Japan Season Wrap 2015/16 - The Best Worst Season in 33 Years!
Japan has fast become the number one ski destination on the planet for many powder seekers!! Year in year out it produces what can only be described as perfection on a slope! Combine epic skiing / snowboarding conditions with Japans rich and interesting culture and you get possibly the best value for money in any holiday, let alone one dedicated to sliding around on a pair of skis or a snowboard!
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit Japan and experience this for myself with some of the best powder snowboarding I’ve ever done!
2015/16 was a slightly different story however. In previous seasons, early season powder (beginning as early as November) was fairly common! By December the slopes are covered in our favourite frozen stuff and a base of 3 metres + was considered an awesome start to the season. Villages are usually covered from top to bottom and the locals have a look of excitement on their faces for what’s ahead! However, this season was a little different, with temperatures still in the 20’s until mid-November, and still up around the 10-degree mark by mid December… Japan was experiencing a snow drought!
I’m here to tell you however, it wasn’t all bad and World Snowfaris can report Japan is still the best value for money ski trip you will ever experience!
Some standout sessions were recorded by company Director, Shaun Levings, who managed to score multiple days of 20+ cm’s during his time in Nozawa Onsen & Hakuba. Shaun travelled to Nozawa Onsen in mid-January with a large group of friends, some who had never skied or snowboarded proper powder before. Shaun reported there was still a lot of snow in the village and up in the alpine and made observation that even though the snowfall was low by Japans standards there was still more than enough to make even the seasoned veterans happy. Australia Day was the groups standout session with a reported snowfall of 37cms! Throw in a couple VB’s on tap provided by the boys at the Craft Room Bar and add the hottest 100 playlist to the fold and you get a pretty memorable day! Shaun’s close mate, Terry Bambury described the trip as one of the best he has ever done!
Another member of the World Snowfaris team, Sasha Emmery, also managed to escape the humid Australian summer with a group of friends for 2 weeks of skiing / snowboarding in Feb/Mar. Sasha got 4 days of 20+ cm’s providing her and her friends some memorable bluebirds days with fresh snowfall. They also visited the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park enroute from Nozawa Onsen to Hakuba… check out the fabulous photos! Like Shaun, Sasha also stayed in Nozawa Onsen and mentioned that even though the snowfall was down from recent years it didn’t change the atmosphere of Nozawa Onsen’s beautiful little village culture with cobblestone streets, small personable Japanese restaurants, and of course the abundance of natural hot-springs that surround the village.
If you got the chance to speak with any local in the Nagano region, they would have told you they were experiencing one of the worst snowfall seasons in over 30 years! As a keen snowboarder growing up in Australia and making the trek to resorts like Perisher and Thredbo year in year out, the crowds, the money you spend and the lack of quality snow makes you question why you even bother! If you are looking for a reason to travel to Japan, then take our advice… although Japan experienced its worst season in 30 odd years you would have never known! It may not have dumped 1 metre overnight covering cars from top to bottom OR snowed continuously for 10 days straight like previous season reports, and it may not have reached an annual accumulative base of 10+ metres but it still produced some exceptional memories not just for the World Snowfaris team, but all of those who braved the poor reports and still decided to go!
Put it this way…. For what was considered the worst season in 33 years, it was still pretty bloody good!
Blog by Josh Allen – World Snowfaris Reservations Manager