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  1. Hi! Just looking at the lift tickets for Niseko. The individual ones are a fair bit cheaper than Niseko United. Can someone tell me the benefit of going United rather than individual? Seems to me it would be best to buy individual and spend that particular day in that area - certainly looks good enough to keep you occupied! Or am I missing something? Thanks
  2. Hokkaido Ski Club - offering ski and snowboard lessons in English in Hokkaido - has joined SnowJapan. You can find the information here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hokkaido-ski-club
  3. JonesyBo

    Clearer skies in Niseko

    I'll try my best English this time! Can someone comment please on how much clearer sunny weather we might expecting at Niseko. In middle of winter. Is that rare?
  4. In 'normal' conditions, which is quicker/easier to get to from Niseko, Kiroro or Rusutsu? We plan on having a rental car. Thanks!
  5. I can read the blurb from the Niseko Marketing Machine, but anyone been up there in summer? What's it like? I hate this rainy season (and unbearably hot summers too)9, heard Hokkaido doesn't have one. But at the same time I saw a few weeks ago some mad temps up there in Hoikkaido but that was a one off abnormality, right?
  6. Hi I know Niseko is a very popular destination and generally more crowded than most ski resorts in Japan. But the quality and consistency of snow up there is just too hard to resist, for me anyway. I'm sure things have changed in recent years. Last time I was up there was 7 seasons ago. But which area is usually the quietest these days? Presuming it's not going to be Hirafu! Keen to hear any thoughts on that.
  7. Might that be a good idea or a bad idea? I am keen to hear thoughts! Domo.
  8. Hello. I found this site and impressed with so much information in English. My English is not perfect, I will try. I am Japanese. Skiing for over 30 year now and enjoy trips to mostly Nagano, Gunma and Yamagata. I am curious about the appeal of Niseko which seems so popular place with foreign skier and snowboarder.
  9. As per title, is a long day trip from Sapporo to Niseko realistic or even possible? Perhaps just a bad idea. Time is limited but I'd love to go.
  10. In 'normal' conditions, about how long does it take to drive between Niseko and Kiroro. Thank you
  11. Our Niseko Now reporter has posted a now-traditional monthly recap and we thought it would be good to bring it to the attention of people who may not be reading those reports. This is covering the reports and information from the Niseko area of Hokkaido. And here it is: ------ A look back at the season so far: February 2019 As is tradition, here I look back over February and the season so far. You can follow my reports and snowfall numbers at any time towards the bottom of this page and on the Snowfall Analysis page. February started off really well. I was able to record fresh cm of snowfall on each of the first 16 days in February. There were no massive snowfall numbers – the most in one day was 21cm on 1st February – but we enjoyed a respectable 15-20cm or so on quite a few of the days in that first half of the month. Nice. The second half of the month was a different story. It was as if the tap had been turned off on 17th February. I added a total of just 9cm over last 12 days of the month. Check out the Snowfall Analysis page to see how much snow we usually get in the second half of February... it’s quite the contrast. Here is the amount of snowfall that I have measured close to my Hirafu base during the month of February in each of the last seven seasons: February 2019: 198cm February 2018: 299cm February 2017: 160cm February 2016: 266cm February 2015: 196cm February 2014: 178cm February 2013: 316cm So, 1m less than what I measured last season but actually fairly comparable amounts to three other seasons. In this current season, of course, the snowfall has been more noticeably weighted in that first half of the season. Here’s the 'season up to the end of February' totals over the last seven seasons: 2018/2019 season up to end of February 2019: 900cm 2017/2018 season up to end of February 2018: 1198cm 2016/2017 season up to end of February 2017: 605cm 2015/2016 season up to end of February 2016: 877cm 2014/2015 season up to end of February 2015: 1002cm 2013/2014 season up to end of February 2014: 1037cm 2012/2013 season up to end of February 2013: 1295cm Those raw total numbers (and remember, that’s what they are – they don't tell the full story) are considerably better than the 16/17 season and comparable to 15/16. A fair bit under the other seasons though. And now here we are in March. In the most recent seasons this is how much snowfall I have observed at base in March: March 2018: 49cm March 2017: 83cm March 2016: 109cm March 2015: 139cm March 2014: 113cm March 2013: 164cm ...and how much snowfall we have received from the beginning of March to the end of the season... Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2019 & end of season: ??? Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2018 & end of season: 62cm Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2017 & end of season: 83cm Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2016 & end of season: 115cm Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2015 & end of season: 142cm Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2014 & end of season: 126cm Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2013 & end of season: 196cm There's a curious pattern going on there. And it's not one that I am keen to see. 2015 aside, the amount of observed snowfall at base from March onwards has been decreasing - an impressive 2m or so in 2013; down to less than 1m in the last two seasons. That’s definitely something to ponder. Let's pondering. The last piece of data is, as always, the snowfall numbers that the Japan Meteorological Agency report from their observation