The season ended slightly early over at Niseko Annupuri as strong winds in the afternoon put a halt to the lifts on that area with the resort closing at 3:30pm. Strong winds also put a stop to the season for the lifts at Niseko Village in the afternoon. So we ended up closing the 12/13 Niseko season with just the Ace Number 2 Center four lift and Hirafu Gondola operating at the Niseko Grand Hirafu resort area.
It’s kind of appropriate in a way - while Niseko is of course no stranger to windy conditions, stronger winds have affected the lift operations seemingly more than usual this past season.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Niseko once again delivered in style for 2012/2013, with an almost ridiculously large amount of that beautiful light powder being consistently served up for large parts of the season.
Discussion (and arguments!) on the actual numbers aside, it’s pretty amazing to finish the season on May 6th with the Niseko Grand Hirafu resort still reporting a snow depth of 420cm on it’s upper slopes. More than 4m! Last year, the corresponding number - reported by the same people on the same day - was 190cm.
The snow gods, whoever they may be in their wisdom, certainly do look down on Niseko favorably and in a large part it’s surely that consistency of excellent conditions that makes Niseko so popular. There’s certainly lots of confident marketing messages originating from Niseko, but thankfully I think the actual experience mostly lives up to expectations for most people.
Of course, all of this means that more and more people are making the trip to visit Niseko each season as well as the many people returning for more. While I don’t have any numbers at hand, it has certainly been another very busy season on the slopes and in the bars and restaurants around the area. Some people like that atmosphere, while some yearn for less crowded times. I think it’s fair to say that the increased numbers and larger crowds are encouraging more people to venture further afield from Niseko to places like Rusutsu and Kiroro Snow World during their stay.
With exchange rates currently looking more positive for many people wanting to visit Japan, I would guess that next year will once again see more growth.
A look back over these Niseko Now report archives brings back some amazing memories from the season, with some of those even being made as late as just in the last few weeks. There were just a few bumps along the way with some unseasonal rain and warming up, but thankfully those didn’t last too long.
Taking a look at the Niseko Now reports for this season, from November 2012 until this month, shows the following observed snowfall each month on our reports:
November 2013: 118cm December 2013: 418cm January 2013: 443cm February 2013: 406cm March 2013: 164cm April 2013: 32cm May 2013: 2cm
FULL SEASON: 1583cm
So that’s nearly 16m of observed snowfall in a period of just over 6 months, observed from the Hirafu village area near the base of Niseko Grand Hirafu. And to think, there will have been considerably more than that higher up on the slopes.
The Japan Meteorological Agency published numbers of monthly snowfall for Kutchan Town, at a slightly lower elevation than from where we do our report observations, are as follows:
November 2012: 98cm (82cm the previous November) December 2012: 306cm (349cm the previous December) January 2013: 268cm (290cm the previous January) February 2013: 228cm (216cm the previous February) March 2013: 124cm (79cm the previous March) April 2013: 27cm (30cm the previous April) Full season: 1051cm (1046cm the previous season)
Let’s hope that we can have another great season in 2013/2014.
The number of people coming to Niseko in the summer months each year is also increasing. There’s lots of things to do in the ‘Green Season’ including activities such as golf and the ‘Summer Gondola’ at Niseko Grand Hirafu, which the resort has confirmed will be operating this year from Saturday 13th July. One thing that I love about Niseko, apart from the obvious appeal of winter, is how cool the summers are. Memories of enduring the humid summer months in Tokyo still linger…!
Thank you for reading these Niseko Now reports this season. I hope that you have enjoyed them and they have been useful as an ongoing commentary of the season. Now that the daily routine of writing reports has finished I think I’m going to have a few lie-ins and try to recharge after the long winter season! I have no doubt though that after just a short period of doing that, I’ll soon be looking forward to next winter.
The Niseko Now reports will be back on SnowJapan after the summer months in time for the build up to the 2013/2014 winter season.
From myself and SnowJapan, we hope you have a good summer wherever you are, and to see you back here in autumn.
Niseko Now ski lift operation notes:
Niseko ski resorts are now closed. The 13/14 season should begin in late November.
Observed snowfall in the last 14 days
Observed snowfall in this season
Niseko Mountain Resort Grand Hirafu:
0cm snowfall in the last 7 days
2cm snowfall in May 2013
1583cm snowfall since the beginning of the season