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Japan's Lesser-Known Ski Resorts

Japan's Lesser-Known Ski Resorts

The number one reason why the ski resorts of Fukushima are popular with skiers throughout the world is, without a doubt, the quality of the snow itself. The ski resorts featuring Fukushima’s quality powder snow, which is silky and dry due to the low water content, are magnets for the snow connoisseur.

Just as an example, the snow quality in Australia during the peak ski season is only at about the level of Fukushima’s snow at the very end of the season. The sense of floating one gets while skiing on powder snow can become addictive to any skier visiting Fukushima for the first time.

The winter sports season in Fukushima Prefecture lasts from December through the following April. There are numerous ski resorts in the western part of the prefecture in areas such as Urabandai and Minamiaizu, and each resort has unique characteristics to enjoy. The diversity of slopes with access to the ultimate quality snow is another feature of Fukushima’s ski resorts.

The heights can often be reached easily via chair lifts and roofed gondolas, making it easy to access the numerous courses available. Fukushima's ski resorts feature long courses for beginners with gentle grade slopes, mogul courses featuring well-groomed (compacted) snow, and natural courses for advanced skiers with obstacles such as rocks and trees.

Furthermore, the Minamiaizu area has a long history of being open to snowboarders from early in the season, so many resorts include halfpipes, rails, and kickers to satisfy the most active snowboarders. Night time skiing is also possible at a number of them, allowing you to keep skiing long after the sun goes down.

In order to enjoy the Fukushima ski resorts, there is no need to prepare equipment to deal with winter mountains at a 2,000 meter altitude, or to rent a car to travel over long distances. Instead, shuttle buses run between the ski resorts and train stations including Koriyama Station, the transportation hub of the prefecture. This means visitors from Tokyo can be skiing down the slopes before noon if you take an early shinkansen.

There are also numerous options available depending on schedule and group size for those travelers wishing to enjoy skiing for several days. Ski resorts have on-site hotels for those wishing to focus their time on skiing and snowboarding, while large groups or those looking to stay for longer periods can try a cottage or private inn.

The hot springs located nearby the resorts are recommended for those wishing to experience a taste of Japan. When it comes to local cuisine we recommend ramen, a soul food that warms both body and mind, and the sake of Fukushima that is ranked high in quality nationally, for a fully satisfying and relaxing winter experience.

Things to keep in mind

In recent years, so-called back country skiing, or skiing on new snow outside established courses and in untouched forests, is growing in popularity, and many from inside and outside Japan also come to Fukushima for this reason. However, due to the high frequency of accidents, such as collisions with trees or getting lost, the number of places in Fukushima where this is allowed is very limited. In order to enjoy back country skiing, it is absolutely essential for you to take precautions for safety by employing a guide, bringing the right equipment, and keeping aware of the weather.

While western culture typically places responsibility for behavior on the individual, in Japan, facility managers and communities are typically held responsible for any accidents that happen nearby. Therefore, skiers are asked to adhere to the local manners and rules so that they can continue to come back and enjoy Fukushima’s world class quality powder snow in the future.

For more information, check out our page on ski resorts, or the Aizu Ski Japan website.

