Great powder destination that is very tourist friendly.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Closest town to Hirafu/Niseko is Kutchan.
Closest city is Sapporo (home of the Ice Festival) Airport - Sapporo Chitose
- Powder, powder, powder.
- Lots of Aussies
- VERY friendly and helpful staff.
Compared to resorts in Australia and NZ prices are good. With a strong Australian currency the value is even better.
- Lots of Aussies - lots of complaints about rude arrogant Aussies.
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By plane either from Tokyo or direct from HK or Singapore, into Sapporo Chitose. Then transfer to Niseko by coach.
You are able to get a ferry up to Hokkaido, and also a train (the overnighter "Cassiopiea" looks luxurious) however it is difficult to book these unless you are IN Japan, and they book up quickly.
JAPANiCAN Major Japanese travel agent with 12 accommodation options in Niseko both on and off mountain, starting at ¥6,100 per night. http://www.japanican.com/hotels/List.aspx?anl=niseko&so=c
GONDOLA CHALETS Gondola Chalets are about as close as you can get to the mountain, just a short walk from the Gondola. Chalets are great for families or groups. 4 bedrooms/8 beds. Plenty of living space, washing/drying/cooking facilities. Brilliant separate drying room inside chalet. Pricey, but worth the money.
Black Diamond Lodge A great lodge with reasonably priced western and eastern style rooms. They offer guided tours of Niseko (Including back country and avalanche gear) as well as guided tours of various other resorts in Hokkaido (Nice for skiing/boarding the hidden powder runs you wouldn't find otherwise). They offer great multi resort tours, with accomodation and tickets arranged at each of the resorts. A great way to discover Hokkaido. The lodge includes a small restaurant / bar, good for relaxing at the end of the day without having to make your way into Hirafu.
- Ask about offers.
Discounts apply for tickets in Spring season.
- Bulk time passes might be a cheaper option for those visiting Niseko for longer periods of time.
(EG: a 30hr pass - gives you 30hrs use of lifts - especially useful for those who want to go out for a couple of hours a day instead of go hard all day every day.)
- Lift Tickets are encoded cards that pop in a jacket pocket (no hanging tags!) and "blip" on through reader gates, make sure you take yesterdays card OUT though as it interferes with todays card (and then you hold up the queue)!
Japanese and English speaking instructors are available.
There is a bus into Kutchan for shopping, and a bus that runs a loop around Niseko to get you from your accomodation to the lifts. Be aware that this bus stops running near the end of the spring season (Aus School Holidays), but by this stage it is easy to walk around Niseko, the pathways are no longer icey. Most basic supplies can be bought at SeikoMart, which is pretty central to everything.
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Food can be expensive in Japan so if you can package some then that is a good option, as is cooking some for yourself.
EN in-house fine dining. Why go to the restaurant when they come to your house. The chefs cook a fantastic dinner in your holiday home. This food catering company also does delivery to all Niseko locations.
Bars & Entertainment
Great for those looking at partying as there is a big nightlife. However you can ski till 8pm if you want.
Weather: Taking children for the first time into extreme snow conditions, it might pay to go for the Spring season first. Early April 2007 provided children plenty of snow for boarding, light snowfalls almost every day, yet mild sunny weather. Dec, Jan, Feb children will need extra attention to retaining thier body heat.
Lifts Lifts at Niseko are mostly easy to use and low enough for children to get on and off without too much trouble. A little less jumping up than at Australian resorts.
Food There are plenty of options for western food for fussy children. Burgers and Pizza are avaliable at Jo Jo's, and fabulous Pizza and Lasagne at King Bell Hut.
Runs Family slope is an easy ride for kids, however the family lift is probably more difficult to get off than others on the mountain.
For first timers perhaps head to Anupuri first but once they have some confidence then there is plenty on offer.
Groomers heaven, lots and lots of meticulously groomed intermediate and advanced runs.
Very good and many people ride there unlike some other Japanese resorts where going off piste is frowned on.
Out of Bounds
Wise to go with a guide and only safe to travel there between storms which can be quite limiting. Half an hour of hiking can reward you with a heli like experience however so it is worth it.
Parks & Pipes
Jan/Feb expect it to be VERY cold and snow most days with regular storms. If you are prepared for it the skiing is awesome. Lots of deep powder!
Spring Ski-ing is worth considering in Niseko. Snow coverage in March/April can be like Aussie resorts at the peak of the season, while the weather is often sunny and mild. The powder days are few and far between in the spring though - however the ride is still good - nasty ice from the thaw and freeze usually softens up by mid-morning and ends up as heavy slush by the afternoon. The other advantage to spring is how quiet the mountain is! No queues - great for learners who are spooked by the crowds wizzing past.
Since it is a long way north it is quite cold, since it is on the edge of an island it is very wet. Very cold and very wet means LOTS of powder.
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