Snow and weather reports posted on Monday 19th April 2021

Yuzawa Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 9:01am
Weather conditions: Cloud, increasingly blue sky
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 0cm
Good morning from Yuzawa - and the last day of the 13/14 snow season for GALA Yuzawa, Naeba and the Tashiro area of Kagura.

We had some rain yesterday, very light on and off in the day but heaiver at times overnight, but the sun is showing itself through the remaining clouds now and more and more blue sky seems to be appearing. Clouds moving on by the looks. It should be a nice day with a high not reaching 20 degrees in town.

Less wind too so places that are supposed to be open are opening as planned.

Today is the last of our daily Yuzawa Now reports for the season. However, with Kagura remaining open for another few weeks (until 25th May) we will post a few more up until then - probably pre-weekend and early in the week. I'll post a bit of a season review at the end as well.


Until 25th May:
Kagura (the main Kagura area via Mitsumata)


All other resorts in the region are closed for the season at the end of today (Tuesday 6th May).


Official resort snow depths @ Tuesday 6th May 2014, AM:
Kagura (Mitsumata):
270cm   Read more ...

Nozawa Onsen Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 9:36am
Weather conditions: Cloudy, blue sky
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 70cm
Morning from Nozawa on this last day of the season.

As of 9am there's lots of cloud around but it seems to be getting less with more blue sky; the sun is appearing at times and it will perhaps be a fine day to finish things off.


It's always a day of mixed feelings is this last day. You don't want it to finish but it must. And it's a very long season - the first lift started moving on Saturday 30th November, so I make that about 5 months and 1 week.

It's time to look back on that long season.

I think people would agree in me saying that it has been a bit of an odd one in some ways and definitely not one of the 'classics'. A few bouts of mad Nozawa-like heavy snowfall here and there probably made the overall numbers seem better than the reality of the situation. That reality being that this season snowfall in Nozawa wasn't as consistent as we expect. There were just a few too many prolonged drier periods.

Of course that's not to say that there we were struggling for snow cover; we certainly weren't - it just wasn't as 'full-on' as much of the time as we would like. (We are of course guilty of having such high expectations). Still, I have had a few memorable skiing experiences this season that might make it into my Top 10.

I'm not in charge of numbers, but looking on with my own eyes I'd say that Nozawa resort has had a very good and busy season. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of international guests this season and I can only see that increasing further.

I have had some very fine nights out in the village this season mixing with locals and people from various places around the world. I'd say there has been a great atmosphere going on.

I think that most people visiting Nozawa will have enjoyed themselves and go back home with fine memories of their time in Nozawa.

From now temperatures will continue to rise and the remaining snow will quite quickly disappear from the upper slopes. It still gets pretty hot in Nozawa in summer, though you can get yourself up on the mountain for much cooler conditions. Last year the resort opened the Gondola mid July for 44 days taking people up there... there's always the roads too for a bit of a drive once the snow has gone.


This is my last Nozawa Now report of the season. Many thanks for reading. I hope that you enjoyed reading them and that they were useful as well.

The archive reports are always there so you can always go back and reflect on the season and remind yourself of how it all played out which is often fun to do when summer hits and it gets hot. The links to the archives can be found below.

The SnowJapan Nozawa Now reports will be back in autumn when it starts cooling down and thoughts turn to the 2014/2015 season.

May next season be an absolute belter of a 'classic'!

So I'll see you then, have a good summer.   Read more ...

Zao Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 10:02am
Weather conditions: Overcast
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 0cm
It's the last day of Golden Week and the last day of the ski and snowboard season in Zao Onsen. It's over five months since the first ski lifts of the season opened back at the end of November 2013. It seems a long time ago, but then again the season has also gone very quickly.

There have been a few ups and downs this year. Rain spoilt things a bit around early February, but Zao made a good comeback after that and we have enjoyed lots of snow deep into spring this season. The monsters recovered well as well and put on a good show.

You can look back over the archive reports from the season (and indeed other seasons) using the links at the bottom of this page.

The 3 Ropeways in Zao are open throughout the year, just closing for periods of maintenance - the latest info available on spring/early summer maintenance is posted below.

That's it from me. Hope you have enjoyed reading the reports from Zao this season and they were helpful if you were planning a visit. No doubt we'll be back on the other side of summer in the run up to next season.

See you then!


