Aug 22, 2010
Intermittent showers couldn’t dampen the festive spirit at the first Hirafu Matsuri. 600 locals and visitors turned out for a great afternoon / evening of Bon Dancing, Taiko Drums, Food & Drink, all culminating with a fireworks display. It was great to see Hirafu’s truly international mix there – with a dozen or so nationalities represented among the 600 strong crowd.
It was also great to see so many kids running around with lots of them in Yukatas or Jinbei really adding to the festive atmosphere.
Given the success of this year’s inaugural event we’re already looking forward to next year, where we’re planning on growing the event and really making it a big part of Niseko’s annual calendar. Thanks to all involved in putting the event together – the many volunteers and also the sponsors. Ski Japan, Niseko Real Estate, Niseko Management Service, Nisade, Niseko Resort Design & Construction, Niseko Powder Holidays, Nahata Sekiyu, Kutchan Tourist Association, J Sekka, Ishigami Komuten, L J Hooker Niseko, and Hokkaido Tracks.
Aug 21, 2010
This morning has dawned warm and fine for this arv’s first Hirafu Matsuri.
Make sure you come down to Sunsports Land from 3:00 to be a part of the Bon Dancing, Fireworks, Bonfire, Stalls and Taiko Drums! Get into the Japanese festive spirit by donning a Yukata or Jinbei! Look forward to seeing you all there !
Aug 18, 2010
Grab a bike and get into some last minute training, Niseko Cycle Week is almost upon us again!
Now’s the time to start sweetening up the boss for some time off, getting up at dawn for secret training rides, and making up for eleven indulgent months in preparation for one of the year’s biggest events – the weeklong celebration of all things Niseko and bicycle-related that’s simply known round here as Cycle Week.
For those of you who don’t know it, NCW is as light-hearted as it is deadly earnest. The serious cyclists among us get veeeery serious while the rest of us bumble around giggling at our own ineptitude. But we still get out there and turn up for some of the fun events that range from long, timed road rides thru Bike-To-Work and social events, to MTB huckarounds. It really doesn’t matter what you get involved in – so long as you’re involved somehow.
This year will also see Hokkaido’s biggest pro cycling race roll into Niseko as the Tour de Hokkaido visits town on September 18. If you haven’t experienced the power of 200+ pro riders at race pace then definitely make sure you check this out. They truly motor!
Soooo. Do what you feel you must: train, or moan about your lack thereof, but get yourself registered for this year’s Niseko Cycle Week. They’ll also be looking for volunteers soon, and for any generous local companies it’s a great way to get your company name out in front of people! Check it out at: www.nisekocycleweek.com
See you there… (I’ll be the one walking his bike up the hills!)
Aug 08, 2010
The rain held off and the sun – and the people – came out for a fantastic day and the Inaugral Niseko HANAZONO Hill Climb bicycle road race. A vertical gain of more than 600 metres over the 15.5 k course made sure all the participants enjoyed a healthy burn by the time the event was done, but despite the heaviness in the legs there were smiles all round.
Kutchan hasn’t seen this much fluoro (or this much technology?!) since the eighties! While the Niseko area was very well represented – especially at the pointy end of the field – most riders came up from Sapporo and a few came from Honshu for the event. Talking afterwards everyone seemed to really enjoy the race itself, and also the atmosphere in Kutchan surrounding the event.
With the flag about to drop as the 256 strong field climbs out of Kutchan on its way up to Goshiki-Onsen.
The smiles turn to grimaces as both the slope and the pace starts to rise. Despite the relatively short race distance, heart rate monitors were well into the red by the time the very welcome view of Goshiki Onsen came into sight. While many of these guys are super serious about their bike riding, everyone rode their own race and some were fairly happy to cruise up at a more civilised pace – happy to be a part of the event as much as anything.
Elite Men’s place winners. These guys are all fitter than you can imagine – but I take my hat off to every single finisher !
The Women’s Champion celebrates her victory as she claims her prize on the scales – her body weight in spuds !
Thanks to everyone involved, from the riders and spectators of course, through the event organisers and volunteers, and most importantly to all the people and companies who got behind the event to take it from an idea to a wonderful reality.
We really look forward to seeing you all back here next year for edition two ! Tell your friends and start planning now…
Aug 06, 2010
A new summer and a new chef, but Paddy’s is still serving up plateloads of value.
