It literally feels like yesterday that I waved goodbye to my family at Gold Coast airport, cried my way through security and boarded my bargain business class flight to Japan. November and December brought the excitement of the beginning of winter, dangerously fun season opening parties and my first white Christmas. January greeted us with 30 days of non-stop snow and peak season for the flood of tourists. The second half of February brought the mid-season blues, which saw me dying to just get on a plane and come home to the hot Brisbane sun. Then came sunny March which had me saying goodbye to a different friend every day and wishing the season would never end. Now that I’m sitting in Sapporo airport waiting for my flight to Tokyo, I honestly can’t believe that my first snow season is suddenly over.
Niseko 13/14 – where do I even begin? Four months of the glorious Mt. Yotei, too much gyouza, snowballs to the face, a few too many nights Full Strong, a lot of slipping over on ice, poorly articulated Japanese, a fascination with cheap fireworks, working two jobs, one toilet between 20 girls, a somewhat disgusting amount of scavenged pizza, fabulously performed karaoke, a few tree-to-head collisions, Seicomart’s famous egg sandwiches, one stolen jacket, countless laughs, endless fresh powder, and some incredible new friends.
Let’s face it, I probably didn’t get as much skiing in as I should have whilst living in the home of the world’s best powder snow, but hey that’s what happens when you wake up after a night out on the second day of the season with a fractured ankle and no recollection of how it happened. Oops. Besides my somewhat low number of days riding, I’ve still managed to experience some unbelievable skiing, including fresh tracks from the peak in knee deep pow, super fun untouched tree lines, blue-bird powder days and that one time I skiied into a shrub and got so stuck that I had to unclip and roll down the slope. Another Oops.
As a victim of the notoriously low ski resort minimum wage, I ended up working two jobs during the season. Luckily, I was able to score a job which allowed me to nurture my coffee addiction at the Rhythm coffee cart. I met tonnes of cool people working there, had heaps of fun doing something I honestly enjoy, and drank way too many coffees… and maybe ate a few too many of Minachan’s banana chocolate muffins as well. Ohhhh so oishii desu. But the job that brought me to this amazing part of the world was Niseko Pizza. Like any job, its had it’s fair share of ups and downs. Like trying to explain in broken Japanese to a very impatient man who speaks zero English that; “No we do not have a table for 16 available right now, it will be a two hour wait.” Or serving already super drunk groups of annoying Aussie guys who would like to order “six asayshees please mate.” And let’s not forget The Great Cheese Platter Incident of 2014. Language barriers, stupid customers and angry chefs aside, there’s no doubt that some of the funniest times I’ve had this season have been while slaving away for eight hundred yen per hour with the awesome Niseko Pizza crew.
“It’s not the place, it’s the people” is a gross cliche I’ve read far too often on travel blogs, but honestly it couldn’t be more accurate. Cheeseblockers, thanks a million for four months of priceless, amazing, hilarious memories. Coming to Niseko has proven to be the best decision I’ve ever made and its all because of you bunch of lunatics. I have so much love for you all and can’t wait until our paths cross again.
Sayoonara beautiful Niseko! From here, it’s Tokyo time!