At Aomori Spring Ski Resort’s Rockwood Hotel, I’ve just
missed the US, Finnish and German Olympic teams that
spent the week before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics
finessing their moves. The hotel is comfortable and well
located for skiing and snowboarding, no matter your level
of expertise; a gondola and chairlift are mere metres away.
This is the third time 11-year-old New Zealander Cam
Melville-Ives has visited Aomori with his parents and twin
brother, and says it’s the best place he’s ever snowboarded.
“There’s constant snow and the powder is never tracked
out; the whole mountain is full of powder and it’s all
yours!” Cam says. “I’ve done the black runs and all the park
runs but my favourite has got to be The Corkscrew.”
As for the hotel, Cam says he loves the buffet and bistro
and goes for a soak in the onsen each evening after
coming in from the snow. “I love the onsen,” he says,
adding that he got used to not wearing clothes in the hot
springs because “that’s just what the Japanese do”.
"Now I understand what all the fuss is about Japow."
It’s my first time downhill skiing and I have a two-hour
private lesson with a friendly instructor who speaks little
English beyond “stop”, “turn” and “brakes”. Actions speak
louder than words when it comes to skiing, however, and
we have no problem communicating. He soon adds the
word “help!” to his English vocabulary.
I quickly get the hang of it, and love every second as I
make my way down the easiest run – spills, shrieks of
terror, whoops of joy and all. My only regret is that I didn’t
learn to ski as early as the young kids I see zipping past me.
Aomori is a hidden gem in the skiing world, catering to
everyone from beginners to advanced backcountry
adventurers. And now I understand what all the fuss is
about Japow, the amazing powder skiers and
snowboarders seek out for the ultimate ski experience.