Snow and weather reports posted on Monday 12th April 2021
Wednesday 4th May 2016, 8:07am
Mostly cloud, clearer conditions forecast
And so yesterday - Tuesday 3rd May - ended up being the last day of the 2015-2016 ski season here in Hakuba. I think the resort folk did really well keeping things going for that long, given the weather and amount of snow that they had to play with. A big ‘otsukaresama deshita’ to everyone involved.
From today, you're going to have to hike up if you still want to hit any remaining snow. Do be sure you are equipped, know what you’re doing and take extra - it was on the national news last night about a number of climber/trekker casualties in the North Alps already this season.
Let’s take a look back at what proved to be something of a ‘difficult’ season.
First of all, if you are reading this while researching Hakuba - or any of the other regions covered by the SnowJapan daily reports - please do make sure that you read through the archive reports from previous seasons, as the season that has just finished really wasn’t a representative season.
The 2015-2016 started on 28th November 2015 with the first ski lifts moving. But the season took a while to get going properly. And while we didn't know it at the time, in some ways things continued a bit like that in a similar kind of fashion through the season.
One of the main characteristics of the 2015-2016 season – and this is not only for Hakuba and Nagano, but for most snow regions of Japan – was the relative lack of consistent and heavy snowfall and what seemed like often ‘warmer than normal’ temperatures. Those of us used to a Japanese winter are used to regular snow…and lots of it. Having to look to the forecasts and wondering when the next decent snowfall will come during peak season months is something that we are just not used to.
Consistency of snowfall is something that Japan is rightly very proud of and can usually boast about, so everyone is very much hoping that for the 2016-2017 season we will be able to get ‘back to normal’ in that respect.
Having said all of that we also did get some great conditions on mountain too, and for many there will have been many fine memories made and those days will hopefully be the ones that get remembered. Even a ‘less than average’ kind of season here would be a great one in other places and we need to try to remember that.
Once again during this season I have talked to lots of people and most seemed to be very pleased with their visit to the village. Not just for the skiing and boarding, but for the atmosphere, the things that have been going on, the things to eat and drink and the friendly locals.
There has been a further increase in the number of foreigners visiting Hakuba this past winter with many different languages being spoken. That trend shows no sign of slowing down and will surely continue into the coming years.
'When's the best time to visit' remains one of the most frequently asked questions. It’s always a difficult question to answer and sadly there's no guarantees with the weather - this season has definitely demonstrated that. You can come here mid-season and be unlucky with the timing; on the other hand, you can come early or late on and enjoy excellent conditions.
The best thing that I can suggest is to sit down and read through the Hakuba Now reports here on SnowJapan from past seasons. There's a lot of reading to be done, but it will be worth it as the reports will give you a clearer idea of how things have happened going back more than a decade.
And remember, we (SnowJapan) are not here to sell you a holiday… we’re here to pass on honest and trustworthy information!
So now we head into late spring, the ‘rainy season’ and then into summer. Even here in Hakuba, the summer heat can be brutal - but we have the nearby mountains to climb and we are able to escape to higher altitudes. Ropeways will be operating to help you get up there. Please do check with the resorts for the latest information... they don't seem to have got their 'Green Season' mode into full gear just quite yet!
Anyway that’s it from me for the 2015-2016 season and this is the last report of the season.
On behalf of the good folks running SnowJapan, thank you for reading the Hakuba Now reports. We’ll be back again later in the year when things are cooling down and the 2016-2017 winter season is approaching.
I believe that there will also be some exciting changes coming to the Now reports in time for next season which is something else to look forward to.
Let’s also hope that the snow will be something to get very excited about as well.
Those winds yesterday and last night! It felt and sounded like a typhoon going on out there. No wonder Kagura was closed for the day.
It was rather warm too, borderline hot. I heard on the news last night that some parts of Niigata Prefecture actually recorded temperatures just over 30C.
There was some heavy rain overnight and sadly it is still raining this morning, though forecast to clear up and the sun to make an appearance later on. It's not going to be as warm/hot over the next few days, but there should be sunshine from early on in the day tomorrow.
As I updated yesterday afternoon, there's more Kagura related news today:
First of all, the Tashiro area has now closed for the season (they were planning to keep going until Sunday 8th May). That means that the Tashiro Ropeway is now resting and the only way to get up to the open skiable area at Kagura is via the Mitsumata Ropeway.
In addition, the only course that now remains open at Kagura is the main 1500m long Kagura course. Note that this course is not suitable for beginners.
The Kagura Park is remains open.
On the way back to the Mitsumata Ropeway at the end of the day you can ski back down the Mitsumata plastic snow mat course if you like - or if you don't like doing that, you can ride the Mitsumata Number 1 quad lift back down.
The main 1500m course at Kagura (and 'Kagura Park') remain open - get there via the Mitsumata Ropeway. The Tashiro area has now closed for the season. Kagura are still keeping their 'Kagura is planning to be open until 29th May' message up there, though it does seem very optimistic.
All other resorts in Yuzawa and Minamiuonuma are now closed for the season.
Resort operations - subject to change due to snow and weather conditions
Niseko Grand Hirafu resort area lift operations: Ace Number 2 Center Four Quad (* this lift now used to get to and from the open courses - you can no longer ride back to base) Ace Number 3 Pair Ace Number 4 Pair
The resort is 'upgrading' the King Number 3 triple lift in time for next season. As part of that work the Hirafu Gondola, King Number 3 and 4 lifts have all now closed for this season. Niseko Grand Hirafu plans to remain open until Thursday 5th May.
Courses open - Large, Center, Shirakaba (Spring Park)
Niseko Annupuri plans to be open until Thursday 5th May with the Gondola, Jumbo 1 and Jumbo 4 lifts operating.
Niseko Village plans to be open for Golden Week until Thursday 5th May. The Gondola can be used as a way of getting to Niseko Grand Hirafu and for sightseeing. None of the courses at Niseko Village are open.