Moving OS - Canada or Japan?

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by Team Weasel, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel Hard Yards

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    Hey all,

    I'm making the move next year, either to Japan or Canada. I'm still undecided about which way to go, and thought I'd seek out some advice.

    I'm looking for:

    - good variety of BC terrain, with a leaning towards big mountains (fave places I've skied so far are Feathertop, Hakuba, Asahidake)
    - year-round snow pack (or at least most of the year)
    - not crowded
    - some access to resorts if BC isn't on
    - possible path into ski instructing / outdoor industry (currently a school teacher, possibly looking at changing careers too)
    - Nice to have: skimo race culture, proximity to other locations (eg. few hours flight)

    I've been to Japan four times now, and really love it. Leaning towards Canada at the moment, and was looking for any advice (particularly in relation to best places to go).

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Seth

    Seth Old n' Crusty
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    I'm going to assume that you'll be wanting to live there year round.

    If you want to BC ski a lot then avoid ski instructing. It is only full time employment for part of the year and even then you'll have periods where you aren't earning as much.

    Look for work that allows flexibility to ski a lot in winter which really means working hard over the summer.
     
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  3. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Problems with Japan:
    - No year round snowpack. It's hot and humid in summer.
    - You have to get a REAL job to get a visa to live in Japan. Maybe English conversation teacher, where the pay generally sucks. You will need a sponsor.
    - Only other way is to get a Working Holiday Visa, where you cannot stay in the same location the whole time. Is 6 month initial, extendable to 12 or 18 months.
    - If you want a path to ski instructing in Japan, you will most probably have to speak Japanese.

    How long were you intending to "move OS"?
     
  4. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel Hard Yards

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    Thanks for those points so far.

    I could probably live with that - my body may implode it I ski as much as I do all year.

    All going well, permanently. Want to live somewhere with mountains on a permanent basis :)
     
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  5. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    That will be a problem in Japan. First you need the resident's visa, then after (usually) 10 years, permanent resident. And any job you get generally needs to have attributes that cannot be easily filled by a local.... unless you go for an investor's visa.

    And then you need to work out if Japan really is a place where you want to live permanently. It's very different, sometimes frustratingly so.
    I've been here 11 years now, but will not stay here permanently.
     
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  6. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker
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    What about NZ?
    Big mountains, easy for you to work, not year round skiing but lots of mountain adventures to be had in summer (alpine tramping, mountaineering, MTB).
    It's on our horizon as a possible place to live.
     
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  7. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel Hard Yards

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    I've thought about it. Climbed there a bit when that was my thing. I know there's heaps to do (the alps there are bigger in area than Europe, or so I'm told).

    Biggest turn-off is weather - I felt like maybe one in three days were good for being outside in the mountains...the rest of the time was hunkering down in huts!
     
  8. piolet

    piolet Found anything yet?
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    Heh dat marketing jargon! 'similar valley to peak heights to the Alps' or some such.

    Not to knock em, the southern Alps are pretty sweet

    No euro pass?
     
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  9. DeskRider

    DeskRider One of Us
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    Like anywhere Japan has some drawbacks but it's a fun place to live, I only lasted 4 years but have mates that went for a 3 month holiday are are still there 10+ years later (mostly all now married to locals). There are a fair few permanent expats in Hakuba that live year round.. A few PMs to guys in the Hakuba thread might find you a couple of contacts to talk to.
     
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  10. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter
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    As others have said BC or Alberta sounds more like what your looking for (Skimo, long seasons and big mountains).

    You can either try to get a job as an unqualified instructor at a resort if you're eligable for an appropriate visa or do a Level 1 Instructor Course first to get something under your belt (becoming increasingly common in Canada, Australia and NZ, I don't know about in Japan, I haven't worked there but it would be easy to find out). Both the Australian Association APSI and the NZ Association NZSIA run Level 1 Instructor Courses to the Public in Japan. If you end up in Canada you'll be dealing with the CSIA (from memory your a skier and not a snowboarder).

