With the Japanese Winter once again on the agenda we’ve been chatting with our lodge owners. While we in QLD are shedding layers, turning the ‘air-con’ on and stripping blankets from beds our operators have been setting the stage, making sure your Japanese Snow Holiday is one to remember.
This time around we caught up with Tania from Myoko Ski Lodge. We got the low down on all the updates, the insights to the journey they’ve had in the land of the rising sun, and of course, a few prime secrets to maximisie your time in Myoko.
Snow: What brought you to this part of the world to have your own lodge?
Tania: With many family ski recon' missions around the world, Japan's abundant snowfall and culture kept winning the hearts of Geoff, myself Tania, and our two daughters Chelsea and Shannon. So in 2015 when the family finally stumbled across the opportunity to buy a ski lodge in Myoko, where reliable snowfall records at local resorts had only recently begun to be compiled and made publicly available were showing indications that Myoko might just have one of the most reliable snowfall seasons of any lift infrastructured spot on the planet, we knew it was then or never...
Snow: What’s most unique about your property/location?
Tania: Myoko Ski Lodge is a groovy 1970's building with a relaxed, social vibe permeating the ample common living areas surrounding a double-sided, open fireplace. There is a communal kitchen and the shared bathrooms include two in-house onsens (soaking baths plumbed directly from mountain hot springs). Traditionally, Japanese people communally bathe in onsens naked but at Myoko Ski Lodge you can lock the door and enjoy a soak privately and even relax with a beer in the tub if you feel inclined.
The lodge’s location is walking distance from ski runs, lifts, bars and restaurants in the quaint village of Akakura Onsen, the most popular central location to Myoko's numerous ski resorts, all within a 45-minute drive.
Snow: Wow that’s awesome. A few of our guests are all about the local dining... do you have a go-to place for your fave food?
Tania: There are quite a few good restaurants and bars in Akakura Onsen and the team at Myoko Ski Lodge enjoy a morning coffee or apres drink at both Akakura Cafe and Full Circle Cafe.
Snow: We’re asking for secrets now… but please can you highlight your number one ski runs and why?
Tania: If you're talking marked runs on piste, the run from the top of Suginohara, skiers left all the way to the Gondola base is one of the longest runs in Japan with lots of opportunities to duck into and out of the trees, and 'Champion A Course' (an ungroomed run) at Kanko ski area is fun to hit first up on powder days. For those interested in the off-piste, a popular spot is the trees, skiers left from the top lifted point at Kanko ski area and anything that ends with re-entry to Akakura Onsen ski area through the old tunnel is fun when conditions are safe for those with basic backcountry training and equipment. However, we love exploring for new untracked powder stashes and last seasons discoveries include 'End Face', 'Birthday Boy', 'Honey Pot' and 'Bang-a-gong' there you go there are four secret Myoko powder stashes spilled! Just one catch though, they're not on any maps, so "if you want to know exactly where they are, come and stay at the lodge and we'll show you" says Geoff smiling.
Snow: Well we’re keen to lock it in and give Geoff a run for his money Myoko. Do you have a favourite month of the season?
Tania: Late Feb to Mid March is a great time for families with young kids to visit as there is usually an abundant snowpack, accommodation is cheaper, the weather is relatively mild and the slopes are quiet. As a bonus, you can extend your holiday for cherry blossom season which starts at the end of March and one of Japan's best cherry blossom destinations is at Takada Castle, just a 45-minute drive from Mount Myoko.
Snow: Sweet, that’s great to know! We have a few families looking to make the most of their time abroad, do you have a top spot to tag onto a Myoko trip?
Tania: No time for weekends away during ski season, but Bali is a convenient and regular stopover for a bit of sun and surf on the way home to Perth at the end of the season. We squeeze it in on the way to Japan as well for pre-season if we can.
Snow: Bali’s always a favourite. So, do you have any new projects or improvements on the agenda for next season?
Tania: Quite a few improvements are made every off-season but somehow our to-do list never seems to get any smaller. We’ve managed a few improvements this season. The installation of two additional, independently accessible showers as well as snow melting pool extensions which hopefully will reduce the time required to battle the copious snowfall that tries to engulf the entire 2.5 storey lodge most seasons.
Snow: That’s a lot of snow! Fantastic, can’t wait to hear the feedback from our guests. One last question before you go. Can you share a quirky fact we may not know about you or your staff?
Tania: We were both born in country Western Australia, about 3,000km from the nearest ski resort and neither of us saw snow until early adulthood. Prior to owning Myoko Ski Lodge, Geoff's "extensive" ski industry experience consisted of a stint at Mount Hotham as a driver of the "dragon wagon" (oversize snowmobile used to tow ski school kids up the "Big D") as well as a season as a courtesy patroller at Coronet Peak, Queenstown.
Thanks for your time Tania. We’re looking forward to hearing all the latest news from Myoko this coming season. Speak soon...