Japanese cultural experiences take centre stage in Niseko winter resort

Published on : Thursday, January 22, 2015

drummersnisekoThe annual opportunity to interact with Japanese cultural experiences will take place between 21- 28 January at Niseko, the very popular winter resort on Japan’s north island of Hokkaido.

Guests at this world-famous collection of interconnected ski areas will not only enjoy its powder-laden slopes, they can also visit a line-up of Free Japanese cultural events. The resort’s annual Festival of Japan, held between 21-28 January at numerous Niseko venues, offers the opportunity to learn about the arts and crafts of Japan.

Niseko-based SkiJapan.com’s  Chief Operating Officer Anthony Trovatello said:”From music through to the world of Japan’s famed sake, martial arts through to Japanese performance story-telling, the festival is designed to ensure accessibility to …the complexity of some of Japan’s most treasured cultural traditions.

“Most of the events being held in Hirafu 188, the new Conference Centre in the heart of the resort, have free entry and additionally attendees this year can also win premium ‘Niseko’ ski gear packages*!

“Every night at our major events we’ll be giving away packages of Niseko ski wear; All you need to do is make a donation to the festival, supporting Niseko’s annual celebration of Japanese culture, and you’ll go in the draw each night to win one of these packages valued at more than 10,000Yen!”

The Festival of Japan is a bonus for skiers and snowboarders who’s stay in Niseko coincides with an annual smorgasbord of Japanese cultural events.

Snow enthusiasts can listen, learn and interact with their Japanese hosts throughout the eight days of the popular festival. It will begin at 7pm January 21 with Niseko’s famed taiko drumming group, welcoming attendees to the Opening Performance with Soubugen an internationally recognised duet. Soubugen are back in Japan for Niseko’s Festival of Japan before returning to their 2015 tour of Europe.

A feature of this performance is an electric and sometimes haunting collection of music on a variety of traditional instruments.

The following day (night) is a two-hour Discover Sake with The Niseko Jazz Trio at Half Note one of Niseko’s après ski locations. A maximum of 50 people are invited to a tasting of various local sake The world of sake is as varied and intriguing as wine in the west. Enjoy local sake against the backdrop of some very smooth jazz from Niseko’s favorite jazz trio, learn about its production, how it’s used in celebrations throughout the Japanese calendar and its cultural significance.

On the 23 January at Hirafu 188 there’s an opportunity to sample various freshly produced handmade Ainu cuisine, crafted using local ingredients, and try your hand at traditional embroidery and the crafting of a mukkuri – a musical instrument that you can learn to play on the day!

A little later at the same venue is a Free one and a half hour evening Ainu Art Project Featured in the Wall Street Journal & the New York Times, the Ainu Art Project is at the forefront of a revival of the indigenous Ainu culture of Hokkaido before settlement by the Japanese. This is part one of two visits by the Ainu Art Project offering a wonderful interactive insight into how the Hokkaido environment shaped Ainu.

January 24 The Martial Arts of Japan 7:30pm – 8:30pm. The martial arts of Japan are revered around the world for their discipline, power and the dedication of students. This event will feature the elegance of Kendo (the ‘study of the sword’) including a live sword duel, and Jujutsu – an art developed by the samurai class to defeat an armed or armored opponent – and allow attendees to interact directly with the masters.

Sunday January 25 is an event that will suit visiting families. The art of comic story-telling, one for all ages, is something that even many Japanese don’t have the opportunity to see. This is Japan’s traditional version of stand up comedy, stretching back to the 1700’s, though as the comic is seated on a cushion it is sometimes called “sit-down comedy”.

On Australia Day, January 26, for something different checkout Hidemaro Kunisawa, a masterfully talented artisan of traditional Japanese instrumental performance. Kunisawa will perform a range of classical compositions from as early as the Edo Period. The haunting, rich sound of both the Koto and Shamisen should be of particular brilliance in the Hirafu 188 space.

A Free interactive event the following evening January 27, is an insight into the religious world of the Japanese. A complicated web of two world-views that provide explanation for distinct aspects of life in Japan; Shintoism and Buddhism. Attendees will gain an insight into the harmony of these two ideas, as well as their function in the Japanese identity, offering a deep and vital insight modern Japan’s connection with its past.

The final evening January 28 is a one and a half hour event at Hirafu188 that includes the crafting of a mukkuri – a musical instrument that you can learn to play on the day. Plus sample various freshly produced handmade Ainu cuisine, crafted using local ingredients, and try your hand at traditional embroidery.

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