The silvery world of snow covered ski slopes and mountains sparkling in reflected light is a typical sight in winter that captures the fascination of the Japanese people. The altitude is high in the western part of Fukushima, covering the areas of Inawashiro, Aizu, and Adatara Kogen, and the snow is deep during winter months from December through March. The many ski resorts in these areas are a recommended destination for first time visitors to this snow country because, in addition to winter sports such as skiing, it is also possible to enjoy the Japanese traditional winter pastimes of sledding, making snowmen, and snowball fights.
Among the many reasons why the ski resorts of Fukushima Prefecture are popular even within Japan are the ease of access and the unstinting hospitality unique to Japan, features which make these resorts of particular interest to families with children. Koriyama, which serves as a terminal station for Fukushima Prefecture, is only 90 minutes from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train). Travelers will arrive in Koriyama before they know it, entertained en route by the views of mountains adorned in snow juxtaposed with the speed of the shinkansen itself that particularly fascinates children.
There are numerous shuttle buses operating between Koriyama Station and other stations closer to the ski slopes on the one hand, and the many resorts and other facilities on the other, so attempting to drive the unfamiliar snowy roads on your own will not be necessary. While the temperature here is typically near freezing in winter, it is possible to rent all manner of cold weather clothing and gear, from jackets and pants designed for playing in the snow, to accessory items such as gloves, all available in sizes from child to adult. The staff will pick out just the right outfit for your planned snowy activities. Perhaps one of the greatest appeals of Fukushima is that you can come to our snow covered mountains on a whim any time you feel the urge play in the snow during winter time in Japan.
HOW TO PLAY
Let’s hit the ski slopes! Go ahead and dive right into the snow. The soft snow will take you in and wrap you in its gently chilly sensation. Fukushima features powder snow that is low in water content. It does not melt right away when it contacts your body, but rather falls away like a dry powder. The sensation of this dry powdery snow that can only be enjoyed in the winter mountains is itself more than enough reason to visit.
The various ski resorts each provide open areas where it is safe for children to play in the snow, and where there is no need to be concerned about being crashed into by skiers. First, why not try sledding across the surface of the snow? The sleds are ridden in a seated position, and the sense of acceleration is very exciting. You can even experience a sensation of floating as you zip across the surface of the powder snow. Next, try rolling the snow into a ball. Here, snowball fights, where participants throw little balls of snow at each other, are never painful due to the fluffy nature of the powder snow. The photos you take of your family covered in snow after everyone has had their fill will likely provide fond memories for years to come. Finally, you must not miss the chance to make a snowman. Starting with a small ball of snow, you can create a surprisingly large ball simply by rolling it around to collect more snow. This is why in Japan we use the word “snowball” to refer to situations that grow larger in a short period of time, just like in English. For a Japanese style snowman, you need only make two large balls of snow, one for the body and one for the head, to complete the snowman. You can then try decorating it with small branches and other objects. Perhaps you can make a face that looks just like someone in your family. Don’t overdo it if you get cold. Why not go back indoors and lazily enjoy the snowy vistas from a comfy warm room? Another way you can enjoy the winters of Fukushima with your family is to warm up at one of the many hot springs after playing in the snow together.
Always watch your feet as you move about. Powder snow is ideal for winter sports, but it also makes the ground very slippery. Make sure to wear waterproof shoes with nonslip soles. We also recommend bringing ample changes of undergarments for your children. The temperature is typically below freezing, so you will become cold quickly when you sweat. Ski resorts are located in high altitude mountainous areas, and there are times even in April as the cold weather begins to thaw when the sudden arrival of a blizzard can quickly drop the temperature and change the climate at short notice. Thus it is important to be ready for the cold weather even at the end of the season.