byuboundGood question. Things like skis tend to be a little more expensive in Japan because the market for action sports equipment is way smaller, but not on that scale. The ones in canada must be old and not selling so shops are trying to dump them would be my guess.
Its not so much that... Ski gear in New Zealand and Australia is a bit cheaper than in Japan and both of those countries have smaller customer bases for ski gear - way way smaller. Shop I work for actually started by importing products from Australia because even that was cheaper than dealing with the distributors here in Japan at the time... There are still several things we import from Australia rather than getting them from a domestic distributor.
Japan's markets are expensive to start because they have pretty high import taxes, but also because things are marketed as premium, expensive, and "ichi-ban" rather than for the every-man like they are in the western world. The domestic market for gear runs it's prices far higher to seem more premium and higher-end.. or to sell at a bigger profit margin or whatever - youll see this in the way of rexxam and ogasaka being sold as premium domestic products in Japan even though they aren't particularly better in any specific way, and sometimes they end up somehow costing more than boots or skis imported from Europe.. and this generally raises the prices on gear overall across the board. It's probably not that simple, but it seems that's definitely a factor.
A lot of sports hardgoods end up this way here... there are tennis and golf brands you'll only see in Japan that cost an absolute fortune for no good reason... and they are overpriced compared to - IMO - far superior stuff from brands such as Mizuno - which is a japanese brand in it's own right... but because people are still shelling out for those premium brands, mizuno and wilson etc all raise their prices here because people are still willing to spend that premium cash here anyway... and they will then market themselves in a far more premium way than you will find in western countries - where products are marketed to the masses.
To boil it down, Beers here like Asahi and Sapporo cost more than they do in North America - not because there is some directly much higher tax on alcohol (you can get cheap dirty stuff that's hard enough to make you blind for like a dollar all you want), but its because the domestic market for the big 3 or 4 beers is marketed as this premium product and sets the price at like 12-13 bucks plus consumption tax for a 6 pack of 350ml domestic canned beers.. and so everyone else instead of undercutting that and being more competitive, just equals or charges even more for the same type of product and changes the way they market themselves... If you lower your price to compete, you're immediately cheapening your brand, and people will be less inclined to buy it.
In the West, people brag about how good of a deal or bargain they got on that thing they bought. In Japan, people brag about how much it cost them.
This happens all over the place in Japan. You should see how much it is for a new Toyota here. Hell, Volvos imported all the way from fuckin Sweden are sometimes cheaper than Hondas and Nissans lol.
Also, the japanese market is simply weird as fuck... You go to a trade show here - think the Japanese version of SIA or ISPO, and you'll see hardgoods/softgoods companies and distributors that are conducting themselves in full-on shibuya salaryman style... suits, ties, clean shaven, pressed pants, the whole thing... Right next to distributors of brands that have a lot more western influence, and self-awareness. K2 Japan for example, has for years been a bit of a wild child in compared to some of the domestic stuff simply by being slightly less uptight as fuck lol.