A red poinsettia framed in the window sill greets the Boxing Day sore heads as beech trees are weighed down by yet another overnight snowfall in the picturesque ski resort of Niseko. In some of the coldest reaches of north western Japan on the island of Hokkaido, Niseko was originally a potato farming district lying lying peacefully at the foot of the Mt Yotei volcano but now looms large on the world map as a premium destination for powder hound skiers and snowboarders.
Our white Christmas planned for Japan was a gamble. Will there be in snow December or not? Sometimes the famed 14 plus metres of dry snow don’t start blanketing the ski hills until late January, and Mother Nature does not give advance warnings of her secrets when booking flights and ski holiday several weeks (or even months) in advance. In December 2012 we needn’t have worried. “Best start to a ski season in 20 years,” was the word on the street (and online) and sure enough, we were skiing top to bottom, hill to hill and even off-piste with the bamboo well and truly covered when we arrived on Christmas eve.
After an adventurous Christmas day spent on skis at high altitude in the cold, clear mountains with endless views of volcano, hills and valleys, that holiday feeling kicks in as we celebrate a special day with friends over freshly shucked oysters and champagne while re-living every run, every turn, every bump, every laugh.
A white Christmas should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’ for an adventure so different from the usual. You don’t need to ski to enjoy it. You can spend your days rugged up by the fire with a good book and a cheeky glass of wine at lunch, looking out perfectly framed windows over holiday poinsettias at vistas many people can only dream about.