Originally planned night time operations at the Shiga Kogen ski areas are as follows; subject to change, so please check with the resorts. Note that separate lift tickets are required.
Ichinose Diamond 22nd-23rd February 2020 20th-21st March 2020 Quad lift 6:30pm until 9:00pm
Ichinose Family Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until 21st March 2020 Number 2 pair B lift 6:30pm until 9:00pm
Kumanoyu Every Saturday until 28th March 2020 23rd February 2020 20th March 2020 Number 1 pair lift 6:30pm until 9:00pm
Takamagahara Mammoth Saturdays until 21st March 2020 (not 7th February) 23rd February 2020 20th March 2020 Number 2 triple lift 6:30pm until 8:30pm
Sun Valley 22nd-23rd February 2020 Number 1 quad lift 7:00pm until 8:30pm
Yakebitaiyama Every Saturday until 29th February 2020 23rd February 2020 Number 3 high speed lift 6:00pm until 8:00pm
The section of road connecting the southern area of Shiga Kogen (from Yokoteyama onwards) with Gunma Prefecture is now closed for the season. It will be closed until 24th April 2020. Approach Shiga Kogen using Route 292 from the west (Nagano/Nakano/Yamanouchi)
No fresh snow to report folks on this Monday morning. A little snowfall in the middle of the day yesterday, but then clearer and clear overnight too.
It's a pretty cold and calm start to the day. Some cloud around but lots of blue sky. Forecasts show the chance of some snow later on...
We are back to weekday operations with the Number 2 gondola taking a rest, but all main courses are available along with 4 tree run courses.
Official snow depths:
* Top: 270cm * Base: 175cm
Planned operating lift information - subject to change:
* Number 1 Gondola * Number 2 Gondola (operates on weekends and holidays only) * Number 1 pair lift * Number 2 pair lift * Quad lift
Courses & Tree Runs - subject to change:
* All of the main official courses are available * Rabbit, Summit, Beech and Stream tree run course are open * Extreme and Shooter tree run courses not yet available
Nighta skiing operations
* Weekends and holidays from until 24th February 2020 Read more ...
Monday 3rd February 2020, 8:01am
There was a burst of snow in the late afternoon yesterday and it has left a very light dry layer of 6cm of new snow at base level. I would expect this to result in 10-15cm at the top of the resort. The weather is looking great for the morning period as well. There is a thin layer of cloud and plenty of bright sunlight coming through. From midday more snow is forecast which will roll through tomorrow as well. Piste conditions will be light fresh snow on a firm base.
It's a lovely morning. Sunny with blue skies and some wispy thin clouds. The mountain is looking delicious.
There is a chance of a bit of snow overnight tonight, though we should be back to sunshine in the afternoon tomorrow.
Forecast is looking decent for the coming week with a few bouts of decent snow due around Wednesday and then perhaps Saturday too. We'll have some of that, please.
Current operations: Monday 3rd February 2020
- All lifts apart from Number 13 scheduled to be operating today - 21 courses open - SAWA II, Bear, Rabbit and River Line tree run courses scheduled to be open this morning - Other tree run courses not currently available - Official snow depth: 110cm
Tangram Ski Circus:
- All lifts are operating - 12 courses open - Official snow depth: 65cm Read more ...
Monday 3rd February 2020, 8:22am
Good morning from Niseko.
Well, that decent snow coming down yesterday morning that I mentioned didn't really last long and it didn't amount to much - just ever so slightly more than 1cm - and no more fresh overnight, I'm afraid.
I am curious to see that the Avalanche Report (below) is reporting 10cm, so perhaps some areas of the mountain got more lucky than others.
It is a grey, cloudy and cold start to the day. I expect all of the lifts to be opening as planned this morning.
All being well, we should be seeing more snow falling sometime later on today and perhaps regular snowfall through the week.
The 2019-2020 season so far: through until the end of January 2020
It's February already! We are almost halfway through the 2019-2020 season. It's scary how fast the weeks whizz by. I know, I've said that before, but it's true.
It being the beginning of the month, it is once again time when I look back on the season so far and make a few observations. They are, of course, simply my own thoughts and just how I see the season going. And it goes without saying that there's much more to the story than just numbers; they are maybe fun and interesting, but they are not the complete picture. For a more complete idea of the season, please read the reports for each day.
