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Blog Entries posted by SnowJapan

  1. SnowJapan
    Another message from SnowJapan
    This general message is being posted on all our daily reports.
    It is not specific to one report or region.
    Thank you to everyone who contacted us after the general message we posted in these reports a few days ago.
    It’s great to hear from people, and of course it makes us happy to hear so many messages of support. In the feedback, some questions and comments were brought up—and we would like to answer them in public. Here goes:
    About 'official snow depth'
    The “official snow depth” numbers displayed on our site come from the ski resorts themselves. The resorts provide their figure to a service, and SnowJapan has an agreement with that service so that we can display these figures. The numbers come as is - without details or explanations - and we have no control over them.
    As far as we know, there are no rules or guidelines dictating where the ski resorts take their number from. The top? Middle? Base? Some spot where the wind piles up snow? We just don’t know, so, basically, we all must rely on their honesty.
    Over the years, we have learned that many ski resorts are honest in their reporting, with realistic numbers and good information on other conditions. We like and respect that.
    Other are…let’s be positive and say, “too optimistic”. There is a lot of exaggeration, if not outright falsehoods. We don’t like that.
    A reader recently reported that, while our official number from a resort said 70cm, they discovered on arrival that there was just one run open with artificial snow. Of course, we are very sorry to hear that, and we know how upsetting that is. As we have previously noted, we’re skiers/boarders, too.
    Our policy is to always be honest in what we do. With the official figures we’re reporting what you’ll see on each resort’s website and the figures posted by local tourist office and other organizations. That’s why we always tag them as “official snow depth”.
    So, what is SnowJapan doing about this?
    You’ll note that our reporters filing the Now daily reports do sometimes comment when the official figures are a bit questionable.
    We think that the official figures do have meaning and value and we can’t be selective in which resorts we post. It’s all or none. We take them all in and provide them to you.
    Perhaps think of them as a suggestion, to be taken with a healthy dose of salt. Take a look at other areas in the region and compare - knowing, though, that the terrain and location can make for very different snow conditions in relatively small areas.
    Furthermore, it is often quite interesting to compare the official snow depth numbers with other seasons.
    Observed snowfall
    The ‘observed snowfall’ figure is 100-percent SnowJapan. Our reporters get out there and measure the snowfall they are seeing at base level. Not at the top of the hill or in a secret stash.
    People in slightly different areas (in the same region) are sometimes going to see differences. That’s natural and unavoidable; and we’re not claiming that our reports are definitive or perfect.
    But we stand by all our numbers.
    Requests for specific recommendations
    People often write to ask questions such as, “Should I cancel my planned trip to A and change to B?”
    Because we wish to remain unbiased and fair, we strongly feel that it is not our place to make this kind of recommendation of one resort over another. Our independence is what lets us give you solid, unbiased information. We keep that kind of opinion to ourselves.
    There is limited advertising on SnowJapan. Our website is an extremely effective place to reach large numbers of skiers and snowboarders who are interested in good information about Japan. But any company or organisation who joins us in that respect is told very clearly upfront that doing so gives them no editorial influence. There’s no exceptions to that and it is a fundamental part of our concept.
    Requests for detailed information
    People write in often - sometimes more than 50 mails a day - to ask about specific ski resorts, transportation, ski schools, accommodations, etc. Sometimes they are detailed requests to assist with bookings of hotels or ski lessons, or requests for detailed bus and train timetables. (And sometimes, I might add, without even a please or a thank you!)
    We simply can’t provide this kind of information. Local tourist associations, booking firms, etc. are all geared to providing information and helping match your needs with services and organizations. We simply aren’t. Just running our website and collecting information from across the Japan ski world and posting it for you is more than a full-time job. (It feels like even more so than usual in this low-snow year!)
    As we note on our Contact form we can’t answer specific questions. We certainly don’t mean to be rude when we don’t answer to questions sent to us, but we aren’t able to respond and still be unbiased…. or get our work done!
    Anyway, that’s it for now. Thanks again and we hope you will keep reading SnowJapan and letting others know about us.
    Comments welcome - we’re always trying to improve and it’s just good to hear from you, even if it’s just a quick ‘hi’.
    https://www.snowjapan.com/contact
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
     
