Niseko is the area that put Japan on the world map for international skiers and snowboarders and it continues to be one of the most popular ski resort towns in the country, simply because of the massive amounts of high-quality powder that falls here.
About Niseko Ski Resort
Niseko ski resort, or Niseko United, is located on Mt Annupuri in the South West of Hokkaido, some 20kms from the Sea of Japan. Niseko is made up of 4 linked resorts; Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri and Hanazono.
Niseko United is seen as Japan’s premier resort and certainly not without reason; a snowfall of over 14m’s per season; a continuous vertical drop of 1000m; a massive selection of terrain including off-piste, trees, park, pipe, night skiing, long groomers, bumps and one of Japan’s most progressive backcountry policies – the list never ends. It’s an epic mountain with something for everyone, even breathtaking views of Mt Yotei, a dormant conical shaped volcano.
In the 2009/2010 season it is said that Niseko had more than 18 meters of snow fall over the whole season. In January 2011 it snowed 29 out of 31 days, with about half of those being pow days of over 30cms. That’s a lot of fresh snow!
Hokkaido and Japan
Of course, there are many renowned powder destinations around the world, but very few compare to Japan’s unique environment. As a country that receives one of the highest snowfalls in the world, you’d almost expect the snow to be a little wet and heavy. Think Tahoe or Whistler: huge amounts of snow, but not as dry as their in-land counterparts like Colorado and Banff.
Japan gets the best of both worlds. Northwest winds bring intense cold air streams and strengthening weather systems down from Siberia picking up just enough moisture on their way over the Sea of Japan. And the first thing these systems hit is the mountains of Hokkaido, where they bust their almighty load unleashing some of the driest powder snow in the world.
A fascinating country of contrasts…
How many places around the world can you ski or ride and experience such a unique culture at the same time?
Japan has an ancient history and culture steeped in tradition, with tranquil Buddhist temples, Shrines and Zen gardens; the grace and style of tea ceremonies, the quiet appreciation of cherry blossom and the change of season. From that to the hustle and bustle of the third largest economy in the world, where the majority of its 120 million population is based in 30% of the landmass in its massive sprawling cities… leaving the powdery mountains to those who crave it!
A natural wilderness…
Hokkaido is second largest, most Northern and least developed of Japans four main islands. Very popular tourist destination for Japanese and international visitors alike, with less humidity during summer than areas further south and amazing snow during the winter.
Hokkaido is approximately the size of Ireland, but only has a population of 5 million. So while Japan is known for its population density, Hokkaido is the exception.