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Features Travel - December 1st, 2006
Slopes in Japan

Asking the experts where to go

In recent years, Japan has come into its own as a winter sports destination. With cheap lift tickets, few queues, and extremely hospitable and polite locals, Japan has become a popular winter destination for Australians and Asians alike.

Ski Japan Holidays, specialists in ski vacation packages to the premier ski resorts within Japan, talk us through the hottest destinations—the most accessible and popular of which are found on the northern most island of Hokkaido and on the main island, Honshu, where the Japan Alps are located.

Hokkaido
It’s no surprise that the northern most island of Japan is home to some skiing gems.

Niseko
A well laid-out ski town with a solid infrastructure that works, Niseko is known for its mammoth amounts of snow. About 100 kilometers southwest of Sapporo, there are four ski areas towered by Mount Yotei’s extinct volcano. The ski fields of Annupuri, Hirafu, Hanazono, and Higashiyama are linked, with a shared lift system that offers huge terrain.

Furano
Situated right in the middle of the island, Furano averages nine meters of snow a year. Furano ranks amongst one of Hokkaido’s most popular and renowned ski areas, and has 12 lifts, including a 101-person cable car that is the fastest lift in Japan. It features an English-speaking guide service and ski school and is home to a number of World Cup downhill and snowboard events.

Rusutsu
Rusutsu is an upscale resort located only two hours from Chitose Airport. The resort itself is a modern day Mecca consisting of every possible facility to keep just about everyone entertained. The lift network is spread over three peaks offering a wide variety of terrain catering to all levels of skiers and snowboarders.

Honshu
The Nagano region of Honshu is often referred to as “the roof of Japan,” as it is home to the Northern, Central and Southern Alps.

Shiga Kogen
This is a big resort. To be accurate, it’s 21 linked resorts across the Shiga National Park, all accessed by the one lift ticket. The peaks here are tall, rugged, and impressive. It’s also home to the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park, where Japanese macaques bathe in a volcanic hot pool.

Hakuba
Hakuba Valley is a combination of ten different ski resorts and offers some of the most diverse and picturesque ski terrain in Japan. There are more than 200 runs and a complimentary shuttle service to ensure you get to experience them all.

For more information on Ski Japan Holidays contact Matthew Skinner on 0261-72-6663 or visit www.japanspecialists.com