     
  2. SnowJapan
    This general message was posted on all our daily reports today (28th January 2019)
    It is not specific to one report or region.
    Here we are, closing in on the end of January. Normally we would be out playing in deep, fresh snow, watching the incredible snowfall, taking pictures of the huge snow walls along the roads (while the locals moan about having to shovel snow).
    It is peak season, and lots of visitors are here enjoying themselves.
    But we can't say it's a normal year almost anywhere in Japan. Even where the snow is falling, it’s way below what people have come to expect in Japan - even those who have been here all their lives. Take a look at our reports on the daily snowfalls and total depths and look at the links to individual ski areas.
    Covering the winter season in our daily reports is normally a real joy. It’s a lot of fun to share all the amazingly deep snowfalls. And then, of course, going out to sample it ourselves!
    So for us, too, many mornings this season have been something of a shock. We don't want to use words like "rain," "unseasonably warm," or "really shallow snowpack," but we're here to give you honest information. And those words, unfortunately, describe what we're seeing too often.
    SnowJapan is not here to sell Japan as a destination, or to promote any one area over another. We are not a ski resort or a tourism association – we are 100-percent independent. Our commitment is to provide you with the most honest and accurate information we can, with the voices of our local reporters. We gather official information from the ski areas but also provide commentary and an inside view of what is really out there for you.
    In this year of low (and still, sadly, no snow in some places), reporting is tougher than usual. We do not want to be negative or take away from the fun, because we know you are out on the slopes and there still is good skiing. We just try to keep a sense of balance, and sometimes that means commenting on the weather, or on overly enthusiastic snow depths being reported by resorts, or on developments in their local areas.
    Our reporters are human, of course. We know that they bring good data to our pages but also interesting, even opinionated comments, and usually with a good sense of humour. They are all people who want to be with you out on the slopes, after all! Many of you have written in to tell us that you appreciate our reports, and the honesty we bring - and we thank you for this.
    In fact, SnowJapan has seen a significant increase in traffic to our site this year. We believe a main reason is because people are looking for good information they can trust, and here is where they can find it. While that is positive news for the website itself, we would happily trade in some of it for heavy snow if we possibly could...
    We do care very much about the Japan snow world, about the resorts and towns, and of course our readers, the most important reason why we do this work. SnowJapan has been here for over 20 years. This site has been developed with a lot of love, care and effort. I believe we can honestly say that we have played a major part in introducing the world to winter sports in Japan, and we are proud to have been recognized for this by the Japanese ski industry.
    As we enter February, our hope is that the rest of the season will see more of what should be normal - heavy snow across the country - and that this year will go down as the exception to be looked back on and remembered.
    Whatever happens, though, you can trust SnowJapan to report the real conditions to you. Not negative, but not sugar-coated. The truth, with a touch of original and hopefully interesting commentary.
    Thanks, as always, for joining us on the site and reading our content.
    If you do enjoy using our site, please do let others know about us. That does help us keep on doing what we are doing. And if you wish to contact us, you can do so using our Contact form.
    Now, let’s get out in the snow!
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
     
     
  3. SnowJapan
    There is lots happening right now and just to give you a "latest" kind of update...
    * We are continuing to check and update ski resort information on a daily basis (over 200 still have not updated their own information!)
    * Our 'Now' snow and weather reports are starting to appear and will be daily once seasons get started: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
    * Webcams will be checked and updated over the next few weeks: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports/webcams
    * We will be adding a bunch of 'News' items over the coming weeks: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/news
    * Snow depth data from ski resorts around will begin updating for the new season from mid-December
    * There's something else that we hope to be able to announce within the next couple of weeks.
    ------
    Some things are beyond our control (and there's mega-multi-tasting too) --- so please bear with us as we get everything into gear!
     
     
     
  4. SnowJapan
    I would like to add a few words to what our reporters have already said on our Now daily reports, which you can see here:

    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
    Please do have a look at their final comments from the season as each region is different.
     

    The good people posting our daily reports really have done a wonderful job covering the season. It has not always been easy this year, but they kept going. Frustrated at times. Confused at times. Excited at times. But always with humour and the honesty and the balance that I want this website to stand for.
    On behalf of myself and the many thousands of people reading the reports every day - thank you so much.
     

    I have lived in Niigata Prefecture for nearly 30 years now and this winter was a first for me. It was even a first for local pensioners too!
    Like everyone else, I am very much hoping that 2019-2020 will end up being a curious one-off and that we can all get back to seeing heavy snow next winter.
    But this season has given me time to think and to re-evaluate some things.
    It has even prompted me to go ahead with an idea that I had been thinking about for a long while.
    I started SnowJapan a while after coming to Yuzawa in 1992, loving the snow, and getting into skiing. I remember that first winter and being totally blown away with the snow. It was incredible. I remember waking up in a morning, looking out of the window and actually laughing at how much snow had fallen overnight. It sometimes seemed a bit ridiculous! I skied on over 80 days that first season, mostly in the evenings.
    This last season has made me realise that I have perhaps grown to take the heavy snowfall for granted a bit too much.
    Until now we have just expected it… probably because we almost always get it.
    Perhaps we shouldn't 'just expect it'.
    Perhaps we should be adjusting expectations.
    Whatever, I know that I am going to try to always remember to appreciate our precious beautiful snowfall.... however much we get.
    And you never know, we might well go to the other extreme and get overloaded with snow next winter*..  
     
    (* Complaints of 'too much snow' and the need for shovelling absolutely not allowed)
     

    Thank you to our reporters and my colleagues involved in running the site.
    Thank you for reading the reports/website.
    Thank you to the people who have sent in comments, words of encouragement and helped spread the word about SnowJapan.
    Our reporting will be back later in the year.
    Hopefully the world will be in much better shape by then.
    Wherever you are in the world, take care and stay safe,
    Andrew
     
     
     
