort, and Niseko Annupuri Ski Area. As the Niseko United website can tell you, the snow in all of these resorts is impressive and is “some of the driest, lightest powder in the world.” Sounds great, right?
While the conditions for the start of the current season might not have shown the impact of Hokkaido’s beautiful and sports-friendly snow, the previous season (2014-2015) was quite different! By December 2014, Niseko already boasted 519 cm of snow which was about twice the amount of December 2015. Luckily, the snowfall in January 2016 has put the level back up to normal at 636 centimeters (and growing as of the beginning of February). So for those hoping to ski or snowboard in any of the four resorts with their unique and quality facilities, you have the chance to experience it!
The current condition of Niseko can be viewed through the live webcams on the Niseko United site. The current snowfall and conditions look great for the area, so you can enjoy the skiing season even though you thought you might have missed it!
Hakuba is located in another favorite ski spot for the Japanese and those who travel into the country: Nagano. Many people may remember the prefecture as the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, which will give you an indication of just how well-suited the area is for winter sports!
Hakuba Valley is home to a plethora of ski resorts across its various stunning mountains. These resorts are: Sanosaka Snow Resort, Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort, Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park, Hakuba Happo-One Snow Resort, Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field, Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort, Hakuba Norikura Ski Resort, Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort, Kashimayari Sports Village, Jiigatake Ski Resort, and Yanaba Snow Park. There are varying levels of courses, several onsens, and the area has all sorts of accommodations from the typical mountain resort to traditional Japanese ryokans and even some cottages. So why don’t we check how the snowfall compares this season to the previous one?
Hakuba’s total for the 2014-2015 season was 619 cm, with the majority of the snow having fallen in December. While the current season’s numbers may not be as high with the current accumulated snow at 206 cm, it is a vast improvement from the warm December and the snowfall of only 64 cm! There is still time to enjoy the snowfall while it lasts in Hakuba.
For more information about the projected snowfall and current conditions, you can check their livecam.
Nozawa Onsen, as its name suggests, is a beautiful hot spring area. Located in northern Nagano, it not only boasts its famous onsen but also traditional Japanese accommodation and a fascinating history, with the possibility of dating back to the 8th century! For those less interested in history and more interested in the condition of snow itself, the terrain and snow are both hard to beat with their quality!
During the 2014-2015 season, Nozawa Onsen had the most impressive snowfall of all three areas mentioned with a whopping 1044 centimeters accumulated by the end of the season. This season has so far improved by over 100cm since December of 2015, with a total of 237cm of snow so far, and more predicted to fall!
Nozawa Onsen also has a webcam view of their current snow condition.
For the remainder of the 2015-2016 season, it looks like the much colder temperatures will be bringing these beloved resort areas’ snow levels back to what we’re used to!
While there may be limited information on the weather until the season ends, the snow forecast for each of these places is available! If you are one of the lucky people making a trip during this time, you can see what you have to look forward to with the weather in these areas. For more details you can check the forecasts for Niseko, Hakuba or Nozawa Onsen.
If you haven’t planned your trip already, why not make the journey while you still can? Rather than think of this season as a disappointment, we could say the 2015-2015 ski season got off to a bit of a late start! Enjoy the rest of your winter!
Where to Ski to the Fullest this Japanese Winter
Niseko United: A Fantastic Website in English to Help You Navigate Niseko!
Time to Hit the Slopes: Top 3 Ski Resorts to Visit this Winter!