Japan’s outstanding success as a ski destination can be summed up in one simple word – snow. Our Ski Specialist Iona is one of our resident Niseko experts after spending a season there working as a ski instructor. Read on for her Niseko highlights, and why it’s a destination not to be missed.
Whistler and Niseko are two of the most popular ski destinations with Australians. So why have the British been so slow in exploring Niseko? Depending on flight connection times the journey can be only a couple hours longer than the journey from the UK to most North American resorts. Those extra couple of hours will offer you a holiday different to any other you have experienced before.
Unique Skiing Experience
Niseko is all about the powder. If you’re not confident in powder, don’t let that put you off. Within a week of lessons, confident first time skiers can find themselves venturing into deeper powder through tree lines. Niseko offers a beginners ski experience like no other resort.
Those skiers who are going to Niseko for a challenge will not be disappointed. The mountain is made up of four large sections – Hanazono, Hirafu, Niskeo Village and Annupuri. There’s endless terrain to cover – trust me, in a full season I didn’t manage to cover it all! However if this isn’t enough and you are looking for a real challenge, there is the hike up Mount Yotei. This is truly a unique experience. It’s one of the only places in the world you can hike a dormant volcano and ski/snowboard down. For those who are fit enough to go a step further you can even ski/snowboard into the top bowl but you have to be prepared to hike back out. There are definitely no chairlifts up there!
Ski Lessons with a Difference
I managed to get through a whole season in Niseko without learning Japanese. I really didn’t need to and as a result I only learnt hello and thank you so I could be polite. My lessons were all in English with clients from places including the UK, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Each lesson is different. They ranged from first timers learning to ski, to groups of experienced skiers who want a guide of the mountain to find the best powder. Night skiing classes were some of the best classes I ever taught through the season. The lighting they use provides added definition to the snow, which gives a completely different glare to that of sun light. The peace and stillness of the mountain also offers an incredibly tranquil experience, I can’t recommend it enough!
If you’re looking to experience Japan I recommend the Ki Niseko for simplicity and ease. The hotel is one of the newest luxury hotels in Niseko, and marries rustic alpine charm with modern Japanese elegance. It combines full hotel-level service with a fabulous location. Instructors meet you for lessons in the boot room and offer assistance to the slopes. When lessons are finished and it’s time to relax, head back to the hotel and enjoy one of the private onsens unique to the Ki Niseko hotel.
When it comes to the après scene in Hirafu there’s a huge range of options. My personal favourites were the cosy bars. You take your shoes off on entering and play board games while drinking cocktails and listening to live music. If you’re looking for something more traditional there’s plenty options for that too.
Take the Trip
Flying from London Heathrow, transfer at Tokyo and arrive at Sapporo. Take a private transfer to your choice of accommodation.
Stay in Niseko for 7 nights and enjoy 6 days of skiing. If you want a day elsewhere, head to Rusutsu for some great off piste tree skiing.
After your week in Niseko, take a private transfer to Sopporo and fly to Osaka and the train onwards to Kyoto. The trip is worth it, here you’ll experience traditional Japan. Famous for its classical Buddhist temples, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses.
After 3 nights, hop on the bullet train past Mt Fiji to Tokyo to experience modern Japan. Visit the Senso-je temple, or walk through the Harajuku to experience wacky modern Japan at its best. The Tokyo Sky tree tower and Shibuya crossing is also worth visiting.
Fly back to London Heathrow from Tokyo after an amazing 14 days.
Feeling inspired? Get in touch with our Ski Specialists for personal recommendations for your trip. Submit an enquiry online or call us on 0131 243 8097.