My overnight bus from Ikebukuro, Tokyo, packed full of bleary-eyed college students on holiday, rolled into Shiga Kogen around dawn and began making stops along the belt of 21 interconnected ski resorts that make up Japan's largest ski area.

I disembarked toward the end of the line in Ichinose as fat snowflakes swirled around me in the wind. The sun hadn't yet crested the southern rim of the mountains as I hustled into my accommodation at Chalet Shiga and out of the frigid air.

Lucky for me, it's common enough for people to arrive via overnight bus and so my Spartan, but cozy, room was already available and I spread out over the tatami mats to catch a few more hours of sleep.