     
  5. SnowJapan
    A pre-season message from SnowJapan
    * This message is appearing on all our Now daily report pages *
    Greetings!
    Here we are in November and from this month some of our daily Now reporting will gradually start appearing as we eagerly wait for the snow and winter to arrive. We have so much work to get sorted before it all starts, but at the same time we are very excited at the prospect of getting out onto that lovely snow once again. Can’t wait!
    Before it all begins though, we would like to make a few important points. Some of you will have heard variations of all this before (sorry!), but many probably haven’t. So please indulge us for just a few moments.
    The first version of SnowJapan.com went online 20 years ago. It was created because there was little to no information out there in English and with the desire to share a passion. It was not born out of some strategic marketing plan to sell accommodation and package holidays, a ski resort, a specific region – or anything else for that matter.
    Fast forward 20 years. SnowJapan.com is now a very large website. Tens of thousands of people visit the site each day in the winter season. Even so, our values and the way we try to go about doing things pretty much remain unchanged. We are still not selling you anything and we’ll very happily leave marketing and promotional style messages to other people.
    Japan continues to become more popular each year. ‘Inbound’ is becoming big business and competition to attract visitors from overseas intensifies every year - more ski resorts / regions / businesses are starting to make efforts to get people to visit. While we clearly see this as interested observers and through the way our website is used, we very much like to keep out of that side of things.
    Regarding our daily reporting. A huge amount of collective effort is put into our reports and from the feedback we get every year we can clearly see how valuable they are for many of you. Thank you.
    We certainly do not claim that our reports are perfect. There are always things that can be improved, and we intend to do what we can to do that. Gambarimasu!
    It is very important to understand that they absolutely do not exist as promotional reports. We feel a real responsibility to provide good information; information that is not tainted by any kind of marketing viewpoints.
    While we will refrain from sharing specific details, pressures to change and give preferential/different treatment to certain areas exist - along with some at times rather insulting accusations.
    Over the last 20 years, SnowJapan.com has played a very significant role in bringing Japan winter sports information in English to the world. And this is our promise to our readers: every year as we strive to improve, our core concept won’t be changing.
    ----
    Ski resort information on SnowJapan.com is currently being updated every day and that process will continue through into December.
    We hope you like the 800+ new original maps that went online last month. And there’s another site update coming soon… and of course, there’s the daily reporting to look forward to…
    Here’s to an excellent season with load of snow!
     
     
  6. SnowJapan
    Around this time last year, we decided that we wanted to have own original maps on SnowJapan. Since the beginning of 2019 we have been working on making it happen and at last we have been able to get them all online.
    When we first started thinking about doing this, it was obvious that we needed to make various decisions. What to include. What to not include. What information was important. What important was less so. (Not to mention, what was possible to create!)
    We won’t bore you with the details, but there is logic behind each of the decisions that we made and we feel that what we have created will be of real help to people wanting to learn about ski resorts in Japan.
    In total we have created 818 maps and they are all to be found within the Snow Resorts section of the site:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts

    There are 4 different kinds of map images:
    Ski Resort location maps
    502 maps
    These small maps appear on each of the ski resort information pages within SnowJapan. Examples:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/niigata/yuzawa/gala-yuzawa
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hokkaido/kutchan/niseko-hanazono-resort
    They show the following information:
    - Location of the ski resort within the highlighted Prefecture
    - The surrounding Prefectures
    - The wider region of Japan

    Prefecture Maps
    32 maps
    These maps are displayed on each of the prefecture listing pages within the site. Examples:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/prefecture/gunma
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/prefecture/nagano
    They show the following information:
    - Location of the Prefecture within Japan
    - Location of each of the ski resorts within that prefecture
    - Some major city names
    - The surrounding Prefectures

    Town Maps
    270 maps
    These maps are displayed on each of the town listing pages within the site. Examples:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/town/yuzawa
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/town/hakuba
    They show the following information:
    - Location of the Prefecture within Japan
    - The location of the town, highlighted in yellow
    - All towns in the Prefecture that have one or more ski resorts
    - The surrounding Prefectures

    Popular area maps
    14 maps
    These maps are displayed on popular area/region listings within the site. Examples:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/area/shiga-kogen-nagano
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/area/yuzawa-niigata
    They show the following information:
    - Location of the region
    - Location of ski resorts in the region
    - Major train lines, stations, expressways, roads and road exits
    - Surrounding towns and Prefectures
    These ‘popular areas’ are not strictly defined regions, tourism associations or anything like that. They are simply defined by us and we may add/change/adjust them at any time.
     
    General Notes:
    Over the many months of work we have put into this project, we have always tried to be as careful as possible. We want everything to be correct. However, there is of course always the chance of some small mistakes sneaking through. We will try to fix up any ourselves, but if you do find anything that you believe to be a mistake ---- please do get in touch and let us know! They are our original maps and we can easily edit and update them.
      If you so wish, you are very welcome to link directly to any of our pages and do not need to ask for permission. (Please do that rather than try to copy our work!)
      Googlemaps may not always appear on some of the listing pages, but they will always remain on the individual ‘Location’ and ‘Route Finder’ pages for each of the ski resorts.
    Hope you like them!
    We feel these images are a good addition to the site. We hope you like them and find them to be useful.
     
