18 March 2013

Booboo Ski



I’m coming to the end of a three and a half month ski season in Hakuba, Japan, which is my first ever ski season and also my first time in Japan. I've heard of the popularity of working a ski season in the likes of France or Switzerland but doing it in Japan seemed pretty alien to me.

About two years ago a friend announced that he was going to Japan to do a ski season. I met up with him and learnt that he got the gig through a company called Booboo Ski who basically put foreigners in Japanese ski and beach resorts if you can speak Japanese. To cut a long story short my friend said it was easy to get the Booboo Ski resort job, and that he didn't even know that much Japanese. Two years later I applied for the company, and just read a really simple paragraph in Japanese from an old Japanese book I had learnt at school and I stated I was really interested in learning Japanese and being part of the culture, which overall in a fifteen minute Skype interview got me the job!

Getting the job was really easy, and even easier if you can speak Japanese. All you need is the ability to want to learn the language and learn the culture. Once you have the job you'll get offered roles such as ski lift person, working in a restaurant, cafe etc. I got one of the best gigs and ended up in a really busy ski resort working in a bar, so I got all day, everyday to ski and board. Some of my friends got put up in restaurants so they had to work all day, most days, so it kind of is pot luck on what job you will get offered.
Getting your Japanese working holiday visa is probably the hardest bit. You have to give a six month itinerary of what you intend to do, as you aren't allowed a working holiday visa with a job already, you just have to state that you may look for a job. Seems a bit messed up but everyone has to lie to get the visa (check out the lowdown on how to get the visa here)



Once you get your visa you book your flights, get your insurance etc. You then meet Booboo Ski in Tokyo and they drive you to the resort for an epic three months. These three months really has been incredible and I wouldn't change it for the world! Even though my job is pretty tiring, and I spend half my time serving drunken Australians, I basically get paid to snowboard for three months. The company pay for my accommodation (a little apartment shared between three, but most just have a dorm room), they pay for my food and my lift pass for the season, and I get paid as well. The pay doesn't even match UK minimum wage but as everything else is paid for then there isn't much to spend my money on, and I've come back with more money than I went with.

Overall this season has taught me how to snowboard (which was one of my aims this year), I've met a heap of amazing people from around the world, and my Japanese has improved. I'm no way near to fluent but I have learnt more Japanese in these three months than I did from two years at school. For anyone looking to work in Japan in a ski resort then I would highly recommend Booboo Ski. It’s an easy and cheap way to get into Japan to work, and overall you’ll have an awesome time!

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