You put a lot of efforts in coming here, applying for a Visa, packing your stuff, perhaps learning the language - make sure that you will come back home in one piece at the end of the season. Every year we have 10% of our staff who see their (very likely) only season in Niseko shortened because of an injury.
So we advise you to remember the following tips:
Mountains don't look like the Alps, but they are still dangerous.
It is true that one thing overall lacking in Niseko is steepness. So from far the snow doesn't seem too dangerous. However, all the snow is sitting on top of bamboo shrubs, which tend not to serve as anchors but rather as slippery slope. So don't feel overconfident and make sure you stay safe outside of the gates. (That means taking your whole avalanche gear with you, going with other people, and making sure that everybody in your group knows how to use everything).
Mount Yotei is amazing, but...
Last season saw the first fatality on Mount Yotei. The skier didn't have a beacon, got trapped in an avalanche, and the local authorities spent a couple of days before finding the body. So back to point one, nasty things to happen around here.
Likewise, an Australian guy in 2013 was caught in an avalanche on mount Yotei and found (luckily) a good 1000 meters lower... Turns out he didn't have insurance so had to organize (from his hospital room) fundraising events to pay for his bills. Read the whole story on the powderlife magazine of the following season, it is really amazing.
Quick conclusion: If you go out in a back-country, make sure you have the proper insurance.
Skiing trees is great, but...
Skiing trees is awesome. And Niseko being at such ridiculously low altitude offers plenty of tree runs.
The issue is, if you miscalculate and hit a tree, the tree will not move a centimeter. But you will have to be sent to the hospital. We have every year staff whose season is shortened because of broken kneecaps, torn MCLs, etc...
And each year unfortunately there are a couple / handful of fatalities due to a collision with a tree at full speed.
So make sure you know what you are doing before going full speed into tree runs.
It's a slippery slope...
The Hirafu village is built on a slope (surprise, surprise) and streets can be pretty treacherous at night. Every year some people skid on ice and injure themselves.
Some small tips regarding walking in the streets at night:
Don't drink too much, it doesn't help with the balance
Try to walk where there is fresh powder. It might be slightly tougher, but fresh snow actually doesn't skid as much as compact-and-re-iced-one.
You can buy rubber spikes to put below your shoes, it does help. (But make sure to remove them before you enter anywhere! Nobody likes to see their flooring destroyed by people who keep shoes inside...)
On the flat, try to put more weight on the front of your body (as if you are about to run), It is much easier to recover if you skid forward than if you skid backward. It is sightly more complicated when you are going downhill.
Stay fit and out of trouble - and enjoy your season!
Nothing surprising there, but given that the season is actually quite long, and there are powder days up until March, take it easy and rest when needed. Take proper amount of sleep, and try to eat quality food from time to time. A whole season in Niseko is something to enjoy, from the early excitement in December, to the deep night runs in January, and finishing with the blue bird of March with long afternoons, early runs, and why not a beer on top of Yotei while enjoying the landscape!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!