Zao Ropeway

Lower section & Utopia Number 1 summer lift:
Closed from Wednesday 7th May until Wednesday 4th June (* but will open on 24th and 25th May)

Upper section:
Closed from Wednesday 7th May until Thursday 19th June (* but will open on 14th, 15th and 16th June)

Zao Chuo Ropeway

Closed from Wednesday 7th May until Friday 13th June

Zao Sky Cable

Closed from Saturday 14th June   Read more ...

Niseko Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 10:03am
Weather conditions: Partly cloudy
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 0cm
Here we are, May 6th - the last day of the 2013/2014 snow season in Niseko.

For the record, it’s nice and sunny today - a mix of blue sky and some cloud.

In this last post of the season I want to take a look back over the 13/14 season - a mix of my thoughts, my numbers, official numbers and what I sense as the general opinion of those who are based here. Obviously different people will have different thoughts going on - I’ll do my best to be fair and balanced… luckily for us all, my job is not marketing and sales! ;)

I think it has been another very fine season for Niseko. Lots of fine Niseko powder to be enjoyed - lots of the time; lots of people around from every corner of the world; and a really great atmosphere from what I saw.

Niseko at its best really is hard to beat. Yes, I know I might be a little biased. But only a little. The problem is that those of us who know Niseko at its best just have such ridiculously high expectations! So let’s dig a little deeper.

If you look back to my last report from the 12/13 season back in May 2013, I mentioned that strong winds seemed to affect lift operations more than usual. Unfortunately I kind of feel the same again this year. We have certainly had our share of windy conditions this season again. Strong winds shutting down lifts and resorts too often is probably one of the things that people will mention most if they were pushed to say bad things about Niseko.

Snowfall; yes, very important. Let’s take a look at the snowfall that I have been noting over the last few seasons. Again as I have mentioned in my posts during the season, these are my personal observations - made from the Hirafu village base area. The upper mountain will of course be on the receiving end of more snow than the base village, sometimes much more, but unfortunately I don’t live up there to make consistent daily observations. So we will have to make do with base numbers.

2012/2013 SEASON:
November 2012: 118cm
December 2012: 418cm
January 2013: 443cm
February 2013: 406cm
March 2013: 164cm
April 2013: 32cm
May 2013: 2cm
12/13 SEASON TOTAL: 1,583cm

And here’s the numbers from this season (taken from the same place):

2013/2014 SEASON:
November 2013: 123cm
December 2013: 275cm
January 2014: 461cm
February 2014: 178cm
March 2014: 113cm
April 2014: 13cm
May 2014: 0cm
13/14 SEASON TOTAL: 1,163cm

As you can see, there was less snow in the 13/14 season than in the 12/13 season. Just looking at the numbers, you could say significantly less. Still, that’s nearly 12m of snowfall which I’m sure we can agree on is ‘a lot’ - and when it’s falling consistently and heavily, difference in numbers hardly matters much.

Here are the other available numbers published by Japan Meteorological Agency, taken from Kutchan Town:

November 2013: 99cm (98cm the previous November)
December 2013: 258cm (306cm the previous December)
January 2014: 317cm (268cm the previous January)
February 2014: 130cm (228cm the previous February)
March 2014: 118cm (124cm the previous March)
April 2014: 24cm (27cm the previous April)
Full season: 946cm (1051cm the previous season)

Those numbers are also less this season than last season, though not by quite as much as my personal observations.

A friend of mine also recorded his own numbers from over near Moiwa and ended up with a total of 1276cm, about 1m more than mine. No doubt other people came up with other numbers too. But whatever the exact number, they’ll surely all be less than last year.

Just for the record as well, Niseko Grand Hirafu on May 6th 2013 was saying it had 420cm on it’s upper slopes; today that corresponding number is 185cm, less than half but more in line with the season before.

Niseko is of course famous for consistency of snowfall and close to guaranteed fabulous powder conditions. We did have a few dry periods during the season – some going on for unseasonably long stretches – and they were obviously disappointing for the people here during those times. But even so in general I think we can still say that things were impressively consistent. Opinions are going to depend on expectations – I spoke to some people in late February who were here during that week-long dry spell who still seemed really pleased about conditions compared with what they had experienced before. They really need to come back during one of the truly powder bonanzas that we have and experience the best of Niseko!

Anyway, if you look back at the Niseko Now reports throughout the season, you’ll see stats for the months and a bit of ‘analysis’ as we went along. It’s always interesting to take a read through and re-live the season. They reports will always up there so please do take a look. Links found below. (It’s also fun to read through the reports from other popular snow regions of Japan too).

