Skiing and Powder Snow
Mark arrived in Tokyo and after a weekend together we headed north by flight from Tokyo to Sapporo in Hokkaido. Our plan was 4 days skiing in the resort of Niseko south west of Sapporo.
Whenever I mentioned our trip to any friends or colleagues they mentioned 3 things:
1. the amazing powder snow
2. it’s cold!
3. it’s full of Australians.
All turned out to be true. For me I felt a little like I’d left Japan and entered the international world of skiing. Niseko did provide some great Japanese food but the main language was generally English and there were lots of Australians, north Americans and Europeans skiing. Also, some of the things I’d come to love about Japan were missing. An example is tipping, in Japan you do not tip, people give the exact amount for meals in exact change if possible. In Niseko there were some jars labelled with ‘tips’ in some of the restaurants and pubs – I stuck to the traditionally Japanese approach.
The week that we were there Niseko got 167cm of snow! That’s what makes it some of the best powder snow in the World! Not being a world class skier I wondered what world class powder would mean. It was great, very forgiving, no sliding sideways down icy slopes and quite a lot of fun on fresh snow feeling like you were the first there (and often were).
It did also mean that a lot of the time it was snowing so not great for photographs but wonderful for skiing!
It was very cold too. I was used to it being quite cold from Tokyo but Hokkaido was very much colder. I skied in many layers including several layers of down and we had to stop on a few occasions just to arm up and defrost nub fingers and toes.
You can see in some of the picture above how deep the snow was. On occasion we were skiing up to our knees. It is a bit of a different style of skiing but a lot of fun especially when you are one of the first people done the slope.
I loved the trees in Niseko. Due to the almost constant snow they were had all of their branches covered, really beautiful!
Travel in Japan (at least from a Japanese perspective) is all about food. Whenever you visit somewhere people ask what you ate or whether you ate the food that the region you visited is famous for?
So therefore included in this post are many descriptions of the fantastic food that we ate while in Niseko. Hokkaido is famous for lots of foods, dairy and crabs particularly and seafood generally.
I’m missing any photos of the good Italian meal that we had which included lovely cheese, mozzarella and feta – I’ve not found much great cheese in Japan – it is available but takes a bit of searching out and as there is so much alternative good food I’ve not put the effort in. I’ve also missed any pictures of the excellent sushi that we had on our last lunch before flying back to Tokyo. It was delicious and if we didn’t have a flight to catch I’m not sure I could have got Mark out of there for several hours!
Izakaya is traditional Japanese pub style food – lots of small dishes to share cooked in front of us.
The teppan is a hot plate where food is cooked. In this restaurant we had our own and had to cook our own food. here are some pictures of Mark cooking okomoniyaki (Japanese pancakes) on our teppan.
This was our Christmas dinner, after a good day of skiing. Yakatori is food on small skewers here we enjoyed many good things including peppers, mushrooms, chicken (for Mark) and also scallops and crab (not traditionally yakatori but very much from Hokkaido!).