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  • Argh!

  • A lot of people don't know, but Japan has some of the highest snowfall on the planet.

  • Today, let's enjoy snow. Or let's not enjoy snow because my face is burning.

  • I remember when I found out I was coming to Japan five years ago

  • Somebody mentioned that the country got a lot of snow

  • And I was a bit surprised as I just assumed Japan had a subtropical climate.

  • Although, I remember thinking, "Oh, great! Snow, yeah!"

  • I can build snowmen. I can throw snowballs.

  • And, perhaps best of all, I can effectively outrun a CGI plane crash.

  • Being raised in Southeast England, I was always brought up to believe that snow was a rare treat sent from the sky

  • That meant we didn't have to go to school because it stopped the entire country from working as if by magic.

  • So I assumed by living in Japan and having lots of snow there'd be lots of time off work

  • and of course plenty of time to outrun CGI plane crashes

  • Sorry, I'll I'll stop using that sequence.

  • And then my delight soon turned to horror when I realized that, despite the heavy snow,

  • I still had to go to work because Japan took care of the snow with ruthless efficiency.

  • And every single morning I had to get up especially early to excavate my car.

  • Worst of all, it wouldn't stop. It wouldn't go away!

  • January-February March... I'd soon come to realize if you look at a map of Japan

  • You can pretty much draw a line right down the middle where for four months of the year

  • people are absolutely screwed

  • It was here that I lived - on the screwed side.

  • What a lot of people don't know is Japan has some of the highest snowfall in the world

  • If you look at the 10 list of cities by snowfall, four of them are in Japan.

  • In fact, the top two are Sapporo in Hokkaido and Aomori City in Tohoku.

  • With Aomori City getting a staggering 312 inches of snow every year.

  • To put that in perspective, here's a person and this is just three meters of snow

  • At 312 inches, or 7.9 meters, Aomori gets over twice this amount every year.

  • So it does mean you can ski for a good chunk of the year and the snow is really good quality powdery snow.

  • Best of all, in North Japan, it leads to an extremely rare phenomenon known as snow monsters

  • Where fur trees pounded by Siberian winds and heavy snowfall take on eerie shapes

  • Looking not too dissimilar from monster soldiers with drooped heads climbing up the mountain

  • It's almost exclusive to Tohoku, and the best place to see them is the Zao ski resort about an hour from here

  • where where you can actually ski through the snow monsters with outstanding views of North Japan.

  • I recently set off with my good friend, Ryotaro, into the mountains in search of snow monsters.

  • With a detour via the cutest place on Earth, Fox Village.

  • However, I'd be lying if I said it all went to plan. It didn't go to plan at all, but nonetheless

  • Here's, how we got on anyway.

  • There are few places better to appreciate a snowy winter in Japan than Zao Fox Village.

  • An enclosure hidden away in the mountains of Miyagi with over a hundred friendly foxes.

  • Kill him!

  • How do you feel about foxes?

  • Feel?

  • Are you a fan?

  • Yeah, or not.

  • Why not...

  • Foxez s make the most strange, strangest noise.

  • It's probably the strangest noise I've ever heard from animal.

  • Stop this madness! This is amazing!

  • Such violence! My god!

  • Having successfully negotiated a truce to end the bitter fox wars once and for all

  • We rewarded the foxes with biscuits.

  • Look at them!

  • They know what's coming.

  • This is my second or third time here now

  • And I still love it as much as I did the first time. It's a pretty surreal experience

  • To see the snow monsters we needed to head up high into the mountains

  • About 30 minutes away from Fox Village and a world away in terms of the weather.

  • To reach the very peak of Mt. Zao way beyond the skI slopes, we would need to hitch a ride on a snow cat

  • Which I was slightly disappointed to discover wasn't a real cat.

  • Look at that!

  • It's a snow cat and we're actually getting on this and are going to the top of the mountain.

  • Have you been on one before?

  • No, this is actually my first time, too.

  • What's inside it then?

  • Just seats

  • It's almost like a little bus.

  • Yeah, it is actually.

  • Mountain bus

  • There's a blizzard going on at the moment.

  • Yes, and I don't know how visibly clear it will be on the top of the mountain, but we'll see.

  • I hope it's better than this!

  • Yes!

  • Bloody Hell!

  • How do I look?

  • Perfect!

  • The King of Style

  • Uh, not really, not really.

  • The green shirt, the lime green trousers

  • If I get lost in the snow, at least people will see me from half a mile away.

