Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hokkaido Daze 2013

A bunch of us had an amazing couple of weeks skiing some of the resorts of Hokkaido Prefecture back in Feb. For this trip, my fourth, we hired a van, piled in each morning and hit the road. We ended up skiing 5 resort areas; Hanazono/Hirafu, Chisenupuri, Rusutsu, Moiwa and Kiroro. I still love Moiwa but can’t wait to get back to Kiroro. The snow was epic, the food cheap and delicious and the Japanese continue to be some of the most endearing people I have come across. Ill let the photos do the rest of the talking.

Our beast courtesy of the Black Diamond Tours

Um where are we?

On the road

The always photogenic Mt Yotei

Snowy road

The scenery is just beautiful

Pulled over for some more Mt Yotei action

Moiwa is a small resort next to the very busy Niseko United. It only has two lifts but you pretty much just hang out on the main quad. The skiing is incredible for how small it is.

The Moiwa quad

The ski outs take you through these incredible snowy meadows

I love Moiwa!

 The Moiwa public transport... not running

Moiwa avalanche rescue dog

We spent a day at Rusutsu where last year I skied incredibly deep snow. This year is wasn't quite so good but we still scored some nice snow in the trees. The hotel was a spin out as usual, the most amazing Japanese kitsch. Its kind of hard to describe, you really have to visit it to experience it for yourself.

Looking back to the hotel and beginner area from the main ski area,

The volcano behind the hotel, skiable but had gnarly cracks this year

Kiroro was a new resort for me this year, and what a hill! We spent the morning stuffing around in some tight  trees trying to work out the resort. I was skiing the 138mm wide DPS Spoons which were incredible in the knee deep powder on offer. Myself and my buddy Bruno had a moment where we ended up on top of a sinkhole into a creek on about a 50deg icey slope while exploring the off piste around Mt Asari. I safely traversed above the hole but it was petty scary. The Spoons with their full reverse camber and sidecut made it even more interesting.

After lunch we went to a run simply called "Powder Zone". Incredibly  it was waist deep an untracked! We lapped it four times until it got to dark to see (the lifts keep running as there is extensive night skiing) without seeing another person.

Beautiful snowy pines at Kiroro

Freecy in some off piste from Mt Asari

Bruno in the Powder Zone


Pete the bastardo

More Pete, sometimes being short has its benefits

My turn in front of the lens on the Spoons but the light was crappy

DPS Spoons loving the soft stuff

Hirafu is the main resort of the four that make up Niseko United. Most of the accommodation and restaurants are within Hirafu Village, where we were based for our trip. We had a couple of days skiing Hirafu and Hanazono to the north.


One of the many amazing restaurants in Hirafu Village

Chisenupuri is a tiny resort west of Niseko United. Tiny in that the whole resort is a double chair which is operated by what looks like the local farmers. There is extensive lift accessible off piste terrain which we spent the day exploring. The touring looks phenomenal  unfortunately we had neither the gear or the time to head out safely. Hopefully next trip!

Chisen BC, spoke to the fellas who laid these tracks and they were pretty stoked

More BC action from Chisen

Looking east, back towards Mt Annupuri and Mt Yotei and the BC terrain of  Niseko United

The lift to the goods with Chisen peak beyond

Bruno went a bit low, haha

No trip to Japan would be complete without getting away from the resorts and experiencing some culture. I had planned to get to Sapporo but unfortunately my train was late so had to settle for Otaru, a small coastal city to the north of Hirafu.

Icey train to Otaru

Walking mall Otaru

That cold beach, one day I would love to surf it in the snow

A thing I love about Japan is the amazing kitsch. Every product service, message or whatever is accompanied by hilarious little designs.

Vegetable girl

Don't drink beer, your tummy will be upset

Hi guys!


Hand drawn fat steam bun

Love no smoking?

The boys at Rhythm in Hirafu helped us put up a plaque in memory of Fitzy, who tragically passed away in Japan last year.

The boys went home while I stayed on a for a few more days as my parents, sister, her boyfriend and a bunch of family friends had also come over for a ski. I spent a the last days having a great time skiing around with the family. My parents were tearing up the pow!

Dad has to stop at every restaurant to read the menu

The crew and a massive snow bank 

Mum, my siser, a massage chair and a funny man who was staying at the pension and was the unofficial master of the chair

My favourite, big ramen

Stoked on an awesome trip

Massive thanks to the boys at Rhythm Niseko for letting us take all their best skis.

If you aren't already sick of ski edits, here is a little one I put together. Conscious of the copious POV clips around I made this one pretty quick fire and tried to include some different angles and other stuff to make it interesting. Some fireworks at the start before the tune kicks in, enjoy!


  1. Wow! Great trip report. Now I want to go skiing in Japan!

  2. Thanks Linda, i've been enjoying your posts all northern hemisphere winter. Not long till it snows here in oz :)