Myoko Kogen

Family friendly Myoko: with snow this good, you don’t need to renovate the lobby

Myoko is a old-timer ski town that doesn’t need to put on glamor in its hotel lobbies.

They can just get by coasting on what nature provided, such as record-breaking amounts of snowfall accompanied by sunny days, family-friendly and adventurous slopes, and easy train access.

Walking down the main street at twilight, tiny shops, relics of the sixties, hold their ground amidst four meter drifts of snow.

Young Japanese tourists gather around steamng fonts. Exciting illicit substances? Actually, hot-spring eggs. “It’s not much of a party town,” I was told.

“First, pay money! Next, Eat!” says the sign above the honesty box.

While the tone of the town is Tough Mother love, on the slopes you get pretty much whatever you want. Want to leave your kids on gentle slope with deft instructors? “Done.” Want some risky skiing in trees? “We have a off-slope guide to accompany you and a nice survival kit already packed.” You want instruction in Finnish or French? The school attracts and keeps the world’s most passionate teachers.

A roving photographer records you in your snowy glory.

“We aren’t cooking tonight, so you’ll have to get your own dinner”, the Ryokan lady informs us the night we arrive.

We wandered down the main street, peering into the humble old-timer shops to choose our dinner. We pick a log-cabin style place with an eccentric menu that includes raisins in butter. People eat that?

No party animals to be seen.

Decorations include a stuffed tanuki raccoon, a fake cat curled snugly, and beside me, sit two handsome locals with a lapdog.

It’s rough, charming, and yes, feels just like home.