Japan knows the snow, needs skiers

Winter in Japan has begun with the best snowfalls in seven years.

A little more than a month into the season, resorts such as Niseko and Rusutsu on the northern-most island of Hokkaido have had more than nine metres of snow and good falls have been reported at the popular Hakuba and Shiga Kogen slopes on the main island of Honshu.

During the past month, Japanese resorts have received regular storms bearing the light powder the region is famous for. Quite simply, its dumping. The question is: where are the skiers?

The Niseko-based general manager of SkiJapan, Belinda White, says many skiers and boarders have been tentative about booking ski holidays in Japan, dissuaded by memories of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami last March and the prevailing global economic downturn.

Read the rest of the story: Japan has snow, wants skiers.

Hokkaido Railway President, Naotoshi Nakajima Dead — Body Found

Hokkaido Railway President Naotoshi Nakajima was found dead off the coast of Otaru, Hokkaido, on Sunday after disappearing six days ago and leaving behind suicide notes, local police said.

Nakajima’s body was discovered by an angler around 7:50 a.m., the police said, adding that the 64-year-old man probably drowned because no signs of injury were found on his body.

The police said they identified the corpse, clothed in a beige shirt and navy trousers, using fingerprint records.

Read the rest of the story: Body found off Otaru ID’d as railroad president.


Ice dome accommodates guests in Hokkaido resort

A hotel room made of ice, including a bed, table and other furniture also made of ice, began accepting guests over the weekend at a resort in Hokkaido, northern Japan.

The "ice hotel" facility, housed inside a dome made of ice at the Alpha Resort Tomamu in the village of Shimukappu, accepts one pair or group per day during a month-long operation period through Feb. 15.

The winter temperature is as low as minus 18 C in the village and guests are supposed to sleep in sleeping bags inside the ice hotel room where the temperature is around minus 3 C.

Read the rest of the story: Ice dome accommodates guests in Hokkaido resort.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010 – Hokkaido

Entering its 61st year, the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan will take place in the Hokkaido region of Japan from February 6 through February 11. Not only attracting local Japanese visitors, the Sapporo Snow Festival draws international interest as well and more than 2 million visitors are expected to converge in the downtown Sapporo area to see the stunning snow and ice sculptures, entertainment and sample the Japanese cuisine.The Sapporo Snow Festival began in 1950 by a group of high school students who sculpted six statues along the Odori Park and over the last 61 years, has grown into an international phenomenon rivaled only by Harbin Ice and Snow Festival and the Quebec Winter Carnival!

The festival takes place in predominantly three main districts: the Odori Park area, the main streets of Susukino and at the Supporo Community Dome in Tsudome.

Key dates at the Sapporo Snow Festival not to be missed:

  • February 5: 6:30 p.m. – Opening ceremony at the Minami 4 Nishi 4 location
  • February 5: 7:30 p.m. – Photos with the Ice Queen
  • February 6: 11:00 a.m. – Ice Sculpture Award Ceremony at the Susukino site (Minami 4 Nishi 4)
  • February 11: 8:45 p.m. Closing Ceremony at the main ice sculptures at the Susukino site.

How to get there:
There are many tour companies offering special tours to the Sapporo Snow Festival. I recommend you call them as opposed to trying to navigate their websites to determine total package pricing from the Orlando area. I can tell you that you will need to change planes at least two times during travel, once in US and the other in Tokyo to eventually arrive in Sapporo.

  • JTB Tours – 1-888-452-5725
  • Pop Japan Travel – 866-680-1589 ext 111
  • Royal Adventure Travel – See list of travel consultants
  • Kobayashi.com Honolulu: 1-808-593-9387


Ten People Killed Climping Mountains in Japan – Mount Tomuraushi, Mount Biei – Hokkaido

Ten people were killed after getting caught in bad weather while climbing mountains in Hokkaido, in northern Japan, police said.

Nine people died on the 2,141-meter (7,024-feet) Mount Tomuraushi and one person was killed on 2,052-meter Mount Biei, police spokesman Yuji Kikuchi said by telephone today. He didn’t have details on how they died.

A guide in a group of 18 people climbing Mount Tomuraushi called the police for help yesterday, saying they were stuck on the mountain due to severe weather conditions.

Eight climbers in the group were killed while several of the others were injured. Hitoshi Matsumoto, a male climber in the group who was reported missing, was rescued and is being taken care of, Kikuchi said.

Another body was found on the mountain, though rescuers haven’t determined whether he was part of the same group, the police said.

A guide in a group of six people climbing nearby Mount Biei phoned the local fire department yesterday saying one of their members was suffering hypothermia and needed help. Atsuko Onoue, a female climber aged 64, was confirmed dead, Kikuchi said.

The mountains are part of a range northeast of Sapporo, the main city on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands.

Report by Bloomberg