     
     
  7. SnowJapan
    The 2019-2020 season is over, so now thoughts turn to 2020-2021.
    I just wanted to update you all on when to expect ski area information updates on SnowJapan:
    As always, we will be manually updating our information for every ski area throughout Japan before the 2020-2021 season The process of updating that information on SnowJapan usually takes around 3-5 months The people at many ski areas are currently taking a bit of time to re-charge and/or making their plans for the winter season For the vast majority of ski areas, details for the upcoming winter season only start to emerge in the late summer or autumn months We can only do our updates when information is available So most of our (visible) updates will be made during the period September-November In the meantime, the information on the ski area pages remains as it was for the 2019-2020 season There's something else coming before then; more on that later...
    Stay safe, see you soon!
    David
     
     
     
  8. SnowJapan
    This message is being posted on all the daily Now reports on SnowJapan.com at the end of the 2018-2019 season
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
    Thank you very much for using SnowJapan.com and reading our daily reports. We hope you have enjoyed them and found them to be a useful resource guiding you through the Japanese winter season.
    This year marks 20 years of SnowJapan and to celebrate we might just enjoy a special cake on our birthday in September. We are happy to report that during the 2018-2019 season more people than ever have been using the site.
    Our daily reports are an important part of what we do. Looking back, since 1999 we have published over 25,000 daily weather and snow reports, and over 2,000 reports during the 2018-2019 winter season alone.
    We would like to take this end-of-season opportunity to answer some questions/comments that we receive, as well as making some important points about what we are and what we stand for.
    * Regular readers may recognise some parts of this message from last year – but many of the same points still apply!

    SnowJapan.com is not a ski resort or a travel agency or a tour company or a hotel or a ski school
    SnowJapan.com is an independent website that publishes independent information about winter sports in Japan.

    Our snow reports are not official ski resort reports
    Our daily reports are not funded by or sponsored by or influenced by ski resorts (or any other business).

    The integrity of our reporting
    This remains very important thing to us. We advise the people who write our reports that it is fine to get excited about excellent snow conditions. Luckily for us, there’s usually lot of great snow conditions in Japan! But at the same time, it is essential that our reports are clear and honest about things when they are less exciting - like when it is raining, or when there is a lack of fresh snow. Such reporting is not ‘being negative’. It’s reporting what is being observed, even if none of us particularly like it.

    SnowJapan is not here to sell you anything
    There are a few things that make SnowJapan.com unique.
    We are not trying to convince you to visit any one region of Japan.
    We are not asking you to book accommodation.
    We are not asking you to join tours.
    We are not asking you to book ski lessons.
    In fact, we are not asking you to buy or book anything... we don’t have anything to sell.
    What we are here to do is provide good independent information from around Japan. And the way we run things means that we are free from the inevitable pressures of having to sell and market products or services.

    There is increasing pressure to hype things up
    Some people do take issue with our position regarding snow reports – especially when snow conditions are less than perfect. At times we are asked by some businesses to avoid some less palatable truths and to sugar-coat conditions. To perhaps report more snow than we observe. To not report rain when it is raining (…maybe just ignore it). That kind of thing. Some even get annoyed with us when we refuse to do those things.
    We truly love being able to keep out of local ‘politics’ and having to always be wary of sales and marketing issues – we wouldn’t have it any other way - but unfortunately, with the ‘inbound’ market becoming increasingly competitive every year we see this kind of pressure becoming more prominent.
    In our reports we make a point of avoiding cheesy marketing words. We avoid endless Superlative Adjectives In Capital Letters. We avoid unrelenting ‘epic conditions!’ style descriptions in our reports. We find that kind of ‘reporting’ to be really cringeworthy.
    You will be able to tell when our reporters are genuinely excited by conditions. And because it is genuine, you’ll know that the conditions at that time are worthy of real excitement.
    We believe that most people reading the reports appreciate this approach. And to those people - don’t worry, we won’t be changing it!

    Comment: “I disagree with your observed snowfall’ numbers”
    The ‘observed snowfall’ that we publish on each of our reports is the amount of snowfall that our reporters see with their own eyes every day.
    It is taken from close to base area levels.
    Why base areas?
    Because that is the only place where a reliable measurement can be taken on a consistent basis every day throughout the season.
    Does more snow fall at higher elevations on mountain than at base? In most cases, yes, absolutely. And in some regions/resorts, there’s way more snow up there than at base.
    That is one reason why you need to read the reports and not just look at that number.
    Within the text of our reports we do our best to report any fresh snowfall data that the ski resorts themselves are reporting from the mountain each morning as well as any other personal observations. That is one reason why we generally wait for that information to be available before posting reports in a morning.
    It would be impossible for us to report our own observations from ‘higher up’ every day of the season for several reasons. Such reasons include the ability to get up to the top of the mountain every morning (lifts might be closed some days, we might be busy); where exactly might such measurements be taken from?; how would we go about measuring ‘fresh snowfall’ over the period of 24 hours at a difficult-to-reach location? Things like that.
    Remember, we’re not operating the ski resorts.
    So, the only place that we can reliably and consistently report from every single morning is base.

    Comment: “You under-report snow!” or “You over-report snow!”
    (Yes, we get both of those!)
    All we can say to this is - our reporters simply report what they see.
    If you are in one of the areas covered by our reports, you may well disagree with the snowfall number that is shown in our reports on any particular day. More - or less - snow may fall in places that are even close-by to where our measurements are being taken. Microclimates and the like. That can’t be helped.
    All we can say in response to this (accusation) is that our reporters report what they see and measure themselves. Our measurements are coming to you consistently from the same spots every day, generally very close to ski resort base lifts. And they are being reported by the same trusted individual who is not inclined to exaggerate.
    Again: the observed snowfall numbers are not being measured from mid-mountain or upper-mountain.
    Every year we review the situation for each report in an effort to keep on improving - and we will once again be doing the same this year.