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  1. Useful Information

    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan

    Inside each of us there is a struggle. Call it what you want: Light vs. Dark... Good vs. Evil... Hero vs. Kaijyu... There comes a day when you must decide, which are you? I visited Sukagawa City in Fukushima prefecture to delve into this concept a bit more. Why Sukagawa City? Sukagawa City is the home town of Tsuburaya Eiji, the creator of Ultraman and a co-creator of Godzilla. He came to be known at the “Father of Tokusatsu,” or, the “Father of Japanese special effects.” His post war work on the Godzilla film of 1954 brought him international success which allowed him to create more science fiction films featuring different monsters, or kaijyu, as well as the internationally popular Ultra-series! Today, Tsuburaya Eiji’s legacy lives on in his hometown where his heroes and monsters roam the streets! With this in mind we set off on our adventure! Eating our heroes... You are what you eat? Or are you conquering the enemy by eating them? You decide… My first stop was the Tamakiya Bakery in Sukagawa City where you will find a wonderful family owned and operated small business. Decorated with Ultraman related memorabilia. The creativity of the (now adult) kids of the family shines through in the various Ultraman and Kaijyu related breads and cookies! Each one is absolutely delicious. I recommend stocking up for your adventure, if there is one thing that heroes and kaijyu have in common, it is that they must eat to stay strong and battle ready! I ate a Kanegon chocolate bread, and suddenly the money in my pocket started looking like a.. snack?? Kanegon is a kaijyu who is known to eat money! Oh no, have I absorbed his powers? It’s impossible to say. Somehow, I managed to contain my dark urges.   Doing some research Suddenly it became clear that there was a lot that I still don’t know about Ultraman and Kaiju. So, I walked over to the Eiji Tsuburaya Museum to conduct some important research.  The museum has a lot of interesting information about Eiji Tsuburaya’s life and accomplishments, various kaijyu, heroes, and the filming of classic sci-fi and kaijyu related movies. There is even an original Godzilla suit on display! As you walk around the room, you may feel the eyes of Godzilla following you. Perhaps he is eyeing you up, trying to decide if you are an ally, or a delicious snack. Please tread lightly. There is a video exhibit and an interactive exhibit that turns you into various Kaijyu and heroes. There is also a station where you can create your own original Kaijyu, unfortunately this exhibit is temporarily suspended, however, it will hopefully be up and running again soon.   Having important discussions with IRL heroes and Kaijyu When you walk the streets of Sukagawa, you’ll never walk alone. Kaijyu and Heroes line the streets causing trouble and cleaning up said trouble. I recommend stopping and having a chat with these monsters and heroes to get some diverse perspectives on good and evil. I sat and spoke with Kanegon for quite a while, and we even discussed our struggles with wanting to eat money.   Channeling my hero energy Next we stopped by the Sukagawa Enobori Yoshinoya Workshop to create an Ultraman banner. It was so cool to experience the use of these traditional banner making techniques in a place with so much historical significance. As I admired my new Ultraman banner, I thought, maybe I am a hero after all.   The final test Next we headed over to the Sukagawa Tokusatsu Archive Center! Succumbing to my true nature and terrorizing a small town. Ultimately, the sight of an unprotected town brought out my worst instincts. I almost went full KAIJYU mode. Fortunately, my coworker is a hero, and he saved the town! After our battle, we explored the various miniature exhibits and classic special effects tools on display. We were also able to watch a short film and then a video about the special effects that were used to create that short film. It was really incredible, and made me want to try to make my own miniatures at home. If you are interested in sci-fi or classic special effects, then I highly recommend checking out the Sukagawa Tokusatsu archive center! You won’t be disappointed. Contact us through email or through our social media channels if you have any questions or need help planning a trip here! ©円谷プロ Published 2022/06/10

    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan
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    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town

    1. Try out an Aizu Hongo pottery workshop! After all, Aizu Misato Town is best known for its pottery culture! I’ve never used a pottery wheel in my life, but the kind staff at Irori Pottery house was so helpful. The way to use the wheel was not only thoroughly explained to me, but he also gave me a full demonstration! It was so much fun making a cup on the pottery wheel! The staff made it look so easy, however it was much harder than it looks! The shop is filled with beautiful pieces.   https://fukushima.travel/destination/aizu-hongo-pottery-workshops/322 2. Investigate the local pottery culture Be sure to stop by the visitors’ center to learn more about the town and admire a variety of pottery that is on display in the museum area. The town has a rich history in pottery that dates back to the Warring States Period (1467 – 1615)! Aizu Hongo pottery is a local treasure and although it may not be a house hold name, pieces of Aizu Hongo pottery (known in Japanese as 'hongo-yaki') can be found in museums around the world! Some pieces are more affordable and available for sale while some pieces are priceless, however, all are beautiful. During the warring states period, the leader of the Aizu Clan, Ujisato Gamo, ordered renovations be made to the nearby Tsurugajo Castle. The need to quickly produce a large number of ceramic tiles for the castle roof led to a surge in pottery production in the area with more than 100 kilns and craftspeople producing the tiles. Along with tiles, potters also crafted a wide variety of products and wares, honing their skills after years of training. Today there are only 13 kilns left in the area, and they are still producing ceramics and porcelain products today to preserve the oldest tradition of pottery in the Tohoku region.   3. Explore the area on a free rental bike! There are actually rental bikes here that you can use for up to 4 hours, for FREE! One of the bikes is an electrical assist bike, so if you are super interested in biking but your travel buddy is less so, then you can put them on the electrical assist bike and go exploring together! The bikes can be rented at the visitors’ center.   4. Check out the the Isasumi Shrine. The history of this shrine is thought to be connected to a 2000 year old legend, detailed on the Isasumi Shrine page. The grounds of the shrine are shaded with large trees and quiet mossy paths. When I visited, the classic wooden structure was so beautiful against the summer greenery. There is a large Koi pond nearby that is also very relaxing to visit. I had a nice time feeding the koi fish.   5. Enjoy local cuisine The area is particularly famous for having delicious soba noodles and sauce Katsudon dishes! I ordered the sauce Katsudon at a local diner and it was absolutely delicious.

    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town
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    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima

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    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima
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