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Japan is BACK and the news has come quickly - after years of COVID-19 related travel restrictions and some tough VISA entry requirements Japan’s borders have now reopened for VISA free travel. But as we all know - the world is not quite “normal” just yet - and if the southern snow season is anything to go by - there are some things we’d like to share with you to make your trip the best it can be.
Snow aficionados from countries including Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the EU, England and the United States let out a collective whoop of excitement (and relief!) after the September announcement - as it came just in time for the snow season - meaning access to Hokkaido’s “Powder triangle” has finally been restored.
Business owners have been whooping, too, with hotel managers across Furano, Rusutsu and Niseko reporting bookings coming in thick and fast. The team at NISADE have been working hard to keep up with this demand.
“It is shaping up like an epic season - but things don’t return to “normal” in a snap of the fingers. So we’re working as quickly as we can to get everyone booked in and aware of the new normal” said NISADE’s General Manager Elliot Lawes.
So how do you avoid the missing out on the things you love and need in the “big return” to Japan? How can you make your snow trip as “saikou” (that means, “the best”) as possible? Our advice is summed up as this: Care, prepare and be aware.
- Be aware of changes - So the JAPOW is coming - but things really are different now. Being aware of the realities of travel post-reopening is the single best piece of advice we can give. With Japan travel locked out for the past two years many private businesses have been unable to operate, running at reduced capacity, or closed all together – and now must very quickly return to pre-COVID19 staffing levels. Has anyone seen the photos of an eerily empty Narita food court just a few days ago? In 2022 being aware of the realities of Japan’s situation and having realistic expectations is important in ensuring you get the most of your return. On that note...
Here at NISADE the impacts of COVID recovery means there are some changes to our normal operations this season:
Firstly, NISADE's pick-up and drop off transfer service will be limited to travel to and from the Welcome Centre in Hirafu. But don't worry: The Hirafu public shuttle service around the village is still available.
Secondly, some boutique properties will have their check-in and customer support services based at other locations. If you're staying at one of the listed of properties and we pick you up at the Welcome Centre - we'll take you to the locations below before heading to your accommodation. If you're travelling on your own - please visit the check-in locations listed.
Check-in changes 2022/23 snow season
>> Setsumon & Jade Rabbit check-ins will be managed at The Maples Niseko
>> Freshwater check-ins will be managed by the team at Kozue (梢)
>> Snow Crystal check-ins will be managed at The Vale Niseko
- Book ahead and plan extra travel time - So you’ve booked your flight and secured accommodation - the rest you’ll worry about when you get here, right? Oops! Reports out of the southern hemisphere resorts in Australia this year show they were impacted by some severe staff shortages coupled with record demand. Ski instructor recruitment and lesson availability, for example, was severely impacted. We've heard of cases where people booked their family in to accommodation only to find out on arrival that lessons had sold out weeks ago.
Our advice: if you can book it in advance – and book it direct – do it as soon as you can. We also recommend planning extra time for flight transfers, shuttles and getting between places – as delays (especially with flights) are occurring.
Already booked with NISADE? Check your inbox for a list of our partners with availability – we recommend getting in touch with them directly especially if you’re visiting during peak Christmas season. You can also check out our new restaurant guide
- Missed out? Why not consider something new? - Airport transfers booked out? Hire a car! Ski lessons not available? Consider a new activity snowshoeing tour or try a new ski area like Furano. Direct Sapporo flights difficult? Catch the Shinkansen to Hakodate instead. Hokkaido offers so many different experiences and “variety is the spice of life” so stay open minded this season and who knows what exciting things you might discover! Check our Guest Services page for ideas
- Be kind to others and yourself - One of the things we all love about Japan is the politeness of its people and excellent customer service - with staff and businesses in Hokkaido likely to be running on reduced capacity - your empathy and kindness is more important than ever.
- Brush up on your nihongo - It’s been a while - but now is the time to brush up on (or start learning) some useful Japanese. While Hokkaido is a great place to travel even if you only speak English or Mandarin - knowing a few key words in Japanese - “sumimasen” (excuse me), “nama beeru o hitotsu onegaishimasu” (one beer please) - will improve your stay, make you look cool and is always well received by the locals! (Mastering the Japanese “r” sound will also make you look like a total boss!)
See our recommended Japanese travel words
- Exchange your AUD, USD or EURO soon! - with the YEN at record low levels in recent times you never know when exchange rates will rise again. The reopening of borders may impact YEN value and we’re tipping the YEN to steadily recover - so exchanging NOW while the currency remains low could save you massive amounts this snow season. Plus! You could put yourself in a good position to buy that dream “ski pad” in Hokkaido before prices inevitably rise
Well that's it! Do you have any other tips you'd like to share? Send them to the NISADE team on our socials - or if you haven't booked check out the deals we have available.
“It’s important that customers are aware of and plan for the different snow season ahead. For me - having experienced the recent season in Australia - I know how important it was for guests to be prepared - and how much staff appreciated the kindness of customers while we were doing all we could to keep up with demand” said NISADE Marketing Manager, Amon Bradshaw
Amon is our Japan Marketing Manager - having joined the team in late 2022 after 5 years experience in the Australian ski and tourism industry - Amon enjoys hiking, camping and snowboarding badly.
We invite all NISADE x The Luxe Nomad guests to join us at The Maples and The Vale on 25th December to celebrate he holiday season
Countdown to an unforgettable New Year's Eve in Niseko! Explore exclusive celebrations at The Vale and The Maples with NISADE's ultimate guide.