Japan Ski Resorts, COVID-19 and the 2020/21 Season

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By justine@japanskiexperience.com | Tue, 15 Dec 2020
Categories: Niseko, Hakuba, Covid-19
Japan Ski Resorts, COVID-19 and the 2020/21 Season
What a year it has been. It is hard to imagine anyone or anything not being affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Japan (and most notably Japan ski resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba) is no exception.
Japan Border Closures
Japan officially closed its borders to international visitors in May 2020 to restrict the spread of COVID-19. The border restrictions which are expected to be in place until April 2021 earliest, mean that virtually no foreign tourists are allowed entry into Japan, and those with exemptions (short-stay business travellers who must follow strict entry protocols) must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days and avoid public transit. This means of course that all of those Japan powder lovers travelling from abroad will have to put their Japan ski trip dreams on hiatus for the 2020/21 season. For the majority of would-be visitors, being ‘disappointed’ is an understatement!
Japan and COVID-19
For a long while Japan seemed to be ahead of the game on COVID-19 infections with extremely few cases per capita, and an exceptionally low death rate considering Japan’s aging population. After a bit of a spike in August (relatively speaking), Japan’s numbers once again got under control before climbing again recently. Japan is however faring quite a bit better than many other countries around the world.
Go To Travel Program and Japan Ski Resorts
In an aid to reboot the economy damaged by the coronavirus, the Japanese government launched the Go To Travel Campaign which offers big discounts on travel inside Japan for domestic residents. This has largely contributed to ski resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba being able to operate as close to normally as possible, given the increase in domestic visitors compared to a regular ski season, who may not usually book ski holidays in Japan.
Graph credit: Japan-Guide.com

Further campaigns launched by individual prefectures such as Hokkaido’s “Dominwari” campaign offer discounts of up to 50% off luxury hotel stays such as The Vale Niseko. The travel incentives gives us hope that many of the wonderful small businesses in the Japan ski resorts such as restaurants, onsens, and especially hotel and chalet accommodations can make it through these uncertain times with an aim to hit the ground running for the 2021/22 ski season!
The Vale Niseko, one of the best ski in / ski out properties in Hirafu Village

Some Japan ski resorts such as Hakuba have seen record numbers of visitors during their green season (hiking the Japan alps - a fantastic green-season activity in Nagano), a trend which many property owners are hoping continues over the ski season as well.
Niseko and Hakuba Ski Resorts 2020/21 Season Opening
Niseko Annupuri Resort opened on the 28th of November, followed by Niseko Village on the 1st and Grand Hirafu and Hanazono Resorts shortly after on the 5th of December. Hakuba’s Happo One resort is estimated to open on the 19th of December, though based on the early cold temperatures and snowfall it may open earlier. The forecasted La Nina pattern which is expected to contribute to colder than normal temperatures as well as increased snowfall in the northern mainland area should result in a fantastic ski season for Hakuba in particular.
Niseko Powder
Looking Ahead
Some of us are lucky to be in the thick of the latest dump of powder the Japan ski resorts have received over the past few weeks. However, most of us will have to dreamily watch from afar this season, making a mental list of all of the incredible Japan ski experiences we can store for the 2021/22 season!  We will be adding Niseko daily snow reports to our blog every day so make sure you check back here to stay connected while you can’t be with us in person!
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