A lot of people rave about skiing in Japan. I won’t be one of them.
Just got back from 10 days in the Hakuba Valley west of Tokyo and was underwhelmed – and not just because it’s been a poor season by Japanese standards.
No real powder but still enough snow – more than a metre on the top – to experience what the local resorts had to offer.
Which is not much really.
At the main Hakuba resort of Happo-one, lifts are old and slow, queues huge, infrastructure outdated and poorly planned, runs limited and grooming virtually non existent despite the mountain being packed with beginners.
There’s a feeling that the people who run the place haven’t invested a yen since the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
Same applies to village, which is random and somewhat down at heel.
Many buildings haven’t seen a lick of paint since they were built. Same story with accommodation.
Much more expensive than leading Europe resorts and inversely inferior.
We paid $500 a night for a triple share in a property that had nice staff, hard beds, lumpy pillows, threadbare carpet and towels.
That was all we could get 4 months out, such is the thirst for Japanese skiing among Australians in particular.
It looks like hoteliers feel they don’t have to invest because there’s no competition and a shortage of rooms.
As for the local transport within and between the resorts, it’s third world awful.
One village bus had a sign saying “it’s faster to walk after 3pm”.
Says it all really.