The usual up-front notes:
I take my measurements from close to the base of the Niseko Grand Hirafu area of our mountain. There is usually more snow at higher elevations and generally you hear folk talking (unscientifically) about 1.5 times the amount. It is impossible for me to take measurements from the top of the mountain every morning for all sorts of practical reasons. The observed snowfall numbers on these Niseko Now reports over the years can all be compared like-for-like, because they are my observations and are coming from the same place each season.
This is how much snowfall I have measured during the month of January over the last eight years:
January 2020: 224cm January 2019: 285cm January 2018: 305cm January 2017: 152cm January 2016: 303cm January 2015: 257cm January 2014: 461cm January 2013: 443cm
I was able to post report snowfall in 20 of the 31 reports in the month of January. There was a bit of a dry run between 7th-12th January and then from 27th January through until yesterday. During the period between 13th and 27th January I was able to report fresh snowfall here at base on all but one day, with a few 30+cm 24-hour snowfalls during that period.
I think that is pretty good.
Still, it certainly wasn’t a classic January. Better than the dry January 2017, but 1m down on the average of the last eight years.
Here are my ‘season to date’ numbers, from the beginning of this season to the end of January 2020:
2019/2020 season up to end of January 2020: 516cm 2018/2019 season up to end of January 2019: 702cm 2017/2018 season up to end of January 2018: 899cm 2016/2017 season up to end of January 2017: 445cm 2015/2016 season up to end of January 2016: 611cm 2014/2015 season up to end of January 2015: 806cm 2013/2014 season up to end of January 2014: 859cm 2012/2013 season up to end of January 2013: 979cm
While I have been able to observe more snowfall than during the poor 2016-2017 season, we are still down a fair chunk on what we think of as ‘normal’.
Another look through the other regional reports on SnowJapan tells me that many areas have been enduring a very challenging season with the snowfall down in all regions, to varying degrees. In some places in western Japan, it is literally at 0% of normal. I have read that 30% of Japanese ski hills had not been able to open at all as of the second half of January. That really is quite shocking, and sad to hear.
So I think it is safe to say that, up until now, Japan as a whole has been having an uncharacteristically poor snow season.
Like I said last month, though, we have such very high expectations here in Niseko that anything other than brilliant or (**insert cheesy marketing pop term here**) can quickly be seen as disappointing. I will admit to sometimes finding myself being a bit greedy when it comes to snow (and I do try to keep such feelings to myself and out of these reports). But then I hear comments like this from visitors I share a lift with:
"This may not be peak Niseko, but it sure as heck is better than back home in....."
Hearing that kind of comment helps keep my own thoughts in check.
Let’s just take another look at that number above - over the last two-and-a-bit months, I have observed over 5m of snowfall here at base.
I again promise myself to always appreciate the snowfall that we are blessed with. :)
OK, a bit more data. Below is how much of the total snowfall for a season we have already had fall by the end of January in previous seasons:
By the end of January 2019, as a % of the season total: about 74% By the end of January 2018, as a % of the season total: about 71% By the end of January 2017, as a % of the season total: about 65% By the end of January 2016, as a % of the season total: about 62% By the end of January 2015, as a % of the season total: about 70% By the end of January 2014, as a % of the season total: about 74% By the end of January 2013, as a % of the season total: about 66%
That means that on past form we can reasonably expect that we have around 25-30% of our total snowfall for the season left to fall from the skies over the remainder of this season. By the end of January 2016, we had already received only 62% of the total snowfall for that season, meaning there was another 38% left to go.
It’s worth pointing out again that in late season there will be more times when there has been some fresh snowfall on the upper areas of the mountain, but not down at base. On such days, my report will record 0cm observed snowfall.
As we think about February, here’s how much snowfall I have recorded during the month of February in the last seven winter seasons. The numbers in brackets show the total observed snowfall up until the end of February in each of those respective seasons.
February 2019: 198cm (900cm) February 2018: 299cm (1198cm) February 2017: 160cm (605cm) February 2016: 266cm (877cm) February 2015: 196cm (1002cm) February 2014: 178cm (1037cm) February 2013: 316cm (1295cm)
So, we are used to experiencing around 2-3m or snowfall at base in the month of February.
