I was last in Niseko in 2008 (and a prior visit in 2007). I was 10 years younger (obviously). My skis were 78mm underfoot (although lots had already transitioned to wider skis). Niseko WAS Japanese skiing so far as Australians were concerned, although Hakuba was first emerging. In the intervening period there was a GFC, I changed jobs a few times, had a daughter (best decision ever), my skis got wider. I got wider. And we did multiple trips to Hakuba. 5 I think - hard to keep count. I changed jobs at least twice, bought and sold properties etc. and had a breakdown. So here I am back in Niseko after a 10 year gap. And boy has it changed! Don’t get the impression I consider myself a Niseko pioneer. I know I’m not. Far from it. But I think I did get to see the tail end of the old, Japanese focused, Niseko. So what’s different? Did someone say high rise apartments? And big hotels? They’re everywhere. And what happened to all the old funky Japanese pensions and bars and etc? A handful remain in the lower village but...not what it was. And....where are all the Japanese? Not only are there bucket loads of Aussies, there’s now lots of Americans, Hong Kong ites, Singaporeans, I assume lots of mainland Chinese, and a smattering of Europeans. It’s a truly international resort. But the Japanese flavour is definitely lesser. You have less of the feeling you’re in Japan, when you’re in Niseko. Not a terrible thing - it’s just a thing. The mountain is the same though. And notwithstanding a much busier and more bustling village, the mountain doesn’t feel overly busy. I read a magazine article which indicated that notwithstanding visitation was up year on year, ticket sales were down. So more visitors less skiers. That feels about right. What does make me a little sad is the new visitor likes the new Niseko. They like the upscale apartments and Michelin star restaurants and bundles of cafes and beauty clinics. They don’t mourn the loss of the funky restaurants and bars and pensions. They don’t mourn the departure of the crazy funky snow hippies who made the old Niseko. They don’t care whether the core ski bum culture is strong or weak. They want to insta their food and participate in the Niseko “brand”. Nothing wrong with that. Just different. Which does remind me - there don’t appear to be as many strong Japanese skiers as my last visits. I remember in particular there seemed to be a very strong culture of telemark skiers here. There’s still a few but I’ve seen far fewer beautiful Japanese skiers full stop, and fewer telemark skiers. On the upside you can get decent coffee lots of places. No need for a run into Kutchan to that American dude. And as I say the skiing is as amazing as ever.