    Ski instructing is a great job if you enjoy skiing for other people. Its very easy to get more time skiing for yourself as a recreational skier than ski instructors get. Also remember for the first season or so you'll be going to a hand to mouth existence financially.

    @ecowain has worked internationally in the Outdoor industry and my offer some insights. @telenomore has a guiding business in Furano and may know something about access to the outdoor industry in Japan.
     
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  11. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel Hard Yards

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    Thanks @Telemark Phat

    I'll look into a level 1 I reckon. Teaching is not a bad job to have in that there's work all over the world if you can get your foot in the door.

    Looks like Canada for the mother of all road trips it is!
     
  12. W0nkey D0nkey

    W0nkey D0nkey One of Us
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  13. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Some slightly random comments about Japan

    Japan is a great place to visit but living there is very different. Some people thrive, others struggle. Racism and bullying are the 2 big issues.

    There is lots of work for English speaking ski instructors - even if you dot have any quals - so long as you can ski reasonably well.

    Lots of work in winter in all areas of hospitality.

    cost of living can be quite low.

    You need a visa to open a bank account, buy a car, get a voice sim card and to get the internet connected.

    Lots of people live there relatively permanently and run businesses without a visa. Heard of someone being not allowed re-entry after about 20 almost consecutive 90 day tourist visa exempt status entries.
     
  14. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    I’m sure it depends on who you stand in front of at immigration and whether they are having a bad day but PB and I were given the third degree on our entry in November because of our ‘86 days’ intended stay.

    I was nervous about our reentry after the visa hop of 4 days. I had all the documents to prove we were holidaying and had ongoing plans and not working. Need not have been worried. No one batted an eyelid.
     
  15. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us
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    Have you considered a teachers exchange to Canada?
    We spent 14 months there based on Vancouver Island which is an all round outdoors paradise; skiing, hiking, surfing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking.
    Mt Washington was my home mountain.
    Managed to get 60 ski days in over 16 resorts as well as a couple of weeks in Alaska and a road trip from Vancouver down to Arizona and back up the Coast.
    Something to consider.
     
  16. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    So many different experiences with htis. I went to Korea overnight via Niigata. Was given a token hard time on re-entry because they were giving the Koreans a hard time.

    Another person I know left 4 days after their visa exempt status expired - 4000 yen fine. And then cam back in without a problem 3 days later.
     
  17. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter
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    Also start looking at hills you'd like to work at now. If their recruitment process hasn't started already it should fairly soon. Most hills have finished their recruiting by the end of our season. Also if you're avaliable you can make yourself more employable by getting your APSI Level 1 here before you head over. Both countries recognise each others quals.

    As far as working all over the world goes unless you are still young enough to get the working holiday visas you generally need to be a Level 3 for most schools to bother to offer you a sponsered visa. Ski Instructing around the world requires a lot of planning and generally a good network, its not like being a chef where you can pretty much just rock up anywhere in the world and find a job.
     
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  18. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    APSI level 1 course is relatively easy for competent skiers. My mogul skier did 4 day course last season. He was surprised that some of the attendees were not great skiers. Also spent the whole time being told he had to much ankle flex. ROFL for him since he has spent the last 6 years trying to get more ankle flex. But it is all relative to what you are doing.
     
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  19. Rolo

    Rolo One of Us

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    Revelstoke would cover off a few of those interests. As would Golden/Kicking Horse area. Relatively easy public transport linkages back to Calgary or on to Vancouver, also. Nelson/Whitewater Resort for something a bit smaller but super chilled out also, but a bit more isolated.
     
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  20. Kletterer

    Kletterer Still looking for doughnuts
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    Marry an Austrian .
     
  21. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    I thought you were taken?
     
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  22. Mister Tee on XC Skis

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    You know you have been in Japan too long when you put the phone down and then bow. :p
    I have not been to Japan but it has an insular culture and a distrust of non Japanese people especially when you look at their tiny intake of people seeking asylum and their very small immigration programme overall. Socially and politically Canada seems to be the opposite of this.
     
