An insider's tips on Japan's lesser-known skifields.
When he is not custom fitting ski boots in Niseko and Hakuba at his Boot Solutions stores, Perth podiatrist Ned Buckley is searching Japan for new skiing experiences. Ned reveals his top five off the beaten track destinations.
A day trip from Niseko, Rusutsu offers a fun mountain series where the lifts follow ridge lines to the top of the mountain. From there skiers and snowboarders can follow powder bowls all the way to the base. Ned says the pork curry at Steamboat restaurant is killer.
For those seeking a back-country experience with the safety of a resort, Kiroro is a good option. The resort’s new management has opened up new areas through its Back Country Club, which allow skiers to access fresh snow. The resort is about an hour’s drive from Niseko.
Despite being on the edge of Sapporo, Ned says this former Olympic venue is an overlooked resort. Fly into Sapporo, grab a taxi up the mountain and take in views of the high-rise city as you make your way down the mountain.
This is the destination for the back-country adventurer. The trails offer wilderness on the way down the mountain. Ned recommends first-time visitors hire a guide.
If dodging trees is more your thing, head for Cortina, where the advanced skier can experience a steep tree run.
Picture: Mt.Yotei with Mt.Annupuri and Niseko United in the background by glenclaydon.com.