No doubt some hardy souls will be climbing up the hills with skis and boards on their backs a while longer and sliding down while some snow remains. But come mid-May, golf courses will be opening up and various summer activities will be the main focus. The area is of course really nice and cool for much of summer, unlike many regions of Japan. Just one more reason that lots of people fall in love with Niseko and Hokkaido.


So that’s about all I have for this season.

Thanks to Niseko for being such a great place and the Snow Gods for blessing us each season.

Thank you to SnowJapan for being such a great resource - not only regarding Niseko of course but for Japan winter sports in general. I highly encourage you to take a look around the site. A good starting point and highly recommended introduction to Japan winter sports can be found here:

SnowJapan introduction to Japanese winter sports

Last season I said this:

“Thank you for reading these Niseko Now reports this season. I hope that you have enjoyed them and they have been useful as an ongoing commentary of the season. Now that the daily routine of writing reports has finished I think I’m going to have a few lie-ins and try to recharge after the long winter season! I have no doubt though that after just a short period of doing that, I’ll soon be looking forward to next winter.”

That’s pretty much how I feel once again, a full year later. How time flies.

The Niseko Now reports on SnowJapan will of course be back next season. Updates will begin once things start to cool down in the early autumn and we’ll bring you any news in advance of the 2014/2015 winter season.

I wish you all a fun and safe summer wherever you may be, and hope to see you back here in autumn.   Read more ...

Shiga Kogen Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 10:21am
Weather conditions: Mostly clear and sunny
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 0cm
Mixed conditions over Golden Week so far and this morning we started off with some fog but it has cleared up and it's a fine morning now.

Should be lots of sun now through unto the weekend.


Today is the last day of the season for:

Ichinose Diamond
Ichinose Family
Ichinose Yamanokami
Okushiga Kogen

From tomorrow, it's just Kumanoyu and Yokoteyama/Shibutoge that remain open.

Number 2 pair - until 11th May
Number 4 pair - unconfirmed

Yokoteyama 2 Sky lift
Yokoteyama 3 Sky lift
Shibutoge 1 Romance lift

Please note that you need individual Kumanoyu or Yokoteyama tickets from tomorrow onwards. Each resort is charging 3000 yen for the day and 2000 yen for a half day (children free).   Read more ...

Minakami Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 10:21am
Weather conditions: Cloud, sun
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 170cm
Good morning from Minakami. It's May 6th, the last day of "Golden Week" and more importantly the last day of the ski/board season at Tanigawadake Tenjindaira.

We have had a mix of conditions over golden week, not as clear as expected, but this morning the sun is out and clouds have been clearing up.

So that's the end of the season. Lots of people have been concentrating on spring and early summer activities for quite a while now - of course Minakami is known for a variety of outdoor activities and popular throughout the year.

Thanks for reading the reports and I hope to see you later in the year when the snow is just round the corner again.

Have a great summer.   Read more ...

Hakuba Now!

Tuesday 6th May 2014, 10:31am
Weather conditions: Cloudy, some blue sky
New snowfall: 0cm
Snow depth: 0cm
After rain dampening spirits just a bit (or maybe a bit more) yesterday, this morning it's brighter and the sun is making an appearance. Still there's quite a lot of cloud around, but some blue sky as well... and no rain.

So it's May 6th - the end of Golden Weekand; the end of the snow season for Happo-one, Hakuba 47 and Tsugaike Kogen; and the end of my daily Hakuba Now reports.

The upper area of Hakuba Goryu will remain open until Sunday May 11th.

It looks like we should be enjoying fine and sunny conditions for most of the week.

I'll post another report before the weekend, and then a season wrap-up after Hakuba Goryu has closed.   Read more ...

SnowJapan Daily 'Now' reports

Shiga Kogen Now
19th Apr, 8:56
Hakuba Now
19th Apr, 8:36am
Niseko Now
19th Apr, 8:35
Nozawa Onsen Now
19th Apr, 8:32
Furano Now
19th Apr, 8:24
Yuzawa Now
19th Apr, 7:59am
Geto Kogen Now
19th Apr, 7:57
Zao Now
18th Apr, 9:30
Myoko Now
17th Apr, 8:27am
Kiroro Now
17th Apr, 8:11
Appi Kogen Now
16th Apr, 8:15
Madarao Now
04th Apr, 9:40am
Aizu Bandai Now
19th Feb, 12:28
Minakami Now
13th Jan, 10:10am
Naeba Now
27th Nov, 11:21am