Updated: Sep 22, 2019
If you are a skier you would surely understand the feeling of riding on fresh powder, it is a priceless state that leaves you with a gleaming smile form ear to ear the for the whole day! #stoked
Niseko is probably mecca for Powder hounds. The prodigious volume of snow in this part of Hokkaido are the blessing from the northwesterly monsoon of Siberia blowing from October to April, that picks up moisture from the Sea of Japan and dumps them all around the Niseko mountains. The snow quality here at certain period is #champagnepowder that envelops and flies all around you!
Getting to Niseko
There are 2 ways of getting here
bus (get on bus from the airport, it takes about 2 half hours with a toilet stop in between, just sit back and relax) check bus schedule
rent a car (I find this option rather troublesome especially if you are driving in a snowstorm and if you come between December-January, chances are rather high and the snow volume is at a different level, you will be overwhelmed!!
Where to stay
There are few places you could base yourself in Niseko, Hanazono, Hirafu, Annupuri.
They have their their own unique charm respectively. Hirafu being the center for food, shopping and bars can be rather busy and packed during winter month. Annupuri & Hanazono are more local and quiet, but recently they get rather packed too during peak periods.
I would recommend a traditional homestay style inn (ryokan) with outdoor onsen (hot spring) that provides breakfast and dinner if your MAIN aim is just to #ridethepow. You could ski for 6 hours and take a dip in the onsen in the evening and it will sooth away all aches and pain you have anywhere in your body and you will be fresh as mint to ride on!
However, not many ryokan provides onsen and more often than not they are fully booked so do reserve in advance!
Favorite Ski slope
Skiing or snowboarding for me is a never-ending learning curve. You could have done it for 5 or 10 years but when you are on a different surface the technical demand can be totally different or you end up with a faceplant or a scorpion for boarders! Except that when you fall in Niseko, the powder absorb all the impact and causes the snow crystals to billow all around you as you make impact......PUFFF!!! It gives one a false sense of consequence, it voids the theory of reinforcement coz each time one falls, a cloud of snow just puffs up and you feel like you are in a tub of infinity light snow!! However, there are occasions when the weather gets slightly warmer & falling would be digging your way out! It can be tiring and exhausting especially when there is so much snow! I have seen skiers who carry shovels!
I don't really have a favorite slope in Niseko because, after being there 4 times, each time, it is dumping 1m of snow a day and the slope condition changes every hour.
But i quite like this Rinka, Center piste at Hirafu where the slope progresses into a gully, you could almost pretend that you are in a half pipe and both sides are filled with white birch trees where you could ride around them, dogging them and just trying your best to go as far into the birch forest as you can! And coming out from another side, no boundaries no piste just back-country!
There is another one Miharashi, from the Hirafu Gondola, don't need to venture too far to discover untracked snow!
Ride to Goshiki Onsen
From Hirafu you could ride to an onsen, it's a 30 minute trip - first a straight line form the Hirafu Welcome Center up to the peak via a serious of chairlift and a shot hike, and down the other side via a 10 minute ski pr snowboard descent! Take a dip, warm up and take the bus back to Hirafu!
There is a myriad of option to ride here, endless. I am still discovering and one big reason that will keep pulling me back to Niseko is that because I have not seen the beautiful Mt Yotei (goat toe mountain) at the background of Niseko Village!
In Niseko, it is a powder house and the customer always WINS!!
The feeling of riding on champagne powder feels like a wave except that it is not fluid but the snow rises up like a wave, you feel it crush into your face, you grow a beard, a feel it on your chest and you just wish time can freeze and you stay in the moment forever!! AHHHHHHHH I need to book my next trip right after this!!
Date: 2018 December