There are hundreds of ski resorts here, and Hokkaido, Japan’s north island, has some of the world’s best powder snow. Niseko is a mountain with three connected villages and ski areas… Annupuri, Niseko Village and Grand Hirafu. There is great skiing for all levels. There is a good beginners’ area, but also long, challenging pistes – the longest run is almost 5.6km – and interesting tree skiing through the quivering, leafless silver birches, and most runs have views of the volcanic cone of Mt. Yotei. It has a large night ski area open daily (or rather, nightly). Despite Niseko’s reputation as the world’s powder snow capital, our reporter Crispin d’Alberthanson found bare slopes when he arrived in early December – and little use for is snorkel!
He did, however, find astonishing friendliness from locals and the vast army of Austrians who have invaded this region. Both Niseko and Rusutsu have plenty of colourful bars and restaurants with exceptional Japanese food such as tempura, although you’ll find western options too. Nightlife is fun and you can also take an excursion into the city of Sapporo, almost 50 miles away. The cost of a ski trip from Europe to Japan is about £2,000, which is on a par with visiting a major USA resort, but the Asian cultural experience is rich indeed – and no burgers!