We've still got a few weeks of the season left and are enjoying the spring skiing, but we're already thinking about putting together an awesome team for the next winter.
There are some good choices if you are looking to work as a ski instructor or snowboard instructor in Japan. International ki schools in Hokkaido resorts, the Hakuba area, Nozawa Onsen, Shiga Kogen, and the Myoko area may all be on your list. Other Yuzawa ski schools could be options too. Here are a few thoughts as to what we are all about, and answers to a few common questions.
As a team, we are trying to make sure our customers have the very best snow experience possible, whether it is their very first time seeing snow, or they are seasoned powder riders.
We think one of the keys to having happy customers is to pair them with happy instructors. Snow Country Instructors as a company is only as good as the instructor representing them to that particular client on the particular day.
We value experience, a sense of playfulness, and the ability to make friends with the people you meet.
We want you to work hard. We also want you to have an amazing winter experience in Japan. That means festivals, skiing other areas, visiting different regions, trying fantastic cuisine, relaxing in an onsen as the snow falls around you, more snow than you've dreamed of, and meeting incredible people from all over the world.
Here are a few of the more common questions. Anything you need further information on, please feel free to contact us.
WHEN'S THE SEASON? - The ski season usually runs from late November until mid-May at the very highest resort. Lessons usually run from mid-December until early April, with spikes in business levels due to different holidays. We like everyone to be here by mid-December for orientation and training. Finish dates are more flexible and can be anytime from late February by arrangement.
TRANSPORTATION? - Instructors are expected to make their own way here. Once you get to Tokyo, spend a couple of days to take in this amazing city. Check out the street of ski shops. Then head up to your new home. Yuzawa is about 80 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train. Once in Yuzawa, all resorts can be accessed by shuttle buses. We also have a few company cars for getting around. You will need to get an International Driving License before you come (and check that the one from your country is valid for use in Japan.) We use the cars to get to work but also to get around to do many of the fun things that are all over the mountain areas of Japan.
HOUSING? - We rent shared apartments/houses locally for instructors and subsidize the rent. Instructors pay for their own bills and the remaining rent. If you prefer to live on your own we can find single bed apartments but they cost a little more. Rent and bills vary but we aim to keep them around the equivalent to 4-5 hours of work per month.
WHICH RESORTS DO YOU COVER? - There are about 10 resorts in and around Yuzawa. We work wherever our customer need us. This sometimes means traveling further afield too. Resorts where we do lots of lessons include Ishiuchi Maruyama, Maiko, Iwappara, GALA Yuzawa, Naeba, Kagura and Joetsu Kokusai. Yuzawa Kogen, NASPA, and Nakazato are also on the list. Away days can see us giving ski lessons in Karuizawa, Nozawa Onsen, Hakuba, Myoko or Shiga Kogen. We aren't based in one place. We head out to work if we have bookings. If not we are free to explore, ski, train, or relax
IS THIS RIGHT FOR ME? - Yes, if you are looking for an experience that feels like Japan; if you are independent enough to work in 7 resorts in 7 days and don't need the comfort of a home resort; if you genuinely care about the experience that your customers have; and if you can keep smiling no matter what. About 80% of our lessons are on skis. It is very hard to make a decent wage just teaching snowboarding.
VISAS? - The majority of our instructors are over here as part of a working holiday program. The other alternative is to come over on a sponsored instructor visa. This currently requires the applicant to document 36 months of relevant experience (There is talk this may change) and then the sponsoring company to apply on their behalf. We are happy to discuss this option in more detail.
PAY? - We aim to pay our instructors at least 50% of the payment received for a lesson. We pay bonuses for generating business. We work long and hard when there are lessons, and then play when things are quieter. Busy periods are Christmas/New Year, Chinese New Year, and school holidays and at these times we might be open to some part-time help if you are an experienced instructor who can't commit to a full season. January tends to be reasonably quiet on weekdays, so a good time to book time off and travel.
It is a fun place to work, we are open to improvements, and we hope it gets better year after year. Fancy it?