07 Jul Snow in Yuzawa in December…?
As the heat of summer sets in many of you start to daydream about your winter ski or snowboard vacation to Yuzawa. A common question we get at this time of year is how will the snow be in December.
All things weather-related are impossible to predict with accuracy but we are happy to share our thoughts. [TLDR: We hope so and there usually is, but we never know.]
Mitsumata/Kagura is the first resort to open and their normal planned opening date is towards the end of November. Sometimes they open with real snow and several runs open. Other times it is only man-made snow on a limited strip of a certain run. Another option is that they push back the opening date due to lack of snow.
Lower resorts around this area often plan to open mid-December with some opting for opening dates closer to Christmas. Again, depending on the snow the actual opening date may have to be pushed back, or the resort may only be able to open a limited number of runs.
Snow Japan have lots of past seasons’ snow data on their Yuzawa Now page so you can have a look at how previous winters started. Milder temperatures around the start of winter have become more common and start dates have been pushed back regularly. The winter of 2019/20 was one of the lowest snowfalls in living memory. Those people here in December found there wasn’t much open and everyone who wanted to ski or snowboard were in the same 2 resorts – Kagura and GALA. Lift lines were loooong! Yuzawa has a good choice of different resorts in mid-season but if these aren’t open everyone is funnelled to the same resorts, and they can get crazy busy.
With rumours of an El Niño event being possible for this coming winter 2023/24 there seems to quite a bit of concern about whether there will be any snow in December. It is very unusual for nothing to be open but how much is open, and how good the slopes are does depend on the snow.
So if you are coming in December what can you do?
Stay in central Yuzawa – this gives you the option to move around to the different resorts depending on where has the best conditions. We usually recommend using the rental shops that provide a free shuttle service to and from the resort each day if you need to rent equipment. They are happy to provide transportation from central Yuzawa but if you are staying further out it might not be possible for them to offer that service.
Come on a day trip or two. Yuzawa is 75 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train so easy to get to, and if you use the great value Tokyo Wide Pass it doesn’t have to break the bank either. Keep your accommodation booking in the capital, and if it does turn out that the snow is no good there is plenty to do there! If snow conditions are fine then you can still enjoy time on the slopes. We are happy to update you on how things are up here in Yuzawa and Minami Uonuma resorts.
Move your dates. The later in December you come, the more likely there is to be (good) snow. The only caveat with this is that the end of the month is a big holiday period in Japan so higher prices and more people are the norm.
Pray to the snow gods and goddesses, and keep your fingers crossed.
We definitely don’t want to put anyone off coming in December and some years we have great snow from early in the winter. We do want to be realistic and help you keep ski and snowboard lessons in the Japanese snow as an option for your December holidays.
As ever feel free to ask us anything (apart from weather predictions!)