Why not visit Tohoku, change into snow gear and go out to enjoy skiing or snowboarding in the excellent powder snow? In the Tohoku region, you can build a snowman, throw snowballs at your friends or any number of other "snow country" activities. Snow may be cold to the touch, but being in the snow is a thrilling experience that soon warms the heart. Tohoku has more than just snow. For those who like to avoid the cold, there are plenty of rare experiences available that do not involve snow. For example, for animal lovers, the opportunity to hug a fox will soothe your soul, or if you are a big eater you might challenge your limits with Tohoku's famous Wanko Soba. You could enjoy a generous helping of Japanese culture by taking an evening soak at a hot spring ryokan followed by a luxurious kaiseki banquet. If you would like to experience the wonders of the snow season, Snow Country Tohoku is definitely the place to visit.
Tohoku ski areas can be enjoyed by everyone from beginners to black diamond experts.
Access to Tohoku ski areas is very good, and lessons for every level are available, so you can be sure that you will enjoy yourself.
Are you interested in skiing or snowboarding? If so, then you must visit Tohoku.
Why is Tohoku so great for skiing and snowboarding?
Who wouldn't have their breath taken away by the sight of a world of white stretching out into the distance? Tree branches sag under heavy loads of snow. The scenery is romantic. For Taiwanese people who grew up on a subtropical island, Tohoku is a fantastic destination to experience snow.
Geto Kogen Resort and Appi Kogen Ski Resort, which we visit here, are very large ski areas featuring a wide range of runs. Try a run to suit your level, whether you are a beginner or a slope master. The ski season in Tohoku is relatively long, so you can plan your trip for when you want.
The ski areas all have facilities such as snow outfit rentals, ski and snowboard rentals, changing rooms and lockers. Right down to the cool cafes, they are very convenient. Even better, if you stay in a hotel on the ski slopes, you can ski right out the door, and if you want a rest, it is easy to return to your room.
If skiing all day isn't enough for you, you can ski at night too. Both Geto Kogen and Appi Kogen have slopes that are open at night. Being out on the mountain under a starlit sky is a very special experience. Even with the floodlights, the stars are stunning in clear weather. The slopes at night are every bit as enjoyable as during the day.
Piece of cake for beginners
What do you do if you have never tried either ski or snowboard before?
Don’t worry. You can take lessons in skiing or snowboarding at both Appi Kogen and Geto Kogen to suit your level.
If you think the instruction will only be in Japanese and you won’t understand so why bother, don’t worry. Many of the instructors speak English, and you can even take a lesson in Chinese! Lessons begin with a briefing on ski equipment and the instructors are very kind. Once you learn how to use the gear, the instructor will begin to teach you how to ski or slide.
Thanks to the kindness of my instructor, I was able to go from a beginner level to skiing down runs alone in no time. I just can’t express the feeling of accomplishment in words. It is not possible to learn everything in one day, but you do feel like you are making progress during the lesson. This makes you want to try harder, to ski more, and with these thoughts one day is never enough.
Of course, ski lessons are available not just for novices but for mid-level and advanced skiers too. Lessons can be taken individually or in groups, so you can choose the right format for you. You might even be able to ask the instructor for an extended lesson if you feel like you need more practice at the end of the time!
In the lesson we took, the students were all of different levels. But that did not have any effect on our enjoyment of skiing and we had a great day on the slopes. It was a great idea to have a lesson and together with friends it was 100% fun too. If you like, you can ask the ski area in advance about the lessons they have available.
Ease of access
Do you imagine it’s hard to get to ski areas in Tohoku? In fact, it is very simple. All you have to do is take the shinkansen from Tokyo. You will be in Snow Country in about 1 hour and 40 minutes. That is a lot easier than you may have thought. Many ski resorts offer shuttle buses from the train station. That makes it easy to get around and enjoy skiing or snowboarding, even without a car.
For those who do not or cannot ski or snowboard, should you stay away from the ski areas?
Not at all. Tohoku ski areas have many other activities to enjoy!
The ski resorts of Tohoku have a vast array of options for enjoying the snow apart from skiing and snowboarding. If you have never seen snow before, you probably won’t be able to drag yourself away from the mountain. Together with friends or family you can make snowmen, throw snowballs, take pictures as you throw the deep powder snow up into the sky, and generally create lasting memories of your time in the white stuff.
On the slopes, you can rent sleds and airboards. These do not require any special skills so if you start your run from a slightly higher point, you will enjoy a thrilling ride down the snow. Make it a race with your friends!
Another activity is snowrafting. Drifting through snow aboard a boat is not something you can experience in snowless regions. Snowrafting travels at a slow pace, allowing those on board to enjoy the ski area scenery as if cruising down a Venetian canal. You will find yourself slowly relaxing as the white world flows past.
For something a little different, try renting a snowmobile. Drive the machine at a speed which is comfortable for you. Racing through the snow is truly a thrilling sensation.
At ski areas like these, you have a plethora of options apart from skiing and snowboarding to enjoy the wonders of the snow.
One delight of the ski areas is that when you need a break, you can go to a café. Ordering a hot coffee or dessert will completely refresh you. You never know, sharing the highlights of your day with friends may end up being the most treasured memory of your trip.
Tohoku has a lot of ski areas, but on this trip we skiied and snowboarded at two resorts. We spent the rest of our time playing with foxes at the animal park, eating famous local soba noodles (Wanko Soba), and at night warming up with friends under the twinkling lights on the mountain.
At the ryokan, we soaked in hot pools to warm up our chilled bodies, and before falling asleep I would talk endlessly with my friends about what had happened on our Tohoku trip, etching the memories into our hearts.
There is no end to the delights of winter in Tohoku, and I truly hope to visit again and again.
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