The other piece of data that I always look at is the snowfall numbers that the Japan Meteorological Agency report from their observation station in Kutchan town. Here is what they have reported for the month of January over the last eight years:
January 2020: 148cm January 2019: 253cm January 2018: 259cm January 2017: 160cm January 2016: 258cm January 2015: 230cm January 2014: 317cm January 2013: 268cm
And these are the JMA numbers for the season so far up until the end of January 2020:
2019/2020 season up to end of January 2020: 451cm 2018/2019 season up to end of January 2019: 667cm 2017/2018 season up to end of January 2018: 752cm 2016/2017 season up to end of January 2017: 568cm 2015/2016 season up to end of January 2016: 488cm 2014/2015 season up to end of January 2015: 658cm 2013/2014 season up to end of January 2014: 674cm 2012/2013 season up to end of January 2013: 672cm
I plan to post a new report every day right through until the end of the season; some lifts plan to operate through until Golden Week in early May.
Remember, all of my observed snowfall numbers I mention here can be found in the table towards the bottom of this (and every) Niseko Now report – as well as on the cool 'Snowfall Analysis' page which you can get to from the blue button at the top of each report.
Next monthly recap in early March.
Niseko Avalanche Report
Mountain Base: -7.5°, 10cm new snow in last 24hrs, none in last 12hrs. Moiwa 800m: SSE 161deg 0.9m/s, -8.9°, 10cm new snow, snowdrift development. Yu no Sawa 1000m: WSW 265deg 0.7m/s, -12.5°. Niseko Village 900m:NNW 322deg 0.2m/s , -12.4°. Hirafu 1000m: ENE, (speed:no data) , -11.8°. Hanazono 720m: W 276deg 1.8m/s, -8.7°. Coastal data: Benkei Cape:WSW2m/s. Kamui Cape NW3m/s, 1019hPa, wave 1.0m. Annupuri 1000: snow depth 160cm.
A small low pressure front passed through yesterday dropping 5-10cm of new snow, none after midnight though. From observation and data, the general avalanche risk is low. All gates are expected to be open except Moiwa gate 10. A low pressure system is approaching from the Sea of Japan, expect snowfall to start before noon. Be careful of a sudden weather change.
Lots of people are getting lost in the Higashi One (east ridge) area. Inexperienced people should not be going out the gates in the late afternoon. If you get lost overnight there is a real danger of freezing to death. Niseko Patrol will go and look for you at night, but with the low temperatures and the difficult snowy terrain it can be very hard to find someone. Although there isn't much snow, what's there is good. Be careful hitting trees. It is strongly recommended to wear a helmet. Is your beacon turned on? A beacon (avalanche transceiver) can not only save your life, it can save your friends. Have a good day.
Ski resort operation information: Monday 3rd February 2020
Official snow depth (reported by resort): - Peak: 175cm - Base: 100cm
All lifts normally operating EXCEPT: - Country Road (normally rested)
Lifts scheduled for late operations: - Annupuri Village Gondola until 8:00pm - Village Express until 8:00pm - Banzai Chair until 8:00pm Read more ...
Monday 3rd February 2020, 8:29am
Sunny, few clouds
Morning from Zao.
The sun is out, just a few clouds, mostly blue skies. Lovely morning.
Perhaps a little snow tonight; more of a chance of proper snowfall around Wednesday when things should be getting really cold. That day looks set to be rather stormy with some strong winds due as well.
Should be a good morning, even if we don't have fresh. Practice for those knees and thighs!
All lifts are now normally operating apart from the following:
- Zao Paradise Number 3 pair - Diamond Number 1 pair - Astraea Number 3 pair - Karamatsu pair - Yokokura Number 2 pair
Nighta in the Uwanodai area is scheduled daily until 1st March 2020 and then 7th, 14th, 20th and 21st March 2020. 5:00pm until 9:00pm.
Nighta in the Yokokura area is scheduled for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through 7th March 2020. 5:00pm until 9:00pm.
