Kiroro Now – 2020/21 Season Wrap
So, that’s it for season 2020/21 here in Kiroro!
Talking firstly from a snowfall and skiing perspective, it really has been a fantastic season. December (324cm), January (464cm) and February (362cm) all delivered fresh snow in huge quantities, with the total snowfall figure at resort base level tipping over 14 metres by the end of the season. Needless to say, there was even more snow than this up top with the resort reporting total cumulative snowfall of 1811cm at their mountain summit measuring station. There were many seriously deep powder days in the mid-winter months, and a long spring season on a solid base, with some late season surprise snowfall thrown in for good measure. If every season could be like this one... happy days!
The whole COVID-19 situation has made this season quite a unique and challenging one off the snow. There has of course been zero international tourism which has taken its toll on the hotels and other hospitality businesses operating in Kiroro. Domestic tourism became the focus and thankfully Kiroro has a strong brand name and reputation in the Japanese market. This, combined with the Japan Government’s ‘Go To Travel’ campaign (a subsidy program designed to offer Japanese residents travelling within Japan rebates on flights and accommodations), gave cause for optimism pre and early season. However, as COVID outbreaks spread in Japan just before Christmas/New Year, the government was forced to cancel the Go To program without forewarning. This caused many cancellations, hit tourism hard and was quite deflating for all. Not a great year to be a tourism business in Japan… or anywhere really.
Kiroro managed to sell a healthy amount of season passes, mainly to locals and regular visitors from Sapporo. So on weekends and powder days, there was still a buzz around the resort. Lift operations continued until May 5th as scheduled, though Kiroro did scale back operation of some lifts on account of the lower skier numbers.
Japan is experiencing another wave of COVID case increases, with densely-populated Osaka being the epicenter. Mask wearing has been commonplace in Kiroro and throughout Japan since this all began. Social distancing is now entrenched in the way people interact. And the general public are typically embracing the measures necessary to contain the virus spread without any substantial pushback or protest, the likes of which we are seeing elsewhere in the world.
Looking ahead to next winter, I think I can safely say now that it won’t be back to business-as-usual as hoped. The vaccine rollout here in Japan has started but is moving at a rather slow pace to begin with. Front line health care workers and the elderly are being inoculated now, with the general public rumored to begin receiving the jabs from July. It remains to be seen how quickly the full rollout will be though there are plans being put in place for ‘mass vaccination sites’ in major cities which is promising. My guess is that some vaccinated international visitors will be able to make it to Japan next winter - but the country certainly won’t be open for all.
For those of you who will be in Japan next winter and planning on being in this area, I suggest picking up a Kiroro season pass!
Finally, thanks to those who tuned in to read these Kiroro Now reports and thanks to the team at snowjapan.com for giving me the chance to post them.
Until next year...
(One last photos of the dogs this season with the lift team below).
End of season general message from SnowJapan
This message is being posted on all of the Now daily reports
First of all, we hope that you and yours are keeping well.
What another strange season 2020-2021 has been.
In terms of snow and conditions, the story of the season can be found in the respective reports. Each region had its own story, of course, but it was certainly great to be able to get back to reporting some heavy snowfall this time round. Spring did once again seem to arrive earlier than we would like, but those fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the snow were able to experience some very fine conditions.
Ski areas around Japan made various efforts to deal with the covid-19 situation and while there were some changes to operations here and there, most were able to open for the season. Some ski areas and regions have been affected more than others, but it’s probably safe to say that is has been a challenging period for pretty much everyone involved. In particular, destinations that have enjoyed a lot of foreign visitors in recent years have probably felt a big shock.
Perhaps inevitably, there has been a generally more subdued atmosphere and feel to the season.
We made a few decisions before the winter started.
Unfortunately, it was getting obvious that international travel restrictions would be preventing people from entering Japan over the 2020-2021 season. And it was clearly going to be a great disappointment to many.
Even so, we wanted to keep SnowJapan updated as close to normal as possible. We asked our reporters to mention ‘the news’ when it seemed appropriate, but not to dwell on it too much. After all, people are not coming to SnowJapan to read about covid every day. We hope we got that difficult balance right.
Daily reports and updates are an important part of the site. They are popular with people while they are visiting Japan, but people also read our archive reports to see how previous seasons turned out and to make comparisons. Indeed, this last season we have noticed that a lot of you have been following from overseas – even if you weren’t able to come and enjoy the snow in person.
We would like to say a big public thank you to the reporters who did another fine job covering the 2020-2021 winter season on SnowJapan, in some challenging circumstances. Thanks to those efforts, we have another full season of data to add to our records.
Hopefully that information will continue to be of value to people making plans for a future visit to Japan.
The world knows much more about covid-19 in May 2021 than it did in April 2020, but in some ways we end this season with some of the same questions we were asking last year…
Everyone wants to know what the situation will be in six months’ time. There’s definitely brighter wider news and reasons to be positive, but big questions remain on how ‘open’ Japan might be for overseas visitors by the time the snow starts falling again.
No-one knows, of course.
Like last year, all we can do is try to keep a positive mindset and hope that progress will be made, and that overseas friends will be able to visit once again.
Whatever happens regarding the international travel situation, SnowJapan plans to be here reporting the 2021-2022 winter season.
2020-2021 might now be over, but as usual we are busy working on various stuff for the future. We’ll let you know what we’re up to later in the year.
In the meantime, if you are interested in old ski areas from the past around Japan, the SnowJapanHistory (www.snowjapanhistory.com) website will continue to be updated regularly. Over there you can find details on over 160 ski areas, including at least one that closed back in the 1960s (!)
Anyway, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading and your support. If you want to get in touch, as always you can contact us using this form.
Wherever you are in the world, stay safe… and we’ll see you later in the year.
(Hopefully with good news!)