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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

The Best Places to Ski in Japan
By:Adam Claydon-Platt

When most people think of Skiing Japan, they think of Niseko. Niseko, which is located in Japan's northern-most island of Hokkaido, has recently become "the" place for foreigners to come to ski in Japan. The area has experienced a ski tourism boom of unexpected proportions, and every year, the place just gets bigger and bigger. There are some reasons why it has become the most popular... but there are many reasons why it's not necessarily the best.

Niseko is often called "little Australia", because there are so many Australian tourists there. The reason it's become so popular with foreigners, is that it's actually not 1, but 4 resorts side-by-side, with 1 ski lift pass to ride them all, which adds up to the largest combined terrain in all of Japan. And the other reason is the powder - Hokkaido is the northern-most island of Japan, which basically means it's also the coldest, so the snow there is some of the driest and best powder in the world. Taking these few things into consideration, Niseko is fantastic. But the problem is, there are just so many tourists there. The truth is, Niseko has lost some of it's original charm, because it's been overwhelmed by foreigners.

What most people don't realise is that there are over 200 ski resorts in Japan, many of which experience more snowfall, better conditions, or have more luxurious facilities than Niseko, but which are over-looked by foreigners. And the best thing about these areas, is that they're still Japanese in every way. Taking a vacation in these areas isn't just a ski holiday, but a total cultural experience. The people are much friendlier, the food more authentic (and delicious!), and the slopes are much less crowded.

Before you decide to take a trip to Niseko this year, at least do a little research before you go. I've traveled to most of the resorts in Japan, and I highly recommend the regions of Nagano, or Niigata. Both of these are extremely popular with the Japanese, but are relatively unknown to foreigners. In addition, Niigata is only a 1-hour bullet train ride away from Tokyo, so it'll probably be quicker to get to than Niseko (which is a 2-3 hour drive from Hokkaido's airport). I personally love Nagano (which was home to the 1998 Winter Olympics), because of it's great little bars, restaurants, and abundance of famous hot-springs (called "Onsen"). And both Nagano and Niigata sit in beautiful valleys, surrounded by at least 10 different resorts to choose from.

There are too many other great resort areas to mention - Gifu, Shiga Kogen, Tohoku - all of which are great fun... but the point is, if you're thinking about coming to Japan, remember that you're not limited to just Niseko; little Australia. With a little bit of planning, make your ski vacation an entirely new, culturally rich, unforgettable experience!

Ski Jobs in Japan are the best way to experience the amazing country! Choose from a number of jobs, stay for a few months, and you'll never want to leave!

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