A message from SnowJapan
14th December 2020
Note: This message is also being published on all daily ‘Now’ reports on SnowJapan
We hope this message finds you and yours well.
As the 2020-2021 season here in Japan gets started, we wanted to post a few general thoughts as well as answer a few common questions.
Coronavirus in Japan
Compared to many countries, Japan appears to have managed to keep its number of (official confirmed) cases relatively low and without any major ‘lockdowns’. Still, coronavirus has overwhelmingly been the major issue of the year and has had a profound impact on many people and businesses. Hospitality and tourism are two of the areas that have been hit particularly hard hit, with the Go To campaign providing a certain amount of relief for some.
In recent weeks, the number of confirmed cases announced in the country every day has increased to around 2500-3000, in what is being labelled the third wave. Let us all hope that we might soon see a decrease in the numbers again and do what we can to help that happen.
How ski areas in Japan are dealing and measures being taken
Correct information on coronavirus is of course important and we encourage everyone to keep up to date with information from trusted sources. We also encourage people intending to visit a ski area in Japan to take on all relevant advice and requests being asked of visitors.
While there is understandably a sense of unease along with a bunch of unknowns as we start the winter season, most ski areas in Japan plan to be opening and are implementing various measures to try and minimise the potential for infections. Actual measures and requests vary but generally include limiting the number of people riding gondola cabins, ropeways and multiple-person ski lifts; wearing masks and face coverings; using hand sanitisers; practising social distancing and avoiding queues.
Some ski areas are resting various ski lifts for the season, though in many such cases that will not affect the amount of terrain that is available to skiers and snowboarders. There are a small number of ski areas that have decided to not open at all this winter – some citing coronavirus, some citing a lack of snowfall in recent years… some mentioning both.
Over the last few months, SnowJapan has been trying to keep an ongoing record of various news and information regarding ski area operations for the season in this blog section.
Our ‘Now’ daily reports
While keeping up to date on coronavirus is important, we are also keenly aware that people are not reading our daily snow reports to read about it. And while it might get mentioned at times within our reports when it is relevant, we do not want our reports to dwell on the subject. We have asked our reporters to try to keep mention of it to a minimum.
For various reasons, this season we are not going to be able to update a few of our usual Now report sections. The Aizu Bandai Now, Minakami Now and the Naeba Now reports will be rested for the 2020-2021 season. Naeba is located within Yuzawa town and so information from Naeba will be mentioned within our ongoing daily Yuzawa Now reports. We are sorry about this and hope they will be back.
At the same time, we are pleased to be able to bring you a brand new Kiroro Now daily report section for the 2020-2021 season, from the Kiroro resort in Hokkaido.
Timing of reports
Some of our daily Now reports may appear later in the day than they have in the past. When that is the case, we plan to ‘time stamp’ a report when it was written, rather than the time when it was posted. That is to avoid possible confusion about conditions at the time of writing and the time of posting (changing weather conditions within a day etc). We will, of course, try to be as timely as possible.
Without going into the details regarding the efforts behind bringing these reports to you, let’s just say that we would prefer to be able to continue a report section - even if that means some reports potentially appear later in the day - than have no reports at all. We’re guessing that most of you would agree with that.
SnowJapan site updates
We have been working on updating our all-Japan ski area database since late summer when information started to be available.
It is hard to believe, but even as we approach the middle of December, about 100 ski areas around Japan have not yet updated their official information for the 2020-2021 season. Seems a bit mad, right? But that is the reality. It is important to us that information on our website is correct, so we are unable to update our information without official information being available. That is why some ski area listings on SnowJapan remain unchanged since last year.
We will get them updated as quickly as we can.
We feel for you if you are unable to visit...
Many of you reading this were hoping to visit Japan this winter season but unfortunately are not able to, due to travel restrictions. We really feel for you.
But looking at site traffic numbers over the last few weeks, it seems that there is still going to be a lot of people tuning in and following the Japanese winter season from afar. And of course, there are people already in Japan who will be able to ski or snowboard on the Japanese mountains.
If you are here in Japan, let's all do our very best to keep ourselves and the people around us safe and healthy.
We will once again do our best to bring you interesting, honest, up-to-date, and hype-free independent reports and correct information. With all the stuff going on in the world right now, we are thankful that we are able to be doing something we love doing… about a place we love. That makes it a real pleasure to keep on updating and moving forward.
And hopefully in the near future everyone who wants to be here will be able to visit.
Wherever you are in the world, stay safe and take care.
Thanks for reading.