As Yogi Berra might say, it's because no one's doing it. More and more foreigners, especially the relatively close-by Australians, are waking up to the unbeatable snowfall, snow quality, and empty slopes of Japanese resorts.
But as James Brooke reports for the New York Times, overall skier visits in Japan are way down:
Twenty years ago, Japan's ski resorts resembled Tokyo Station on the slopes. Today, the new image could be someone skiing alone. Despite abundant snow, fresh air and stunning mountain views, the number of skiers in Japan, the world's second-largest skiing nation, has dropped in half over the past decade.The predictable response: Turn ski areas into foreigner-friendly mega-resorts where skiing is only one of many options:
The solution, many Japanese and outsiders say, is to close marginal ski hills and invest to make the major areas attractive to Japanese and foreign visitors, both skiers and nonskiers.Translation: If you want to experience Niseko before it turns into a jam-packed, mass-market Disneyland, go now.
..."Some of the Japanese mountains will close, and they should," said Roger Donazzan, executive chairman of Harmony Resorts Niseko, a private Australian company that bought Hokkaido's Niseko area last fall.
Through 2010, Donazzan plans to invest about $200 million to create a new base at the mountain village, capable of sleeping 8,000 visitors.
..."By next season, almost all our trail maps, signs, and menus will be in English and Japanese," Donazzan said of Niseko. "Then we are going to add Korean and Chinese."