Jules has found a secret powder oasis with the powder so soft you can really push the limits!
Hokkaido is Japan's most northern and second-largest island. It gets the country's best snow it isn't unusual to see 200cm over two weeks in January. Winds from Siberia provide some of the lightest and driest powder in the world, in flakes so large and dry they can't be formed into snowballs.
Australians have recently discovered the ski fields of Japan, just 10 hours away and more or less in the same time zone. Signs in the skiing areas are in English, so communicating and getting around are easy.
Niseko Hirafu Resort has an extensive array of runs and facilities and a village with good hotels and nightlife. Its terrain is varied, providing above-knee-deep powder off-piste for experienced skiers and boarders and soft groomed runs at the base of the hill for beginners.
The summit is a 20-minute hike from the top of the chairlift and gives 360° views of the Sea of Japan and the Annapuri Range. All runs are long and the 900m vertical drop puts Niseko up there with other world-class resorts.
It has the largest lit area in Japan for night skiing, which is included in all lift passes.
As the snow is very deep and soft, make sure you have the correct equipment. Parabolic skis are fine if you are experienced, but the fatter skis are better, particularly if you like to get away from groomed trails. It's best to use a board longer than the one you usually use.
Snowave has been operating for 11 years and specialises in skiing and snowboarding in Japan. They can arrange complete packages to resorts in Hokkaido, including Niseko, Hirafu, Rusutsu and Hakuba. Packages include airfares, transfers, accommodation, lift-passes, on-land transport, mountain tours and shopping tours of local towns. They also offer discounted ski and board lessons and city stays in Tokyo, Sapporo and Osaka.
Their local staff meets guests on arrival and tell them everything they need to know for a smooth holiday.
The Japanese island of Hokkaido
Snowave has seven night packages including return economy airfares, twin-share accommodation, six day lift pass and a guided mountain tour starting at $1989 ex Perth, $2019 ex Brisbane, $2029 ex Sydney, $2049 ex Melbourne and $2079 ex Adelaide, per person. They run through the Japanese ski season, from November to April.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
1/46 Pittwater Road
Ph: 1300 137 411
Fax: (02) 9977 1289www.snowave.com
Qantas: 13 13 13