Working and Living in 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.

Living in Japan is a unique experience. It's not like doing a season in Europe or North America. Here you get all the comforts of a developed country but a real cultural experience. Oh... and did we mention the snow?


Let's be honest... Japanese isn't an easy language to learn. It has three different alphabets and literally thousands of characters. There are parts of Japan where people don't speak any English at all - but that's half the fun!

Fortunately, Niseko is an international resort and as a result of all the international influences, English is spoken in many businesses. It is fair to say that you could get by without speaking any Japanese most of the time. That said, this is still Japan, so bars, restaurants and local supermarkets will give plenty of opportunity to practice basic greetings and phrases. The more Japanese you can learn, the more fun you can have interacting with Japanese locals. And the more effort you make with this, the more you'll be rewarded with some true Japanese sincerity and kindness.


Japanese manners and customs are very different from those in the Western world. Expect to see formal and extremely polite behaviour when meeting Japanese people (usually with lots of bowing). Hand shakes are becoming more common in business and when meeting foreigners, but be careful if bowing while handshaking at the same time - head butts are not standard forms of greeting!

Onsen bathing, appropriate use of chopsticks, removal of shoes indoors, and slurping noodles are just some of the fun cultural challenges. You will not be expected to behave like the Japanese in every way, but trying to learn a few of the local customs will endear you to your hosts.


Japan has one of the most sophisticated food cultures in the world. There are so many culinary delights to be sampled that it'll take you way more than a season to try them all.

There are plenty of restaurants in Hirafu and the surrounding area and a 24hr convenience store for late night snacks or quick lunches. Accommodations are fitted with kitchens so you can cook up your own gastronomic delights and trips to the supermarket for 'mystery' ingredients makes for an interesting voyage of discovery.

Working in Niseko

Niseko is fast becoming the resort of choice for not only the Australian market but also the Asian market, particularly Hong Kong, Mainland China and increasingly Singapore and Korea. The resort requires a significant number of English-speaking staff to provide snowsports school, hotel, shop, rental bar and restaurant services.

Our 13 week courses have a work placement element where you will teach for a local ski school. During this time you will NOT be required to teach in Japanese, English only.

Overall, Niseko presents a unique opportunity to experience working in a Japanese resort without the necessity of having to be fluent in Japanese.