You’re watching Vagabrothers, and this is the Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan. What’s up everybody? I’m Marko. You’re watching Vagabrothers, and right now I’m in the home of the world’s best powder snowboarding: Hokkaido, Japan. I am so stoked. I have just come all the way from California to the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido. My friends and I from the college UCLA ski and snowboard team are having a giant reunion here, and we came all the way out here because this part of Japan has some of the best powder in the world. It’s only 1,300 meters high here. It’s not a gigantic mountain, but the thing is that the powder here is very, very soft. It seems to fall about 15 centimeters a day, and even though it’s right next to the ocean, it’s still very, very dry. Combine it with beautiful natural hot springs, tons of great food and beautiful nature, and we have one of the best ski destinations in the world. This is my buddy, Chucky, also known as Black Falcon here live in Japan. Are you stoked on this trip? Very stoked. How stoked? I am feeling great, stoked day one, get some powder. First time in Niseko? All of us have the Ikon Pass. This is a ski and snowboard pass that works on all different mountains around the world. Mountain Collective Pass also works here. We can go snowboarding for free on the Ikon Pass here. We redeemed our passes for a local ski pass. And now it’s time to hit the mountain. This is so nuts. This is beautiful, beautiful powder. Oh wow! Yeah. Not bad for a first day. Got to love these trees. Big difference from here and back in California is that in California we have these big pine trees. Okay so a couple runs in so far. This is amazing. There are tons of back kind of like powder runs you can do, and we haven’t even got the top of the mountain where all the gates are, right? Natural terrain galore with more to come. Good stuff, soft snow, nice trees, nice fantastic day. So we just stopped for a lunch break. So far everything has been super good. This powder is incredible and the mountain is gigantic, and we haven’t even really touched the back country, but it’s still here on the resort. There’s tons of tree runs and there’s tons of powder and It’s great. It’s going to be snowing all week. We have five days of snow ahead of us. We’re in Niseko’s famous powder . We’re going through a gate, which allows you go off back country, and there’s fewer people. The farther you walk from the gate, the better it is. As they say you have to earn your turns. So we’re going on a hike and hopefully get some fresh powder. Alright. Time to drop. Oh wow. So nice. These are like big open fields. What’d you think? All-time. Lives up to the name, lives up to the hype. We can’t even walk, we’re too happy. We just have to sit and talk about it. What makes the snow so good here? Just the moisture content. All the cold air masses that pass over from the Japan Sea and from Siberia just make for perfect conditions for it you just absolutely dump here in Niseko. So the hotel I’m staying in is really cool. It’s what’s known in Japan as a capsule hotel, which is when you stay in a capsule In a room full of other people of the same gender. So this is my capsule.. it’s not super big. It’s just pretty much a bed, TV, some storage space down below But at only 70 bucks a night, it’s about a quarter of the price of getting a hotel room in one of the bigger hotels. You have a lot of common areas, common lounge area. There is, like I said, a hot spring called an “onsen” that’s all included, plus breakfast. Not a bad way to go, especially for your solo traveler. It’s dinner time, and I’m waiting for the bus. Shit. That was it. Damn it. It’s the evening. I’m in downtown Niseko, and now this is a town that has a ton of different people mostly from Australia and New Zealand, a lot of expats from Canada as well. So there’s a huge international influence here. But for dinner we’re going to do something more traditional. My friend Chucky and his group have rented out a restaurant, Japanese restaurant, so it’s time to have some dinner and experience some of the local culture. Good times. Amazing. Has anybody else ordered a hot tea? We explored Rusutsu, which has all together different terrain compared to Niseko, a lot more trees. I like to describe it as nooks and crannies of the mountain. Just little drops, side hits. it was amazing. Sakes and Sapporos. Cheers. What was the word? Kanpai. Kanpai. Chucky, where’s the next spot? The next spot is going to be a very relaxing and surprise spot. It’s a bar situated in a bunker element. We’re going to go into a refrigerator door. It’s called the Ice Bar. Pretty rad. That’s a very long way of saying it. It’s like a little cabin. It’s very, very cozy, and there’s a big window looking out to the snow. The drinks are great. They’re basically LA prices, fifteen bucks a cocktail. It’s not cheap. Great music. A whole vinyl collection. Whisky bottles on the wall. And overall, excellent vibrations. All right so it’s another day here at Niseko, and it continues to dump. It snowed all night. I think it’s one of the reasons why so many people come out here because if you plan a trip in January or February, you are pretty much guaranteed to get powder. That’s why they call it “Japow.” Just snowed so much here. We are so close to Siberia, and it’s very consistent. Today a lot of the mountain is closed down because there is so much snow. I think they need to clear some avalanches out at the top. But some of my friends have gone to another resort, which might be more open. But we’re going to go hit the top of the mountain and see what’s open and what we can get into. By the way I’m super stoked on the board that I picked up. I got a Burton bottom-feeder. It’s 150 centimeters long; it’s designed specifically for powder. It’s got a big nose in the front, short tail and the nose is kind of elevated with some rocker so that you can go through the powder without doing a nose dive like you do on a kind of a twin tip forward. It’s my first time upgrading my board in a while and the folks at Burton Santa Monica we’re super cool with helping me get set up on the right stick that’s specifically designed for this type of powder snowboarding. There’s actually a hike you can do up here to get to gate 4 and 5, which let you into the backcountry, the backside of the mountain. It’s going to be a bit of a hike but then I should get some fresh tracks then have to hike out at the end. But you know you’ve gotta earn your turns, especially here. So let’s go. Are you Ryan? Marko Ayling. Hey, Marko’s here. Small world. What’s up, buddy? How are you? You actually can’t see where you’re going. You have to stop periodically and let your power storm die down. I can’t see right now. Okay well it’s snowing so much that they have closed down the entire mountain, but that’s not a problem because here in the village of Niseko is a place that I’ve been curious about visiting for a long time. Behind me is the shaping room of Gentemstick. This is a company whose shapes of snowboards have revolutionized the snowboarding world unlike any other company in recent history. The shaper behind this company has created boards that combines surfing and snowboarding to tackle powder unlike any other boards on the mountains. So I’m going to go inside and find the man behind the shapes and learn what makes his boards so unique. For the last twenty five years Gentestick has brought the best of Japanese craftsmanship to snowboarding. Founder Taro Tomai shapes wooden snow surfboards that were called a retro surf designs of 1970…. wide noses, swallow tails, lengths long and short. Browsing their showroom was an excellent way to wait until conditions improved enough to get back on the mountain. Man, the snow is packed, and there’s only one lift open on the mountain. This is it. It’s a total whiteout, but there is a ton of powder. This place is called Strawberry Field. Wow, what an incredible week here in Niseko. I had great snow, great friends, an amazing local culture as well. So if you guys like this video, please give it a thumbs-up. Share it with your friends, add any comments of your own. If you have questions about Niseko, if you’ve been here, if you’ve got some tips, put those down below in the comment section. Subscribe to Vagabrothers, if not already. Also subscribe to my personal channel Markoayling and that of my brother, Alexthevagabond. Got links down below to both channels. And as always, stay curious, keep exploring, and we’ll see you guys on the road. Peace.