It’s been a crazy week my friends in snow, and much to my embarrassment I almost forgot to tell you about my incredible day trip to Moiwa!
For those of you who haven’t yet visited this magical land of fluffy snow pillows and easily accessible backcountry, I highly recommend you jump on the free bus outside Seicomart tomorrow morning at 8am, 8:30am or 9am and take the 30min drive to Moiwa Ski Resort.
The resort looks deceivingly small, but there is a wonderful variety of terrain to be explored from just three chairlifts. I went with a group of mixed ability, and Moiwa came up roses for everyone. The beginners loved the quiet, wide-open groomers, and the adrenaline junkies had plenty of natural features to line up.
If Gate 6 is open, I highly recommend you take the short walk over the hill and drop into the gorgeous little bowl to skier’s right. On the day we visited, the fresh snow and morning sunshine transformed Moiwa into a sparkling wonderland, and I zipped through the snow-laden trees humming a little tune with a goofy smile on my face.
After a while we rode through two red flags on some birch trees, and I wondered idly ‘what are those for?’… until I cruised around the corner and came face to face with a drop into a creek. It wasn’t too hairy, but the cat track does flatten out eventually, so boarders beware. There’s also one section where the path overlooking the creek becomes a bit tight and there are some obliging ropes placed on the bank for riders to shimmy themselves along with. Only in Japan.
We did this fun little obstacle course a few times, and then enjoyed a cheap and cheerful lunch at the lodge. Hot chips with that dangerously good Japanese mayo and draft beer did the trick, and after our bellies were full we teamed up with one of our ninja friends to explore some of Moiwa’s hidden spots.
If you come off the quad and turn right, you will see a big sign saying ‘Backcountry; Respect the Rules’, which is confusingly smack bang on on a groomer. Ride down this groomer (I believe it is called Sky Slope) for about 20m, and then cut hard right into the trees and prepare for pillow paradise!
We followed the trees all the way down, occasionally cutting across the groomers only to plunge back into the white wonderland. The soft deep snow, perfectly spaced trees, and wuss-friendly pillows made this freakin’ amazing run the highlight of my best day so far this season.
My friends and I rode here for the rest of the day, sometimes changing it up by turning left off the quad down Giant Run for a short stint, before dropping off the little cliff to the left and cutting straight back into our favourite trees.
At only ¥3,800 for a full-day pass, Moiwa is well worth a visit to break up your Niseko United visit, and you can ride over from Annupuri Resort. A few members of our group accidentally went the other way and ended up hiking from Moiwa backcountry to Annupuri, so make sure you cut right after heading out Gate 6, unless you like walking.
The free bus will bring you back to Hirafu at either 3 or 4:30pm, so really you have no excuse not to go! We even made up this little Moiwa ditty on the bus ride home, so if you’re on your way out there and here some terrible singing to the tune of a Miley Cyrus song, turn around and say hello.