    Comment: “Your reports are useless for my epic backcountry adventures and avalanche studies”
    Sorry about that. But we do not claim that our reports provide detailed daily back-country information or scientific avalanche data.

    Comment: “Why don’t you report more about actual quality of the snow?”
    Different people have greatly different expectations and different points of reference when it comes to snow conditions. That includes the individuals who post our reports.
    So, unless things are indisputably excellent or indisputably rubbish, we feel that it is best for us to avoid concentrating on that kind of subjective personal opinion in our reports.

    Comment: “Why is there more snow being reported on the ‘A Now’ report than ‘B Now’ report?”
    That will be because more snow is being observed at base in ‘A’ than in ‘B’. It really is as simple as that. Snowfall at higher elevations will surely often be a different matter - so please read the individual reports for details beyond the numbers.
    And for that reason...

    We highly recommend that you DO NOT compare the base snowfall numbers between our different Now reports
    We understand the temptation to directly compare numbers between the different regional reports. However, we highly recommend that you do not do that.
    If you must though, be sure to look beyond just the headline numbers. Observed base snowfall is far from being the full story. There is so much more beyond those numbers.
    Some regions simply get less snow at base areas than other regions. That does not mean they get less snow at the top of the mountain.
    If you are contemplating visiting one of the regions covered by our reports, we highly recommend that you spend time looking beyond the headlines and read the full reports - including our archive reporting from previous seasons. Only that way will you get a true and more detailed picture of what is happening and get an idea of how the snow falls in each of the regions and what to expect on-mountain.
    Unfortunately, we cannot help it if some people do not properly read our reports. Or mis-interpret and mis-quote them. (Please don’t do that).

    Comment: "Why don’t the SnowJapan.com daily reports appear earlier each morning? I’m already on the lift at 8:30am."
    If we owned or operated a ski resort, we would make it a high priority to post snow reports very early each morning. We would report how much new snow has fallen on the upper slopes and base, weather conditions, lift operations and snow depth. We would also have multiple and meaningful webcams pointing out to locations around the resort. And we’d make sure that those webcams were backed up with adequate bandwidth to keep them working properly. We think it is probably reasonable to think that ski resorts might ideally be doing the above things for their customers.
    But... we do not own or operate a ski resort.
    The fact is, a fair number of Japanese ski resorts only post their morning information updates after 8am - and in some cases, it is later than that.
    Our daily reports are generally a mix of observed snowfall data, observed weather conditions, personal comments about what is going on - as well as information/data that has been manually checked from official ski resort sources each morning. This is all in the interest of creating interesting and reports that are as detailed as possible.
    If we posted our daily reports much earlier than we currently do (for example at 7am or before), they would more than likely be missing what we consider to be important information. For example, we would often not be able to include things like how much fresh snow the ski resorts are reporting, or news of any ski lift disruption at the start of the day.
    People who are lucky enough to already be at a ski resort and preparing to ride the first lifts of the day can get a good idea of weather conditions by taking a look outside the window when they get up, asking accommodation staff and/or perhaps checking out official resort sites etc. If we posted our daily reports mostly for the benefit of those lucky ‘first lift’ people - who probably only account for a very small percentage of the total number of people reading the reports each day - they would not be as good or detailed as they are.
    We feel that our way makes for better all-round reports and a more complete overview of the season.

    Please remember, real people with good intentions are writing the reports
    There is a lot of time and effort involved in creating the reports every morning. In particular, the reports that cover wider areas - for example Niseko, Hakuba, Yuzawa - take quite a bit of time to put together every morning. Lots of information needs to be checked, data needs to be updated, the report needs to be written and then checked...
    The people who are posting these reports are not ski resort employees doing this as part of their job. Our reporters probably need some coffee before posting and toast in some cases. They may need to dig themselves out of their home if it is snowing heavily. And they may also need to see to any number of circumstances and random complexities that life throws at them on any given morning.
    So please keep all that in mind.
    Each Now daily report is written by a different person. Each are based in the area that is being covered. In most cases, they have been there for quite some time. We purposefully don’t say who they are, not least because some of them would very much prefer to remain anonymous.
    It is natural that each report will have its own personality and character. Some of the reports are longer than others; some are shorter; some are more humorous; some cover one ski resort; some cover a much wider region.
    Posting a report every single day for over five months is a considerable commitment and a real responsibility. And remember, the people posting the reports are real people who have their own lives and sometimes circumstance might get in the way.

    Comment: “Why do ‘official snow depth’ numbers often not correspond with how much snow is being reported as falling?”
    In our Now daily reports, the ‘official snow depth’ data is information that the ski resorts themselves publish. We gather that information from official sources to be shown on our reports.
    Different ski resorts in Japan report their ‘official snow depth’ number from different places. For some ski resorts, it is being measured at the top of the mountain. For some ski resorts, it is being measured at the base area. For other ski resorts, it is being measured at other locations. Bottom line - there are no consistent rules regarding where resorts take their snow depth measurements. And what they report is of course totally out of our control.
    What about daily fresh snowfall? Somewhat frustratingly, many ski resorts in Japan do not actually publish a ‘new snowfall’ number on a consistent daily basis from the same spot each day. It would be great if they did. And even when they do publish such a number, the ‘official snow depth’ number often doesn’t often rise by a corresponding amount.
    There are a few reasons for that:
    Snow is always melting and compacting; groomers, skiers and snowboarders compact it; prevailing weather conditions and temperatures have an impact on how that is happening; wind blows snow around. Nature happens.
    It is also worth noting that some Japanese ski resorts sometimes seem wary of reporting huge amounts of snowfall. This may be hard for some of you to believe, but ‘too much snow’ all at once is thought to scare away the Japanese customers. Some Japanese ski resorts would prefer not to add 50cm in one day - even if that much snow actually fell overnight.
    Some ski resorts may also just not update their snow depth number regularly - simple as that!
    So, in reality the snow pack (the ‘official snow depth’) will be changing way more than most ski resorts actually publish.

