Japan – Niseko

”Welcome to the ’United Nations of  Niseko’. This is not Japan”


That is how I was greeted by my hosts and long lost Banff mates Tash and Andres. It’s been two weeks since getting back from Japan and I had the best time possible. 2,5 weeks of snowboarding and hanging out with good friends was just what I needed after a long and rainy winter in Sweden with no mountains in sight.


Flying from Stockholm to Sapporo on the north island Hokkaido only takes around 15 hours. From there you can either catch a bus all the way to Niseko or go by train to Kutchan and from there catch a bus. Train is cheaper but takes a little longer plus you’ll need to change lines. I was lucky to get greeted at the airport by another friend from previous seasons in Canada and New Zeeland. Since he has spent the whole winter in Niseko he new his way around and unorganized as I have grown to be I did not have to think at all. The trainride takes about 3 hours.


Moorea Lodge – your home away from home


As mentioned earlier I was staying with Tash and Andres in the lodge they have been managing for the winter. These guys have really done an awesome job and I couldn’t have stayed at a better place! The location is spot on, just down the main restaurant street. The shuttle bus stops right outside your doorstep with a very short walking distance to everything in town. The lodge itself has a super cozy vibe and the common area feels like a living room where everyone would hang out after a day on the mountain. Tash and Andres really took good care of me during my stay and gave so many good tips on where to go for food, onsen, powderhunts etc.


Niseko welcomed me with dry, fluffy powder


My first day offered a lot of fresh snow in the morning. We made sure to be up in time to cue for first tracks. And what a day! They said it may have been one of the better days of the season, the snow felt bottomless, although I was told it can feel even better than that. Amazing is the word for it! Mostly we rode in Niseko Grand Hirafu and Hanazono, two of the ski resorts that Niseko United consists of. My first day of riding really did offer me everything; from sick powder turns to building a backcountry kicker and dropping trees and pillows. The next few days where equally awesome with fresh snow every day.


Niseko Grand Hirafu. Can’t wait to go snowboarding again ?

Ett inlägg delat av Christine Persson (@jennychristinep)



Spring riding in Japan


The next week or so got really warm, with bluebird days and slush. I did not expect it to be as sunny as it was and burnt my face so bad. Do not forget to use sunscreen people! So Japan offered me some great park riding too. I thought not snowboarding for 8 months would make me feel like a scared little baby in the park but I had so much fun! There is something special about nailing a new trick that beats so many other feelings. And riding with a great companion who pushes you to do things you did not think you could do, that’s when you fall in love with the sport.


Backcountry riding in an abondoned ski resort in Iwanai


One of the days Andres took another guy staying at the lodge and myself  for a hike up an abondoned ski resort about an hour drive from Niseko. I was ment to hire snow shoes but put my spending pants on and went for a splitboard. My first time splitboarding, and man is it easier than snow shoeing! Iwanai is a very very small town with maybe the ugliest waterfront I have ever seen. But it was really cool having the ocean behind you all the way up the mountain and the view at the top was amazing. Great day with great people and even if the snow wasn’t what you typical would think of in Japan, bottomless pow, we still had loads of fun.



A couple days later we went for a day trip to Kiroro. I really appreciate going with people that know the area, saves you a lot of possible hikes out of flat valleys and getting lost. Kiroro is a fun resort that gets a lot of snow, but I personally found it really flat. It’s weird how they choose to place resorts sometimes, this was like in between the mountains in the valley. As a snowboarder I would prefer steeper terrain with less traverses.



Fresh snow in Sapporo Kokusai


My original plan was to leave for Sapporo the day before flying out to see some Japanese culture. As I mentioned earlier Niseko isn’t very Japanese. It feels more like being in a snowy Australia. But I was blessed with a heavy snowfall in Sapporo Kokusai. I am so happy we decided to go there for my last day instead of walking around a city in a snow storm. It was insane, we were welcomed with lots of fresh snow and it just kept coming throughout the day covering up our tracks. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my holiday! From what I have understood there are no buses to Kokusai from Niseko. But if you manage to get there I strongly recommend it. The place doesn’t get very busy and you are likely to get most of the powder to yourself!


Sapporo by night


While my friends headed back to Niseko I got dropped of by a train station to be able to catch my flight the next morning. Ben, the guy from the lodge we went hiking with the week before had offered me to stay at his Air Bnb. It was nice having a friend to hang out with. He’d been in the city for the past few days so again I lucked out with a private ”tour guide”. After a stroll in town we went for some food which was pretty interesting. It is not so common to speak english and being a terrible tourist I hadn’t learnt a word Japanese. That made ordering vegan-ish food really interesting and my expectations were set low. Somehow I got a 100% dairy and meat free meal (maybe not the most filling meal but still). In general, eating out as a vegetarian/vegan in Japan is a bit tricky. Almost everything contains either fish sauce or chicken broth. Also since all list of ingredients are in Japanese it’s not so easy knowing what is ”safe” to buy.



When ”should” you go here?

I went to Niseko quite late in the season. If you want to be guaranteed the amount of snow that Japan is so well known for then January- February is the time to go. An old seasonal housemate got in touch with me and asked if I was an idiot since I went there pretty late in the season. But March can still be really good! I feel like I got the best of both worlds, powder and park. Plus there were a lot less people.


All in all I had the best time in Japan and hope to come back someday!




Snowboarding Niseko Japan


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