THE call of Niseko’s world-famous powder snow has made its way to the far northern reaches of Scandinavia – and apparently that call is particularly loud in Finland.
There are so many Finnish skiers and boarders here in Niseko that there’s a need for a guiding company that caters solely to tourists from Finland.
For three years, Finnish company Elämysmatkat – which translates roughly to ‘Adventure Tours’ – has been guiding holidaymakers from Finland around the slopes of Niseko, and greater Hokkaido.
Finnish guide Linda Karlsson said that she alone had guided more than 40 guests around Niseko this winter, with more Finnish tourists expected to arrive in numbers of up to 10 at a time later in the season.
She added that she met an estimated 10-15 independent Finnish skiers and boarders per week who also visited Niseko without guidance from Elämysmatkat.
“I think the Finns are coming to Niseko first of all because of the powder snow,” said Linda, who has spent two seasons in Niseko herself.
“Niseko has a good reputation in the Finnish ski world – and word is travelling fast.”
Linda said skiers and boarders from Finland – and, to a lesser extent, other Scandinavians from Norway, Denmark and Sweden – were bypassing the nearby European Alps for a taste of something different.
“Many Scandinavians have already been to the Alps, and this is a way to discover something new,” she said.
“The Niseko snow is amazing, and you can’t compare the snow here to the Alps or Scandinavia.
“They also want to experience new cultures and something totally new – they are loving everything here: not just the snow, but the friendly people, delicious food, onsens and atmosphere.”
Linda said the universal comment from Finnish tourists before going back home was that they wanted to come back for another holiday.
“But it doesn’t stop at Niseko,” she said. “Some are also heading to Sapporo, but most are staying a couple of nights in Osaka, Tokyo or Nagoya on their way home. They are all saying Niseko was their best holiday ever.”