FOR adrenaline junkies visiting Niseko during the warmer months, paragliding is an activity that soars above the rest.
Gliders are able to plunge off peaks at Annupuri and the west-ridge of nearby Rusutsu ski resort, to enjoy a gentle glide and a soaring bird’s eye view of the lush, colourful Hokkaido countryside below.
All this is possible with the help of Niseko Flight Park in Niseko Town, run by local paragliding pro, Endo-san.
With an international paragliding license, gliders with their own gear can make a solo jump for around ¥2000. A tandem jump for unlicensed gliders with no equipment will cost around ¥13,000 for a 10 to 20-minute flight, depending on weather conditions.
Local paraglider Dave Mills – who runs pension Kinoko in Hirafu’s Lower Village – has been gliding since 1993. He has spent two summers here, and says Niseko looks nothing short of amazing from the sky.
He says paragliding in Niseko is unique, because instead of having to drive or hike to a launch point, all jumps are easily accessed by gondola.
“It’s spectacular, all the different greens you can see – you can get a unique aerial view of the drastically different seasons when you’re paragliding in Niseko,” says Dave, who has had more than 800 glides worldwide, and reaches heights up to 1000m above Niseko.
“From up there on a clear day you can see some amazing things you can’t see anywhere else. You can fly above Mount Annupuri and other nearby ranges, and also see all the way out to the ocean. You can even fly back right over the top of Mount Yotei’s crater if the conditions and thermals are right.”