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  1. Resort Spotlight The Resort Spotlight for the Mt Jeans Ski Resort Nasu resort in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/mt-jeans-ski-resort-nasu
  2. Resort Spotlight The Resort Spotlight for the Hunter Mountain Shiobara resort in Nasu Shiobara, Tochigi Prefecture can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hunter-mountain-shiobara
  3. This is a follow-up to the quiz I posted in the "Where is this?" thread, with a bit of the history, at least as far as I have gathered so far. Photos and history lifted from various blogs. Once upon a time, there was a small ski area in the mountains between Kinugawa Onsen and Shiobara Onsen, called Keichozan Ski Area (鶏頂山スキー場). Located at the base of Mt. Keichou, it was founded in 1961. At its peak, it had two pair lifts, a single chair, and a rope tow. Basically 4 courses through the woods and a family course, max length 900 m, max steepness of 18 degrees. It was apparently a relatively quiet, local-style ski area, with an unfancy base area. In 1969, a new, larger ski area was built to the north/left of it, called Keicho Kogen Miharashi Ski Area (鶏頂高原見晴): In its early days, it was also apparently very basic, with a local-hill feel to it, but with longer runs. In 1972, a new toll road connecting these two ski areas to Kinugawa Onsen and Shiobara Onsen was built, the Nichi-En Momiji Line. 25 years ago, during the bubble years, Hunter Mountain Shiobara was built to the north of these two ski areas (but not connected to them) on the Momiji Line. This was a modern-style resort, designed by the owners of Hunter Mountain resort in upstate New York in the US. Following this, I guess the company that owned Keichozan ski area felt spurred to expand, and built a new ski are adjacent to the south, the Canadian-themed Maple Hill Ski Resort: At that time, the three ski areas Keicho Kogen Miharashi, Keichozan and Maple hill were all linked: (Note: North is to the left.) That course map was placed at the top of the Maple Hill ski area, and apparently is still there. However, despite all three ski areas being physically linked, only Keichozan and Maple Hill shared a common lift ticket, with Keicho Kogen Miharashi being separate. Skiers going from one side of the mountain to the other needed to buy single-ride tickets to get back. Keichozan apparently retained an old-fashioned charm, with Maple Hill being the stylish foreign-themed resort. At some point in the '90s (?), Keicho Kogen Miharashi did an image make-over, building a new Swiss-themed base station, and renaming themselves Edelweiss. They also at some point upgraded some of their lifts from pair and single lifts to quads. So now there were the American-themed Hunter Mountain, the Swiss-themed Edelweiss, the local-Japanese-style Keichozan, and Canadian-themed Maple Hill ski resort, all on the Momiji Line, which could apparently get pretty crowded at times. Maple Hill seems to have been reasonably popular for a while: But eventually it fell victim to the post-bubble malaise, and it went out of business at the end of the 2000 season, taking Keichozan down with it. One can find reports here and there on the web of hikers going up through the remains of the Maple Hill and Keichozan ski areas to get to the peak of Mt. Keicho, where there is a shrine (sometimes skiing back down). According to such reports, the lifts at Maple Hill and Keichozan ski areas have been completely removed, but the buildings, and nighter light towers at Maple Hill, remain. Keichozan base as of 2010: Maple Hill base as of 2010: Edelweiss remains in business. They have put up fences on their southern edge so visitors cannot inadvertently slide into the defunct areas, from which there would be no easy way back. It is a bit smaller than Hunter, but features a dog run, a feature I heartily approve of (and have made use of), and free parking. So RIP Keichozan and Maple Hill, and gambare Edelweiss! Primary sources (credit where due) -- for more details and pictures, see the following: (Note: permission obtained from SJ to post these links) http://snow-reports....chigi.htm#maple http://blogs.yahoo.c...97/1936828.html http://old-skier.see.../157131752.html
  4. Snow-closed roads to Fukushima dictated Plan B: Mt. JEANS in Tochigi. A place I had visited once before, and had been wanting to revisit for a while. Impressions: indeed, this place caters almost entirely to intermediates, with only one novice course and one expert course. Though they have added a kid's area since last time I visited, with sledding and banana boat rides. The temperature was just around freezing, so though there was new snow from the previous night, the piste-side powder was fairly heavy and sticky. Like skiing through cotton-candy. So best to stick to center on-piste. Perhaps the best part was the views from the top of the chairlifts. Low-lying layer of clouds below, and a higher layer of clouds above, with expansive views between the layers, made for a top-of-the-world (or between-worlds) feeling. My lousy photography doesn't do it justice. But, some pics. Nantai-san, in Nikko next to Chuzenji-ko, seen on the drive there: View from top of the high-speed quad: Monoskier: Mt. Tsukuba (double-peaked mountain to the right) seen from Mt. JEANS gelaende: View from top of #2 pair lift: Of course, it would be a crime against gastronomy to visit Tochigi without sampling the famous Utsunomiya gyoza. Fried Utsunomiya gyoza: Yes, it was yummy. All-in-all, previous impressions were confirmed: Mt. JEANS is not a bad place to spend a day, especially for intermediates -- not much for beginners or experts (only one course each for them, with all the rest of the courses being ranked intermediate). Access is super-easy from the Kanto area. Wouldn't get a season pass there, but wouldn't mind spending a day there once a season or so, either. The views, on the other hand, are almost worth a visit alone.


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