In this village of 3,400 folks, in the winter the primary school adjusts its timetable to allow students to practice skiing every afternoon; the ski club opens the Hikage slope twice a week for evening kids’ practice; and by the time children graduate from middle school they are already decided as downhill, slalom, jump, or crosscountry... and if your child is beginning to walk, well, that’s when they should get on skis.
So it’s no surprise that today there are 14 Olympians hailing from Nozawa Onsen. That must be one of the highest number per capita of almost any location anywhere in the world!
It means that your ramen shop owner, ski resort manager, restaurant server, accommodation proprietor... could well have been an Olympic athlete; and if they’re local, most likely at least a national if not international athlete.
So when a Nozawa Onsen local asks if you’re a good skier... remember what their benchmark is!