Happy New Year from us here in Japan.
And what a start we have had this season!
People particularly in the northern island of Hokkaido have been having to regularly dig themselves out of deep snow with some very consistent and heavy snowfalls since the season started.
Niseko is possibly the most well-known of the ski resorts in Japan with overseas visitors and attracts many people from all over the world – and more each season as the word continues to spread. Traditionally the main market was from Australia, and while there is still a very strong Australian presence in Niseko and lots of Australians make the trip each winter, you can now hear all sorts of languages being spoken in town. It certainly has a different feel to it than most other Japanese ski resorts.
Niseko by no means boasts the steepest terrain in Japan, but it does boast some of the most consistent and quality snowfalls in Japan. Some say even the world. And they may be right.
The season in Niseko started on November 23rd 2012, and since that date a massive 9m of snow has fallen at the base of the mountain. That's pretty impressive and if you take a look at the daily reporting SnowJapan posts from Niseko each morning throughout the winter season, you'll see regular 20cm and 30cm of snow each day:
The thing most people complain about is the lack of sun, though I don't think they say it with a straight face!
Last season the central town area of Kutchan, which is a few km from the base of the ski resort, officially recorded snowfall of just under 10.5m. Popular thinking has the snowfall on the mountain at least 1.5 times that amount. So with 9m already at the base of the ski hill and with the season running through until May (usually decent snowfalls through into March), I think we might be on for another bumper season up there.
Next time we'll take a look at another popular ski resort region of Japan.