Sapporo Ski Touring
Sapporo Ski Tour
I set off for Asia in August. After three months of travel I got the call that I was needed as a volunteer in Niseko starting on December 15 for the entire ski season. My Japow dreams were actually happening. I was to work 2-4 hours per day… snow clearing in the morning and restaurant work in the evening in exchange for accommodation, food, and lift pass from December until March. This was set up to be the deepest season of my life. I quickly changed my plans and flew back to Utah. I had a week to see my family and friends, handle personal matters, and get my ski gear before flying back to Asia.
I arrived in Niseko and it was dumping. This was actually happening. But what I arrived to was not what I was promised by the lodge owner that I made the arrangement with. In fact, the owner was not even there. He was sitting in Australia collecting profit while myself and two other unpaid volunteers ran his lodge for nearly 100 high paying guests. We had a chef, bar staff, and cleaning staff but everything else– snow clearing, running the restaurant, office work, reception, shuttle driving, and all guest interaction was carried out by three of us… and none of us were paid. After three weeks of working nearly 24 hours on call I started to lose it. My stress level and frustration with the situation got the best of me. I’d flown back and forth across the Pacific Ocean and given up Christmas and New Years at home to be here. So I left. (A mutual departure between myself and the owner).
With nowhere to go, I headed back to Sapporo to reevaluate my situation. I suddenly had 2.5 months free, and I had my ski gear. I could go anywhere in the world. Leaving that situation was liberating, yet crushing at the same time. Perhaps I would not be able to ski Japan for the winter. After three days in a Sapporo hostel, I could no longer sit on my laptop looking for a job any longer. So, I decided to go skiing. There is a lesser known resort only 20km from the city center called Sapporo Teine that is accessible by public transportation within 40 minutes. I shot this video on that single day of skiing. As it turns out, Japow is accessible all over Hokkaido… even a short commute from the center of a city of 1.9 million people.
I must add.. despite a few ultra deep days, the weather in Niseko did not help my frustration. During those three weeks it rained three days, winds reached 90mph, and there were bright bluebird days and a few days of serious snowfall. It was not the consistent nuketown that is shown in every Japan edit ever.
To update: I’m back in Niseko now at a different arrangement. This one is much more fair and I shall be here until the end of February. Niseko is still a bit behind on snow, but it is possible to get a faceshot on any single day in Japan if you search hard enough.