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  23. kieren gaul

    kieren gaul Hard Yards

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    Think - about becoming a ski guide - get to ski in the back-country every day. 1st steps in Canada are CAA ops level 1 course and a 40 hour first aid - then the CSGA1 - this will be enough to get you out as a tail guide (2nd guide with a group) Best places in Canada to start ski guiding are Rossland, Nelson, Revelstoke and Whistler
     
  24. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    You haven't been to Japan, but you're making pronouncements about how Japan is? LOL
    "You know you have been in Japan too long when you put the phone down and then bow." Actually no.....
    You know you've been in in Japan too long when you start eating french fries with chopsticks, like the local do.
    And Japan doesn't have an immigration program.
     
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  25. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Hey many of the Japanese distrust each other not just non-Japanese.

    IMO Japan is a great place to visit but not to live forever.

    In this case because 2 genuinely first world countries are being compared some of the usual pluses for Japan, such as affordable health care, are not relevant.
     
  26. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    I don’t really think the term gaijin is one of endearment
     
  27. RunDLC

    RunDLC Hard Yards

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    Having pretty much done what you are thinking about in Japan (and had an amazing time) I would say that it would be hard to choose Japan over Canada, NZ, Europe etc if you are just focused on skiing (mainly touring) most of the year. Closest comparison would be Hakuba where with some effort will mean you can ski November to June, with climbing, bushwalking, kayaking etc to keep you busy otherwise (and it has a season round population of other foreigners).

    Having said that, if you are also interested in experiencing quite a different culture and are willing to learn some Japanese language, there would be no shortage of amazing little towns to base yourself in. In that case I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Japan. I would suggest somewhere close to the Northern Alps near enough to a ski resort but with great access to the bigger mountains in Spring. Matsumoto/Azumino/Omachi/Hakuba area. Outside of Hakuba you are probably looking at english teaching for work. Low pay but cost of living is also very low. If you have some savings quality of life should be high.

    I found locals in Japan very welcoming, and it was easy to make good mountain friends. Having said that, these relationships were a bit limited until I could speak some Japanese. This opened up a world of ski touring, but also other amazing things that you might find in small mountain towns. Woodwork, mountain veggie picking, etc etc all sorts of little things that people fill their time with in these communities.
     
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  28. Team Weasel

    Team Weasel Hard Yards

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    I've elected to go with Canada - and these areas interest me. Thanks for the suggestions! In terms of visas, has anyone had experience of the system? I'm almost 40, so age may be a barrier...can I just head over, get quals and then look for work, or is there another way?

    I know this makes sense, but I'd actually rather focus on ski technique and teaching that. Managing my own level of risk, enjoying the serenity and sense of freedom are all reasons I ski BC. Guiding people would take that particular jam out of my doughnut.
     
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  29. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter
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    Last I heard working holiday visas finished at 36. That might have changed. I don't know if there are any sponsored visa requirements for Instructors, I'll ask around, but as a rule you need to be a Level 3 instructor for a ski school to go to the effort to sponsor you.

    I've no idea how other visa avenues to Canada would work.
     
  30. Rolo

    Rolo One of Us

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    Age will be a barrier from a working holiday perspective. I turned 30 while over there on the visa, and from what I can recall it cut out in the early 30's. But entering on a holiday visa, getting quals then looking for work is also dicey, I'd suggest...probably a major hassle for employers (think of the paperwork!), and a risk that your entry on a holiday visa could be deemed to have been in bad faith.

    As for working as a backcountry guide - it's not a quick or easy path to qualifications. On all the trips I've had backcountry guides for (day trips, FIFO backcountry lodge weeks etc) guides also do a lot of non-skiing related work - cooking/cleaning, maintenance etc - on top of a full day's guiding...which would really grind you down if you weren't totally into 'Guide Life'. I never met any that complained about it, but that's because those that don't enjoy it don't stick it out.
     
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