    Finally...
    We do not claim that our reports are perfect.
    We do not claim that our reports should be viewed as ‘definitive’.
    We do not claim that our reports provide detailed backcountry and avalanche information.
    We do however put a lot of time and effort into putting the reports together every day and we feel a real responsibility to get things as right as possible.
     
    While we are aware that we will never be able to provide reports that satisfy everyone, we are always keen to hear on how people feel we can further improve things. And it’s always very nice to hear from friendly folk who just want to say hello and pass on some friendly comments as well. If you want to contact us, please do so using the form here:
    ** Contact SnowJapan.com
    Sorry, but we are not able to answer individual questions about ski resorts, accommodation, ski lessons, transportation, etc. And we never respond to rude people.
    -----
    Keep an eye out for further improvements to the site over the coming months. We will be busy with a number of other things over the next six months.
    If you use and enjoy SnowJapan.com, please do let your friends know about us. And if you know of an accommodation or business that might be interested in having a presence on our website, do let them know about us too. We appreciate the support!
    Thank you and enjoy the summer.
    ---
    Our daily reporting will be back in the autumn in the run-up to the 2019-2020 winter season.
  9. SnowJapan
    Good morning.
    We thought we would update you on a few things as we head into early summer.
    SnowJapan introduces information on every ski hill/resort throughout Japan – all 500 or so of them. That’s a lot of information.
    Every year we check and update this information, and of course this year will be no different.
    Ideally we would like to have information updated sooner than later. But unfortunately, most official ski resort information does not become confirmed/available until the autumn months. Some Japanese ski resorts don’t release their information for the winter until November - or in some cases even December!  Others drip-feed information over a period, making our updates complicated.
    Please remember that SnowJapan.com is not a ski resort, and we are not official representatives or mouthpieces of ski resorts.
    Our information is updated manually... by us.
    Right now, the ski resort information currently shown on the pages of SnowJapan is mostly from the 2018-2019 season.
    Over the next the next six months we will gradually be checking and updating the information for every ski resort around Japan. We want to do it properly and that takes a lot of time. Lots of this work will be done in the background (ie. offline) while some of it will be updated online.
    We will do our best to concentrate on updating information for major ski resorts earlier in this process, though it doesn’t always work like that. So updates may seem rather random – that’s because it basically is; it is a manual process.
    But don't worry - everything will be updated online in time for the 2019-2020 winter season.
    -----
    Regarding planned ski resort opening dates:  
    Opening dates for ski resorts are often very similar every year, so the dates from the 2018-2019 season can usually be taken as a good idea of what to expect for 2019-2020.
    -----
    We are also working on some other updates for the site. Things to look forward to include new maps and lots of additional useful information. These things will appear later in the year, before the winter season. And of course our “Now” daily reporting will be back as the 2019-2020 season approaches. Look out for some signs of life in that section come November.
    ----
    We'll continue to bring you independent and honest information direct from Japan. We’ll be continuing to filter out the increasing ‘noise’ and marketing messages that are out there.
    If you would like to help us, one great way to do so is to simply let other people know about our website.
    www.snowjapan.com
    Thank you!
     
     
  10. SnowJapan
    Unless there is a last minute change in policy, consumption tax rates in Japan are set to increase from 8% to 10% from October this year.
    Between April 1997 and March 2012 the consumption tax rate in Japan was 5%. It then increased to 8% in April 2014 with a view to it being increased to 10% by October 2015. For various reasons that was postponed twice meaning we are still currently at 8%, but the increase to 10% is scheduled to come into effect from October.
    The tax increase back in 2015 saw many things in Japan becoming more expensive and some companies also took the opportunity to increase prices further than the actual tax increase (which was kind of annoying!)
    It remains to be seen how things will change for the upcoming 2019-2020 winter season but we can probably expect a similar situation.
    Most ski resorts in Japan will not be updating their official information (including lift ticket prices) until the autumn months, but one or two have already made updates.... including lift ticket prices for the ever-popular Niseko United resorts in Hokkaido. And if we are doing our sums correctly it looks like most all-mountain Niseko United lift tickets (valid at Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko HANAZONO, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri) are going to be 8% more expensive in 2019-2020. Here's a few examples:
    A one day Niseko United lift ticket will cost 8,000 yen (it was 7,400 yen last season)
    A two day Niseko United lift ticket will cost 14,700 yen (it was 13,600 yen last season)
    A three day Niseko United lift ticket will cost 21,400 yen (it was 19,800 yen last season)
    A Niseko United season ticket will cost 125,000 yen (it was 115,600 yen last season)
    (Interestingly, the 'Free 50 hour' ticket is the only one that seems to remain unchanged).
    We have updated the lift ticket information on each of the relevant Niseko listing pages if you want to check them out (for example here is the page for Niseko Grand Hirafu).
    It is worth noting that in many respects Niseko remains a 'special case' in Japan. And also that the above ticket covers 4 resorts, and there will be cheaper tickets available for the individual resorts (and we'll post them when we have them). But even so most ski resorts could not even command such prices and we do not expect such large increases to be widespread.
    If the tax increase in 2015 was anything to go by we might expect a one day lift ticket at many ski hills to increase by around 100-150 yen. We shall see! And then of course there are the prices of transportation, accommodation, gear and everything else to consider too.
    It will certainly be interesting to see how different resorts deal with the situation.
    We will of course be updating the lift ticket prices for every ski resort around Japan within SnowJapan, but please note that it will very probably be autumn before this information becomes available for the most places.
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/news
     
