Happy Spring DCSkiers (unless you are in Utah or Mammoth have fun and post!)
Well made my first trip to Japan early April for business trip and while I tried my best to swoop in on some "JAPOW", this won't be a post of epic unfortunately, I think it is worth sharing some of the experiences. Hope you will agree.
My project schedule originally would have put me here in October, but as schedule slipped I became more excited with the thought of blending work with some real JAPOW! (and using my Ikon pass to boot!) Well as time slipped away, I was worried that I wouldn't even get to taste skiing in Japan, but while spring conditions would be best that could be mustered, got to experience the 4 areas in one of Niseko. So Konnichiwa, Ohayo gozaimasu and lets go!
Niseko is located on the north island of Hoikkaido. I flew to Tokyo, then to Sapporo and took trains to Niseko. Pretty cool and not as difficult as I had planned for as many signs in English as well as the train ticket machines. Niseko has 4 distinct base areas, but they all join at the peak. I skied Wednesday and Thursday, and was able to make it around to all 4 areas on Wednesday as hardly anyone was around.
It didn't take long out of Tokyo to hit mountain region on the main island. Notice the volcano crater.
This is Grand Hirafu area. They had a lot of snow this season, but the warmest spring in 10 years and no storms since early March left spring conditions to play on.
Some modern buildings shown here, but a mix of aged infrastructure and some new both in terms of condos, lodges and lift infrastructure.
And as for real estate prices? Forget it! It would make California coast prices look like South Dakota!
How cool is this? If you didn't like Japan until you found this machine, you like it now! (Sapporo is awesome beer!)
So one of the first things about skiing in Japan is that you are not at 10,000 ft. It is like skiing in the east, no altitude adjustment which is awesome, but I must admit one loses the beauty of the evergreens lining the mountains. However, Niseko makes up for it with Mt Yotei volcano-you just cant stop taking pictures of this beast. Next trip will be heli skiing!!!
I have to say, it is pretty cool when you can fly have way around the Earth, walk through the RFID in Japan with your Ikon pass and click on through! Makes it a small world indeed.
Upper Mountain with Yotei lookin' at ya!
Some spring slush bumps - still better than mowing grass :)
You likely have heard about or witnessed if you have been here, the cultural norm for cleanliness and order. (The slipper thing inside).
Well it carries over to ski lodges. At the entrance you have compressed air hose to get snow and slush off before entering. Kinduva cool idea that maybe US resorts could adopt.
Here is an ole lift that will get you as close to summit lift served as possible. It is called the "Pizza Box" for obvious reasons.
There is not a ton of steeps at Niseko, but you can see from the upper mountain bowls, that a powder day here would be pretty special.
So let us all know if you have been here and experienced "Japow". I guess I will have to try again.
Great report, thanks! it was nice to see the wider view of the resort rather than someone in chest deep powder, it gives a better perspective of the terrain.