Tsugaike Kogen, Japan Report: Waiting On Winter… While In Anime Dress-Up

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The gondola at Tsugaike, going up. Photo: P.M. Fadden

Report from January 14th, 2020 – Brought to you by Hakuba Valley

Globally renowned as the home of Ja-POW the Land of the Rising Sun has made the best of an atypically snow-less early January.  Hakuba Valley, in particular, stands out among tribes of skiers as a far east trip of a lifetime. The valley houses several premier ski or snowboard destinations within a single small, workable area.

Ghost chairs at Tsugaike Kogen. Photo: P.M. Fadden

In the world of the POW-chaser, the current month is perennially known as Japan-uary and, historically, the moniker is justly applied. However, in all honesty, our visit did not discover the soft, deep billows so lauded by snow industry. Rather Tsugaike Kogen, in famed Hakuba Valley, has adopted a mode of patient waiting while Old Man Winter decides when and where to do his thing.

Quick Hits:

  • Elevation – 5,600ft
  • Vertical – 3,000ft
  • Lifts – 19
  • Longest Run – 3mi
On-mountain antics to balance a low snow day- Photo: P.M. Fadden

In a different location, the cold season stalemate might blunt the spirits of local ski populations, but not at Tsugaike. Our crew arrived to what can best be described as an anime extravaganza-meets Ministry of Sound testing grounds.

Three-time X-Games medalist Jason Borgstede takes a break from principal photography for a documentary film, NOBOCA while on location at Tsugaike Kogen Resort. Photo: P.M. Fadden

At a mid-mountain sundeck, several Kiwi holidaymakers are telling us about waste deep cream collected in-between the trees. For morale purposes alone, I hope for this to be true yet observation suggests I stand a greater chance of making a mud cake than a pow turn on this particular day. But no matter, there’s a rail jam, DJ, and armies of anime-clad girls (as well as grown men) a mere chairlift ride away.

Yes, Japan’s snow-samurai are sailing a somewhat low-tide but the weather is said to be on the way and soon.


Snow Numbers:


5-Day Forecast:

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