Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
According to the ancient Japanese religion of Shinto, everything living and inanimate contains a spirit or “kami.” Think of it as a life force that maintains balance in the universe. Upon arriving on the northern island of Hokkaido, this year’s Ski.com Dream Job hires were keenly aware that some sort of magical force—“kami”—was at work.
The first sign came in the form of weather. After seeing Niseko’s snowpack was well below average, Alex Broadstock and Kris Roller were pleased to fly into Sapporo under blue skies that were immediately banished by a series of snowstorms that delivered fresh conditions throughout most of their six-day stay.
Despite what powderhounds may think, traveling to Japan is about more than just snorkel-worthy turns. Between skiing the quintessentially deep powder, the two Brooklyn residents were charmed and inspired by the various off-mountain happenings that couldn’t be further from the Western ski town norm. Traditional tea ceremonies, understated-yet-beautiful Shinto shrines, and, of course, Japanese cuisine, all exceeded expectations in more ways than one.
A few of Alex and Kris’ favorite moments from the Ski.com Dream Job in Niseko
Learning ‘The Way Of Tea’ during a traditional ceremony at Samoza
Just outside of the Hanazono base area of Niseko United lies the amazing Samoza. Part gallery, part restaurant, this boutique establishment offers a very special, traditional tea ceremony that combines art, craft, and history.
Ski.com’s Dan Sherman at Rusutsu
Niseko Academy guide Rob finds a stash.
Kris Roller treats himself to soft snow at Niseko United.
There’s a reason they call it JaPow. Even on a lean snow year like 2020, Alex and Kris both found plenty of powder stashes in Niseko United, Moiwa, and Rusutsu.
More Rusutsu: The Land of Smiles
Hard to beat a hotel with a natural onsen inside
Of the many places to stay in Niseko, it’s hard to beat The Green Leaf, which hosts its very own natural hot spring or “onsen.” For jetlagged visitors, there’s no better cure than immersing oneself upon arrival. Just don’t forget to grab your slippers and “yukata” (bathrobe).
Never-ending ramen bowls
Ramen is a time-honored tradition in Hokkaido and as such, each restaurant boats its own distinct spin on the classic noodle bowl. From spicy to mild, pork belly to vegetarian, each restaurant takes pride in its own interpretation, making each ramen bowl a fresh experience.
Peaceful, snowy trees.
Finding zen on a bridge in Hokkaido.
Despite all you’ve heard about the deep snow, Kris and Alex both agreed that the main reason to visit Hokkaido is the “kami.”
More Hokkaido: Powder Dreams in Japanese
Ski.com can help you start planning your Niseko ski trip. Visit their website to chat or call one of their knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts or request a customized quote.