The Zao Ropeway opens in the evenings on the below dates for 'Light Up' sightseeing purposes - to go and see the Juhyo monsters (not for skiing or boarding) on the following upcoming dates:
February 2020: all days apart from Tuesdays
Note: there is an extra charge for this night time Ropeway operation. Read more ...
Monday 3rd February 2020, 8:36am
Fine, blue skies, sunshine thin cloud
Good morning from Yuzawa.
The sun is out as I put this report together. Blue skies with some thin cloud around making for a calm look and some tempting images on the webcams.
It's a cold start too with a nice thick layer of frost on the car windscreen.
It is forecast to warm up today - more than we would like, perhaps even up to around +9C in town - but this time it is a brief bump. Things are due to get cold again in the coming days. We might even get some snow overnight tonight with a good chance of decent snow around Wednesday/Thursday and then again around Saturday.
The forecast as it is right now is looking quite promising and more like what normal. I'm enjoying being able to use the word 'normal' at the moment, can you tell? ;)
Let's hope it happens.
For the moment - fine morning, bit warm during the day, maybe some fresh snow to report tomorrow morning.
Individual ski resort information: Monday 3rd February 2020 All information checked and updated manually for each report. Subject to change.
- All of the Central Area and Northern Area courses are open - The Eliza and Batman courses in the Southern Area are open - The Ropeway connecting GALA Yuzawa with Yuzawa Kogen is operating - Take the Gondola back down at the end of the day (Falcon downhill course not yet available) - Official snow depth: 150cm
- The Gondola, Nagamine Number 2 quad and top Okusoechi lifts are operating with 12 courses open on that gondola side. - Take the Gondola back down to base. - The Maiko Area is open with 1 lift operating and 3 courses open. - Official snow depth: 100cm (upper); 15cm (base)
- Yuzawa Ropeway operating - All Kogen lifts now operating and Kogen Snowland is open - The base Family lift is planned to be operating; the base Nunoba area is not open - The Ropeway connecting Yuzawa Kogen with the Southern Area of GALA Yuzawa is operating - Official snow depth: 80cm (Kogen); 10cm (base)
- Number 1, 3 and 7 lifts operating - Official snow depth: 35cm
Photos (below) from around 8:30am on Monday 3rd February 2020:
- GALA Yuzawa (2) - Yuzawa Kogen (2) - NASPA Ski Garden - Ishiuchi Maruyama (2) - Route 17/Yuzawa IC exit - Maiko Snow Resort Read more ...
Nozawa Onsen Now!
Monday 3rd February 2020, 8:37am
Blue skies and sunny
Good morning from Nozawa on this sunny Monday morning.
It is cold at the start of the day but the sun is out and we are forecast to see temperatures warm up to around +6C in town this afternoon. That is warmer than we'd like, but it's not going to be another of those annoying extended warm periods - rather, it is due to quickly get colder again from tomorrow and we should be getting some more regular fresh snowfall over the coming days too.
Should be a good morning and I might have some fresh snow to report to you tomorrow.
The Challenge Course will be closed to the general public between 4th-8th February due to an event being held there.
Monday 3rd February 2020
Fresh snowfall recorded by resort since yesterday morning:
The sun is out and there's quite a lot of blue sky and a bit of cloud too. Not much of a wind and while it was a cold start it is turning into a fairly mild day.
Not to worry, this time instead of continuing to be warm we are set for colder conditions from tomorrow for the rest of the week and a good chance of fresh snowfall especially around Wednesday and perhaps more.
Weekday operations - the Number 2 gondola is being rested.
Just Splash Bowl not open in terms of courses... all others are open.
Official snow depth:
Planned operating lifts:
- Prince Number 1 Gondola - Takenokodaira romance pair lift - Takenokoyama romance pair lift - Number 4 romance pair lift - Number 3 high speed lift - Number 5 high speed lift (open for nighta until 8:30pm) - Hiuchi Number 1 romance pair lift - Dragondola
Courses planned to be open:
- 21 of 22 courses are now open - Splash Bowl currently not open - The Dragondola is operating to get over to the Tashiro Area of the Kagura resort Read more ...
Monday 3rd February 2020, 9:37am
Fine blue skies, sunshine, some thin cloud
Good morning from Hakuba.
