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History is full of great rivalries. Think Chamberlain vs Churchill.Frazier vs Ali. Batman vs Superman. Here in Japan, however, there’s onlyone rivalry that matters and that’s Niseko vs Hakuba. We feel like it’stime to settle the score so here’s what we love most about two ofJapan’s most famous resorts… If you're after steeps? Hakuba is situatedin the midst of the Japanese Alps, which are a palatial range ofmountains that bisect the main island of Honshu. These mountains are,quite literally, awesome. Their sharp, soaring peaks are flanked by wideopen faces, reminiscent of the Dolomites in Italy or the CanadianRockies. In the heart of all this, you’ll find nine different skiresorts which offer a huge variety of terrain, including plenty of highgradients runs both on and off-piste. And if you really want to pee yourpants a little, Hakuba is famous for its easy access side andbackcountry. Just make sure you’ve got avalanche safety gear and aknowledgeable guide with you. While the riding in Niseko could beconsidered slightly ‘cruisier’, you’re still going to find enoughterrain to give your legs a workout. The highest peak is Mt NisekoAnnupuri, which sits at 1,308 meters above sea level and is accessiblevia a short hike through one of the avalanche control gates. Your firstfew turns off the peak will be in nice, open, rolling terrain before youdrop into some steeper trees and gullies. You’ll also find plenty ofshorter, steeper zones in bounds and in the side country if you knowwhere to look, or have someone to guide you. WINNER: If you’re after avertical challenge then head to Hakuba!


You want deep, deep powder? It’s well documented that Niseko is one ofthe snowiest places on the planet. The average snowfall is 14 meters andmost of that falls as pure powder, so with a moisture content of around4%. The 2017 / 18 season is well on track to reach this target withclose to ten meters falling between the start of November and the end ofJanuary alone. At Hakuba the average snowfall is ten meters and snowquality is normally excellent though general consensus is it’s not asconsistently light as you’ll find in Hokkaido. WINNER: Niseko gets tenout of ten snorkels!


Culture This is a hard question to answer because Japan’s culture ishugely diverse. In terms of history, Hakuba is a clear winner. Theresort is located on Japan’s main island of Honshu which has beenpopulated for thousands of years. In some ways, a visit to Hakuba islike stepping back in time. You can visit the Zenko-ji Temple which wasbuilt in the 7th Century, stay in a traditional Ryokan (bed andbreakfast) that is hosted by a Japanese family or bathe in one of manyancient onsens (hot spring). Niseko offers a more modern take onJapanese culture. You won’t find as many historic buildings but you’llcertainly come across plenty of options for exploring Japanese cuisine.The area is also a ‘hot bed’ for hot springs! The island of Hokkaido isvolcanic and naturally abundant with minerals, making it almost asfamous for onsens as it is for skiing and snowboarding. WINNER: Hakubaby a whisker! It’s hard to compete with temples from the beginning oftime.


Village Life Over the last ten years, Niseko has grown into aninternational resort busting at the seams with options for dining anddrinking. Hirafu Village, where you’ll find most of the accommodationand nightlife, is a vibrant hub for those who want to ski, stay andplay. From the quirky to the highly sophisticated, you’ll definitelyfind an array of bars and restaurants to suit your taste and budget.Hakuba is also growing and changing rapidly. There are bars andrestaurants aplenty and loads of options for accommodation, from moretraditional pensions to large hotels or luxury apartments. The area isspread widely, however, which means it can sometimes be a long walkbetween drinks so you may find yourself occupying your ‘local’ for mostof your stay. WINNER: Niseko. You just can’t beat Hirafu’s eclectic andlively ‘village vibe.’


Maybe the best solution is to plan your trip including both locations?... Wouldn't it be nice!


Posted by Rhythm Snowsports on

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