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Niseko

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Has anyone here skied Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan? For those who aren't familiar, the stats:

Vertical: 3,200 feet
Skiable Acres: 2,192
Annual Snowfall: 550 inches!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apparently this place is supposed to have some of the lightest snow that can be had (about 8% water content). Allegedly, storms roll in off the coast of Siberia and dump insane amounts of light powder.

I have yet to ski this place, but I am a current applicant for the Japan Teaching and Exchange Program, and I am trying to get placed in Sapporo so I could ride Niseko on the weekends. My no. 2 preference was Nagano so you can see where I am going with this program.

Anyway, if anyone here has skied it and could give me some inside info on what to ski and where to stay, please give me a review!
post #2 of 12
I almost took a trip to Niseko Dec. 18 but that trip was postponed to 12/26 and I could not make that date. There are extensive discussions on ski webs in the Orient about Niseko, but they are all in Chinese or Japanese. Right now, unlike US Western states, Niseko does not have too much snow. I think I will stay with Squaw Valley for now.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Fair enough on staying in Squaw. I wonder if Niseko gets their snow later in the season, or they are just having a bad year. At any rate, if they average 550 inches of snowfall annually, it's a pretty safe bet that a bad year for them doesn't happen very often.

Anyone else on these boards considered going or has been to Niseko?
post #4 of 12
Been there, done that, and it was awesome. I'll provide some details later tonight if I get time. In the meantime, try this website:

http://www.skijapanguide.com/index.php

This site used to be called skijapan.com, but looks like a tour operator took over that name. They have some good info, and was very useful when I was deciding where to go when I was on business in Japan.
post #5 of 12
My better half and I skied in Niseko in February this year, and will be skiing there again from 22 Jan 2005, before flying on to Chamonix. General experience of others seems to be that Niseko only provides good skiing for a short period ~ late January to early March, after which the snow turns to glug. But for that short period the snow is usually deep and there are ALWAYS untracked lines to be had. It's a total contrast to the US/Canada where everything is trashed by 10am, or Europe where you need to have a guide to take you off-piste.

In terms of places to stay, we stayed at the Scot hotel, at the top of Niseko-Hirafu. It provided good western-style accommodation. Most foreign skiers/boarders (mainly Aussis & kiwis, with a few Americans, Canadians, Scandinavians, etc) tend to stay in the cheaper ryokan-style places further down the mountain. Over the next few years the place will be inundated by Australians, as an Australian company has now purchased one of the lift companies, so unfortunately Niseko's days as a premium ski destination are numbered: Get there while you can!
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PerSwede
Been there, done that, and it was awesome. I'll provide some details later tonight if I get time. In the meantime, try this website:

http://www.skijapanguide.com/index.php

This site used to be called skijapan.com, but looks like a tour operator took over that name. They have some good info, and was very useful when I was deciding where to go when I was on business in Japan.
More details please!!
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carruthers
Niseko only provides good skiing for a short period ~ late January to early March, after which the snow turns to glug.
If the snow is only good for less than two months, at 550 inches annually, this must be amazing snow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carruthers
In terms of places to stay, we stayed at the Scot hotel, at the top of Niseko-Hirafu. It provided good western-style accommodation. Most foreign skiers/boarders (mainly Aussis & kiwis, with a few Americans, Canadians, Scandinavians, etc) tend to stay in the cheaper ryokan-style places further down the mountain. Over the next few years the place will be inundated by Australians, as an Australian company has now purchased one of the lift companies, so unfortunately Niseko's days as a premium ski destination are numbered: Get there while you can!
What was the cost of the cheap places? I'd be taking weekend trips from Sapporo, most likely, and money will be a factor.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by agustaf2
What was the cost of the cheap places? I'd be taking weekend trips from Sapporo, most likely, and money will be a factor.
Our bookings were through Ian McKenzie at Niseko Powder Connection (see their website at http://www.niseko-hirafu.com/nisekop...mNPC/index.htm). Or if you are in Japan, you can phone him at 0136 21 2500. He'd be better placed to advise on accommodation costs.
post #9 of 12
Niseko current conditions:

http://www.japanspecialists.com/files/snowreports.html

accomodations try this (repost from hkssa.net):

I have found this hotel very close to the lift. www.scot.jp
Qoutation from the agent :
4 nights Twin room with breakfast and 4 days all mountain ski pass YEN58800 per person


*****

went to Niseko, Hirafu in Feb this year. I was staying in this Pension. Highly recommended. The host there can speak English, a very nice family and very friendly, clean, nice and very comfortable place. But, there is only shared bathroom. Personally, I don't mind even I am a girl. The contact is below and you can send them an e-mail to ask the price and make reservation.

