Ask any skier or snowboarder for their list of must-visit winter destinations, and Japan will invariably feature.

“Nowhere in the world is there snow quite like it,” says a skier at the Hakuba Happo-One ski resort after more than 1 meter of snow fell in 48 hours during the opening week of January. “It’s fast, deep and just keeps coming.”

With mountains covering more than 70% of the country and some of the world’s heaviest snowfall, skiing is both an integral part of Japanese culture and a magnet for winter sports enthusiasts.