Yesterday ended up being the last day of the season for Kagura - and therefore the region. So that's it for 2019-2020.
Covering the winter season through these reports is always a long (and tiring) process - usually every day from late November through early May. But for the most part, it is a lot of fun. That's because usually there is consistent snow falling and excellent snow conditions to enjoy. It's always really exciting to share the news.
This season has definitely felt different (and that's before coronavirus). It really has felt like a challenge at times. Words like 'hope', 'mild', 'warm', 'warmer than usual' and 'rain' have had to be used way too much for our liking. Probably yours too!
Locals and long-timers have been pretty shocked to see bare slopes around town in January and lower areas struggling to open through the season. It's just not what we expect - this is Snow Country!
In recent years we have had seasons with less snow than average, but perhaps the big difference this year was that we didn't get that decent early base to build on. On top of that, having to use those words mentioned above so much has not helped.
That's not to say that there was no fun to be had. Of course there have been good times. There were some times when we suddenly got a decent amount and enjoyed conditions more like we expect. And believe it or not, not everyone is here for deep. If you visited Yuzawa this winter, I hope you enjoyed good conditions when you were here. If you didn't get to enjoy the best of conditions, I hope that you still enjoyed other aspects of your visit - the town, the people, the food, etc.
Looking towards the 2020-2021 winter season, I think everyone would be extremely happy to just get back to 'normal'. It has been said in other reports, but it is true: normal is good. Really good!
Let's hope that the coronavirus situation can vastly improve come autumn and we can soon begin to hear brighter news. The tourism industry is certainly hurting at the moment, including in Yuzawa.
It would make us so happy to be able to enjoy a positive build up and start to the next winter season. Followed by a classic Yuzawa winter with large walls of snow piled up by the side of the roads, digging out the car in a morning and the need to be shovelling snow regularly. That would be great. (Yes, even the shovelling snow bit!)
In the meantime, thank you for reading the reports. Please take care, stay safe and see you later in the year.
I will leave you (below) with some images of the kind of snow we love and expect, in this place we love.
Official snow depth (reported by resort): - Peak: 280cm - Base: 35cm
The following lifts are scheduled to be operating: - Hirafu Gondola - Ace Number 2 quad center four - King Number 3 quad - King Number 4
- The following upper courses are scheduled to be open: - Detour for Beginners - Shirakaba - Center - Large - Holiday - Rinkan - Jumbo - Dynamic
- The Niseko HANAZONO, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri areas are now closed for the season. - Night time floodlit operations have closed for the season. Read more ...
Shiga Kogen Now!
Saturday 18th April 2020, 7:52am
Good morning from Shiga Kogen.
We have rain this morning but it does appear to be sleet and/or snow in places. And it looks like it is going to be rather windy too - maybe enough to affect lifts that plan to be open. Not the nicest of mornings.
OK, so some proper official news this morning.
The season will officially end tomorrow (Sunday 19th April).
There appears to be a chance that Yokoteyama and Shibutoge might re-consider opening from 7th May depending on 'stuff' (including the snow of course).
(You'll have ask the ski areas themselves why we have those two more days open rather than closing as of yesterday).
I will post one last time for the season tomorrow.
Planned resort operations:
Ichinose Family: Open until Sunday 19th April
Terakoya: Open until Sunday 19th April
Ichinose Diamond: Open until Sunday 19th April
Yakebitaiyama: Open until Sunday 19th April
Okushiga Kogen: Open until Sunday 19th April
Kumanoyu: Open until Sunday 19th April
Yokoteyama & Shibutoge Open until Sunday 19th April Might re-open from 7th May Read more ...
Geto Kogen Now!
Saturday 18th April 2020, 8:38am
Geto remains open but a few things to note:
Only folks from within Iwate Prefecture are welcome - they are checking number plates on vehicles arriving. The reason for this move is because officially there are no cases of the coronavirus in Iwate Prefecture.
And the Gondola is not operating... rather the Number 1 pair lift is moving.
Just the A1, A2 and A3 courses are open.
It's not a very nice morning with rain falling so not many people around...
Official snow depths:
* Top: 300cm * Base: 105cm
Planned operating lift information - subject to change:
* Number 1 pair lift
Courses & Tree Runs:
* A1, A2, A3 courses open * Tree run courses closed Read more ...
Saturday 18th April 2020, 8:59am
General message from SnowJapan (added 20th April 2020):
It is a sunny spring morning with a cool moderate breeze at base. On mountain the wind will be strong at the top of the resort. The temperature will spike to a very warm +15c today. The skiing is still open from the top of the ropeway until base.
Although the mountain was planning to open until May 6, the resort has decided that the last day of the operation for this season will be 21 April 2020 due to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.