7 Best Ski Resorts in Japan
It is not surprising some of our JNTO staffs are ski experts, regardless when they started skiing. They get hooked on skiing because Japan is such a winter paradise. Here’s their review of the best ski resorts in Japan! (A.Tomonaga)
SHIGA KOGEN (Nagano) www.shigakogen.gr.jp/english
The breathtaking scenery of the North Alps and exciting night skiing were beyond my expectation. The blockbuster Japanese film “Take Me Out to the Ski” (1987) was set in this biggest snow resort in Japan. Explore 21 ski slopes, 70 lifts and more than 80 courses along with high mountain ranges. The resort serves for various populations from groups to individual skiers and from couples to families.
FURANO SKI RESORTS (Hokkaido) www.skifurano.com
I took a train from Sapporo Station and arrived at this small town in the heavy snow. Cozy B&B and inns are several steps away from skiing terrain. Be sure to wake up early to get ready for the finest fresh snow! A picturesque location and heartwarming welcomes from locals will remain with you forever. This is a place for mature skiers who seek hidden skiing resorts in Japan.
NISEKO (Hokkaido) www.niseko.ne.jp/en
For savvy skiers. Views of Mt. Yotei from the fabulous snowy terrain.
ZAO HOT SPRINGS SKI RESORT (Tohoku) www.jm-support.com/zao2
"Snow monsters" - snow and ice form around the trees.
HAKUBA (Nagano) vill.hakuba.nagano.jp/english
HOLIDAZE SKI TOURS offers a comprehensive ski tour to Hakuba for both individual and group trips, with an extension trip to Tokyo and Kyoto.
NOZAWA ONSEN SNOW RESORTS (Nagano) www.nozawaski.com/winter/en
The Mecca of skiing and hot springs. Bring your families to enjoy historical spas for free.
GALA YUZAWA & YUZAWA ONSEN KOGEN (Niigata) www.galaresort.jp/winter/english/
Short ride on a bullet train from Tokyo. Perfect weekend getaway, still quiet and hidden.
For more information on skiing in Japan please visit these sites below.
- Snow Japan www.snowjapan.com/e/index.php
- Best of the Classic Mountain Resort www.mt6.jp/modules/tinyd0/index.php?id=1
Best Small Town in Tokyo: Forever Tsukishima
Have you ever heard about Tsukishima, a small town in Tokyo? If so, you might be an expert about Japan/Tokyo. Tsuki means moon, and shima means island, so naturally, this small old town is located in the bay area of downtown Tokyo. Why I recommend this town? Three reasons (plus one!):
# 1 Unique Landscape
The structure of this town is very unique! This town has one main street, a 10-minute walk, and on both sides of the main street, there are many narrow streets which cars cannot access. Tokyo previously had many areas like this, but most of them have disappeared. Let me say this town is equivalent to Beijing’s Hutong areas.
# 2 Pub Hub
There are so many small classic Japanese style pubs to choose from. I guess I can say this town is one of the most pub-haunted areas in Tokyo. This town is famous among Tokyoites for its Monja-food, a soft type okonomiyaki (pancake), which is delicious. But the true joy of visiting this town is jumping from one pub to another, as this town has a great concentration of top quality old Tokyo style pubs. Begin your visit by walking around town and then enjoy the real Tokyo local pub scene. (My top three are Kishida-ya, Hyokinmura and Ajisen)
# 3 Close to Downtown Tokyo
This town is close to downtown Tokyo, about a 10 minute walk from Tsukiji Fish Market or a 30 minute walk from Ginza. This visit was a time machine experience! To me, it is a miracle that this town has survived against waves of urban developments for so many years.
Plus One Point
I lived in this town for 5 years in my 20s. So long the days of my youth! (A.Obata)
Hyatt Regency Kyoto RIRAKU
Tired of crowded parking lots, grumpy shop assistants and long lines at the mall for the holiday shopping? It is time to take a deep breath and think about rejuvenating your body, mind and spirit! Here is our suggestion.
RIRAKU Spa at Hyatt Regency Kyoto offers you an oriental treatment of Japanese acupuncture. Qualified parishioners and highly trained therapists provide personal consultations and treatments tailored to your specific needs. If you've never treated yourself to acupuncture treatment now is the time. Acupuncture penetrates into muscles and releases fatigue and tension- you will experience ultimate relaxation. For those of you who are not comfortable with the acupuncture, RIRAKU offers a signature aromatherapy massage treatment with Chidoriya Oil. Chidoriya was established in 1949 in Kyoto and they used to make original beauty products and bags for Maiko dancing girls and Geisha who were fashion and beauty trend-setters in Kyoto at that time. Even after 50 years, Chidoriya is professional Japanese beauty.
There are so many Spas around the world but there is no other place like RIRAKU, you can truly indulge yourself with Japanese ultra modern + traditional spas! (T.Niimi)
Aromatherapy with Chidoriya Oil: 70min/16,000 yen 90min/19,000 yen
Japanese Acupuncture Bliss Body Treatment: 120 min/28,000 yen
(1US$ = 93JPY as of Dec. 5, 2008)
A Great Hotel You May Not Find in a Travel Magazine
Homeikan (Hongo, Tokyo)
This Ryokan (traditional Japanese style hotel) is located inside the Yamanote-loop line and located near the University of Tokyo campus. It is a bit hard to get there as you need to explore narrow curved streets from nearby subway stations (5-10 min walk), but it is worth staying here as this kind of traditional Ryokan is hard to find in Tokyo nowadays, and its price is remarkably reasonable as a single room rates starts as low as $65.
You can book a room through their English web-site http://www.homeikan.com.
Homeikan is also a member of JNTO related Welcome Inn Group. http://www.itcj.jp
Favorite Local Places You'll Want to Visit Next Time in Japan
Wedding Ceremony in Shrine
No tourist can finish their trip to Japan without visiting a shrine.
I strongly recommend that you visit a shrine on the weekends if your schedule permits.
Especially in Spring and Autumn, you'll probably encounter a Shinto wedding ceremony in a shrine. Although the ceremony itself is exclusive to relatives and cannot be seen by tourists, you can see the bride and groom parade toward the shrine.
Despite the fact that a wedding ceremony has been tied with Shintoism for long time in Japan, the ritual was expanded and unified nationwide because Taisho Emperor's wedding was known in 1900.
Actually not many couples have Shinto wedding.
Catching a glimpse of a Shinto wedding, you'll be able to understand a part of today's role of the Shinto Shrine in Japan. (S.Asano)
You want to do by yourself? Check this package in Kyoto, maybe best present for your 20 years wedding anniversary!