Head to Niseko and Hakuba these days and you’re more likely to hear an Aussie accent sitting next to you on the chairlift than any other. Which can be welcoming if you’re feeling homesick, but annoying when you feel like you haven’t even left Australia.
Luckily for those of us looking for the lesser-known resorts, there are still hundreds of ski resorts to be found across Japan that are fun, authentic and skied (almost) only by the locals.
Here are some of our favourites.
North Hokkaido, Hokkaido
Asahi-dake will score you serious brownie points among the ‘serious’ skiers of Hokkaido. On a powder day, there’s nothing better than the terrain to be found on this volcano, accessible only by a ropeway that leaves the main station every 20 minutes or so.
Be warned that you’ll need a full set of backcountry gear to explore here, including a shovel, beacon and probe, and bring a splitboard or touring set-up for your skis if you want to hike up beyond the top of the ropeway.
Better yet, take a guide. A number of western tour companies do now lead small groups of intrepid powder hounds looking for virgin turns with day trips or overnight trips.
Prefer to go it alone? Stay in Asahikawa for well-priced accommodation and drive the hour to the mountain for a day trip or two, or opt to stay at one of the accommodation options at the foot of the mountain.