SUSONO, Shizuoka -- Snowboarders and skiers, many dressed as characters from popular culture, took to the slopes at a ski resort in this central Japan city on Oct. 19, the resort's first day of the new season and the first to open in Japan.
Some 500 people in costumes including Minnie Mouse and Santa Clause swept down a slope at the Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti, located at Mount Fuji's second station at an altitude of 1,300 to 1,450 meters. The "snow" was the product of snow machines, which have been pumping out about 550 metric tons of the white stuff made from crushed ice daily since Oct. 9 to lay down a course about a kilometer long.
According to the resort operator, this year marks the 20th in a row that it has been the first in the country to welcome skiers for the season, though the opening was 13 days later than in 2017. The facility opened on Oct. 6 that year, the earliest ski resort opening ever in Japan, but it was difficult to maintain good conditions due to warm, rainy weather. The trouble led the operator to switch the opening date back to around its long-term average.
The ski resort is scheduled to be open daily until April 7, 2019.
(Japanese original by Hiroshi Ishikawa, Numazu Local Bureau)