With the promise of season-long powder and a snow culture to boot, Aussie ski bums are descending on Japan’s best resorts. Here are the best places to go.
Possibly the most recognisable name of all of Japan’s ski areas, Niseko is a hit with Australian skiers and snowboarders.
We’re drawn to all the snow that seems to continually fall each season across the four independently-owned resorts that make up Niseko.
Travel website www.powderhounds.com rates it the best resort in Japan for terrain and powder.
It’s on Hokkaido, the country’s smaller northern island, about 100km southwest of Sapporo. It has terrain suitable for everyone, and you’re even allowed to ride off-piste and out-of-bounds.
If you’re after choice then head straight to Hakuba, which is actually a valley comprising 10 resorts. The resort is on Honshu, about an hour’s drive west of Nagano.
This is where the Winter Olympics was held in 1998, but don’t let that put you off if you’re a beginner or intermediate – the terrain largely caters to you.
Think powder and variety when you think of Rusutsu. Located 90 minutes south-west of Sapporo, Rusutsu is the largest ski resort on Hokkaido.
It’s a resort that has a reputation for plenty of deep, dry snow and tree skiing, and www.powderhounds.com describes the snow as “absolute bliss”.
The terrain is fairly gentle so it’s a great spot to get used to riding powder.
This season has also seen the introduction of a new off-piste park area called Side Country Park. It’s all about natural features, including log rides and drops.
Australian ski bunnies head in droves to Furano, on Hokkaido. One of Japan’s larger resorts, it has plenty of long groomers.
The trees and off-piste is policed here, too, but you can join a backcountry tour and also go snowmobiling.
Furano isn’t blessed with as much powder as Japan’s other popular resorts, (it gets about nine metres each season) but enough flakes fall to make it frequently knee deep.
It’s also said to be one of the steepest mountains in Hokkaido.