TAKING IT SLOW
Ski gear here is designed for smaller feet and slimmer builds (the rental shops in Zao Onsen and
Grandeco did not have ski boots larger than men’s European 44), so
you may want to bring your own.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Saikan shukubo ( prices on request; 0081-235-68 4727, hagurokanko.jp), a quiet temple lodge atop woodsy Mount Haguro, has private rooms and vegan shojin-ryori dinners. The ski-in/
ski-out Grandeco Resort ( price on request; 0081-241-32 2532,
grandeco.com) has a full-service ski shop. It might look dated, but the food is excellent, the onsen is good and rooms have views of the piste. The humble ryokan
Harataki ( doubles from AED 638; 0081-242-26 4126, yumeguri.co.jp)
has simple tatami- lined rooms,
but its open-air onsen overlooking
a waterfall is sublime. For a design upgrade, there’s Ginzan
Hot Spring Fujiya Inn ( price on request; 0081-237-28 2141, fujiya
ginzan.com), a 350-year-old ryokan 47km north of Yamadera temple, redesigned by Kengo Kuma with bamboo screens and
five tranquil onsen.
WHEN TO GO Ski season at Grandeco and Zao runs from December to April. In nearby Gassan, the snow is so heavy the season only starts in April but runs through July. Hotels fill up during Japanese New Year ( January 1) and Chinese New Year (February). Single occupancy can be hard to score as rooms are priced per person and hotels prefer to book couples or families. If you ski on a weekday, you might
have the slopes to yourself.