  • Wearing those, bloody hell...

  • When you're dead, yeah.

  • When I'm dead! They'll find my corpse in a pair of bright green trousers!

  • How long does it take?

  • So bouncy!

  • It is.

  • It's like we're on a bouncy castle going up a mountain.

  • It takes bloody 40 to 50 minutes.

  • 40 minutes?!

  • Four zero?

  • Four zero!

  • No, to five zero minutes.

  • I had high hopes that we were going to get some amazing footage of snow monsters when we set out

  • But the higher we got, the more I realized it wasn't going to be a pleasant experience.

  • I haven't been able to see anything outside the windows for the last 20 minutes other than just white

  • Just white and blizzard, so I'm a little bit worried, to be honest.

  • You're pretty wrapped up, man.

  • I'm pretty wrapped up.

  • Currently, it's minus 12 outside.

  • I'm taking all precautions. I'm wearing gloves, ski suit, goggles, a scarf thing, a hat...

  • Fully equipped!

  • I think I am. Although, it looks like a legitimately hardcore blizzard outside.

  • Yeah, and I think we should be getting off.

  • We're arriving.

  • Only once we got to the top of the mountain did Ryotaro reveal he booked us on an off-piste ski experience

  • Skiing through piles of snow around 4 meters deep.

  • I'm not gonna lie. I'm a little bit worried.

  • Given that there's almost zero visibility.

  • This is the entry course, so it's ok. I confirmed it.

  • This is the ENTRY course...

  • This is, but we are on the entry course, so we are only following the trails that are not hard.

  • Not hard...

  • I can't even see the slopes

  • This is absolutely terrifying. So if we get separated, aren't we fucked?

  • Well that's why we got a guide.

  • This is for the guide.

  • Yeah, but last time we used the guide it was that bloody cliff!

  • Where we climbed without a rope! So I'm not that confident.

  • True!

  • But now, you're fully equipped this time.

  • Fully equipped...

  • Yeah, you are because last time it wasn't.

  • Now I won't lie. I was a bit scared because not only can I not ski off-piste

  • But I especially can't ski off-piste in a blizzard at minus 12.

  • And so, our elegant trip up the mountain to discover snow monsters quickly turned into a nightmarish experience

  • That reminded me, above all, why I hate Ryotaro.

  • We tried to find the snow monsters, but it's a white out situation. We can only see like 2 meters.

  • And it's pretty scary because we went through some snow and it was about 4 meters deep.

  • So I kept losing my skis and it was horrible. Genuinely pretty scary.

  • I've never gone through such deep snow my life.

  • Our guide is over there!

  • But the snow is so bad that I keep losing sight of him.

  • Fucking scary!

  • So...

  • I'm currently in about 3 or 4 meters of snow.

  • I've gone off-piste because there is no slope.

  • Our guide is taking us on a suicide mission through the mountain.

  • And I've lost my ski

  • Where's my ski?

  • Shit! Where did it go?

  • The scary thing is that every time you fall off

  • It takes so much energy to get it back on. It's really... I don't like it.

  • Being in the middle of fuck knows where without any energy, any sense of direction

  • Only about three meters visibility

  • It's terrifying

  • I hate my life!!

  • How's your pork burger? Is it good, isit?

  • Exactly what you need, isn't it? After nearly dying in a fucking blizzard.

  • It was nothing (????)

  • [Chris mimicking] Yes it was!

  • What?

  • The mountain of death!!

  • You're all freaked out like a little kid! It was like, "AH! I'm scared! I'm so scared!"

  • "I don't see! There's no visibility!" [Ryotaro mimicking]

  • Seriously, this is the second time in three months that you've tried to kill me.

  • There was the cliffs. The free-climbing cliffs of doom.

  • And now there's blizzard mountain.

  • But the thing is, I've been failing.

  • You've been failing, you've failed to kill me!

  • But I need to try again. I have to set you up again.

  • Oh brilliant...

  • I feel like I've got frostbite. I haven't picked up the burger because my hands are so buggered.

  • Just pick it up and eat it!

  • I've decided I hate snow. I never want to be near it again in any way shape or form

  • Except maybe water and ice cubes.

  • If you are interested in visiting Fox village or the Sumikawa Snow Park on Mt. Zao

  • Albeit when the weather isn't absolutely ridiculous

  • You can find the details in the description box below

  • For now though, guys, as always, many thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.

  • It's exactly what you need isn't it? After nearly dying in a blizzard?

  • We didn't die!