Q: How long does it take to fly to Japan?
A: Flight time from London to Tokyo is approximately 12 hours by direct flight. This is only slightly longer than flying to a number of the North American resorts. Flight time from Australia's East coast is approximately 9 hours. Flight time from Hong Kong is 4 hours and flight time from Singapore is 6.5 hours.
Q: Are Japanese ski resorts expensive?
A: There is a myth that resorts in Japan are expensive. The reality is that prices for a lot of in resort expenses such as lift passes, meals and alcohol are a lot lower than most resorts in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Q: Do I need a VISA to enter Japan?
A: In May 2011, the Japanese authorities eased the entry requirements to Japan for foreign tourists from 61 countries. Nationals of these countries and regions are not required to obtain a visa to enter Japan when the purpose of their visit is tourism. Upon entry, tourists are permitted to remain in Japan for a period of stay, the length of which depends on which country you are from. Information can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website.
Tourists from the UK can remain in Japan for up to 6 months for travel and leisure purposes without the need for a VISA.
Q: Can I use my credit card in Japan?
Japan is largely a cash based society. Whilst most larger restaurants and bars will probably accept international credit cards (non-Japanese), a lot of smaller restaurants, bars and convenience stores will only accept cash. As crime in Japan is one of the lowest in the world, most people carry plenty of cash with them. A lot of ATMs in Japan do not accept international cards. Look out for 7-11 convenience stores or post offices to get cash out. Our resort maps include the location of local international friendly ATMs.
Q: Which languages are spoken in Japan?
A: Japanese is the native language of Japan. The degree to which English is spoken varies considerably in Japan. The rule of thumb is that English is much more widely spoken in destinations that are popular with international tourists. In the more international resorts of Niseko and Hakuba English is more widely spoken than in the more traditional resorts such as Myoko.
Q: How cold is it?
A: The resorts that we offer have relatively mild temperatures ranging from -1 to -10 degrees Celsius in the resorts and between -5 and -20 on the mountain.
Q: What kind of footwear and clothing should I bring to wear around town?
A: Due to the amount of snow that falls, there will nearly always be snow on the ground during the winter months. We recommend that you bring waterproof boots with a good grip. Whilst not as cold as a lot of other ski resorts, jeans and ski jacket are the norm to be worn around town. There are very few, if any, restaurants with a dress code.
Q: How do I find out what the snow forecast is?
A: We recommend checking either www.snow-forecast.com or www.mountainwatch.com, both of which are free to use and updated very regularly. If you are a bit of an expert with weather patterns, check out the Japan Meteorological Agency website (www.jma.go.jp) for a longer range forecast using a range of data and imagery, including satellite imagery and pressure maps.
Q: I am thinking about driving in Japan, what do I need to know?
A: In Japan, driving is done on the left side of the road. Roads are well maintained and of a high standard. Foreign tourists can drive in Japan, as long as they possess an International Driving Permit in addition to the driving license of their own country. This must be applied for and obtained before leaving for Japan. Road Signage is generally in Japanese and English in major tourists areas and expressways.
In the winter, extensive snow clearing operations keep the roads pretty clear. However, with the sheer amount of snow falling the driving conditions can become pretty challenging. As a result we strongly recommend that only experienced snow drivers get behind the wheel. 4WD vehicles are widely available and all rental cars in snowy areas will come with winter snow tyres. These are essential for grip. Snow chains are an inexpensive alternative and can be applied to regular tyres to provide that extra grip required.
Q: Is it safe to travel to Japan?
A: In general Japan is one of the safest countries in the world in which to travel. This is due largely to one of the lowest crime rates in the world and the incredible hospitality of the Japanese people.
Q: Why does it snow so much in Japan?
A: During the winter season, north westerly winds carry cold dry air from the Arctic and Siberian Peninsula, over the Sea of Japan, where the air picks up moisture before hitting Japan's North West coast line. When these systems hit the peaks of the Japanese resorts, they churn, dumping the abundant and consistant dry powder snow that Japan is becoming famous for.
Q: How high and steep are the mountains in Japan?
A: This varies somewhat between resorts but generally the major Japanese resorts are not as high and steep as their counterparts in Europe and North America. Ultimately this means that they are typically safer, with even minor avalanches being a very rare occurrence.