Sake and Snow Bunnies in Japan


From black runs to beginner slopes and the wide range of après ski activities, Japan’s ski resorts cater to all needs – so much so that AustCham Beijing’s General Manager Dalwyn Bateson, has spent the last two Chinese New Years in Japan. She spoke to Sophie Loras.

Dalwyn’s first visit was to Niseko in February 2009, loving it so much that she returned to Nagano, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, in 2010, a year later.

“From here in China it is so close, there is beautiful powder and so for a beginner or a black run skier, there is something for everyone,” says Dalwyn.

“The snow is wonderful and the powder skiing magical. Niseko doesn’t have any snowmaking – because it is definitely not required! And there is pretty much everything to suit any snow bunny – from beginner to expert,” she says.


On her first trip to the Japanese ski fields, Dalwyn and her friends stayed at the Hanazono resort – part of the world famous Niseko resort in Hokkaido Japan.
“The snow in that part of the world is genuinely different from pretty much anywhere else in the world,” she says. 
“The locals claim the powder snow is drier and more reliable than helicopter skiing, and from what I saw, I think they are right. Good kid’s facilities and great coffee as well!”

The Après ski scene is also renowned for its diversity – with everything from traditional Japanese restaurants, to more international styles. Dalwyn highly recommends the Cram Ramen at the Hanazono 308 restaurant.

“The food is unbelievable – no Australian-style hot chips on the ski runs – but fresh sushi trains!”

dalwyn_night_skiiing_japan_webThere are no shortage of bars, “from little back alley types, to music bars, ice-bars, sports bars and, of course, karaoke bars.”

One of the biggest highlights was the resort’s night-skiing facilities especially when it is “dumping with powder,” says Dalwyn. “The visibility is fantastic, believe it or not, and it has a wonderful atmosphere.

ABF media

*Night skiing in Niseko (Courtesy Dalwyn Bateson).

Then of course there are the onsens (hot springs) which are to die for.

“You never get sore from the skiing because there are the massages and onsens at the end of the day,” says Dalwyn.

“The locals know a couple of really traditional ones off-the-beaten track which are just excellent.”

Travel from Beijing is simple with direct flights between Beijing and Sapporo and flight time less than three hours. From Sapporo (Chitose) Airport, there are buses and shuttles to take visitors direct to their apartments.


Dalwyn’s tips for travellers?

“Niseko can be cold and it snows a lot. Wear a “neck gator” to keep the chill off your face and invest in a good set of thermals. Restaurants can be tough to get into in peak times, so consider pre-booking before you go. Otherwise, don’t hold back – you’ll love it!”

Dalwyn booked her trip to Niseko through the Niseko Management Service

*To learn more about some of Asia’s best deals over the winter months, click here.


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