Despite being one of the snowiest places in the world during winter, instead of becoming a deadzone, the Japanese mountains truly come to life when the snow starts to settle; and with some of the softest powder, it is no big surprise when an onslaught of people head up each winter for a little bit of fun in the snow.

The two main choices of sport in winter are of course, skiing and snowboarding. However, unlike in Europe, where skiing is the more popular choice out of the two, in Japan, the younger generations appear to be edging more towards snowboarding. Of course, there are still plenty of skiers up there on the slopes during winter, but from my own personal experience and that of a friend who has worked at a winter sports resort in Niigata, it really seems to be that snowboarding is beginning to take center stage here.

dave.see| CC by 2.0|

Being from the small island of Britain, which is home to more hills than mountains, the opportunity to try either sport never really passed me by growing up. Don’t get me wrong, there was one occasion when the option did crop up to travel to France during the winter season with my school, but being the overly conscious teen that I was, I instead opted to stay home rather than show my peers ‘how not to ski’ and return home on crutches.

Always imagining I’d live out my life in Britain, I never really gave a care for the fact that I hadn’t ever donned a pair of ski or snowboard boots.

So surprise, surprise, when I got married to a Japanese national and moved to the other side of the world, I suddenly found myself one winter lying face up in the snow with my legs strapped into a snowboard up on a mountain in Hiroshima, thinking to myself ‘who, what, when, where, why, how?’.

My husband, ever the pro – sometimes a romantic – grinded to a halt beside me, checked that I was OK and told me to get back up before gracefully continuing on his way down the slopes.
Hitting the bottom, he turned around only to see me perhaps a meter or so away from where he had just left me – and that was the moment his dream of us gliding down the slopes in synchronicity like some sort of wintertime superhero duo was snatched from him.
Board now in hand, he hiked up to me and, with a stern look on his face, began the cycle of manually getting me back onto my feet every time I got off the ski lift, wiped-out in the snow, or simply restrapped my feet onto the board.

Yuichiro Haga| CC by 2.0|

Now, if you are a beginner like me, you’ve probably been in this situation just as much as I have – winter comes, and you think to yourself ‘yeah sure, I did snowboarding last year, and by the end of the season I could finally get myself onto my feet. I’ll pick up where I left off last time and this year I'll be up there with the pros’.
But that’s just it, you don’t get to go with the pros, because as soon as you head back onto the slopes you have to reteach your body how to do the basics, because after a year of no practice you’re right back where you started, with your bottom seemingly glued to the floor and the impossible task of getting back up again. And from the ever-learning-never-mastering point of view of an adult newbie snowboarder, just the simple process of standing up on the snowboard is ‘Muri da.’

If you’ve never had a properly instructed lesson, and you only really spend around a day and a half on the slopes each year, this annual cycle is going to be playing on repeat for quite a while – I should know, as I still haven’t had an official lesson, and if it weren’t for the information I’m about to share, I would expect myself to be spending the majority of this winter once again mastering the act of standing up on my board.

However, fellow newbies, it's time to start celebrating, because Inawashiro Ski Resort has just announced that they will be introducing Burton Step On® boots and bindings to their rental collection for the 2021 – 2022 winter season.

This will be the first time Burton Step On® will appear as a rental option at a ski resort in the Tohoku region, and with 600 units available, there are certainly enough to go around.

The Step On® bindings belonging to Burton has been a long time favourite of snowboarders around the world, with its state-of-the-art system that not only makes it easy to install, but also allows beginners to advance more quickly and efficiently to the level where they can really start to enjoy snowboarding.

All it takes is one step to clip in safely to a Burton Step On® set-up. The high quality binding is both easy to put on and take off, and firmly connects to two points on the front of the foot and one at the heel. The fit can be fine-tuned to the foot of the wearer, which makes for a more safer and comfortable time when gliding down the mountains.

In addition to the Step On® boots and bindings available this winter, Inawashiro Ski Resort will also be adding Burton LTR (Learn To Ride) snowboards to their rental gear.
These boards feature a beveled convexed base made of flexible material that allows beginners to have greater control and feel more confident when starting out on the slopes.

Burton’s LTR snowboards are not available for individual purchase, which means it’s only possible to try out the boards when renting from a partnered LTR ski resort such as Inawashiro Ski Resort.

Burton Step On® Snowboard Rental

1 Day Rental: 4,500 yen (tax included)
1 Day + 1 Night: 6,600 yen (tax included)

The Burton Step On® and LTR rental gear will be available during the 2021 – 2022 winter season at Inawashiro Ski Resort in Fukushima Prefecture.
The season is scheduled to open from the 18th of December 2021, with early bird tickets for 10,000 yen available to purchase for a limited time up until the 30th of November.

Located on the slopes of Mt. Bandai in Fukushima Prefecture, Inawashiro Ski Resort offers some of the best powder in Japan for skiing and snowboarding. The resort comes with 18 courses and a maximum gliding distance of 3,550 meters. The most advanced slopes are angled at 15%, whilst the beginners slopes are more forgiving at 50%.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.