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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!
Let's go up the mountain of DEATH, Chris!
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Why Japan is the Snow Capital of the World

77 Folder Collection
Sophie published on November 19, 2019
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