Skiing in Japan is a dream come true! But ski holidays always require a big suitcase and a bit of planning when it comes to ensuring you have everything you need. If you have never travelled to Japan before but know that the culture is completely different from Western countries, you may find knowing what to pack all the more daunting. So we thought we would help you out!
Warm clothing is obviously essential with temperatures in Niseko getting down as low as -20 degrees at the top of the mountain. Wind can at times pick up and fresh snowfall is abundant, so make sure you have high quality goggles, face protection, breathable thermals, lots of warm layers and waterproof jacket and pants. If you don’t own any of the above then don’t worry, there are several retail outlets in Hirafu Village selling big brand items in a range of sizes and styles suited to Westerners, so you will be in the right place to buy what you need.
Helmets and ski / snowboard equipment may very well be best left at home because Niseko rental shops offer the gear best suited to Niseko’s incredible powder snow conditions. If you’re on skis you’ll want them fat, if you’re on a board you’ll want it long, and a helmet is a must. So instead of carrying your ‘all weather’ equipment from home, which won’t fare so well in the deep powder, save yourself the trouble and rent the best gear available in resort.
In terms of packing for your time off the mountain, it is important to check what kind of facilities your accommodation offers. Niseko accommodation is usually well equipped, which makes your life much easier. You will probably find that if your accommodation is self-catering, it comes with a fully equipped kitchen and you won’t need to worry about how you are going to prepare meals. Check if there is a washer and dryer, as if there is you don’t need to pack fresh clothes for every day of your holiday.
Most Niseko accommodation is of a high quality making things like clean bedding, towels and hairdryers a given, so unless you are staying a hostel, you can cross such items of your list. The bathroom amenities supplied such as shampoo, conditioner and soap vary from one property to the next. Usually these will be supplied, but sometimes only for when you arrive without being topped up throughout your stay. If this is the case though, you can easily buy toiletries from one of the convenience stores which sell everyday items at very reasonable prices.
One excellent idea can be to bring a laptop or tablet with any music or movies that you want to watch during your stay as you will probably be able to hook this up with an entertainment system in your accommodation. It is also worth downloading some useful apps before you travel since these won’t weigh you down, but can be incredibly useful. Make sure you have Google Maps with your accommodation located in advance, download a Japanese / English dictionary and if your travel agent supplies you with a set of travel documents, make sure you have these downloaded and accessible when you travel too!
Cash is thankfully now readily available in Niseko with an ATM inside Shiki Niseko in central Hirafu Village. Make sure you tell your credit card provider that you are travelling to Japan in advance so that your card doesn’t get blocked when you start using it abroad, and it is worth ensuring your group has a number of valid credit cards just in case this does happen. As long as you have credit cards though, you will have easy access to cash, so don’t worry about travelling with too much. That said, it is true that many shops and restaurants in Japan don’t accept cards, so it is wise to ensure you have as much cash on you as you may need to spend on any given day.
With the right planning, and especially if you have got all services you need on your holiday such as accommodation, transfers, lift passes, rentals and lessons booked up in advance with a company like Japan Ski Experience, you will find travelling to Japan to be surprisingly easy. So make sure you’ve checked these important boxes before you travel, then relax and enjoy!