It’s been a wild few days for ski resorts in Japan, with winter storms and a “once in a decade cold snap” delivering some of the heaviest snowfalls in recent years. On January 25, Nozawa Onsen ski resort reported an astonishing 90cm of snow over a 24 hour period at its Hikage and Nagasaka gondola stations, while data from snowjapan.com indicates that both Nozawa Onsen and Madarao recorded their largest single-day January snowfalls in the last 11 years (there are no records for years prior).
In true Japan style, there’s still plenty to come for both resorts, with another heavy period of snowfall in the forecast for Friday night and through the weekend. Skiers and snowboarders will be hoping that the fierce winds that have been present over the last couple of days drop to allow lifts to run as normal.
The snowy weather will come as a relief to the two resorts, which both had underwhelming starts to the season, with December snowfalls well under half of what they were for the two seasons prior. The latest snowfalls now put January totals in the “normal” range.
Further north in Hokkaido, resorts continue to enjoy a fruitful winter, albeit without the whopping single-day totals just seen in Nagano and Niigata. Rusutsu maintains its position as the pick of the Japanese ski resorts this season, with another 31cm this morning taking its season tally 861cm. Nearby Kiroro Ski Resort is not far behind, with 742cm falling so far, according to the team at Hopi Hills Farm.
As always, it’s worth noting that snowfall comparisons between resorts should be taken with a grain of salt, given the many variables at play including elevation, aspect and wind. Even a reading at two different points of the same ski resort can deliver dramatically different results, as one can see clearly from the Nozawa Onsen report pictured above.
One thing is for certain, however. Winter in Japan is in full swing.
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