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Photo: Anton Enerlöv

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Skiing in Japan

Japan is increasingly popular among snow lovers looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience. Photographer Anton Enerlöw accompanied professional skiers Olle and Carl Regnér and Oscar Scherlin to the Hakuba mountains to dig deeper. This is what they found out.

Forestry is considered holy in Japan and there are tight restrictions on where you can and can’t ski – you can quickly say goodbye to your ski pass if you don’t follow the rules. Information on local rules is available in each lift and it’s smart to take a piste map to see exactly where you are allowed to go. ­A map is also handy in case something happens and you need to call for help.

 

Located on the central island, Hakuba is famous for its steep slopes. Here, you’ll find plenty of great runs in the high-altitude ­environment. To reach where Olle Regnér is skiing, you need to walk about 15 or 20 minutes from the lift.

 

Hakuba and Myoko Kogen are located near Nagano. You can reach both resorts by train, ­although a car may be more ­convenient for heading to the places where the conditions are best for the day. The weather conditions can be very local. Here, Carl Regnér finds a tunnel during an off-piste adventure.


 

The Kanko hotel is a must if you are in Myoko Kogen and want to experience real Japanese luxury. The hotel is located up on the mountain with great views and ski-in ski-out possibilities. If you want to do something else ­besides skiing, you can relax in the hotel’s fabulous swimming pools and spa.

 


Hakuba Cortina is the town located deepest in the valley. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Hakuba Station. Buses operate the route sev­eral times a day and the trip takes about 45 minutes since the bus stops at smaller ski ­resorts along the way. Hakuba Cortina is best known for its steep ­forest skiing along with Cortina Green Plaza, the huge castle-like ­hotel located at the ­bottom of the hill. Cortina generally enjoys heavy snowfalls and has become popular among avid off-piste powder hunters. The resort has a small lift system and it only takes two chair lift rides to whisk you right into the woods to make the most of the deep snow.

 


Olle Regnér is turning around a tree. You need to be careful not to go too close to the trees, though, as there are often large holes at the foot of the trees. Do not go off piste on your own and be sure to keep track of your companions in case someone gets into trouble.

 


If you’re in Myoko and want to mix Japanese food with more international fast food the place in the picture below, serves healthy fare. To make the visit even more special, mix your own smoothie ­using a bike that powers a blender!

 


If it’s piste runs and après-ski you’re after, Japan is not the place for you. But what it lacks in après-ski culture it more than makes up for in onsen, hot springs located either in the mountains or at hotels and other special ­oases.

 


If you have a car, you can also visit the west coast where you can see lovely sunsets from the beach and watch locals serenely fishing.

 

Food is available at all locations and you can enjoy Japanese dishes for between 600 and 1500 yen. It’s important to bring some cash along, though, since credit cards aren’t accepted ­everywhere. The same goes for most of Japan. 

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Last edited: October 16, 2018

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