Lucy from Head Office took a trip to Niseko, Japan and tells us what she found there..
It took 18 hours of travelling to get there, but as soon as our coach pulled into the welcome centre in Niseko we could tell we were in for a treat. From day one the snow didn’t stop falling and even the village roads had to be cleared constantly. Every morning there was at least a foot of fresh snow outside our door and it continued to fall all day to top up the (already powdery) piste. I’ve never seen so much snow!
Niseko is famed for its fluffy stuff, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so abundant. After venturing out of the gates to the un-groomed/un-patrolled areas there was no going back to the piste. Floating on the powder darting in and out of the trees (not to mention hugging the occasional trunk by accident), I couldn’t have been further away from the European resorts I have visited previously. Add to that no lift queues and fresh snow crab and king prawns for lunch and you’ve got the best days snowboarding I’ve ever had (if you don’t include trying to eat a bowl of rice with chopsticks)! To top it all off the slopes were open until 9pm every night so if you haven’t had your fill throughout the day, you can board by floodlight into the evening and try and beat your personal best speed on the empty piste on your way back down.
Every time you take a lift to the top, it’s like a new day, as the snow has covered the tracks of the people before you and you can board the whole mountain off piste right to the bottom again.
Watching the wave of snow follow a fellow boarder is certainly a brilliant sight, and if you do happen to fall, knowing the deep snow will cushion the blow, is definitely a comfort…. The only problem being trying to get back up and onto your feet again!
If it’s clear enough and it stops snowing you can see the volcano in the distance, but get your camera out quick as the views in Niseko don’t last long, within 2 or 3 minutes it will disappear as the snow closes in and won’t be seen again for days.
There is only one downside to Niseko… ‘THE HOLIDAY’! Now the holiday is a run that might sound like a dream, but in real terms it’s a snowboarders nightmare, it’s a meandering gentle ‘family’ run that has long areas of flat tracks that creep up on you and before you know it you’re walking the rest of the way, along with every other snowboarder who wasn’t expecting a zero gradient and a hike. We quickly learned not to venture off where our only option was to cut back onto this ‘dream run’ or pick up enough speed before you hit the immense flat section and you might just make it through. But if 1 avoidable run is the only downside to a resort then that’s fine by me.
It was a sad day when we left Niseko and we all vowed to return to Japan, but the adventure wasn’t over… next stop…TOKYO!