Winter wonderland, just a slip-slide away
Compared to Hokkaido, Kyushu seems perpetually warm just being further south is enough to suggest we have year-round summers. In reality of course, Kyushu does have winter and with it frost, snowfall and a range of fun winter sports. Neighboring Saga is home to Tenzan ski slopes, and Miyazaki has the Gokase Highland slopes. In 1995, a third ski field opened in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture: the Kuju Shinrin Koen ski and snowboarding field, Kyushu’s largest at 260 hectares and with 1,800m runs. It has slopes for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers alike, often measuring up to 100m across so there’s plenty of sliding (and crashing) space for all. Located high on lovely Kuju Plateau, the slope is blessed with the crisp dry air that ensures snow is of the light, powdery variety. On days when ground cover is light, 70 snowmaking machines keep the slopes primed for action. There’s also a Ski Center where you’ll find a well-equipped rental area, changing rooms, locker rooms, a restaurant and relaxation room, catering to all skiers’ and boarders’ needs. Afterwards, nothing will warm your body better after all that snow and wind exposure than soaking in a hot spring, and there’s a great one just 5 minutes’ drive away. Sujiyu Onsen is said to have some of Japanﾕs best ‘waterfall-style’ spas, and many can be enjoyed just for an hour or so without staying overnight at the spa pensions. This winter, don’t hike all the way to Hokkaido for dazzling powder snow and wintry spas Kyushu is where the winter sports and relaxation is at.