Photo credit: Ricky French

Dressing for dinner has never been more difficult. I think carefully and decide to leave the suit jacket in the wardrobe. Ditto the sports jacket. There’s no need to bother with the trials of selecting a shirt, either. What about shoes? I can’t even remember what I brought to Japan. Rummaging through my suitcase I extract the perfect pair: old, scuffed, GoreTex-lined work boots. Any old strides will do; no one will see them under the waterproof ski pants anyway. My down jacket is plucked out (sorry geese for the terrible pun) and the outfit is completed. Our ride pulls up and we get in. We pull the safety bar down over our heads and are launched skywards. We’ve boarded a chairlift to the stars.

Field Suite is a bold new venture to bring après and fine dining to an unlikely mountain setting in Japan’s Hakuba Valley. While most skiers drain from the slopes at the end of the day a lucky few are being whisked up. Luckily the lucky few happen to be us. Set on the open expanse of the Kitamone Plateau on the 2,696m Mount Karamatsu, Field Suite specialises in al fresco dining to suit the changing seasons. Summer sees glamping tents sprouting from the grass and tables set inside elegant canvas tents. But tonight we’re in winter mode, which means fireside aperitifs as a keyboard and trumpet duo serenade us with music of a genre we can’t quite put our finger on (or possibly hasn’t been invented yet), but it’s delightful fun nonetheless.

A rounded bench seat is carved into the snow, deck chairs arranged round the open fire. An hour ago we were whizzing past this spot on skis, now we have the time to take a breath and appreciate the extraordinary view down to Hakuba Valley and watch the sky turn purple against the mountains, orange over the town…

Read the full story here