The Aussie dollar is strong against the Yen again, meaning ski passes are around A$60 - but that's not the only reason to ski Japan this season, writes Rachael Oakes-Ash.
1. No jetlag
Jetlag can take days to adjust to and can seriously impact an active holiday from muscle fatigue to missing out on apres fun. The time difference between the east coast of Australia and the ski fields of Japan is just two hours, so when it's 6.00am in Japan it's 8.00am in on the east coast of Australia (even better if you're in Perth). This keeps jetlag down to an absolute minimum and no jetlag means more fun on the slopes and less likelihood of injury.
2. Shorter flight time
It takes around 10 hours to fly from Australia to Tokyo for the skiing on the main island of Honshu. Expect another ninety minutes to fly to Sapporo if you are skiing the northern island of Hokkaido. There is no other modern ski destination in the northern hemisphere closer to Australia as flights to Canada and the USA are around 16 hours and to Europe you will need a whole 24-hour day.
3. The powder
Japan's powder is often considered the driest in the world with a moisture content of around eight per cent, making it impossible to form a snow ball. This is good news for skiers and snowboarders as the powder is light, dry and fluffy providing premium snow conditions. Add an annual snowfall of 11 to 14 metres and over 500 ski resorts to choose from and Japan can rightfully hold it's own against the big mountain resorts of North America. Tree skiing is also possible in Japan with trees laden under so much snow they are referred to as 'snow monsters' due to their eerie snow shape.
4. The thermal hot spring onsens
Who doesn't like a hot tub at the end of a ski day? Onsens are Japan's ancient version of the western hot tub. The thermal fed volcanic spring waters of Japan are said to hold curative qualities and onsens are found throughout the alpine regions of the country. There is a routine and an art to onsen bathing. Most traditional Japanese guest houses will have a private onsen that is often split between the two genders. Bathing in an onsen is done naked with a scrub down on stools with hand held water hoses before submerging oneself into the mineral waters. In the traditional feudal ski town of Nozawa Onsen in Nagano, 'foot onsens' line the streets for weary ski boot feet and the village's cooking onsen is reserved for boiling eggs and cooking rice.
5. The food
The food in Japan is pure, tasty and perfect to fuel the ski legs, from freshly caught trout plucked from the pond in front of the restaurant and sliced and diced into sashimi in front of you to the less violent bowls of steaming rice noodles and traditional Japanese curry. Steer clear of 'horse' on the menu if you are a fan of Black Beauty but do partake in the traditional savoury seafood pancakes made on a hot plate in front of you and then laden with seafood flakes and traditional Japanese mayonnaise.