Cultural Experiences in a Japan Ski Resort
Anyone who has watched the movie Lost in Translation will be in no doubt as to how easily you can feel out of your depth navigating the minefield of cultural etiquette in Japan. Luckily for ski and snowboard enthusiasts, Japanese ski resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba tend to be rather more friendly than Tokyo to international visitors with it being common to find signs and menus in English, Western style accommodation, English speaking hosts and an acceptance of other cultural norms. Japan ski holidays are even easy to arrange with the help of niche companies like Japan Ski Experience.
Ski resorts may be more Westernised than some places in Japan, but they are still in Japan, and as such have a rich cultural heritage which can bewilder, intrigue and impress in a way you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the World. There are any number of ways that foreigners encounter true Japan in a ski resort and we will name but a few.
You don’t have to do more than get on and off a ski lift to enjoy the full extent of Japanese hospitality. In a traditional ski resort, a lift attendant will sweep the seat free of snow, hold the lift as you sit, thank you for your custom, then bow as you make your way up the mountain. Falling in love with Japan yet?
Staying in a traditional Japanese Inn or Ryokan is an option in any Japan ski resort. Home comforts may not be quite as expected, with futons on tatami mats instead of beds, shared bathrooms, modest facilities and very traditional Japanese breakfasts (rice, fish, seaweed, tofu etc) being typical, but if you are on the adventurous side then there is nowhere better to experience the stark contrast between Japanese and Western culture. Hospitality is usually outstanding, natural hot-spring onsen may well be included on the premises and you will be guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
Japanese hot-springs are one of the best things about a Japan ski resort. Visitors to big cities like Tokyo don’t get anything like the opportunity that skiers and snowboarders do to experience these amazing, relaxing retreats, which naturally occur in the mountainous regions of Japan. People pay a fortune in ski resorts all over the world for jacuzzis, saunas and spas, but few get to enjoy the wonders of sitting outdoors in a natural hot-spring, looking out over the ski resort, surrounded by snow as fresh flakes lands on their head. You just can’t beat it!
After a ski and an onsen, there is nowhere like a Japanese izakaya to finish the day. Take off your shoes, sit down on the cushion covered tatami, shout ‘Sumimassen’ in your loudest voice, and order loads of food off the menu for your group to share. In traditional izakayas food and drinks are often paid for by the hour (tabehodi / nomihodi) which can be amazing value for money!
Those wanting true cultural experiences in a Japanese ski resort can find them in whichever resort they choose. Even the most international resorts boast traditional ryokan, onsen and izakayas. It’s just a question of throwing yourself in the deep end and embracing one of the most unique cultures in the World!
Get in touch with Japan Ski Experience, a travel company which specialises in ski trips to Japan to ensure that your Japan ski experience is everything you want and more!