- Ski resort(s)
By Jean-Luc Brassard, Special Contributor and Olympic Champion
Niseko is surely no longer the best-kept secret in the world. With its abundance of snow all winter long, averaging one metre per week, this magnificent mountain obviously attracts more than its fair share of powder hounds from around the globe. The popularity of the resort has brought many advantages including improvements to the lift infrastructure, more restaurant options, and an openness to foreign languages—which, needless to say, has made life that much easier for us tourists!
But, with so many visitors, you may be wondering if Niseko still has fresh snow to enjoy. I’m happy to say that this vast four-resort mountain has tons to satisfy skiers of every level, including some
easy-to-access secret spots that are sure to captivate even the most discerning of experts.
One of the high points of any trip to Niseko is decidedly that moment when you find yourself at the very summit of the mountain, where no lift can take you. After a short hike, when the weather cooperates—and when the patrollers allow—you can take in the spectacular views of the Sea of Japan on one side while, on the other, Mount Yotei, which happens to be an active volcano. After an intense photo-snapping session inspired by the beauty of your surroundings, you are ready to tackle your choice of two skiable slopes. Best of all, after your one-kilometre powder descent, both of these trails end at the base of the lifts, in sectors on complete opposite sides!
You’ll want to start over again and again, especially when the weather is cooperating. After all, if Niseko has this much snow, you’ll understand that it also gets its share of snow storms. Contrary to our low-pressure systems, which move quite slowly, those in northern Japan move incredibly fast. In a three-hour timeframe, you can easily experience sun, cloud, violent winds and… 20 cm of fresh snow!
That being said, temperatures are generally milder when compared to our Canadian winters, although the strong Siberian winds responsible for the abundant snow here can sometimes leave the most hardened winter sport enthusiasts feeling a chill.
Japan is obviously not the easiest destination to get to. But, it is guaranteed to be a unique escape. So, make sure you extend your stay long enough to discover all that this pristine, safe and very welcoming country has to offer.