In winter one Japanese out of every 10 piles onto a weekend snow train or a rickety bus and heads for a ski resort such as Yuwaza (following pages), four hours outside Tokyo. Introduced to the islands in 1910, skiing really caught on after a visit in 1929 by the late Hannes Schneider—and has since grown in popularity to rank just behind Japan's national game of baseball. In contrast to Americans, the Japanese are a nation of hustling, recreational skiers who can get through a lifetime without dreaming of winning a race or even a bronze medal for passing a local ski school test. Nonetheless, Japan has produced at least one topflight Olympic candidate—Chiharu Igaya, who, as a Dartmouth student, twice won the U.S. slalom championship and will race for his native country at Cortina d'Ampezzo later in the month. For more on skiing in Japan, including some commentary by Igava, turn to page 19.
Japanese skiers swarm over slopes at typical resort of Yuwaza (above) in Joetsu mountains, four hours by train from Tokyo Streets of Yuwaza during winter weekend are colorful clutter of skis, skiers, and signs advertising restaurants, hotels
Skiers carrying magnesium flares cut zigzag paths down mountain, silhouetting crowds of onlookers in eerie blue light. This night procession is climax of Yuwaza winter fair, which also features snow sculptures like illuminated fort at right
Yuwaza ski slope in summer becomes a row of bright-green rice paddies. Tower in right foreground serves in winter as lower terminus of rope tow. Shack beside it is ticket booth. In background, climbing through evergreens, are towers of Yuwaza chair lift