Friday, 13 February 2009


Imagine yourself waking up every morning surrounded by beautiful snowy mountains, 70 ski lifts and gondolas and dozens of ski areas. You have to go out skiing everyday, explore new ski runs with people from different countries and cultures. Now imagine being paid for that!

I was trying to imagine that after meeting Mia Luciani, an Australian ski instructor working in Japan. She’s just 22 years old but has traveled to all the continents that you can ski at. I asked her how she found this job and she told me that her father, who is a ski instructor too, took care of everything. Lewis Luciani, 67, who used to travel everywhere in his previous job, is now retired and found being a ski instructor a way to keep travelling, learning about lots of different cultures and spending his days doing something he loves.
It’s interesting to talk to him about why he chose Shiga Kogen. Luciani use to look for instructor job offers on the internet and this time decided to experience working in Japan. At first, he found lots of information about Hokkaido and Hakuba (Nagano) but just realized that living in this “international friendly places” will be almost like living in his own country, and there’s no meaning on travelling so far and not learning anything about Japan. And that’s why he decided to work at Sugiyama Ski & Snowsports School, in Shiga Kogen. Of course it’s more challenging, but this is exactly what he was expecting. Here he and the other 7 foreigner ski instructors really can have a Japanese experience, completely different from being in Japan as a tourist. They eat Japanese food everyday, sleep in Japanese beds, bathe in hot springs (ofuros) and work with almost 30 Japanese ski instructors. During the meals they can share experiences and stories about each other’s culture and, at the end of every meal, in a very Japanese way, everyone needs to wash their own dishes. “Depends on what you are looking for”, reminds me Luciani. “If you just want to come here and ski, doing less effort as possible, go somewhere else but, if you really are interested in experiencing the Japanese life, I found in Shiga Kogen a good place to be.”


Well, everybody agrees that internet is the best tool to find a job but, who can apply? Japanese language knowledge is not a requirement. Apparently, all you need is ski/snowboard experience and a Working Visa. Mia, who’s just 22, came to Japan with a Working Holiday Visa. The other instructors are allowed to work in Japan because they have more than 36 months of work experience as ski instructors and that’s why they all have working visas. They recommend you to apply at least 6 months before the season’s start because getting a visa can be very tricky.

Finally, the ski knowledge level asked can vary from school to school but ski/snowboard qualifications certainly will help you to get the job. At Mia’s school, they have training courses from time to time, which helps a lot those without teaching experience.

Talking to Mia and Lewis just makes me believe that it certainly is a dream job. Otherwise, people like
Mark Madden, 50, another ski instructor I have met in Shiga Kogen, wouldn’t have given up his safe life in an office to chase the snow around the world. And he was pretty happy the day I met him.

Of course Mia was trying to remind me that this life is hard too. Sometimes you have to go out skiing in bad weather… but if the day is good enough for the guests, it must be good enough to her too, right?

Here are some websites that you can find ski/snowboard instructor job offers:

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