Popped into Paddy McGinty’s the other day to sample their new summer nmenu and was treated to the great little Chicken & Plate shown above. There’s lots to like about flavoursome chicken bites with rice, salad, and a drink for only 850 yen! I’m usually not such a huge pickle fan but these were very good.
Be among the lucky ones to grab a one of Paddy’s lunch specials, or wait for the sun to wester & stroll in for a Guinness or Kilkenny…
De wa… Itadaki-masu!
Aug 05, 2010
There’s not much that warms you up like a big ol’ bowl of noodles, and if they’re noodles from Ramen Mount you know you’re in for a real treat.
Ramen Mount (on Route 5 in Kutchan) is a great little shop that enjoys a solid local following. Pictured above is one of my staples – Shoyu Chashu - which is Ramen Noodles with soy sauce flavoured soup & extra slices of roast pork. Hmmm… Pork…
They also offer a special Niseko Ramen (limited to ten bowls daily!) which is a special Potato & Miso soup. They close when they sell out of soup so if it’s a cooler evening you might want to get in nice and early!
For their English website and an access map click here.
Aug 04, 2010
Niseko born and raised Daisuke Watanabe will be pulling on his national colours this month as a member of Japan’s Snowboard Junior World Championship team.
Everyone in Niseko is hoping for big things from Watanabe-kun in this his first internationl level event, and no doubt Mum and Dad are being bombarded with questions about their rising star son.
Daisuke will be competing in boardercross, with heats on August 21st and the finals on the 22nd. The official site is here if you’d like more info.
Best of luck in NZ Daisuke!
Aug 04, 2010
If you’re looking for something new or a little different, Kutchan provides a wealth of dining options that are often overlooked by visitors to the area. Just a short drive away you’ll find dozens of restaurants – often cozy eateries seating twenty or fewer guests – but most of them offer superb service along with very good food. Pictured above are some stuffed chicken wings from one such establishment and they were great.
Another big plus is the prices. With fierce competition in town, you’ll walk out of most Kutchan restaurants well satisfied but without paying a resort premium. Once you’ve already tried our great Niseko dining options, head on down the hill to Kutchan, find a promising-looking “Noren” curtain, and stick your head inside and sit down…
If you don’t have a car or if you’d like to enjoy a beer, jump on a bus down to Kutchan (leaves from the Hirafu Welcome Centre at 5.30pm, for other departure points check here) and then grab a taxi back up to Hirafu for about 2000 yen.
Aug 04, 2010
For the early birds out there, pop along to Sunsports every morning (weather permitting!) to participate in Hirafu’s version of Japan’s famed Radio Taiso!
At 6.30 sharp radios across the country blare out the opening theme of NHKs long running exercise program. Since 1928 Japanese have been climbing out of bed to get the blood flowing with some light exercise. Official numbers say that some 27 million people do every day – I wonder how many of those 27 million faithful adherents realise that this idea – seen as so typically Japanese – was actually imported from the USA!
Even if you can’t bear facing people at that hour, Radio Taiso is a good way to wake each morning and you can do it home as its on both radio and free to air TV each morning… It’s also a great way to burn off a little guilt from either last night’s dinner or the soon-to-be consumed gourmet breakfast.
Just down from the lights towards Higashiyama you’ll find Sunsports, the program starts at 6.30am sharp and runs through until August 22nd.
Aug 02, 2010
With the rain over the last few weeks there’s been so much mud that most of the mountain bike tracks around have been closed to prevent track damage. That means lots of guys (and a few girls!) are looking forward to a Dirty Weekend in Niseko right now!
The forecasts look good for the current clear weather to hold and for the tracks to be in great condition for Thursday night’s D’sen Run (meet at Sunsports after 5.00 for shuttle ups) and into the weekend. The Kagami-numa course is in great shape recently, and Hanazono have their new tracks and Pump area ready, and their new zip line open, and there’s all the old faithfuls across the mountain so you’ll run out of time over a weekend before you get to sample all the different tracks on offer.
Get a crew together, throw the bikes in the car, and head on up! There’s lots of accommodation options at this time of the year at every price point, and there’s plenty of other stuff on as well – including the Niseko HANAZONO Hill Climb road race event on Sunday morning (August 8th), and traditional Japanese festivals in both Kutchan and Niseko towns on Saturday night (August 7th).