station in Kutchan town. Here is what they have reported for the month of February in recent years: February 2019: 141cm February 2018: 202cm February 2017: 173cm February 2016: 210cm February 2015: 167cm February 2014: 130cm February 2013: 228cm And the JMA numbers for the ‘season so far’: 2017/2018 season up to end of February 2019: 954cm 2016/2017 season up to end of February 2018: 741cm 2015/2016 season up to end of February 2017: 698cm 2014/2015 season up to end of February 2016: 825cm 2013/2014 season up to end of February 2015: 804cm 2012/2013 season up to end of February 2014: 900cm All being well, there is still over two full months left of the 2018-2019 season with the last lifts planning to stop at the end of the day on Monday 6th May. That is a very long spring season, if we are indeed properly into spring. As you can see above (and in the archives) though, in previous seasons March has delivered some decent snowfall. So, I choose to remain hopeful that we will get some more snow and a few nice surprises. Just how much though... well, I’ll be here to take you through the rest of the season every day until the end. Even if you have been and gone already this season, please do remember your duty to continue reading my reports through until the end - I want to share with you the story of the whole season. And of course, you can also enjoy watching me start to struggle for things to write on some days as the last part of the season approaches. ;) Gambarimasu! ---- Thanks to our Niseko Now reporter. The Niseko Now reports can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports/Niseko-Now
  12. I have been to Niseko a few times over the years - first time well over 20 years ago! - but never made it to Furano and I do want to try it out maybe next season. For people who have been to Niseko, how would you rate Furano in comparison? Keen to hear any such thoughts.
  13. Hey guys. Firstly, I apologize if this is the wrong area to post this! Feel free to move if necessary 😃 I'm heading to Niseko mid to late March and I'm looking to buy a board rather than rent as myself and a few mates are planning on making Niseko an annual trip! I know there are a few stores in town where you can rent boards, but I can't seem to find too much on purchasing my own one. Would it be worth taking a trip to Kutchan? Or will I have more luck staying in Niseko? Thanks in advance!
  14. (NISEKO) Jobs Available / Employment Information on jobs available at Freedom Inn in Niseko, Hokkaido can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-general-information/employment-opportunites-at-freedom-inn-niseko
  15. (NISEKO) Jobs Available / Employment Information on jobs available at EA Ski & Snowboard in Niseko, Hokkaido can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-general-information/employment-opportunites-with-ea-ski-and-snowboard-training
  16. Accommodation Information on Pension Fuu in Kutchan, Niseko area, Hokkaido can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/hokkaido/kutchan/pension-fuu
  17. Accommodation Information on Freedom Inn in Kutchan, Niseko area, Hokkaido can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/hokkaido/kutchan/freedom-inn
  18. Hi All, I was wondering if any of you wonderful people live in or own property within the Niseko area? If so I have a few question with regard to owning property and would be most grateful if I could run some questions by you Many thanks
  19. As a lucky recipient of one of the Hanazono Powder Guides “First Tracks Backcountry Tour” giveaway, recently offered by Snow Japan, I herewith gratefully submit my review of the experience- As a bit of preamble to provide some context and a background report on my trip in general, I was boarding with a group of friends in Niseko from February 10th ~ 19th, my second time visiting this region and once again staying in the Niseko Village area of the resort. We landed on snow mid way through an unusually dry spell which had hit this part of Hokkaido. We experienced some spectacular bluebird days which although quite nice, unfortunately brought only minimal dustings of snow occasionally interrupting the generally clear skies – let’s face it if you want sunshine on your snow holiday then Niseko is probably the last place you would choose to go. This weather meant that the resort conditions were packed snow, with a well developed sun/wind crust formed on the exposed areas, moguls on the ungroomed runs, and any remaining powder amongst the trees fairly well shredded to bits by the lack of any recent fresh top-ups. By day 4 we had an improvement in the snow situation - the avalanche report stating 20cm of fresh snow overnight at the base, the day brought sunny skies with only moderate wind. This was good, allowing the top lifts to open and although the wind had scoured a lot of the new snow off the exposed areas, there were some deeper pockets to be found in gullies and amongst the trees. Knowing that my days on snow were limited, and after a taste of a little pow I had to make the call to HPG to book in my guided tour. Weather watch can sometimes be like a kind of torture - short range forecasts were fairly ambiguous, often contradicting and/or changing their tune with regard to the upcoming conditions. It was clear that there was a low pressure system trying to set up for a decent dump, but just when the storm would hit and for how long the wind would shut down the upper mountain was not clear. I took a punt and booked the tour for my second last day, crossing fingers and praying to snow gods that the storm would deliver the goods and then the weather would clear up so I would get to score lovely fresh deep powder and access to the peak gates. Two days before my tour date the storm hit, generating blizzard conditions and delivering 20cm overnight. The strong wind meant that the top lifts closed at all resorts and Niseko Village & Annupuri Gondolas also shut down. Had some good riding down low, with the wind moving so much snow around that there were plenty of fresh tracks found in the more protected areas. The day before my tour the relentless wind continued to batter the area savagely The blizzard conditions had shut down the top of the mountain once again, winds were strong enough that at both Annupuri and Hanazono only the very lowest lifts were able to open. Visibility was atrocious at times – to be able to go anywhere you really needed a guide dog who grew up on the mountain and also possessed some kind of high-tech sonar/radar gear and a GPS device - the lights came on at 1pm over at Annupuri, but they did absolutely nothing to improve the situation!! Still, the snow was quite good, and I was amping for my tour tomorrow morning. On the morning of my tour the harsh weather had not abated. I called HPG, and was told that the tour was postponed due to wind closing the top lifts and avalanche hazard shutting all but the lowest gates. I was advised that it would be possible to do a tour in 2 days once the weather cleared, however as I would be flying out by then I asked if I could do the tour in whatever terrain was available in Hanazono on the day – even if that was only Strawberry / Blueberry fields. The tour operator Joe agreed that if I was happy with this, then it could be done – this meant that I was lucky enough to be the only guest going out that day with the guide Joe jumped in his car and picked me up shortly after 7am, stopping to collect my guide Matt on the way over to Hanazono. Once we arrived at Hanazono I was given a backpack with poles, shovel & avalanche beacon, shown how to switch into search mode and follow a signal should Matt be caught in a slide. Joe stressed that I should only attempt a rescue if it was safe to do so without further endangering myself – if in doubt I was advised to get ski patrol on the scene post-haste !! Although unlikely to be used due to the areas we were able to access, it was nevertheless reassuring to know we had the gear if needed. Matt & Joe were in constant radio contact with ski patrol and the resort lifties, who updated them on the conditions, lifts and gates opening situation. The first tracks tour allows you to ride the lifts from as early as 7:30am, an hour before the general public - giving guaranteed freshies with no crowds competing for the goodness!! With another 30cm fresh snow overnight to add to the previous 2 days of snowfall I was super pumped to ride whatever was on offer - Hanazono #3 was definitely not going to open due to wind, however they were working on getting Hanazono #2 open shortly which would open up a bit more of the mountain. We got onto the base lift just before 8am as the staff were still loading chairs and did our first run through Strawberry Fields – It was wind scoured at the top but once we got amongst the trees the snow was fantastic - fresh lines all the way, knee to thigh deep and great powder conditions. Floating on the almost soundless cushion of powder snow after the abrasive noise of the crust on the ridge area was absolute bliss. This is exactly what started my addiction to Hokkaido snow riding – the effortless delight of weightless powder, coupled with experiencing nature - I love being out in the bush and it was particularly sublime to be there with only one other person riding in these conditions. Truly privileged. Some pics ( with many apologies to all of the good photographers out there ! ) At the entrance to Strawberry Fields: Upper Strawberry Fields: Traversing across to find the sweet, sweet pow: Lower Strawberries - Plenty of freshies !!!! More superb runs in Strawberries then Blueberries followed, with fresh tracks each time. Once the Hanazono #2 lift opened we headed up for a run out of Gate 9. Immediately out the gate there was a short hike across a forested plateau through thigh to waist deep snow ( initially Matt broke a trail and I tried to follow him on my board using the poles provided – but as the poles were sinking all the way down in the fresh snow I was making slow progress so I elected to unstrap and slog it on foot ) Although somewhat exhausting (Note to self – more training is required for next season!!), the effort was well worth it as Matt had lead us to a drop in point at the start of a great run down a wide open slope of deep powder which resulted in yet more fresh tracks and face-shots-a-plenty before winding our way down through the trees and joining the piste again. By now there were more punters at the bottom lift line, but Matt kept ahead of the pack by taking us through different tree runs, sometimes traversing further to get fresh lines and we rarely saw another skier. After we had gone through an area once, on the next run he would pull up at the top of a slope, discuss lines, show me our exit point and say “Plenty of room to move, some good deep snow over there – go for it mate” giving me miles of fresh untracked snow. Although we were in generally mellow terrain due to not having access to the peak gates, it was great to have a guide to lead me through the tree runs, sniff out the best powder and easily find the piste again without hitting any flat spots resulting in unnecessary walking out, or coming upon any of the nasty surprises which can happen if you are in unfamiliar terrain ( EG cliff drops, open creeks or glide cracks ). On one run we pulled up to check out a potential line near the edge of a drop in to find a newly formed cornice which had partially collapsed, Matt who pulled up first spotted it and warned me to stay back, and chose another safer entry point away from the cornice area. In all it was a great experience, I am very grateful to Snow Japan and Hanazono Powder Guides for giving me the chance to explore the great snow conditions with them. I will definitely be booking with HPG next year and hoping that the weather co-operates and allows access to the upper mountain! Thanks again for the awesome prize !!!!!!!!
