Arigato and Sonkei: Sanctuary in Niseko

Sometime within the past decade, members of the Niseko Avalanche Research Center teamed with locals to develop what are known as the “Niseko Rules.” The first rule is to use the designated gates for entering the lift-accessed backcountry and the second is to never duck ropes. They act like the unwritten “peak first” rule in the surf world, meaning snowboarders dropping from the peak have priority, so they can enjoy the run top to bottom. The practice helps keep people safe and encourages mutual respect for your fellow rider and their line.  

Niseko has become a very busy destination for snowboarders and skiers from around the globe. Often overcrowded, the harmony of the area’s holy mountains has felt off balance. Although this year, due to COVID-19, the crowds are much smaller. I’m headed there now to link with Taro Tamai to enjoy this slower, more magical season in Niseko.

I recently arrived in Tokyo from California. Before continuing my physical journey, I’ve got to spend 14 days in self-isolation, so I’m quarantining at the cheapest hotel I could find near the Haneda Airport. I thought I’d scored a good deal, but the room feels kind of like a walk-in closet… 

Buy issue

Subscribe to start your collection of The Snowboarder’s Journal.


The Snowboarder's Journal mailing list

We respect your time, and only send you the occasional update.