     
     
  11. SnowJapan
    Welcome to the new SnowJapan Community area
    First of all, it is very good to see you here!
    And let me just say sorry for the 'down time' on the old SnowJapanForums site over the last few weeks. Behind the scenes it has been a frantic few weeks as we made some major changes to the community software as well as a big move. Lots of coding, setting up, consulting, testing, adjusting, checking, worrying, sighing... and cheering!
    If you are reading this you have obviously found your way to this new location and you might notice that it is now within our main website.
    The new location, if you wish to adjust bookmarks, is:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/community
    OK, so what exactly do we have planned?
    Well, we have some things already going, something we are working on (login to main SnowJapan member area) and we also have a few other ideas that we want to consider as we move forward.
     
    Already happening:
    >> Logging in here using your old 'SnowJapanForums' member username/password
    If you were a member of the old 'SnowJapanForums', you should be able to login here using the same username and password as before.

    >> New social login using Facebook / Google / Microsoft / Twitter / LinkedIn account (optional)
    You can also now log in (and register) to the community using an existing Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft or LinkedIn username and password. Logging in is now super easy - the old system was indeed a little clunky, but this new system is as simple as it can get.
    Eventually you will hopefully be able to post Resort Reviews on our main site using the same login details - we're working on getting that working right now. More on that below.
    If you want to register an account just to this Community (ie. not by using the above), you can do that too, and that is also easy. Just click on the 'Sign Up' button at the top right of this page.

    >> New Q&A Forum
    We get asked many questions. Unfortunately we are not able to answer them all - we are very busy running the website (and we're not a travel agency!) 
    So, we thought that it might be a good idea to have an area where people can ask questions and other people can provide some answers and feedback. And so, this new Q&A area.
    All questions and all answers are fully moderated, which means that myself or one of my colleagues will need to 'approve' them before they appear online. This is to avoid us getting sucked back into the world of spam, trolls, advertisers (cunning or otherwise) and the like. We do not intend to get into any kind of discussions about any moderation decisions - so if a post does not appear, that's the end of it. (Sorry for sounding blunt with that, but I just wanted to be as clear as possible on that particular point).
    The idea is for members to chip in and provide answers, not for SnowJapan to become a question answering service. (Though we may of course at times provide some answers ourselves if and when we can).
    Also, we do not intend for this to be an open ended discussion-type forum. Rather, the idea is to keep it as a simple 'Q&A corner' kind of thing.
    Of course, we may well adjust our thinking on all of this as we move forward.

    >> New Blog
    You're looking at it now! Initially, this is our own 'SnowJapan blog'. We don't exactly how it will evolve - we shall see. 
    -----------------
    Moving forward
    >> Main site Member area login to post Resort Reviews, upload Photos etc
    We need to make further coding changes to our systems in order to enable login on the main SnowJapan site member area.
    Once that work is done, hopefully you will be able to login to the main site and post Resort Reviews using the same username/password.
    Please bear with us while we do that work. We'll update you on that as soon as possible.

    >> And then...
    Those of you who know us will be aware of our love of adding stuff every year and moving forward. We're on a bit of a roll at the moment with some other pretty major work being done which is due to appear later in the year.
    As I mentioned in the news announcement, we do not know exactly how this new 'SnowJapan Community' will all develop over the coming weeks, months and years.
    We may change things up.
    We may add new things.
    We're really not sure.
    But whatever happens, we have the new login thing as well as a fresh and shiny new platform that we intend to use and build on. And that's kind of exciting.

    And of course, our main website continues to function and work as normal:
    https://www.snowjapan.com
    Thanks!
     
