NISEKO residents woke today to the first sight of snow for the season – an overnight dusting on the peak of Mt Yotei.
In keeping with Japan’s distinct seasonal changes the ‘hatsu yuki’ (first snow) came one day after the autumnal equinox – when night and day are the same length – which signifies the start of the countdown to winter.
The event was somewhat unexpected and comes much earlier than last year when 1898m Yotei got its first snow on October 10.
Last season the first snowfall of the year was on Hokkaido’s highest peak Mt Asahidake on September 25, one day later than this year.
The Asahidake Ropeway reported it also got its first light snowfall last night and local newspaper The Hokkaido Shimbun reported a number of other high local peaks did also, thanks to a large cold air mass moving across the island.
Local Niseko meteorologist Brendon Eishold had predicted the snow would come today.
"About a week ago it looked like cold air would move over the region by today," he said.
"There’s a low pressure system sitting in the northern Sea of Okhotsk that’s directing a north westerly airstream over us.
"It’s a typical winter situation that we hope continues to develop and really starts pulling some cold air down."
In terms of what’s in store for the season, Eishold says it’s still crystal ball stuff but initial indicators were good.
"One of the main indicators of whether it’s going to be a cold winter is snowfalls over Siberia in September and there’s pretty cold air over there currently with some reasonable snowfalls."
He said for the coming week there should be more falls up high on Friday and in to the weekend, and possibly even a little lower down the mountain.
Last year the Niseko villages saw their first snow flakes on November 2 with light snow settling at village level on November 4.
The first solid snowfall was on November 16 and the resort opened on November 22.
Stay tuned to Powderlife.com for the latest snow report and footage from the start of the season.