On March 31, 2015, the U.S. branch of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) launched a new website focusing on spring skiing and late-season cherry blossoms in Japan’s northern regions (http://us.jnto.go.jp/springski2015/).
While Japan may not spring to people’s minds as a global ski hub, the nation is in fact home to some of the snowiest places on Earth. According to the World Bank, Japan receives an average of 1,600 millimeters (63 inches) of precipitation each year – more thanSwitzerland or Austria, and roughly double the U.S. or France. Combined with the nation’s mountainous terrain, this results in incredible annual snowfalls in Nagano and Hokkaido, as well as deep accumulations across the northern Hokuriku and Tohoku regions. In Japan’s plentiful higher altitudes, much of this snow lingers well into May or even June, making for a long and satisfying spring ski season.
More than 40 of the nation’s major ski resorts are scheduled to remain open until at least May 6, the final day of the annual Golden Week holiday. Niigata Prefecture’s Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort receives such an abundance of snow that it closes mid-January every season, this year only reopening on March 21. In Yamagata Prefecture, Gassan ski resort will only begin its season from April 11, with plans to operate until early June.
Meanwhile, the wave of cherry blossoms that sweeps the nation every spring continues its northward journey. While the celebrated pink and white blossoms are only now completing their passage through Tokyo, they are expected to be in full bloom from April 12-18in Yamagata, from April 20-25 in Aomori, and from April 30-May 5 in Sapporo.
The JNTO Spring Ski 2015 website is aimed principally at the U.S. market, with the goal of increasing interest in Japan as a spring skiing destination, and highlighting the unique pleasure of enjoying winter on the slopes while taking part in Japan’s traditional “hanami” (cherry blossom viewing) celebrations in the cities and villages below.
The site presents original features on Japan’s various spring skiing and late-season cherry blossom hotspots, as well as bringing together information from across the Web regarding spring activities and related travel packages.
While targeted at the U.S., it represents a resource for anyone interested in Japan’s spring beauty – a topic that should interest people anywhere in the world.
Japan National Tourism Organization websites: