Jump to content
SnowJapan Community
  • Sign Up
Sign in to follow this  
TICesk

Tips for Hakuba vs. Niseko

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone!

 

First time poster and in desperate need of some good advice for where I should be going.

 

Just to give you some context, I have decided that I am going to Japan for two and half months (Starting Feb. 3rd or so) and I will be getting a season pass for either Niseko or Hakuba, but the problem is it's just way too hard to decide between the two! I've done a lot of preliminary research on the differences between the two, but I was really hoping I could get some more specific information here. I'll try to be as precise as possible in describing what's important to me, so lets get started!

 

First and foremost, regardless of snow conditions in either place, one of the most important things for me to know is which of the two places has the better terrain park, and even more specifically, which place has better rails, jibs, bonks and those kinds of features. I like a good tabletop too, but I find the quality of the build is usually the most important thing when looking at jumps. I consider myself an advanced rider which I only mention because while a place may have a "lot" of rails and jumps, if they're designed for newer riders I'm really not all that interested, so if anyone could help shed some light on which place is better in the park department that would be awesome! and very much appreciated. In a similar vein, as soon as I arrived in either place, I would likely be looking to meet up / hook up with other people with similar freestyle interests. Any preference there? oh, and any advice on where to look for networking for this would be awesome!

 

The next big thing I would like to know is, what's the difference in nightlife between the two? While this question has been asked a lot, I wanted to ask it from a slightly different perspective than it usually is. Since I am not someone who is going to be there for a week or two, theres a few specific things I was hoping someone could shed some light on.

First, is one place noticably more expensive for just about everything like food, drinks, and the like? And is the Niseko nightlife mainly geared toward wealthy tourists only there for a few days? As someone who loves live music, does one place have many more opportunities to see some great local bands, DJ sets, rock bands, etc.? are there any venues for that sort of thing in either place?

 

While I may be a park rat at heart, I could certainly do that here in CO, so I was wondering, as far as backcountry, bowls, trees and freeriding goes, is it even possible that I would be in short supply of these things at either resort? keep in mind this is for Feb - Early April so that could factor in. What I'm really looking for is, lets say between niskeo and hakuba 47 and Happo-one only, which would better satisfy my freeriding needs?

 

I know this already very long, and I apologize, but the last thing I was hoping all you fine people could help me out with is..... how different are the two in terms of japanese cultural experience? I've heard Niseko is definitely less of Japanese cultural immersion and Hakuba more, but I was more looking for the degrees between the two. Is Niseko almost entirely Australian run bars and companies? would I be able to have a conversation in japanese (I speak japanese) with the owners of a local run ramen place before I step outside and greet some japanese locals walking by in their fur coats? or is it all australian tourists? I know this is a vague question, but I would like to try to narrow down the overall vibe of each place. for example very touristy feels like sydney or feels like a locals only mountain town or lost town in the mountains with little contact (these examples are mostly just jokes btw)

 

Thank you very much any one who takes the time to read this, and a HUGE thank you to anyone who takes the time to actually respond! This is starting to go down as one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made. And while I know I have some contradictory points in there, (i.e. good nightlife vs. touristy feel etc) I'm more just trying to nail down the feel of each to help me decide.

 

As a final note, if anyone can comment on the quality of the skatepark for Hakuba and Niseko, that would also help a lot.

Thanks Again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's Hakuba 47's park taken by someone on the lift. You can also see some of the backcountry in the distance.

[media='']

[/media]

 

Late season in Hakuba sees some bowly action as well in the park at Happo or Tsugaike, if you're originally a skate rat. There's an indoor skate park in Hakuba too, fwiw. (maybe turn your speakers down before clicking)

 

[media='']

[/media]

 

In recent years, there have three or four big name DJ events a season. The big one last season was Darren Emerson. Its hard for promoters in Japanese cities to fill a club on a weekday, so that's why they come.

 

There are plenty of Japanese people at either Hakuba or Niseko to talk to, don't worry about that.

Niseko stays colder longer toward the end of the season, so there's more chance of powder days there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a park guy at all, and it seems a long way to come to just (or mostly) ride park.

 

In terms of the extra stuff you're looking for.....have you considered staying in a city like Sapporo? It's got Teine and Kokusai resorts in the city, and I seem to recall someone telling me that Kokusai usually has a decent park. Rusutsu is easily accessible as is Kiroro and Niseko isn't that far away. If you hook up with a crew of people then Furano, Kamui and the like are a bit further by car the other way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mt Granview - this only one poofteenth of the total mega park

 

Vail-Lifts-Terrain-05.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a park guy at all, and it seems a long way to come to just (or mostly) ride park.

 

In terms of the extra stuff you're looking for.....have you considered staying in a city like Sapporo? It's got Teine and Kokusai resorts in the city, and I seem to recall someone telling me that Kokusai usually has a decent park. Rusutsu is easily accessible as is Kiroro and Niseko isn't that far away. If you hook up with a crew of people then Furano, Kamui and the like are a bit further by car the other way.

 

Good call.

 

Asari has a dedicated park which is also available at night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I am choosing between the two, I would choose Hokkaido over Hakuba. My reasons are

 

1. I love Sapporo (gives you a city feel for when you don't want to be on the mountain and just want to chill)

2. Hokkaido girls are awesome

3. The food is awesome!

4. Variety of resorts with the best powder in the world.

 

Don't get me wrong Hakuba is great and I go every year, but Hokkaido is just better

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Park riding in Niseko would be nothing to what you are used to in the US. I would go as far as to say that there isn't a park in Niseko (2-3 jump/tabletop, a couple of beginners rails etc). Also seems a long way to go. Spo much snow/powder makes maintaining parks a pain. Spend half in Hakuba and half in Hokkaido.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for the responses! All the pictures and videos were a big help, but any advice is very much appreciated. I feel like I've got a much better handle on things now, but it seems to me like everyone is getting really hung up on the whole park riding thing.... and I also see now that my initial post was too long so that's understandable. If you could help me out just one more time, I have much shorter questions I hope you can help with!

 

1.) In your experience or opinion, which place seems more likely to have kids in the 18-30 year old range that I could easily meet and shred with after I arrive? Hakuba or Niseko? Doesn't have to be park riding, just where do you think am I more likely to meet up with other people around my age doing essentially the same thing. Is one place more of an older crowd, does one place usually only have people for a a couple days? is there a difference at all?

 

2.) Which town do you like better and Why? Thank you Dcx3 for your thoughts! That's the kind of stuff I like to hear. Do you like one because it's quieter? because it feels more authentic japanese? are the people cooler? because there's more stuff to do around there when you're not shredding and want to chill?

 

Again, tough questions to answer but I have faith in you all! Thanks so much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having lived in both Nagano and Hokkaido for at least 4 years each, I'd say you can't got wrong with either Hakuba, Niseko or Sapporo to be honest. For apres ski, Hakuba has echoland etc and there's definitely bars and things in Niseko. For park stuff, Hakuba has Happo Banks and I would say more rails/boxes/big kickers/half pipes than Niseko where there's, obviously, better pow pow.

 

http://vimeo.com/108433930

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having only been to both on the odd weekend trip, perhaps isn't the best to decide on BUT here's my tuppence worth anyway....both are great places to ride, both have bars and restaurants and club nights. Niseko, specifically Hirafu village, is more compact.....most of the bars and restaurants are clustered in Hirafu and an easy walk....Hakuba seemed much more spread out but there were buses and taxis around so it wasn't a problem. I would say that maybe Niseko has more young people hanging around but they are of the Aussie variety and it seemed to me most of them were on some Club 18-30/Spring Break type ride. This has been increasing in Hakuba I guess but still more of this type of tourist in Niseko IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TICesk here's my 2 cents. You are missing the point of coming to Japan. Put your park board away, buy a Fish or similar and come ride pow until it stops falling then ride park. It all about the pow son. If you are doing that go to Hakuba. Many more options and isn't tracked to death by 11am like Niseko except maybe Cortina.

 

Check out this vid. It pretty much sums up the trip someone your age had last year, I don't know the guy but tell me this is less fun than park.

 

http://vimeo.com/110312833

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are missing the point of coming to Japan.

