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Monday, 21st December 2015
In Weather In Japan,

Japanese ski resorts hit by lack of snowfall

The lack of snowfall and abnormally mild temperatures in Japan have led to many ski resorts having to remain closed.

Local media reports suggest that many of the destinations that are popular with winter sports enthusiasts have not been able to offer adrenaline-fuelled activities, despite it being the middle of winter.

Yasuhisa Chigira, a member of staff at the Marunuma Kogen Ski Resort in Katashima, Gunma Prefecture, told Japan Today: “We pray for snow every day.”

The resort has experienced no real snowfall of note this year and finally opened two weeks later than usual with fake snow on its pistes.

Temperatures are not falling below zero and on December 15th, there were highs of eight degrees C, which are far from ideal skiing conditions.

Other resorts in the area are unable to make artificial snow and have been forced to close their doors.

The problem is not isolated to Gunma Prefecture, as regions, such as Hokkaido, Hokuriku and Tohoku have all seen very little snowfall.

This is particularly surprising, as these are places with an international reputation for snow sports and winter festivals.

On December 17th it was reported that 36 of the 54 big ski resorts in Hokkaido had suspended their services and tour operators reported large cancellations throughout December.

While it is the winter tourism market that is being affected most by the unseasonably warm weather, other aspects of Japanese business are having to adapt to the situation.

Some large department stores have brought out their spring clothing lines in response to the warmer conditions and found that they are selling well.

While visitors to Japan expecting to ski may find there is little snow, they will get the unexpected sight of plum trees in bloom.

Various prefectures across the country have reported the flowers appearing much earlier than usual due to the temperatures.

Normally, these trees do not start to display their red-ish and pink flowers until February, slightly ahead of the world-famous cherry blossom season.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has stated that the warm weather is down to the El Nino effect, which is at its height at present.

It causes the Pacific’s sea-surface temperatures to rise, which has an effect on the surrounding area.

Forecasts suggest that this is likely to fade away by Friday (December 25th) and it will suddenly feel colder.

This will come as good news to organisers of events, such as winter festivals, which take place in the first few months of the year.

It will be too late for many ski resorts who have already lost a lot of business and seen a large number of cancellations.