Niseko says ‘we’re ok’

13th April 2011, by Chris Gill

Ski Japan  [(c) Leith Brown]

Ski Japan [(c) Leith Brown]

A month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan’s best known ski area is looking ahead to next season – unaffected, they claim, from the devastation.

Over 500km from the earthquake’s epicentre and inland, Niseko is the best-known ski area among British visitors. Despite concerns that they may be affected by food shortages and power cuts, the resort’s promotion board assures that there has been little impact, and that travel to the area from the UK has been given the OK again.

So, looking ahead to next winter Niseko has already begun construction on more lodging. The Hotel Scot has been demolished to make way for the new The Rocks development; and work to build Shiki (beside the Mountain Side Palace) and the M Hotel on Momiji-zaka street has started.

More importantly for the ski area is the planned upgrading of the Hirafu gondola, with new eight-seat cabins and a faster ride time. This is all in celebration of Grand Hirafu’s 50th anniversary, so the resort tells us that there are lots of projects in the pipeline. Additionally, a new ski center will be built next door to the gondola, complete with restaurant, ski school, rentals, and ski shop. And a new kid’s area is expected too.

And what about snowfall in Niseko this winter? Unlike the Alps, they had a slow start. But also unlike the Alps, they received heavy snowfalls throughout January and early February; March into April being typically decent and spring-like. Reports suggest that Mt Niseko Annupuri got around 14m snow this season.

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