Four reasons to spend winter as a ski bum in Japan

Is it just me, or are the regimented and predictable ski holidays to Europe and Canada starting to become a little tired? The influx of high volume tour operators shipping out huge numbers of guests has meant that ski destinations that were once attractive for their local tradition are now little more than money-making machines. Expectations for affordable, good value, authentic ski towns in Europe and North America are becoming unfulfillable. Perhaps it is time to turn to the land of the rising sun, uncovering the epic opportunities on offer to ski bums and seasonaire backpackers. We suggest four good reasons why Japan should be next on your skiing bucket list.

The snow is reliable and DEEP

The effects of global warming are both concerning and real; resorts that once received generous coatings of pre-season snow are increasingly seen as grassy meadows in the early months of the season – this isn’t a problem in Japan . Each winter the bitter Siberian winds slam against the Japanese Alps, creating levels of snowfall that are unsurpassed. The consistent and light powdery snowfall, dubbed Ja-pow, makes for some of the best skiing in the world, especially if you’re brave enough to make your own tracks!

Skiing in Japan - Zoo Onsen

It’s easier to find well paid work

As ski travellers from all corners of the globe wake up to the concept of snow in Japan, the demand for English-speaking workers continues to skyrocket. In particular, there is a shortage of ski instructors in Japan – a country where a newly qualified instructor can expect to earn a minimum of £14 an hour! This is almost twice what a ski instructor in Canada can expect. Getting qualified is actually a lot easier than you might think too.  You can sign up for a ski internship course that will ensure you get properly trained, fully qualified and offered the guarantee of an instructor job to work out the season. Alternatively, there are lots of other job opportunites for ski bums, including bar, restaurant and other hospitality work.

Less crowds but better crowds

Without question, one of the best things about travelling is meeting amazing people. Anyone who has ever been backpacking in Southeast Asia or Australasia will have experienced the electric feeling of checking into a hostel door room without knowing who you might meet. Yet ten minutes later you can be out for drinks with someone who you know you’ll keep in touch with for the rest of your life! If you head to a ski resort in Japan, especially Habuka or Niseko, you will be able to experience this same excitement at any of the great range of hostel accommodation options available there – all of which are incredibly affordable and offer a great social scene.  

Experience authentic culture

As a result of globalisation and the more commercial development of travel, authentic cultural experiences are becoming harder and harder to find. But while most countries have sadly surrendered to Western traditions and expectations, Japan has been resilient in holding on to its roots. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get around without speaking Japanese; the locals are incredibly helpful and friendly, but it does mean that after your season you will take away memories that are incomparable and unforgettable; from the stunning temples to the exquisite food, Japan will never under-deliver.

If you want to learn more about skiing in Japan, the best resorts, the culture and training and working as an instructor, visit WE ARE SNO – Instructor Internships.

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