During our stay at Nest at The Trees in Niseko, we surely wouldn’t want to miss the activities we could do while in the area. Niseko has been quite known for the quality of its powder white snow that makes it very ideal for amateur and pro-skiers and snowboarders to play with.
With the help of Niseko Tourism, we are able to experience a few activities that we could do for a day, including snow tubing and a beginner’s class for skiing with Hanazono Niseko and Niseko International Snowsports School (NISS). We also get to have a one-day mountain pass to get thru Grand Hirafu’s summit and to other parts where a lift is available.
Hanazono Niseko or Hanazono 308 is the base of all activities within Hanazono. It’s also a family-friendly resort with a large area for all the snow activities including snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, and a whole lot more. It also includes a large dining area, rental shop, and retail shop and also is home to the NISS or Niseko International Snowsports School, where we enrolled for the day to teach us the basics of skiing.
We woke up earlier than usual for the beginner’s lessons for skiing to be conducted at Hanazono Niseko. Had our breakfast at the Black Wood Grill at Nest at The Trees and prepared ourselves for a 10 mins shuttle ride to Hanazono Niseko. We need to be there by 9 am.
Skiing Lessons with NISS (Niseko International Snowsports School)
Skiing is a popular extreme sport especially to countries that are frequented of snow. As a beginner, it’s a recreational sport, but for professional skiers, it’s a competitive sport. Since we know nothing yet about Skiing, we are to be taught beginner’s lessons for this sport.
Upon arriving at Hanazono Niseko, we went ahead to the counter to check-in for our activity. After verification, we filled out an online form to determine what lessons we are going to get, what are our feet sizes, and height, and then proceeded to go the rental counter.
Jane and I started to change to a snowsports attire with the assistance of the staff at the rental counter. If you have large things with you, you may opt to use your coin lockers that are available near the changing rooms for a fee. The largest coin locker is 400 yen. Small items can be put inside the pockets of your snowsport jacket and pants.
Note: If you are to get things in the locker, you can use the small window. If you opened the locker and wanted to lock it again, you will have to pay another fee.
Of all the things we needed to wear, the bulkiest and heaviest is the ski shoes. The ski shoes need to be a good fit for you in order to enjoy the lessons especially when it’s your first time to try the sport. Your feet and legs will be your primary weapon when doing skiing even as a recreational sport.
We were both excited since it’s going to be our first time playing in the snow with skis. Niseko definitely gave us many firsts, just like when we did when we were in Kyoto. When we were both ready, Myuki, our instructor led us to the field. Together with us is another lesson taker, Tia, from South Korea.
Start of Skiing Beginners’ Lesson
The lesson started with how to wear or put on the ski. Next, we were taught about how to walk in the snowfield on a flat surface and when Myuki thinks we did good, we moved on to walking in steeper slopes. There were different techniques and of course, you can walk with what’s comfortable with you. There will be times you will fall down but there is no other way to move on but to get up first.
Next, she taught us about how to slide in the snow using the ski. It was really fun and the first time we did it, it was like a dream come true. All of us got to fall down during the exercises so it felt like it was okay, but it was really fun. Jane keeps on falling down as she cannot balance herself well with the shoes on and said that it’s already hurting. We kept on adjusting the shoes and moved on to the next lesson.
After balancing ourselves while skiing in the snow, we were then taught how to move left and move right or how to maneuver yourself when skiing. It was so much fun this time since we are able to move from one place to another. Again, there are many fall downs but that is all a part of the lesson. We were given plenty of tries so we could practice.
However, Jane’s really getting uncomfortable with the shoes she has and she feels like hurting already. So opted to take an early lunch and come to the lesson again at 1:00 pm.
After a good lunch, we then proceeded again to continue the lessons with Myuki. This time, we will be balancing at a higher slope. Jane tried to keep up with the lessons but her feet were really hurting then so she opted to be out of the lesson for the day. She still managed to progress to balancing while going down but that’s it. She said she was happy about the experience and may want to do it the next time.
Tubing with Snowmobile
So we asked her to wait for us until we are back from the higher slope. Little did I know, we will be snow tubing going up the hill with a snowmobile. Jane wasn’t with us on the first time we did it so I made sure she will also experience riding it when we got back.
To get to the higher slope, we will be riding a conveyor machine they called Magic Carpet. Up the hill was a great view, yet we cannot advance anymore since the weather wasn’t really good. Myuki said it was really windy up there and as beginners, we will be having a hard time navigating while going down. From that higher slope, we tested how we did by going down slowly, copying Myuki’s movements. She does it really good like totally effortless. I could understand since she’s skiing when she was just a child but it’s really amazing to see someone being so good with the sport.
After heading down, we immediately look for Jane. When we can’t find her anywhere in the field, we went back inside Hanazono 308, and she was there in the comfort room. I asked her if she could try skiing again but she’s firm that she won’t anymore so I asked her to come with us instead so she can experience snow tubing up the hill. I bet it was also a good experience for her, riding at an inflatable while being pulled by the snowmobile and then riding the snowmobile to get back to the magic carpet.
We then proceeded to get better at maneuvering ourselves using the ski. That time, it was easier for us to move left and right, to maintain speed, and move slow or fast. I could even take photos by that time while on going down motion from the slope. It was really a great experience and I thought of doing it again. Unfortunately, the lessons are only until 3:30 pm and we have to get going for the snow tubing experience.
We really thank Myuki of NISS for being a great teacher and for having the patience to teach the basics to people who basically just had the first time experience with snow, especially that we came from the Philippines where no snow can be seen but only cold and dry winds.
One of the most fun and easiest activities you can do in Hanazono if you don’t want to go skiing or snowboarding is snow tubing.
Snow Tubing makes use of an inflatable buoy that is thick enough so that hard snow cannot penetrate, and the experience is kind of similar to sliding at a waterpark with a buoy or life vest on except that this activity is perfectly safe even for kids.
You will ride a buoy without assistance and rush through the slope. Feel the adrenaline rush when you are in the middle and shout your heart full of joy and excitement as you go through the course of the slide. It’s a fast journey to the flat surface but is definitely a heart pumping one as well. You can ride with your partner with your buoys tangled together so you won’t get bumped with one another.
This activity is for all ages and you can do it for more than once! It’s really exciting, I tell you! You must not miss doing this activity, especially while in Niseko! We’ll upload our videos soon so you could get a better idea of everything!
Now, if you want to enjoy your winter holiday in Niseko, make sure to coordinate with Niseko Tourism for the latest updates and guides or download the Niseko Guide App straight to your mobile phone so you can get the guide on the go!
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