Here in Niseko the changing of the seasons are always welcomed including Autumn who's rich colours mark cooler days to come. Even early in October these colours are punctuated by a dusting of snow amongst the tops. Check out the shot below taken on October 1st looking up to Hanazono side of Mount Annupuri.
On the Hirafu side of the mountain progress continues on various construction projects, one of the most exciting of which is the new Ace Family quad that will replace the ageing double chair.
The new quad will be faster, more comfortable and finishes higher up the mountain providing a bigger learners area and easy access to Alpen lift. This is of course is not only great news for beginnners but also for any skiers who want to get straight on the slopes with the base just a quick walk from Holiday Niseko properties such as Sekka House and Snowbird.
One of the few things that can ruin a good day on the slopes is getting getting cold and having to retreat to the cafe in defeat. Conversely, being that stinky guy sweating and panting in the lift line isn’t ideal either. Properly regulating your body heat is one of the keys to enjoying a great day on the hill. Niseko temperatures are usually below zero dressing right is essential.
One of the keys to achieving this nirvana of comfort is proper layering. There’s no one system that’ll keep you comfortable all the time, weather changes, as does the kind of riding you’re doing. For example, you’ll feel the chill while skiing groomers first thing in the morning, but be sweating profusely half way up a hike to the peak. A good step toward staying warm and comfortable is to know a little about how certain fabrics and layers work. A glance at the all important first layer below.
FIRST OR BASE LAYER
Your first or base layer is key to fighting cold so choose your weapons carefully. Cotton tee shirts are best avoided unless you’re riding on a hot spring day and keen to get the guns out. Cotton absorbs moisture and its insulating properties are lost when wet. If you sweat or it’s snowing or raining cotton can become saturated and make you cold, hence the term ‘cotton kills’. For this reason most people choose either wool (usually merino) or a synthetic material such as polyester or polypropylene as the layer beside their skin. Both materials ‘wick’ water away from the skin, this is key because any water sitting on the skin will evaporate, causing you to get cold. The debate as to which material is best seems endless, and in the end it comes down to personal preference, but there are a few points to consider when comparing the two.
That smelly dreadlocked guy you are trying to avoid getting in the Hirafu gondola with is probably wearing a pink and green striped polypropylene top. Colours and lifestyle choices aside, polypropylene does have the undesirable characteristic of absorbing odor, which it can retain even after washing. On the plus side for synthetic base layers, they’re less bulky than wool, dry much faster, are lighter when wet, are less likely to shrink and are often cheaper.
Wool on the other hand has natural anti-microbial properties meaning it doesn’t smell even when worn for multiple days in a row. Wool is also the warmest material when wet, is arguably the most comfortable beside the skin because it’s so soft, is better in warmer conditions but also excellent in the cold – and style wise is hard to beat.
For any one after some great Merino first layers and visiting Niseko you might like to check out New Zealand based company Mons Royale https://www.monsroyale.com/ available from the Rhythm Summit store, right below the Holiday Niseko office at the Hirafu intersection.
Welcome to winter 2016 /17!
Winter here in Niseko has once again gotten off to a fantastic start with 266cm of snow having fallen already this winter and 81cm in the last fortnight making for some great skiing over Christmas and with more on the cards tonite thing are looking awesome for the new year!
New snow is not the only element freshening up the village, another unmissable attraction is the new Odin House, situated at the Hirafu intersection just accross the road form the Holiday Niseko office. Here you wil find a Burton shop, Zakka Skiwear and a host of great restaurants and bars to enjoy a meal and a drink.
If you are considering a holiday in Niseko there has never been a better time to vist and if you have already booked your stay you are sure you will love your Niseko expereience and the phenominal snow is only the beggining of the adventure!
What happens in Niseko after the snow goes?
After winter Niseko becomes a popular destination for cyclists. Stunning scenery and quiet open roads attract not only top athletes but also recreational sightseers. During this time Rhythm Niseko turns into a bike shop and has a fleet of quality rental bikes, full service workshop and bike sales for cyclists of all levels. Rhythm also offers guided bike tours through the surrounding areas.