     
  12. SnowJapan
    So here we are in the second half of April. It both feels like it has been a long season, but at the same time it has gone really quickly.
    Some interesting snowfall patterns this season. Many regions saw the snow stop falling sometime around the middle of February, but later on in March there was some decent snowfall in places as winter held on.
    It looks like spring has now taken full control with warming temperatures and lots of clearer skies. But there is still some pretty good snow cover in some regions, considering the date.
    Our Niseko, Hakuba, Nozawa and Yuzawa reports will continue to be updated every day until the end of Golden Week on Monday 6th May. Other reports for areas still open will be getting updated regularly until the lifts stop moving. Our daily reports can be found here:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
    During the season and in this late part of the season people have sent in comments and words of encouragement to us about our reports. Thank you for those.
    We realise that things like daily weather and snow reports are never going to be 'perfect' but we do try our best to provide as much good honest info as we can and are glad that many people seem to find them useful. We plan to post a season 'wrap-up' on all of the Now reports at the end of Golden Week.
    Over the next few months we will be busy continuing to work on 'new stuff' before next season.
    In the meantime, keep an eye on those daily reports!
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports
     
     
  13. SnowJapan
    Our Niseko Now reporter has posted a now-traditional monthly recap and we thought it would be good to bring it to the attention of people who may not be reading those reports. This is covering the reports and information from the Niseko area of Hokkaido. And here it is:
    ------
    A look back at the season so far: February 2019
    As is tradition, here I look back over February and the season so far. You can follow my reports and snowfall numbers at any time towards the bottom of this page and on the Snowfall Analysis page.
    February started off really well. I was able to record fresh cm of snowfall on each of the first 16 days in February. There were no massive snowfall numbers – the most in one day was 21cm on 1st February – but we enjoyed a respectable 15-20cm or so on quite a few of the days in that first half of the month. Nice.
    The second half of the month was a different story. It was as if the tap had been turned off on 17th February. I added a total of just 9cm over last 12 days of the month. Check out the Snowfall Analysis page to see how much snow we usually get in the second half of February... it’s quite the contrast.
    Here is the amount of snowfall that I have measured close to my Hirafu base during the month of February in each of the last seven seasons:
    February 2019: 198cm
    February 2018: 299cm
    February 2017: 160cm
    February 2016: 266cm
    February 2015: 196cm
    February 2014: 178cm
    February 2013: 316cm
    So, 1m less than what I measured last season but actually fairly comparable amounts to three other seasons. In this current season, of course, the snowfall has been more noticeably weighted in that first half of the season.
    Here’s the 'season up to the end of February' totals over the last seven seasons:
    2018/2019 season up to end of February 2019: 900cm
    2017/2018 season up to end of February 2018: 1198cm
    2016/2017 season up to end of February 2017: 605cm
    2015/2016 season up to end of February 2016: 877cm
    2014/2015 season up to end of February 2015: 1002cm
    2013/2014 season up to end of February 2014: 1037cm
    2012/2013 season up to end of February 2013: 1295cm
    Those raw total numbers (and remember, that’s what they are – they don't tell the full story) are considerably better than the 16/17 season and comparable to 15/16. A fair bit under the other seasons though.
    And now here we are in March. In the most recent seasons this is how much snowfall I have observed at base in March:
    March 2018: 49cm
    March 2017: 83cm
    March 2016: 109cm
    March 2015: 139cm
    March 2014: 113cm
    March 2013: 164cm
    ...and how much snowfall we have received from the beginning of March to the end of the season...
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2019 & end of season: ???
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2018 & end of season: 62cm
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2017 & end of season: 83cm
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2016 & end of season: 115cm
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2015 & end of season: 142cm
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2014 & end of season: 126cm
    Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2013 & end of season: 196cm
    There's a curious pattern going on there. And it's not one that I am keen to see. 2015 aside, the amount of observed snowfall at base from March onwards has been decreasing - an impressive 2m or so in 2013; down to less than 1m in the last two seasons.
    That’s definitely something to ponder. Let's pondering.
    The last piece of data is, as always, the snowfall numbers that the Japan Meteorological Agency report from their observation station in Kutchan town. Here is what they have reported for the month of February in recent years:
    February 2019: 141cm
    February 2018: 202cm
    February 2017: 173cm
    February 2016: 210cm
    February 2015: 167cm
    February 2014: 130cm
    February 2013: 228cm
    And the JMA numbers for the ‘season so far’:
    2017/2018 season up to end of February 2019: 954cm
    2016/2017 season up to end of February 2018: 741cm
    2015/2016 season up to end of February 2017: 698cm
    2014/2015 season up to end of February 2016: 825cm
    2013/2014 season up to end of February 2015: 804cm
    2012/2013 season up to end of February 2014: 900cm
    All being well, there is still over two full months left of the 2018-2019 season with the last lifts planning to stop at the end of the day on Monday 6th May.
    That is a very long spring season, if we are indeed properly into spring. As you can see above (and in the archives) though, in previous seasons March has delivered some decent snowfall. So, I choose to remain hopeful that we will get some more snow and a few nice surprises. Just how much though... well, I’ll be here to take you through the rest of the season every day until the end.
    Even if you have been and gone already this season, please do remember your duty to continue reading my reports through until the end - I want to share with you the story of the whole season. And of course, you can also enjoy watching me start to struggle for things to write on some days as the last part of the season approaches.  ;)
    Gambarimasu!
    ----
    Thanks to our Niseko Now reporter.
    The Niseko Now reports can be found here:
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports/Niseko-Now
     

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About SnowJapan

SnowJapan.com is the independent guide to skiing and snowboarding in Japan and has been online since 1999.

SnowJapan.com covers the whole of Japan. We are here to introduce the world to unbiased, honest and detailed information about winter sports in Japan. We publish exclusive and in-depth and daily content throughout the winter season and we add new functionality and content to the site every year.

We are not here to promote any specific destinations or resorts, or to sell our readers any kind of products or services. We are not a travel agency and we do not own any ski resorts, ski schools, accommodations or other related businesses.

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