With over 42 inches (109 cm) of new snow over the last 7 days, Niseko, Japan is doing what it does best: delivering the deepest and driest powder on earth. Somehow, between all that snow falling we still caught a few glimpses of the sun shining.
This week marks a turning point in what has been a slow start to the season here in Niseko. Periods of sun and rain last week kept many regions of the mountain closed until recently. Last Monday, Niseko Village became the last of the four iconic resort areas accessible on the Niseko United pass to open.
Yesterday’s bluebird conditions changed last night to nearly a foot (25cm) of fresh snow today, creating a soft blanket over a firm but forgiving base. Nearly all of the on-piste runs were open in the four resort areas, and more off-piste glades are opening every day. Blueberry Fields in Hanazono has the most snow cover of the glades and was on point in the morning, quickly getting tracked out.
Most of the in-bounds patrolled gates remain closed due to bamboo and vegetation peeking out of the powder, but it won’t be long before these open. Grand Hirafu is starting to get busy as it usually does, but Hanazono remained relatively quiet with good snow all day. The same was true for Niseko Village where I got some sweet turns in nearly knee-deep powder on the sides of the groomers. If you want to get away from the crowds altogether though, Annupuri has been a ghost town all week.
Night skiing opened on December 11 in Grand Hirafu with good visibility to the top of the lighted areas most nights.