Apologies for my absence over the weekend. I had to be away, and thank you to my colleague for posting the data; so the numbers can be found in those.
There were blue skies and sunshine greeting me when I drove back into the valley yesterday afternoon.
No fresh snow to report this morning and here is the data as it stands this morning:
The information in this table is data reported by the ski resorts
New snowfall (lower)
New snowfall (upper)
TOTAL ACCUMULATION (UPPER)
IMPORTANT: See below for an explanation of the above data
I would prefer to be reporting fresh fluffy snow, but still it is a fine morning. Light blue skies and sunshine with some thin clouds.
Snow cover on upper areas is good; some lower areas close to base are still generally struggling. You can see this on the images below (and that fact that some are not open), so I don't think that's a controversial observation.
So, how about that fresh fluffy snow that we all want to see? Even though today looks set to be a mild day, there may be some snow to report tomorrow morning.
After that, Wednesday is looking very promising for the chance of decent snowfall. I look forward to that!
In the meantime I am going to have a good rest-of-the-morning and head up to the top of... hmmm, haven't decided yet!
Individual ski resort information This information is checked and manually adjusted each morning
Operating lifts: - All lifts apart from the lifts noted below are normally operating: - Kurobishi Number 3 pair - Nakiyama Number 2 pair - Shirakaba Number 1 pair - Shirakaba Number 2 pair - Central pair - Sakka Number 2 pair - Sakka Number 3 triple
Courses open: - Riesen Grat - Panorama - Usagidaira - Kurobishi - Skyline - Riesen Slalom - Kita-one 3 - Kita-one - Nakiyama South - The base Nakiyama South area is open - Otherwise, take the Gondola or other lifts back down to base
Operating lifts: - All lifts apart from the lifts noted below are normally operating: - Han-no-ki Number 4 - Tsuga Number 1 pair - Han-no-ki Number 2 pair - Kane-no-naru-oka Skyliner I - Kane-no-naru Romance - Tsugaike Ropeway
Courses open: - Most course areas are now at least part open; lower slopes part open - 'Lower course through the forest' is closed - DBD: Gate 1 is open
About the data in the above ‘snowfall as reported by ski resorts’ table * The table within the above report contains data that is published by individual ski resorts * The data shown is the amount of snowfall that the ski resorts are themselves reporting each 24 hour period on the upper areas of their mountain * The source ‘new snowfall’ data and ‘total accumulation’ data is not updated at the same time * The ‘new snowfall’ data is updated in the morning * The ‘accumulation’ data is apparently updated/refreshed at midnight * That means that there is a time lag between the two numbers being updated * We manually check and update the data just before we publish each Hakuba Now report - so the data in each Hakuba Now report table is what is available at that time * Any odd-looking numbers are due to the source data. We are not responsible for and have no control over the data. We are simply sharing the data with you * Just to be extra clear, unlike our own ‘observed snowfall’ data from base that we show at the top of each report, the data in the table is not an independent observation by SnowJapan * A more in-depth introduction and explanation can be found in this reportRead more ...
Aizu Bandai Now!
Monday 3rd February 2020, 9:55am
Cloudy but quite bright and sun in places
There's no fresh snowfall to report this morning but we might be on for some from this evening.
For the moment it is mostly just cloudy, though quite bright and the sun is breaking through in places.
OK, so it looks like the opening plans for the Nekoma resort have changed back to the original plan now that Alts Bandai has opened. Or perhaps the weekday thing was only going to be for January. Whatever. Nekoma will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the month of February. That is kind of disappointing, but it is what it is. Alts Bandai plans to be open daily.
Snow continued falling lightly till around 3pm yesterday and it's since turned clear. Conditions have been good the past few days, amazing what some snow will do.
As for the forecast, I'm struggling to believe what I'm seeing. Looks like temps are set to take a dive down to usual full Winter levels starting Wednesday with a lot of snow on the cards between Wednesday and Saturday. It's about time!!
Anyway, today was the day for the peak of Mt Tanigawa. See photo below.
Akasawa Normally part open Note: closed on Tuesdays (apart from 11th February, when it will be closed on 12th February)
Fujiwara Part open Number 1 and 2 lifts are running Official snow depth: 60cm