Niseko lies at the base of an extinct volcano called Yotei in Hokkaido the most northern island of Japan. Some of you will remember that the winter Olympic Games 1972 took place in Sapporo on Hokkaido.
The idea for this trip started while driving through Paraguay when we received an e-mail from Katrina, Tony’s sister who lives in Australia asking us to join her and Mark for a 2 week skiing trip in Japan. Our initial response was – no, too far and wrong time of the year to visit Japan.
However when Margie, Tony’s other sister suggested that we could stay until the famous cherry blossom in April- skiing in February 2017 suddenly sounded like a lot of fun.
Now a week into our Japan holiday, we are having a great time. We are staying in a fabulous house owned by Australians. Apart from Katrina and Mark we are joined by Mark’s brother Ian and his wife Gilly -all expert off piste powder snow skiers. We mostly ski on piste with the other friends Mike and Ulli. It ‘s been snowing every day since we arrived 80cm so far and apart from poor visibilty and at times freezing blizzard like conditions, skiing in Japan is fabulous! The resort is full of Australians and people from Hongkong.
Apparently the powder snow here is some of the driest and lightest in the world. Interestingly compared to European alpine ski resorts, Niseko lies much lower at only 216m and the mountain top is at 1200, so we ski mostly at tree level.
After skiing we all go to the local Onsen to have a shower and soak outside in hot sulphurous spring pools surrounded by snow. Everybody is naked but men and women are strictly segregated in these pools.
Thursday we drove to Noboribetsu which has a famous Onsen, you can smell the sulphur from miles away. The baths received great fame when the town was designated as a health resort for injured soldiers following the 1904–5 Russo-Japanese War and remain Hokkaido’s most famous onsen today.
The source of the waters is Jigoku-dani, a hissing, steaming volcanic pit above town.
We have been sampling lots of different japanese food, including japanese curry and goulash at lunch time on the mountain. We have also been eating Hokkaido potatoes, I am still to try Japanese Wiener schnitzel.
We are off to Hakodate on Friday, more updates then. XxF