Fire and ice: An eye-popping volcano and one of the best snow records in the world makes Japan's Niseko ski resort the peak of perfection (the luxury lodgings help, too)
I'm on my snowboard thigh-deep in powder in the middle of a piste and yet it's nearly April, the end of the winter season.
Frankly, in most ski resorts this depth of snow at this time of year would be highly unusual, but I'm in Niseko, Japan, where it's a run-of-the-mill situation.
The top lift at Niseko - a cluster of four interlinked villages on the island of Hokkaido - is only about 4,000 feet high, but despite the low altitude it receives around 50 feet of the white stuff every year courtesy of weather from Siberia, putting it in an elite club for snowfall levels.
Magnificent: MailOnline Travel's Ted Thornhill beams in front of the 6,200ft volcano Mount Yotei, which makes Niseko one of the most eye-catching resorts anywhere in the world
Send in the cone: Mount Yotei dominates almost every view in Niseko. Pictured is Green Leaf Niseko Village, where Ted stayed, with the volcano in the background, covered in cloud
Room for manoeuvre: One of Niseko's most striking attractions s how empty the pistes often are - though there aren't very many of them
Ice one: Niseko is renowned for having generous quantities of the white stuff, with Ted experiencing almost three days of continuous snowfall
The journey here is arduous - it's long-haul to Tokyo plus an internal flight and a three-hour coach transfer - but the reward is a skiing and snowboarding experience dreams are made of.
And the good news right now is that there aren't a lot of people dreaming about going to Niseko - many people I spoke to before leaving didn't even know it was possible to ski in Japan - which means the slopes are joyously empty, so huge tracts of powder remain untouched hours after the snowflakes have stopped falling.
It begins snowing the morning after I arrive and doesn't stop for another two and a half days or so. On day two there's a winter wonderland aesthetic and I make sure that I'm on the very first lift. I'm greeted at the top by conditions some only experience once every few years - powder on the piste.
I whoosh past trees with branches bent over by the weight of snow on them, with only a couple of dozen people sharing the mountain with me. I've done a season snowboarding in the French Alps plus around 15 holidays and consider today's session one of the best for powder I've ever experienced.
source by stardailystandard