Unless, of course, that is what you enjoy most and what you want to do.

 

:confused:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's your budget?

 

Season pass in Niseko is big big money compared to everywhere else. Also, is there a season pass for 'hakuba'? There are plenty of resorts in the Hakuba area.

 

Personally, I think you'd be missing the point too if you spent all of your time in the park here. It's a good end of season thing to do but mid-season you'd lose a lot of time waiting for the resort staff to dig everything out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone coming to Japan and not visiting Mt Granview is absolutely and quite spectacularly missing the point.

 

:grandpa:

 

The title of this thread should be:

 

"Tsugaike Kogen vs Mt Granview"

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's your budget?

 

Season pass in Niseko is big big money compared to everywhere else. Also, is there a season pass for 'hakuba'? There are plenty of resorts in the Hakuba area.

 

Personally, I think you'd be missing the point too if you spent all of your time in the park here. It's a good end of season thing to do but mid-season you'd lose a lot of time waiting for the resort staff to dig everything out.

Currently no Hakuba Valley season pass but it is in the development stages for next season (2015-2016)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone coming to Japan and not visiting Mt Granview is absolutely and quite spectacularly missing the point.

 

:grandpa:

 

The title of this thread should be:

 

"Tsugaike Kogen vs Mt Granview"

 

Tsugaike Kogen

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

2.) Which town do you like better and Why? Thank you Dcx3 for your thoughts! That's the kind of stuff I like to hear. Do you like one because it's quieter? because it feels more authentic japanese? are the people cooler? because there's more stuff to do around there when you're not shredding and want to chill?

 

1. Both Hakuba and Niseko have a lot of the young crowd. Hakuba might have more local Japanese young crowd as people from Osaka/Kansai area and Tokyo people go to Hakuba. Where as maybe there is more foreigner young crowd at Niseko.

 

2. If I am going to a place for 2 months I am probably going to spend some time in the nearest largest town or city. Nagano city has a population of just under 400,000 and Sapporo has a population just under 2 million people. Sapporo will have a greater variety of bars, restaurants and meeting places and things to do. But because Nagano and Hakuba is on the main island it will give you the option to pop over to places such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto for a few days if you feel like exploring something new.

I don't usually go to a snow resort for authentic japanese experiences unless I go to a resort with an onsen like Zao or Nozawa. Its also hard to say if one place has cooler people or not because you can meet cool people wherever you, but you can meet some real idiots wherever you go. It is all luck in that regard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once again, thanks guys for all the insights opinions on things, especially DCx3, ygrene, and TubbyBeaverinho. You guys are awesome.

haha don't any of you worry, I never had any intention of shredding park all day anywhere and I think anyone who would avoid a good pow day is clinically insane. It is, however, important that for a two month stretch I have something decent to be lapping on a regular basis when there's no freshy pow to slash, and I genuinely love popping cab 5's and back lip 270's on a slushy bluebird day almost as much. :) Budget is not really an issue as long as I don't go completely nuts, but that is certainly a good consideration!

 

When it comes to long term or semi long term travel I am usually a firm believer that the longer you stay in one place the better. At this point point I think I'm leaning towards Hakuba for the majority of the trip, but I've always wanted to visit Hokkaido so I figure two weeks in Niseko with some visits to Sapporo should do me just fine. Seems like a good idea to me, but does anyone have any thoughts on this plan? If I'm doing Feb through the end of march when do you think would be the best time to do Niseko? first or last? Hopefully this is the last time I have to bug you guys but thanks again for all the help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you can expect a mixed bag in Hakuba in February (especially towards the end of the month). There are always rain events at that time of year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

sjf2019l.png

About SnowJapan

SnowJapan.com is the independent guide to skiing and snowboarding in Japan and has been online since 1999.

SnowJapan.com covers the whole of Japan. We are here to introduce the world to unbiased, honest and detailed information about winter sports in Japan. We publish exclusive and in-depth and daily content throughout the winter season and we add new functionality and content to the site every year.

We are not here to promote any specific destinations or resorts, or to sell our readers any kind of products or services. We are not a travel agency and we do not own any ski resorts, ski schools, accommodations or other related businesses.

×