Skiing or snowboarding? Snowboarding, always. And how’s this for a change of pace from our usual palm trees and turquoise water?
We loved so many aspects of switching it up from our usual tropical travel endeavors. First of all, I LOVE snowboarding and I always have. It’s one of my favorite activities that I don’t do enough, so to get the chance to go snowboarding with Zack in Japan of all places… that’s just awesome in itself. We loved getting to bundle up rather than living in swimwear, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t indulge more on the dining aspects of Japan accordingly ;)
Niseko Village is a little town tucked away on Japan’s northern island Hokkaido, only a short 1.5 hour flight from Tokyo. It’s essentially a powder mecca – in just 10 days Niseko will often receive more fresh powder than most ski resorts will receive in an entire month. If you love to ride the pow, you simply must add Niseko to your bucket-list.
Our favorite aspect of the slopes in Niseko was definitley the back country – an experience that we might not have discovered if not for the Go Snow mountain guide we went on at the beginning of our trip. I highly recommend going around the mountain with a guide for a day, especially if you aren’t used to riding in such deep powder! It made a world of difference both in how we navigated the mountain for the remainder of our time there as well as becoming comfortable with Niseko’s serious abundance of pow pow.
One tip I would give for anyone who plans on spending a lot of time on the mountain is to bring as much gear to cover your face / skin as possible. Because it’s almost always snowing in Niseko, especially toward the peak of the mountain, you’re not going to want any extremities exposed.
As sushi fanatics, we obviously scoped out the sushi scene in the town of Niseko quite thoroughly. I highly highly recommend the restaurant in Niseko called A-Bu-Cha 2 for sushi and amazing Japanese food. We went multiple times because we were so obsessed! The sashimi there is to die for.
As for other recommendations of things to do in Niseko, I really recommend experiencing the night life if you’re up for that sort of thing! Niseko wasn’t a place that I anticipated being so lively and fun but we went out on the town almost every single night and found that each different venue had a totally different atmosphere from the next. A few of our favorites: Bar Gyu (you enter the bar through a fridge door!), Big Foot is a really fun, apres-ski type bar that was packed with a really young diverse crowd but still very casual, and for a more formal “club” type experience I recommend Powder Room – we went there for dinner and afterward it transforms into an upscale lounge/club!
And as for where we stayed…
Ki Niseko was our first taste of Niseko and it blew us away! Our suite was fully equipped with everything we might need, from kitchen amenities to a french press / coffee machine (CRUCIAL) to a spare bed in the living room that magically folded away into the wall! The bedroom also had almost 360 views of the snowy Niseko village, and it was the best sight to wake up to on our first morning there. But I’d be crazy if I didn’t mention that Ki Niseko is a ski in / ski out hotel, meaning you keep all your gear in a nice warm room right at the bottom of the gondola and you can literally ski back to the hotel without stopping. For us, this was by far the most amazing aspect of Ki Niseko, which is saying a lot considering how incredible the suite / massages / Japanese bathing onsen all were…
Our stay at Nozomi Views was perfect as we had just begun to get settled into the trip and start to venture out to explore Niseko’s many restaurants and lively nightlife. The location was by far our favorite part about Nozomi views – perched up high overlooking the heart of Niseko’s downtown, not to mention with a perfect view of Nozomi, the snowy mountain (on a clear day). We absolutely loved being in the heart of everything! Across the street from A-Bu-Cha 2 and a quick walk to everything else in town! And quick walks really make a difference in Niseko’s snowy and below-freezing weather.
Powder Tracks was our last suite before we had to say goodbye to Niseko and head back to Tokyo and from there back home! It was a lovely spacious suite to end our stay at, this time on the ground level and only a 30 second walk from Nozomi Views, so we didn’t have to sacrifice our stellar location at all for our last few nights of exploring! Powder Tracks ended up having an underground room for boots and boards which came in such handy at the end of a day on the slopes. We also discovered a cut-across way of getting to the slopes without having to walk up back toward the base of the mountain – by crossing the street and following the path behind A-Bu-Cha 2 you end up at the bottom of a lift that takes you right on up! I loved that our prime downtown location didn’t steal us away from the slopes at all.