For those looking for an adrenalin rush the main face of the Grand Hirafu ski resort offering lift accessed downhill mountain bike riding. Rhythm also provides downhill MTB hire along with lift passes, guiding and safety courses.
The summer months in Niseko sees several major cycling events.
Enjoying closed roads, clean air and beautiful vistas, the 140km course includes 2,362m of vertical leading competitors up the awe-inspiring Panorama Line climb, out to the Sea of Japan, and back to Niseko Hirafu Resort. A 70km race category is also available, providing a shorter challenge (1,125m vertical) and finishing together in Niseko Hirafu Resort. The race in 2016 will be a UCI Gran Fondo World Series event. For more information click here. For accommodation during the race please click here to take advantage of some special offers.
The race climbs 617 vertical metres over 15.5 km at an average grade of 4.6%. The hill climb will be run in conjunction with the Kutchan Jagata-matsuri. There are a number of categories ranging from elite to beginners and the focus of the event is on participation. For more information click here
The Tour de Hokkaido is an annual professional road bicycle racing stage race held in Hokkaido, Japan since 1987 as part of the UCI Asia Tour. Several stages are held through the surrounding area.
Spring is back here in Niseko and its awesome, soft snow, stunning views and sunshine!
I has been a fantastic easter, with easter egg hunts, free passes and rentals for the kids, uncrowded slopes and great spring skiing for all.
Well worth the journey for those who took advantage of our super cheap March rates!
It's been another epic winter here in Niseko and to celebrate Lava Lounge and Holiday Niseko have something for you!
Want to win a brand new Slash Snowboard signed by our buddy Will Jackways.
All you need to do is tell us why you should win and like the Lava Lounge Facebook page and you are in to win!
The importance of good goggles can easily be over looked especially by first timers who will for not knowing better accept second-rate vision, sometimes for days on end, it doesn’t have to be this way! Quality goggles and the vision they provide can really improve your day on the mountain especially here in Niseko where snowy days can be the norm. Below are a few tips to keep your vision clear and one step closer to that perfect powder day.
Extra lense - Buy the best quality goggles you can and if your are planning to come to Niseko shelling out for that extra lense is a purchase you will not regret. Buy one lense for the dark and snowy days and one for the bright and sunny. In recent years lense changing has gone from a chore to a breeze and there are some excellent systems available.
Nice and dry – We’re not just talking about the Niseko powder here, when you have finished for the day don’t leave your goggles in your jacket pocket or back pack for the night. Wet goggles equal foggy googles so dry them properly at night, removing the lenses can make things easier here.
BYO – Renting goggles should be avoided at all costs, they will often be scratched and won’t come with that all-important spare lense. Plus washing goggles is near impossible and you’ll be sharing the last customer tears and whatever other horrors may have been soaked into the foam.
Dab don’t wipe- Inevitably snow will get on and into your goggles and you’ll need to clean them, where ever possible dab don’t wipe especially the inside of your goggles. This way you will avoid scratches and be able to soak up more water especially if you end up using tissues.
On your face – Goggles go on your face not on your head. As soon as you put your goggles on top of your head the inside lense will start to gather moisture, moisture that turns into fog and as we know foggy goggles can turn a good day to a bad one. This point is especially important if you are hiking. If you take your goggles off keep them in your hand lense up and if they are wet and snowy on the inside wait until you can dry them before putting them back in their bag and in your pocket.
Summer time is so far removed from the Niseko winter it is sometimes hard to imagine that you’re even in the same place! The black and white landscape so many of us know is transformed into refreshingly lush hills of rolling green. It is not only the lansdscape that comes to life here but also the people as summer is festival time. Brightly coloured costumes, busy stalls, plenty of beer and of course to top it all off fire works aplenty.
The whole region has festivals staggered through out the month of August from Kuthchan to Kiowa, Hirafu to Iwanai and everywhere in between.
As you can see at every festival you will find a celebration of colour, a celebration of food and a celebration of summer.
Above the Iwanai seafood festival's grand finale.
Above scarecrows in Kyowa below Hirafu's own festival coming to life post rainstorm.