Pension Full Note
E-mail: skik170@yahoo.co.jp

Last time I stayed, it was around 5,000 to 6,000 yens with breakfast.

****
Full Note is a very famous pension in Niseko.
post #10 of 12
agustaf2,
I didn't forget about you. Simple advice is: go early & go often...expecially the go often part. I loved it there. I'll give you a more complete review when I have a moment. Are you in Japan yet? If you can get placed on Hokkaido (even if it's not in Sapporo), you are golden. In addition to stupidly-good snow conditions, you will also have an up-close-and-personal experience with some of the best shushi on the planet. I'm jealous. Maybe I'll see you there in March.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PerSwede
agustaf2,
I didn't forget about you. Simple advice is: go early & go often...expecially the go often part. I loved it there. I'll give you a more complete review when I have a moment. Are you in Japan yet? If you can get placed on Hokkaido (even if it's not in Sapporo), you are golden. In addition to stupidly-good snow conditions, you will also have an up-close-and-personal experience with some of the best shushi on the planet. I'm jealous. Maybe I'll see you there in March.
PerSwede! You're way ahead of me! I won't be there til next (school) year if I get into the JET prgram. I selected Sapporo as my first choice, and my hope is that I get hooked up w/ that. My plan is to spend all the winter weekends skiing Niseko.

Whenever you have the opportunity to give a more comprehensive review, please do! It's over a full calendar year away really, but I am psyched...

-- Adam
post #12 of 12
Just back from 3 days in Niseko. The nicest snow I have been on in twenty years - silky, bottomless and dry. The pistes were great too, with very forgiving snow. No ice. Temperatures were around -5 to -15 C.

The town (Hirafu) is not doing a roaring trade (because of the Japanese economy) - it is more obviously struggling than, say, Banff or Zermatt. But there are plenty of local establishments for solid Japanese food and beer: local quality ingredients - sushi, crab, potato, salmon, ramen, butter.
We stayed at Niseko Kogen Hotel - good quality facilities, great breakfasts, okay communal bath - but no elevators for the four floors - tough on exhausted legs. We ate and drunk out each night at a different place.

The mountain has three ski areas: 1. Grand Hirafu - very varied, ungroomed areas higher up, where lifts are more primitive, and the air is colder. The gondola stops half way up the hill and needs an uphill walk to get to the piste or other lifts. 2. Higashiyama, owned by the Prince Hotel chain - little bit middle of the road, not memorable, and we did not get to ski it much. 3. Annupuri - a very long gondola with good if easy groomed pistes all the way down - more of a family area. You can get a union lift pass for all three areas - connected over the top, or via buses at the bottom which run about every hour. We were stranded for longer when one was full. The Grand Hirafu night skiing is from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and covers several pistes - not just beginner slopes. By about 6 p.m. only the serious people are left, and you get to be able to go at top speed, with nice empty runs. The lights are very good.

Note that only Hirafu has a village with any kind of after-ski life (that is: bars, cafes and restaurants). The other two areas are dominated by their purpose built hotels. If you are into onsens (hot springs) there are shuttle buses to a few in the area.

Up at the top of the hill in the biting wind is the deep powder. (At present 2 - 3 meters). There are a couple of huts at the foot of these higher areas where you can get curry rice and beer while you get feeling back in your hands. The lifts here are singles and doubles, and you get some really nice places to play around. Some of the steep or rocky areas are roped off, however. We heard complaints (from foreigners) about the restrictive views of the patrols. You can see quite a few brave boarders hurtling down through the powder. The skiers seemed to be generally sticking to the pistes. Saw some good carvers flying down the lower pistes.
Although I heard Niseko was full of Australians, it seemed that 80+ per cent were Japanese, the rest being very varied: English, Australians, Chinese, a few Americans.
This is a great place, with plenty of runs and variety, but not as extensive as, say Lake Louise, or the big Salt Lake City places. You would ski everything in less that a week, I should think. We went as a family - my nine year old daughter, a tough character, found the top of the mountain too cold and too hard, but we had a fun time otherwise.
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