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Celebrate the New Year Niseko Style!

The New Year or “shougatsu” holiday is to Japanese what Christmas is to Westerners – a time to spend with family and mark a special once-a-year celebration. Many traditions surround the last night of the old year and the first day of the new. Fireworks are always on the menu on New Year's Eve, but the most fun and traditional festivity happens on New Year's Day. While you're in Niseko this New Year, be sure to check out some of these local events and Japanese ski resort traditions


New Year's Eve


• 21:00 - 23:15 / Free Late-Night Skiing at Annupuri
Niseko Annupuri Resort offers FREE night skiing until 11.15 PM on New Year’s Eve. Feel that festive buzz in the air as you enjoy the lit-up slopes, then wait at the foot of the ski hills for the dramatic torch relay and midnight fireworks.


• 23:40 / Fire Torch Skiing at Grand Hirafu and Annupuri
The fire torch relay is a fantastic spectacle and a local tradition. As the lights go out on the slopes, volunteers with lit fire torches light up the night. They form the shape of numbers marking the coming year, then trickle down the mountain in the dark. The descent is timed so that the last rider hits the base at midnight, then the sky fills with fireworks. Be sure to wear warm clothes!


• 24:00 Midnight / New Years Countdown & Fireworks at all Niseko United Resorts
Nothing is quite as dramatic as fireworks lighting up the winter sky. At each of the four Niseko resorts, fireworks will shoot up and light up the sky at midnight to bring in the new year. At Annupuri and Grand Hirafu resorts the fireworks go hand in hand with the fire torch riders to make a beautiful and memorable night. Happy New Year!


• 24:00 Midnight / Hatsumode First Shrine Visit
The “Hatsumode” or first shrine visit is a Japanese tradition. Crowds will gather at Japanese Shinto shrines across Niseko waiting for the New Year to be brought in by solemn gongs. At the stroke of midnight, people rush to make their first wishes and prayers for the year. This the only night of the year when Hirafu’s Yamada Jinja opens its doors. Come to the shrine and make your wishes, enjoy a candle-lit walkway, bonfires, stalls with sake and food and a convivial village feeling.


New Year's Day


• 06:00 / First Sunrise from top of Niseko Village Gondola
If you’re an early riser, Niseko Village runs a special sunrise gondola ride to take you to the top of Mt Annupuri and watch the first sunrise of the year, another Japanese tradition said to bring good fortune. The first sunrise of the year peeking out from behind Mt Yotei – unforgettable! No skiing down afterward, sorry, and dependent on weather. ¥1400 Adults / ¥1000 kids


• 07:20 - 08:20 / Annupuri First Run
Pay ¥1000 and be among the first people to ski Niseko in 2018! What else is there to say?


• 10:00 / Kami Biraki: Breaking the Sake Cask at Hanazono 308
On New Year’s Day, Japanese hotels and ski resorts will hammer open a traditional wooden sake cask, with free sake shared as a part of festivities. The earliest and grandest kami biraki is at Hanazono Resort’s Hanazono 308 restaurant from 10 am, with resort bigwigs and free sake for all.


• 10:00 / Hot Cocoa Service from 10am outside the gondola
There's nothing better than hot cocoa on a cold winter's morning, and one thing is for certain – it's going to be a cold start to the New Year. Annupuri helps its guests warm up with a hot cup of cocoa outside the gondola every New Year. Be sure to drop by!


• Daytime / Rice Cake (Mochi) Making at Niseko Alpen Hotel Mochi (sticky rice cake) is traditionally eaten on the first day of the New Year. You can buy mochi in many forms during this time of year, but nothing is quite as fun as making mochi by hand! Pounded in large bowls using giant hammers, with one person swinging hammer and another kneading the rice dough, mochi making is a quintessential New Year’s activity in Japan that’s fun for all ages!


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