Japan Ski

P1011393
Jan 20-Feb 1, 2020

The day after I flew out of Selkirk Lodge I was sitting in a jet plane heading to Japan.

With a group of 15, including my wife and two kids, and a bunch of my favourite long-time clients, we based out of the town of Echigo-Yuzawa. Yuzawa did not disappoint. The Minshuku we stayed in, Densuke, was the real deal — sleeping on futons in a room lined with grass tatami mats, with cozy Kotatsus to warm you to the bones after a chilly day on the slopes. In fact we were the very first western / Caucasian clients the Denuske has ever hosted in over 40 years of operation! The town is filled with fantastic authentic Japanese restaurants: sushi, ramen, izakay, yakatori, tempura, tonkatsu — you name it, there’s a tiny cozy restaurant that serves it. One of the highlights was walking to the train station for a visit to the “Sake Tasting Shop”. With coin-operated sake dispensers, 500 Yen (about $5 USD) will get you 5 shots of the best sake in Japan. In fact, Yuzawa is famous for its rice and sake industries.

But we came for the skiing, didn’t we? The ski hills we visited had amazing skiing and were the epitomy of quirky. Japan actually has the most ski hills by area of any other country in the world — over 350 of them! With the lull in the Japanese economy after the 80s recession, many of them have never quite recovered and consequently are relatively empty of skiers. A bad thing for the ski business, but great for skiers as lineups are short and the powder is plentiful.

DSC06814
DSC06820
DSC06823
DSC06826
DSC06834
DSC06839
DSC06848
DSC06859
DSC06863
DSC06868
DSC06875
DSC06878
DSC06879
DSC06888
P1000536
P1000541
P1000555
P1000563
P1000566
P1000569
P1000571
P1000575
P1000583
P1000591
P1000593
P1000597
P1000600
P1000602
P1000624
P1000628
P1000631
P1000634
P1000644
P1000648
P1000649
P1000654
P1000662
P1000665
P1000671
P1000675
P1000682
P1000686
P1000689
P1000693
P1000694
P1000697
P1000698
P1000715
P1000717
P1000720
P1000724
P1000735
P1000741
P1000745
P1000750
P1000756
P1000770
P1000792
P1011011
P1011032
P1011047
P1011062
P1011080
P1011101
P1011154
P1011159
P1011165
P1011175
P1011182
P1011192
P1011213
P1011215
P1011220
P1011226
P1011250
P1011251
P1011252
P1011266
P1011331
P1011385
P1011391
P1011393
P1011404
P1011439
P1011451
P1011464
P1011476
P1011490
P1011505
P1011534
P1011542
P1011544
P1011556
P1011557
P1011560
P1011564
P1011572
P1011577
P1011579
P1011586
P1011593
P1011600
P1011604
P1011608
P1011609
P1011613
P1011627
P1011629
P1011630
P1011633
P1011642
P1011690
P1011697
P1011700
P1011708
P1011716
P1011719
P1011748
P1011772
P1011782
P1011785
P1011798
P1011800
P1011802
P1022008
P1022016
P1022020
P1022035
P1022041
P1022060
P1022071
P1022090
P1022106
P1022116
P1022129
P1022147
P1022150
P1022161
P1022181
P1022187
previous arrow
next arrow

One of the quirkiest has to be Tenjindaira. You get there via the local Joetsu Line local train which stops at Doai Station. Doai station has the distinction of being one of the deepest train stations in the world, the northbound line requiring you to walk down (fortunately not up) 486 steps into the bowls of Mount Tanigawanike — a surreal experience to say the least and a highlight of our trip strangely enough. Tenjindaira is famous for its steep off-piste skiing: a kilometer-long ridge of steep trees takes you 450 m down into the valley to reconnect with a gondola station that could have been a set for The Twilight Zone. Tenjindaira is also known for the mountain that looms overhead, Mt. Tanigawanike. We climbed it only to find out later on that it has the reputation for being the “Most Dangerous Mountain in the World”! Actually, the fact that it’s claimed over 800 lives has more to do with its proximity to Tokyo and the dangerously loose rock on the opposite side of the mountain. It is, in fact, a gentle, enjoyable ski peak from the top of the chairlift on the Tenjindaira side!

Jun and I have put together a great itinerary that will bring us to the deepest corners of the Japanese powder belt and Japanese culture, and it’s going to be awesome. Come and join us in 2022!

Sawback Alpine Adventures
Sign me up for trip reports and updates, up to 4x/year!
We respect your privacy. Opt out at any time.