As crazy as it sounds, Spring is almost upon us here in Niseko, with an unusually warm Winter bringing clear skies and groomer days to us probably a little earlier than we expected!
Despite the low snowfall of the 19/20 season bumming most people out, Springtime in a ski resort is a time to rejoice and brings us the perfect weather to get out and enjoy the best parts of village life.
The crowds are settling down and there is still plenty left to do and discover in Niseko this February and March - check out 5 ways you can enjoy this Spring in Niseko!
Ski schools, rental shops and activity counters all around Niseko slash prices or offer incredible discounts in Spring, so there’s no better time to improve your skills or maybe even try a new sport. We’re all guilty of claiming skiing or snowboarding is better, but taking a day off and taking a lesson in another discipline is a great way to challenge yourself (and maybe even convert to the dark side!)
Spring also means lift lines are short and runs are less crowded, meaning it’s safer and more fun to get out and enjoy a day with no waiting and plenty of room to play around.
Enrol in a group lesson with NISS in March and you’ll get 20% off (that’s for kids and adults), and if you’re travelling with the little ones, they can get FREE rentals including pants, jacket and helmet with Niseko Sports.
Niseko United is also offering FREE All Mountain lift passes to kids under 12, so with all these discounts you can save a bunch on bookings for your family, and discounts on lessons mean you can take advantage of perfect mountain conditions for improving your riding.
Once January ends, crowds tend to almost halve in size - meaning not only are the slopes less crowded, but so are places like convenience stores, nightlife spots and restaurants. Thought you couldn’t get a reservation at popular spots like Abucha2, Ezo Seafoods or BangBang? Think again, walk-in spots or last minute availabilities become much more common in Spring, so get your tastebuds ready and experience all there is to offer in Niseko’s incredible dining scene.
Some places we recommend for this Spring season include:
- An Dining where you can savour a glass of their new Niseko Ginger Beer with a stunning view of Mt Yotei
- Cafe Cubanos where you can drop in for a moreish Cuban sandwich filled with pulled pork and oozing with cheese
- and Kanpai where you can indulge in unlimited shabu shabu hotpot with carefully selected high quality pork and beef for a whole 90 minutes.
When the tourist crowds are away, the competitors come to play! Spring is filled with epic competitions for both skiers and snowboarders, and is the perfect time to perch up on a run (safely of course) and witness some of the best freestyle riding from local and international riders. Seemingly overnight Niseko United resorts transform average runs into incredible slalom courses and freestyle parks, so not only can you watch some great riders, but also have fun with freestyle riding yourself!
Here are some of the major competitions happening in Niseko this Spring:
- Rhythm Rail Jam
- Hanazono Banked Slalom
- Hanazono Slopestyle
- Namara Ippatsu The Big Air
- Hokkaido Junior Ski Technical Skills Competition
- All-Hokkaido Old Boys Giant Slalom
As the weather becomes less severe in the Spring months, the community comes together for some lovely outdoor events that are more Japanese in nature, compared to the busy Winter months that are more internationally focused. Come and meet some of the locals of Kutchan and Niseko town at a Winter-style matsuri like Kutchan Yukitopia, a community event that celebrates everything special about the region’s snow and ice. The festival will include food stalls, concerts and fun pool-skimming events at Kutchan’s small Asahigaoka ski slope in February. Come along and enjoy the festivities, test your skills at skiing/boarding over an ice-cold pond or meet Kutchan’s famous mascot, Jagata-kun.
Japonica festival in Niseko town is also a great event to experience Japanese culture first-hand, with stalls aimed at sharing the many aspects of Japanese culture that make it iconic on the world stage. Geisha dancing, Samurai games, traditional music performances, sushi making and manga drawing will all be on offer at the Niseko Chuo Soukogun in February.
You can also experience an authentic Japanese dining experience at Niseko town’s scenic outdoor yakiniku night (Japanese style bbq) in February, which brings everyone together under the stars with a private bbq to grill meat, sip beer and revel in the fireworks display at the end of the night.
Make no mistake, just because Hokkaido is the coldest part of Japan, it doesn’t mean we don’t get a share of the stunning sakura (cherry blossoms) that marks the start of Spring in Japan!
Hokkaido is the last place in the country to get blossoms as the warm weather gradually makes its way north from the southern prefectures, but is still just as beautiful as iconic spots down in Honshu. Get together with some friends and visit a park for a ‘hanami’ day - the Japanese practice of gathering for a picnic with friends under the sakura blossoms and drinking, playing games and indulging in some yummy food. It’s the perfect way to take in the beauty of the season and spend some quality time with loved ones. If you’re wondering where the best places are to experience sakura around Niseko, here are our top picks:
- Makkari Shrine
- Hakodate Park
- Moerenuma Park
- Nakajima Park
- Hokkaido University