  20. My first day of skiing at Hirafu. Overnight we had about 10-15 centimeters. The snow was pretty dry but hard and icy underneath. I just cruised, taking it easy and getting my legs in. photos by Tai. thanks.
  21. agillgren

    Hokkaido Touring 2013

    This site has helped gather much inspiration for our trips over the last few years.. so figured it was time to contribute back. This is our 4th ski trip to the Hokkaido (consecutive years) and this year we’ve decided to rent a car and try get around to a few more resorts as we’ve loved the smaller/quieter resorts we’ve visited on previous trips. A little background. We are snowboarders....from Aus. Both reasonably competent and love the trees and off piste-- but we are not geared up or have the avalanche knowledge for any serious back country riding. So in resort of off piste or slack country gates are more our style. Day 0 Arrive via HK. Shuttle bus to pick up the car from Toyota. All pretty easy... and loved the little test track you had to run through to get you used to driving on ice (another only in Japan). Put our mapcode into the english GPS and we were on our way. From there we had a pretty simple 2 hour drive (with food stops) to Tomamu. Now for the fun part: Tomamu We had two days here. Both fun but completely different to each other. The fist day was the end of a unusual dry spell for Hokkiado (don’t think there had been fresh snow for 1 week). Sun was shining and visibility granted some beautiful views. Although I’d always take fresh snow... it was nice to warm up the legs, scope the resort and enjoy the views. Despite lack of snow for quite a few days we still found some fresh tracks and un-sun crusty sections in the trees. I do really like the off-piste policy here too. If you sign in and get a bib and free rental helmet (if needed) and you are allowed in nearly all tree sections within the resort, and to hike to an older un-used part of the resort called “powder heaven”---- off limit/roped off areas were for an obvious reason. This opened up the resort as most tree patches between the groomers are fair game with well spaced trees. A word of warning though.. if you stay at the resort “towers” you’ll have a ride/walk or a bus trip to register each day. On the morning on the second day I was beginning to despair that the promised front hadn’t delivered as much snow as hoped. They we wen’t for lunch and the snow turned on. We got around 15cm in 2 hours. Groomers transformed into easy powder runs and the trees came to life. The large amount of off-piste terrain and small number of people made this an awesome afternoon. We stayed in a lovely little pension (Pension Ing) a 5 min drive from Tomamu, run by a very sweet local couple. It has an Onsen and breakfast and dinner included which were delicious. If you don’t have a car I’m pretty sure they drive you to the slopes. Despite the language barrier the owners were always keen to help or give tips-- we even shared a few laughs. If you’re not keen on the resort prices/feel I’d really recommend this place. Onto Sahoro today then towards Asahikawa.
  22. Two weeks till our 2014 trip and the snow stalking and general frothing at the mouth is in full swing. One of the things I always like to do is start reading the area/avi reports to get an idea of what condition the snow pack is is. This was in today's niseko now avalanche report: "The upper sections of Annupuri West Ridge are often glare ice, ice crust and generally very difficult snow conditions. Yesterday Hirafu Patrol rescued a guided tour customer on West Ridge. This is no place for guides to be taking customers. If you want to ride the west face and sidewalls please take the North face and come around to Chinpoku Rock. Always take care on the West face(coordinate F7)" Does anyone know which map they are referring to? It would be a handy thing to look at - making sure I'm understanding where they are talking about? The normal terrain map I've seen for there (comes with the niseko rules) doesn't have that level of detail or map coordinates. And yes I did try the original report website but I couldn't spot it.
  23. My wife just text me about an avalanche up there, but a quick google search didn't show anything. Anyone else heard abourlt this?
  24. Hi all, I've just arrived in Niseko for the season and I'm new to the area. I've brought with me an empty Snowpulse refillable cylinder, foolishly I thought it would be easy to have this refilled but it is proving not to be - from what I've learnt the only options are scuba shops in Sapporo and Otaru. Does anyone have any experience with getting airbag cylinders refilled locally to Niseko? Thanks.
  25. Is Niseko still the best place to ski compared to other European and American ski resorts? Where is the most reasonable place to stay in Hokkaido and ski?


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