Heavy snowfalls over the past couple of days in Japan primed Niseko's powdery slopes for the much-anticipated season opening today.

The Grand Hirafu lifts were switched on at the weekend with hundreds of skiers and boarders turning out and hitting the mountain throughout the day to get their first taste of the 09-10 powder.  Those keen enough were up waiting in line for the familiar opening bells and sirens to sound, and a steady stream of people continued to flow through the gates all day to sample the upper half of Hirafu.

A solid one metre base up top allowed plenty of powder for all to share. And although there was only one official run open for business, everyone had a smile on their dial, happy to be up there on Day 1. At around mid-morning, many were treated to a brief bluebird moment which beautifully lit up the piste, trees and surrounding mountain ranges.  The 'official' upper runs off the Ace #3 chair were pretty well tracked out by around 10am, but some skiers and boarders may have accidentally missed their download lift, sampling the goods all the way from top to bottom.


Meanwhile, a group of Japanese and a handful of 'gaijin' (foreign) locals gathered outside the Welcome Centre on Saturday morning for the official resort opening ceremony. The cultural opening saw local identities, business owners and resort staff pay their respects, laying wreaths and blessing the area in anticipation of another great season. Niseko, on the island of Hokkaido, is Japan’s most famous ski resort and is becoming known for having some of the lightest, driest powder snow in the world.

Information thanks to SkiInfo