I recently returned from my third snow holiday to Myoko, Japan. I had an amazing time sit-skiing. This is my top 10 reasons why I love sit-skiing in Myoko.
I love embracing the rich Japanese culture in Myoko. The Lifties are actually rice farmers during the warmer seasons. Many of the hotels, restates and shops are owned and run by locals. Don’t worry about the language barrier because some locals know a little English or hire staff to also act as translators. I stay at Hotel Central where the owners know minimal English but employ some staff who speak at least Japanese and English to translate for guests. In February, we were lucky enough to hear a traditional drummer without even leaving our hotel!
The food is incredible with many options available to try including okonomiyaki, udon, ramen and curry. It’s amazing to sit on the floor in someones house and have them make delicious okonomiyaki right in front of me. I have been lucky enough to have dined right on the snow too. This was made possible by Myoko Snowsports organising a staff member to ski or snowboard with my wheelchair to a restaurant ready for us at lunchtime and then collect it again in the afternoon.
It takes under three hours to get from Tokyo to Myoko. Shinkansen (bullet train) and bus transfers are available. Prepare yourself for the many stairs at Myoko train station. These can be conquered with help from others including my travel buddy and hotel staff. When in Myoko it’s best to be driven from place to place. I’ve been luck to arrange lifts with hotel staff and Myoko Snowsports. I’ve also used my Wheel Blades that prevent my front wheels from sinking and allows my wheelchair to glide on the snow.
Myoko Snowsports have made it possible for me to sit-ski in Myoko. Private lessons are possible with one of the English-speaking adaptive instructors including the wonderful Charlie. Equipment hire, lift passes and transport can also be organised. It’s a bonus to get extra advice on the best places to ski and dine, and to be able to chill out with like-minded people.
Myoko Snowsports hire a mountain man sit-ski, tethers and outriggers from Disabled Wintersport Australia each season. Benefits apple for DWA members including a discount on private lessons. This has enabled me to be able to sit-ski in Myoko. The mountain man sit ski is a bit of a one size fits all but we make it work. When I was first in Myoko a block of wood was cut to fit in the bottom of the sit ski for my feet to rest on. It has been kept and used again whenever I am in the sit-ski. We then put two towels in the back to fill the gap. On top we place a large blanket that helps to keep me warm and dry but also fills any remaining gaps. It is all held in with the straps. I feel snug and comfortable. It has allowed me to improve my confidence and ability in the sit-ski.
I love the snow! The snow is soft and powdery, and there is a lot of it. I have experienced powder days with deep powder and fresh tracks on each run. There are still many bluebird days with great visibility and photo opportunities!
It is common to have no lift lines. The lifts move pretty quickly too. The slopes aren’t crowded! Avoid busy times like Chinese New Year and weekends when it is busier. IT’s still not as crowded as the Australian slopes!
I love variety and improving my sit skiing on different resorts with each offering something different. There are also a variety of chairlifts including two-man and quad, many with hoods to keep the snow out and the warmth in! I have been to Akakura Kanko/Onsen, Suginohara, Ikenotaira. Akakura Kanko/Onsen is where I have spent most of my time. It was also where I was tethered on my first black run! Suginohara is my favourite resort because of its super long and wide runs! There’s an enjoyable gondola ride to the top and a Turkish man in a van selling delicious kebabs ready to refuel at lunchtime!
Myoko is value for money. It isn’t expensive to fly, stay, ski, eat and enjoy Myoko!
The owners and seasonal staff at Hotel Central, and the team at Myoko Snowsports are great people. They are always welcoming and accommodating to making my stay enjoyable. It was humbling to go into a restaurant and have the owner recognise me from a visit the previous year.
It is not easy in a wheelchair but where there is a will then there is a way! Myoko gets better with each visit!