Tag: "Japan"

Alternative ski destinations and culture shock on the slopes

So the other day Sharon wrote about some ski chalets, including catered ski chalets in la Rosiere. I’ve only been to ski resorts in Korea, but I hear they can be pretty different from ski resorts in Europe or North America.

First, artificial snow is the norm in Korea. It’s normal to go to a ski resort and find only artificial snow. Many skiers prefer natural powder snow to crunchy and damp man-made snow. I’m not sure if that’s because skiers are used to natural powder or if there really is a significant difference.

Second, the mountains in South Korea are relatively low. The four resorts hosting events for the 2018 Winter Olympics are 700-1500 meters above sea level. The terrain is not as steep as many Americans would expect.

Third, even though the terrain is not above the tree line, tree skiing is not an option. Chain fences line all the slopes

Fourth, much attention was paid to entertaining non-skiers. Typical attractions include water parks and shopping centers. The government owned High 1 Resort has a casino (the only casino in Korea in which Koreans are allowed to play – all other casinos are for foreigners only).

I’m not sure these cultural differences will last forever. Korea may try to westernize in advance of the 2018 Winter Olympics to Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang and three other resorts all within half an hour (including the High 1 Resort mentioned above). Although I don’t think they’ll be importing natural snow or changing the incline of their mountains.

So given the many possible cultural differences, I searched the web for ski culture shock and similar terms. I found a few interesting things I’d like to share with you now.

Japan

Unlike Korea, Japan is known for natural powder. Also, if you check out the video below around 2:30, you’ll see trees, which would be off limits in Korea.

Kashmir India

This video seems to show untouched snow, white and powdery. Skiing through forest looks amazing. Then around 2 minutes in, very close to the end of the video, there’s a shot where the skiers are on a road. They pass a truck going the other way. Maybe that’s where the culture shock mentioned in the video title comes from. I can’t imagine skiers and vehicles sharing the road.

China

Long slopes and slow lifts. They interview tourists who say the skiing in this Chinese resort is comparable to America, Canada, and Swedish skiing.

And I believe the Atlai Mountains are also in China. If someone wanted a really different ski experience, they might try skiing uphill (or down) with a single pole.

In conclusion, it seems there are a lot of different ski experiences to be had in Asia. From resorts to country skiing, lots of culture awaits skiers willing to travel. Where would you go for a ski holiday?

Who’s willing to visit Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)?

I don’t know – for me Japan is an awfully long flight from Florida. I did love Tokyo though, and I liked Osaka. It would certainly be nice to say that I had seen some of the rest of Japan.

Lonely Planet has released a fully updated Northern Honshū (Tōhoku) chapter from its forthcoming Japan guidebook (September 2013) as a free download on lonelyplanet.com. In November 2012, Lonely Planet author Rebecca Milner researched and wrote about the region affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and now Lonely Planet is offering the new chapter for free to encourage tourism to the area.

“Getting updated content to travelers as soon as possible is essential,” says Lonely Planet’s Associate Publisher Emily Wolman. “It’ll be a huge boon for the affected communities as well, who can certainly use the tourism dollars as they rebuild.”

Rebecca Milner has also written an article about Tōhoku, confirming it’s very much open for travel. She says that few areas frequented by travelers were even damaged by the tsunami and what was far more damaging than the earthquake was the sudden absence of tourists. She gives practical tips, including what public transportation lines are still interrupted and information on how to volunteer there.

For travelers looking to volunteer on their travels, either to Japan or other destinations, Lonely Planet is offering Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference Around the World as a free ebook in the iBookstore until December 31st, 2012 and as a free PDF download on lonelyplanet.com. The book is a comprehensive resource to those looking to volunteer abroad with chapters on how to choose a volunteer experience, what to expect when you are there, and how to extend your experience once you return home. It also includes a directory of organizations around the world that take volunteers. A fully-updated, new edition of the book will be available in the spring of 2013.