Bankruptcies continue at Japan’s ski resorts

Japan is seeing a growing number of ski resorts file for bankruptcy as warmer winters are causing less snowfall and shorter ski seasons. Over the past 20 years there have been 52 ski field operators file for bankruptcy. As global temperatures continue to rise, more closures are expected to follow.

On February 3, the operator of the Karigahara Ski Field in Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture, filed for bankruptcy. A lack of snow over the 2019-2020 season meant the ski slopes did not have a single day of operation. The compact ski field lies just outside of Katsuyama City. It opened in 1956. During the off-season, it had been used as parking for the nearby Karigahara Sports Land, gymkhana motorsports events, and for drone test-flying.

On February 17, the operator of the Asahi Tengston Snow Park in Shimane Prefecture began preparations for bankruptcy. Low snowfall meant the ski fields were only open for 25 days in the 2018-2019 season, and closed completely in the 2019-2020 season. The ski fields opened in 1995 as a third-sector project carried out by Asahi Town. The current operator took over the ski fields in 2012.

Between 1962 and 2016, annual maximum snow depth along eastern Japan and western Japan has decreased at a rate of 12.3% and 14.6% per decade, respectively.

The areas hardest hit are the ski fields at low elevations. Karigahara Ski Field is just 400 meters above sea level. In Niigata’s northern Kaetsu region, four of the five ski fields have had limited operations, with many ending their season in February. The ski fields are around 100 meters above sea level, and 600 ~ 700 meters at the highest.

Decreasing snowfall is not the only factor impacting Japan’s ski industry. The ski boom peaked in the 1980s, before entering decades of decline. An aging population, many of …continue reading