Ski Japan’s Magical Niseko

2 December 2014

Winter wonderland, soft icing sugar snow, amazing skiing, great food, culture and friendly locals, and for just over *$1000 to get there and back (even in peak season) – what’s not to like?

Harrison Young and ten twenty-something blokes found Niseko in Hokkaido Japan to deliver on all that and more.

 Winter Wonderland

Niseko refers to a wider area of ski resorts encompassing Hokkaido's Mount Yōtei, often referred to as the "Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido", and Annupuri ranges. The name Niseko derives from the Ainu language and means "a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains", and this combined with plenty of powder snow makes for a skiers’ paradise.

 Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido

Harry and the boys who went in February this year, mostly snowboarded but also enjoyed some skiing and were pleasantly surprised with the incredible skiing conditions and the quality of all of the equipment.

“This was my first time seeing snow, but the others who have plenty of ski experience said all the gear was great quality, reasonably priced to hire as well as being properly maintained.

 Keepin' it clean

In fact the week we were there, it was fantastic that everything was incredibly clean and the locals were so proud of their town. They also wanted us to enjoy our stay and went out of their way to give us great service,” Harry said.

“The whole area because it is geared for ski tourism has put some thought into including things like halfway huts that provide lunch and drinks, so you don’t have to come off the mountain.

Another great thing, which is such a buzz, is Night Boarding!

Such a great experience because even if the slopes have been chopped up from all the skiers during the day, because it snows so heavily, by nightfall it is all that beautiful powdery fresh snow.

It was like skiing on a cloud lit up by all the soft yellow snow lights”, said Harry.

You can also get in some great practice in at the nearby Hanazono Resort which has a ski park set up with rails, jumps and half pipes.

Niseko offers plenty when it comes to après ski.

“We tried out the local Japanese volcanic baths a couple of times after big days on the slopes. It was a great way to relax tired muscles from all day skiing. We could then go from the hot water of the baths to the chilliness of the Ice Bar.”

 Ice Ice Baby

There are lots of great bars and food places including street stalls that serve traditional dishes like Ramen and Katsu-don.

“Despite there being eleven big appetites to feed, we never went hungry, especially as it was inexpensive.

The whole trip was good on price even though we went at the tail end of peak season. Airfares from Australia to Tokyo were around $1000 and the internal flights to get to Niseko were $100.”

You can catch the train which is a nice way to do it and very affordable with the Japan Rail Pass. Note however that it takes about a day to get there by train, so not a great option if you are time poor.

 Martini shaken over ice anyone?

“As one of eleven blokes we also saved money by taking the dormitory style accommodation. This was great for us but there are plenty of other choices no matter what the budget or number of people.

I cannot say enough great things about the whole area. And even though I was in a blokey group, Niseko was not ‘yobboish’ at all.

 Niseko

So much so that I am returning early next year with my partner and a couple of friends and we will stay in a private chalet this time.

If I was to sum up that trip in one word it would be magical. All the snow capped roofs on the villages and the beauty of the snow was so much more than my wildest expectations”, Harry concludes.
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* All prices used in this blog article are purely examples based on products from 1 December, 2014. For a current quote or to speak to an Airfare Expert about putting your holiday budget to good use, call 133 133 or pop into your nearest Flight Centre store .........................................................................................................................................................

Tara Young

The experience of travel changes a person. I see my job as highlighting what amazing travel opportunities there are to broaden your knowledge of that great big world beyond your doorstep and what you may learn about yourself on the way.