It goes without saying the COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works for the 2020/2021 season, so it’s time to break down the good and bad of the upcoming winter.
Travel Status for International Tourists
Things are not looking good for those currently outside of Japans borders, as at this stage there is no indication that they will be letting non-Japanese travelers in. There are special exceptions for business travelers, students and long-term foreign residents, however it is unclear when they will begin to allow tourists in again. The silver lining? Those who are already here are anticipating minimal crowds, plenty of pow to go round and once in a lifetime deals on accommodation.
COVID-19 Restrictions and Social Distancing
Japan has a reputation for hygiene and it is no surprise that most people are wearing masks in public as a preventative measure. Social distancing guidelines are in place across many prefectures and judging by the low transmission rates, these guidelines seem to have been effective. There have been no strict lockdowns and there are currently no restrictions on movement within Japan. Many businesses including hotels, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions are still operating with prevention measures in place. Click here to learn more about Rhythm COVID-19 prevention measures.
Ski Resort Operations
Many major ski resorts have indicated that they will be opening for the 2020/2021 season, including Rusutsu, Kiroro, Niseko United, Niseko Moiwa, Sapporo Teine, Sapporo Kokusai, Kamui Ski Links, Hakuba Valley, Myoko Suginohara. With a lack of international visitors to share the pow with, we are anticipating a throwback to the 80’s and 90’s where there was an exceedingly high freshies to human ratio, right under the chairlifts. As Hakuba store manager Austin has been saying, “the time machine is working for one season only!”
Longterm Weather Predictions
The NOAA have predicted that La Nina will continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2020-2021 (~85% chance) and into spring 2021 (~60% chance during February-April). Although long term predictions are becoming increasingly less accurate as the climate changes, we are hoping La Nina will come through and bring an above average number of storms to Japan for winter 2020/2021.
Rhythm Operations Update:
Niseko: The Rhythm Main St store will be operating 7 days a week and we will open other Hirafu locations to keep up demand if necessary. This location will be our one stop shop, and our friendly experts look forward to providing the original Rhythm experience, including Rhythm & Beans Coffee.
Hakuba: The Hakuba store will be operating 7 days a week, and custom boot fitting will also be available onsite from Boot Solutions.
Furano: Brand new for 2020/2021 season, the Furano store is on schedule to open in December and will be located in the brand new Fenix Furano.
Those who are lucky enough to be in Japan are anticipating a once in a lifetime season due to many facilities still operating, cheap accommodation and a shortage of skiers and snowboarders to share the powder with.