Niseko

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By Jean-Luc Brassard, Special Contributor and Olympic Champion

Niseko is surely no longer the best-kept secret in the world. With its abundance of snow all winter long, averaging one metre per week, this magnificent mountain obviously attracts more than its fair share of powder hounds from around the globe. The popularity of the resort has brought many advantages including improvements to the lift infrastructure, more restaurant options, and an openness to foreign languages—which, needless to say, has made life that much easier for us tourists!

But, with so many visitors, you may be wondering if Niseko still has fresh snow to enjoy. I’m happy to say that this vast four-resort mountain has tons to satisfy skiers of every level, including some
easy-to-access secret spots that are sure to captivate even the most discerning of experts.

One of the high points of any trip to Niseko is decidedly that moment when you find yourself at the very summit of the mountain, where no lift can take you. After a short hike, when the weather cooperates—and when the patrollers allow—you can take in the spectacular views of the Sea of Japan on one side while, on the other, Mount Yotei, which happens to be an active volcano. After an intense photo-snapping session inspired by the beauty of your surroundings, you are ready to tackle your choice of two skiable slopes. Best of all, after your one-kilometre powder descent, both of these trails end at the base of the lifts, in sectors on complete opposite sides!

You’ll want to start over again and again, especially when the weather is cooperating. After all, if Niseko has this much snow, you’ll understand that it also gets its share of snow storms. Contrary to our low-pressure systems, which move quite slowly, those in northern Japan move incredibly fast. In a three-hour timeframe, you can easily experience sun, cloud, violent winds and… 20 cm of fresh snow!

That being said, temperatures are generally milder when compared to our Canadian winters, although the strong Siberian winds responsible for the abundant snow here can sometimes leave the most hardened winter sport enthusiasts feeling a chill.

Japan is obviously not the easiest destination to get to. But, it is guaranteed to be a unique escape. So, make sure you extend your stay long enough to discover all that this pristine, safe and very welcoming country has to offer.

Sayonara!

 



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EXCURSIONS

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Niseko, Japan

Accompanied by

January 18, 2018 to January 28, 2018


$ 4 995 / pers.
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Text from 2015-2016 ski magazine

 

Japow

By Brigitte Trottier and Frédéric Jean, Special Contributors Skiing in Japan is an incredibly unique experience we guarantee you’ll never forget. The charm of the Japanese culture and the sheer joy of skiing some gorgeous powder are just two of the reasons you are sure to love a ski vacation in Japan. Your trip will start off with a few nights at one of the downtown core’s magnificent hotels. This will give you a chance to explore Tokyo and discover all that Japan’s modern culture has to offer. Visit the most popular neighbourhoods or go off the beaten path— the choice is yours! Indulge in some local delicacies or try foods you’ve never seen or heard of before! This brief stay in Tokyo will give you enough time to shake off the jet lag, and satisfy your curiosity for Japanese culture before you are ready to hit the slopes. Next stop: Niseko on the Island of Hokkaido!

You’ve probably heard all about the everpopular “japow”—or Japanese powder— and now is your chance to experience it for yourself. You’ll have a blast skiing this superbly light and incredibly abundant snow. The cold winds from Siberia pick up moisture over the Sea of Japan to form snow clouds that leave an impressive blanket of japow on the mountain, day after day, all winter long. Niseko offers endless fields of powder accessible through a gated system which strictly controls access to individual areas based on the day’s conditions. And, the morning after a good snowstorm, don’t go searching for the nice mechanically groomed runs—tracks will already be made for you by the many, many skiers who have tackled the mountain first.

For a change of scenery and the chance to experience a playfully unique ski resort, you might want to spend a day at Rutsusu a tremendously vast ski area which, although lower in elevation, is known for its wooded valleys offering practically uninterrupted access to that fabulous japow. If your visit coincides with a recent snowfall (which is very likely), you will be treated to endless hillsides of untouched snow just waiting to be explored.

Both of these mountains are exceptionally well groomed, and every run will take you back to the highly efficient chairlifts or gondolas. Just use the easy-to-follow signs to find your favourite runs and enjoy a day of skiing at temperatures oscillating around –10 degrees Celcius.

The time spent on the slopes is only part of what makes this vacation so wonderful. You’ll also enjoy some fantastic après-ski time, starting with a dip in the hotel’s Japanese hot spring—or, onsen—which you’ll be addicted to in no time. After a relaxing soak, you can choose to dine at one of the hotel’s restaurants or take a shuttle and make your way off to discover cuisine as varied and enjoyable as the day’s adventures.

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Ski stations Accommodations Snow Conditions
TEMPERATURE (CELSIUS)
Month Min. Max.
January -7
February -7 1
March -3 4
April 2 11
May 7 17
June 12 21
July 17 25
August 18 26
September 13 22
October 6 16
November 1 8
December -4 2

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