JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.83

COLUMN

Skiing

Skiing

With its location in the Northern Hemisphere, areas in Japan located north of 40 degrees north latitude begin to see snow once winter begins. Some of these areas see up to 10 meters of snowfall during a single season. In particular, Niigata Prefecture, located along the Sea of Japan, is known for receiving huge amounts of snowfall.

Skiing is one of Japan’s most famous winter sports. Skiing was first introduced to Japan by Major Theodor Edler von Lerch of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Major Lerch first came to Japan in 1911 to observe the Japanese army and he spent around one year in Takata, Nakakubiki District, Niigata Prefecture (currently Joetsu City). During his time in Japan, Major Lerch taught skiing to Gaishi Nagaoka, head of the Imperial Army’s 13th Division, and others, and worked on popularizing the sport in Japan.

Today, more than 100 years have passed since Major Lerch first introduced skiing to Japan, and since then skiing in Japan has come a long way. Japan now has a number of attractive snow resorts with fine powder snow and skiing has also become an important part of the tourism industry.

Today, Niigata Prefecture’s popular mascot called Lerch-san, is inspired by Major Lerch himself, while at Kanayasan Ski Area, the birthplace of skiing in Japan, you will find a commemorative monument, Japan Ski Memorial Museum, and a bronze statue of Major Lerch, which all have become familiar to many skiers.

The city of Sapporo in Hokkaido is home to the Cold Weather Combat Training Unit, which is the GSDF’s only dedicated unit for winter training. The unit trains advanced skiing instructors and uses group winter commando training to develop winter rangers, with the goal of developing experts in winter combat skills. Also, newly assigned GSDF personnel at GSDF units in areas with heavy snowfall learn skiing.

In this manner, skiing was brought to Japan approx. 100 years ago and now it has become not only a major leisure sport in Japan, but also a part of GSDF training.

Skiing
Skiing
Skiing
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