Posted by: seasonaire | January 16, 2013

Japan Part 2: Niseko

Apologies for the late publication of the Japan chronicles, what can I say, I have been in a virtual internet blackout zone for 3 weeks (see Japan Part 1).

In case anyone still has any doubts after reading endless ski media articles, Hokkaido’s claim to be powder capital of the world, is not a false one, at least in terms of accessible, resort skiing that I have come across. It chucked it down with snow for the first 5 days we were there and there was nearly a foot of snow on the piste at all times, and, though this was fairly churned by the afternoon, it remained soft and light into the night skiing sessions, which lasted until 8:30pm every day.

I am tempted to claim that I am definitely going to do my next season here, but frankly, the only thing I would want to do is open a proper apres bar, as living without one for 6 months would be a killer. The town is a bit lifeless, the huge numbers of Aussies don’t seem to know about apres anyway (sorry guys), and everything seems focused on eating and bathing (to be expected). There were hundreds of seasonnaires about, mostly Australian, and I didn’t really ask too many questions, so I may be missing something here.

We stayed in an extremely compact guest house that was run by a lovely family who shared their lives with whoever happened to walk though the door. Their entire living space was communal, and hosted a good mix of Japanese and foreign guests. The confusing and restrictive bathing options available in the single bathroom, were not ideal, and mostly this resulted in skipping showers due to missing time slots. The breakfast options were also rather odd, but tasty enough, though I would have a proper Japanese style breakfast, fish heads and all.

Niseko, from what I could tell, is entirely filled with Aussies and wealthy Asian Americans. This is only noteworthy for me, because I found it a little bizarre to run into so many English speakers in Japan. I have to admit that this is the most disappointing thing about Niseko, but then I am a horrendous snob, and I am sure, if I had come across this while I was living in Japan, the escapism factor would have been amazing.

Niseko

How much you will have to pay if they send out a search party for you.

Niseko allows some off-piste skiing, when the snow stops for long enough to open the gates, but features an ominous list of costs incurred if you end up lost or injured. Despite these warnings, I was dismayed by the sheer number of people streaming through the off piste gates, meaning that the off-piste we tried was no less cut up than the piste.


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