Last November we had the pleasure of intervewing the Galavanting Family who told us everything about spending the pandemic exploring Japan and worldschooling their two children, Luna and Leo. In the interview they mentioned something about spending the winter in the northern Hokkaido so we checked back in with them to see how did that go. We are happy to announce that they made it up north for the winter season to experience “Japow” (Japanese powder snow) and are ready to share their tips on enjoying Japanese winter as a family! This time we caught them in Niseko, Japan's famous skiing area, where they are spending three months skiing, snowboarding and worldschooling.
How’s it going up there in Niseko?
Amazing. With the borders still closed and an exceptionally heavy snowfall this season, we are experiencing a winter wonderland we could never have imagined. Niseko is living up to its reputation as the powder capital of the world. The resorts are mostly empty and the Japow is plentiful. The best part has been seeing Luna and Leo improve quickly. They went from first-time skiers to now darting between trees in the backcountry, and racing down the pistes.
What are your top 10 tips you would share with other families considering Niseko?
1. Kids quickly outgrow their skiing clothes/gear so get them used at second hand shops. We got most of our gear at Boarderline in nearby Kutchan, and at 2nd Street Kawazoe in Sapporo, about a 2 hour drive away.
2. Putting kids in lessons can be beneficial for the whole family. Kids often learn quicker around other kids as competition can be a good motivator. A side benefit is that the parents can go ski or ride on more challenging terrain.
3. A Niseko United All Mountain Pass is a great deal to access four major resorts. You can ski or ride between Annapuri, Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, and Hanazono, or take the shuttle for easy access. We loved taking the 15-minute gondola ride near the top of Niseko Village where we could enjoy a long ride down, or make our way to Annapuri or Hirafu.
4. Niseko offers many volcanic onsen! Here’s Luna enjoying the snowy Iroha Onsen at Annupuri (discount offered with your Niseko United pass) after a long day of skiing.
5. For cheap and easy eats, try one of the food trucks in Hirafu, but be sure to dress warmly because there’s only outdoor seating. Our favorite were the samosas and tikka wraps at the Taj Mahal Truck.
6. Some days when we didn’t ski or snowboard, we enjoyed snowshoeing treks around our lodge, where Leo spotted Japanese weasels and a tanuki.
7. Mondriano serves excellent pizza until 5 pm. Enjoy great food, local beer with a perfect view of Mt. Yotei, then walk over to Takahashi Dairy for Hokkaido soft serve ice cream, cream puffs and cheese tarts.
8. Take a break from skiing and visit the chalet at the top of the Hirafu Gondola. Enjoy a hot chocolate while you take in the views.
9. Moiwa is a gem of a resort within Niseko. It’s smaller than the others, but offers terrain for all abilities with smaller crowds and a more relaxed vibe. The backcountry terrain was our family favorite where we discovered the magic of Japow. Also, the magic carpet is free and great for families with beginners or sledders.
10. Visit NisekoTourism.com to make sure you’re on top of the local events, promotions, and the fast-changing weather conditions. They’re a great resource.
Make sure to follow The Galavanting Family and their adventures over on their Instagram @thegalavantingfamily.