"There is no snow in the world quite like what Japan has to offer". Powder junky and Queenstown Flight Centre travel expert Melodie Helberg has travelled the world, but returns to Japan year after year to indulge her passion for a ski Japan holiday. Melodie shares with us why this magical and historic destination is the ultimate snow holiday.
Once you experience what a ski Japan holiday has to offer, nowhere in the world will come close to Japan. Knee deep snow as dry as it comes, complimented by therapeutic hot springs (onsen), and authentic Japanese cuisine.
Japan has many options for skiing and snowboarding. Hakuba is only a few hours by bus or train from Tokyo, and is a popular choice. I prefer to head north to the Island of Hokkaido where the snow is consistently dry and deep.
Just an hour and a half flight from bustling Tokyo is Sapporo airport, the main gateway to both the Rusutsu Ski Resort, and the Niseko United ski area which offers three mountains. In winter, as you fly in you are met by the breathtaking image of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan blanketed with snow.
Niseko is then about a three hour bus ride, and the scenery along the way is a winter wonderland. I have skied Niseko four times – I can't get enough. You can ski/board from 8.30am until 8.30pm every night! Experience the ice bar which is re-sculptured every night by a local artist, then wind down in a therapeutic onsen, before doing it all again the next day.
Japan is a land that has held onto its culture, beliefs, ethics and manners. From the moment you step off the plane you are met with a nation that is well organized, polite and respectful.
While in Japan, it's also a must to experience the bustling, energetic, modern, diverse city of Tokyo, and the historic, cultural, ancient capital Kyoto. Japan has something for everyone.
In the bustling, energetic city of Tokyo, spend your nights people watching at Harajuku or Shinjuku, make like a local and warm up your vocal chords with some Karaoke and Shochu. Gaze in wonder at the architecture of the Ginza district, the Dior building will take your breathe away. Shop till you drop in the many underground shopping malls. Make sure you wake up early enough one morning to witness the Tuna auctions down at the wharf.
In Kyoto, zen out at one of the many Japanese gardens, marveling at the ancient designs of the temples and ways of the Samurai and Shoguns. Step back in time as you wander down the cobble stone streets of the Philosophers’ walk clad by the Cherry Blossoms, you may even spot a Geisha or an apprentice Maiko.
I have visited Japan four times now and every year I have to talk myself out of wanting to visit again. Yes it is a big world out there, but Japan has something that will stay with you, leaving you wanting more each time.