The number one reason why the ski resorts of Fukushima are popular with skiers throughout the world is, without a doubt, the quality of the snow itself. The ski resorts featuring Fukushima’s quality powder snow, which is silky and dry due to the low water content, are magnets for the snow connoisseur. Just as an example, the snow quality in Australia during the peak ski season is only at about the level of Fukushima’s snow at the very end of the season. The sense of floating one gets while skiing, that is unique to powder snow, can become addictive to any skier visiting Fukushima for the first time.
The winter sports season in Fukushima Prefecture lasts from December through the following April. There are numerous ski resorts in the western part of the prefecture in areas such as Urabandai and Minami Aizu, so it is possible to enjoy each for its unique characteristics. The diversity of slopes available featuring the ultimate quality snow is another feature of Fukushima’s ski resorts.
The heights can be reached easily via chair lifts and roofed gondolas, making it effortless to access the numerous courses available such as the long courses for beginners featuring gentle grade slopes, the mogul courses featuring well groomed (compacted) snow, and the natural courses for advanced skiers with obstacles such as rocks and trees.
Further, the Minami Aizu area has a long history of being open to snowboarders from early in the season, so many resorts include halfpipes, rails, and kickers to satisfy the most active snowboarders. Many also feature night time skiing facilities allowing you to keep skiing long after the sun goes down.
HOW TO PLAY
In order to enjoy the Fukushima ski resorts, there is no need to prepare equipment to deal with winter mountains at a 2,000 meter altitude, or to rent a car to travel over long distances. Instead, shuttle buses run between the ski resorts and Koriyama Station, which serves as a hub station for Fukushima, as well as other stations closer to the resorts, so you can be skiing down the slopes before noon if you take an early bullet train. There are also numerous options available depending on schedule and group size for those travelers wishing to enjoy skiing for several days. Ski resorts have on-site hotels for those wishing to focus their time on skiing and snowboarding, while large groups or those looking to stay for longer periods can try a cottage or private inn, and the hot springs nearby the resorts are recommended for those wishing to experience a taste of Japan. Here you can also enjoy Ramen, a soul food that warms both body and mind, and the sake of Fukushima that is ranked high in quality nationally, for a fully satisfying and relaxing winter experience.
In recent years, so-called back country skiing, or skiing on new snow outside established courses and in untouched forests, is growing in popularity, and many from inside and outside Japan also come to Fukushima for this reason. However, due to the high frequency of accidents, such as collisions with trees or getting lost, the number of places in Fukushima where this is allowed is very limited. In order to enjoy back country skiing, it is absolutely essential for you to take precautions for safety by employing a guide, bringing the right equipment, and keeping aware of the weather. While western culture typically places responsibility for behavior on the individual, in Japan, facility managers and communities are typically held responsible for any accidents that happen nearby. Therefore, skiers are asked to adhere to the local manners and rules so that they can continue to come back and enjoy Fukushima’s world class quality powder snow in the future.