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At the main Hakuba resort of Happo-one, lifts are old and slow, queues huge, infrastructure outdated and poorly planned, runs limited and grooming virtually non existent despite the mountain being packed with beginners.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. 

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