Posted on April 21st, 2011 No comments
Niseko Grand Hirafu builds a nice spring ski and snowboard park in the beginning of April every season that goes off through the golden week of May 5th(sometimes May 9th!). Located skiers right off of the king hooded triple seater lift on the upper mountain, the Shirakaba spring park is the place to slip and slide the snow until the end of the season. The park is complete with beginner, medium, huge tables and drop-gap lines. There are also a couple small boxes to slide, a big hip-jump and a mini pipe at the end of the park but that’s not all… cross over the groomed run and drop into the natural gully to carve the berms and trick the wall hits down to the lift. It’s super fun! With all the different lines, lapping the Shirakaba park can become a run you repeat all day… all week… if you are lucky, all spring.
The park staff crew does a excellent job on the layout and shape it twice daily -keeping it fresh and clean with painted features that look beautiful with Mt. Youtei in the backdrop. Spring is a great time of the season to jump your first jumps, learn some new tricks or practice old moves. The warm temps and sun, soft snow and uncrowded slopes all factor in to the high level of fun this time of year in Niseko. Many pro and core local skiers and snowboarders are ripping the park and amazing tricks are thrown down daily. Every season the video and photos coming out of the Niseko area are inspiring to say the least. We have seen a 17 year old Kutchan local kid warm up on the 20 meter jump with mach-speed switch backside 540′s then throwing switch backside 900′s on his next lap through. So smooth. No wonder why he won the Hanazono big air event earlier in the season. This kind of riding is nice to watch or join in on the session if your skills are dialed or not.
Another big plus to riding park in Niseko is that the kind culture of the Japanese in general have way-way less attitude than park-rats in other countries of the world. Everybody is so chill and peacefully waiting their turn to drop in and rip it. No one ever snakes through and heads are always watching out for each other helping make sure the landings are clear after a bail. In a culture where strangers are bowing, greeting and motivating each other, it really creates a good feel in the parks of Hanazono and Hirafu all season. Everybody gets a chance to ride the fun features in Niseko with the locals making beginners feel as comfortable as the pros. Park kids around the world should take note.
Spread the Niseko spring park word and come out to enjoy and experience it for yourself.
Posted on August 29th, 2009 1 comment
In winter many international guests often ask us what we do over the summer months. “Do we remain open?” and “Who visits Niseko in summer?” are also common questions. Yes, we do stay open, and we are kept relatively busy providing accommodation for the domestic market.
A study by the Japan External Trade Organization estimated the annual number of tourists in Hokkaido is around 50 million. Of which 87% are from within Hokkaido while the remaining 13% (6.5 million) come from outside Hokkaido. Summer is by far the most popular season for tourists from outside Hokkaido with roughly 2 and a half times as many visitors than winter.
The majority of tourists visiting Hokkaido in summer typically stay for 2 or 3 nights. Family tours account for 60% of the visitors and 80% of visitors in summer used private cars for transportation. Hokkaido is well known in Japan for its wide uncrowded roads and fast speeds at which the locals drive. On the flip-side Hokkaido sadly has one of the highest road fatality rates in Japan.
The Niseko area is very popular with school trips and college sports teams during the summer months. Over 190 schools visit the area, with rafting high on the priority list of things to do. In Hirafu it is not uncommon to see sports teams jogging around the streets as part of their summer sports camp.
Holiday Niseko remains open over summer with the Yukon apartments being a popular place to stay as the guests have free use of the outdoor barbecue area. Although we do get some foreign guests over the summer, most are unsurprisingly Japanese family groups traveling by private car.
What is the most common question we get asked in summer?
“Where can I find Kabutomushi?” (Japanese rhinoceros beetle and the most popular insect in Japan. Many Japanese children will buy or catch these and stag beetles to keep as pets.)