Niseko Hirafu

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Niseko Hirafu
Resort Summary
Resort Name Niseko Hirafu
Location {{{location}}}
Resort Altitude 1200m
Winter Season
Terrain Overall: 57 runs, 47km groomed
Beginner:
Intermediate:
Advanced:
Lift System 38 lifts and gondolas
Highest Lift 1200m
Lowest Lift
Vertical 1000m
Longest Run
Avg Snowfall
Terrain Parks
Snow Sports
Facilities
Nearest Town
Lift Pass
Adult 5 Day $
Adult 1 Day $
Child 5 Day $
Child 1 Day $


Overview 

Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu is a ski resort located in the Hirafu area of Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaidō, Hokkaidō, Japan. It is a vast snow resort stretching from Niseko Annupuri’s summit (elevation 1,308.5 m) to its base, and it is famous for its fine-quality powder snow. Because of this, Hirafu is frequented by many non-Japanese skiers and snowboarders.


Location

Niseko-Hirafu is located in the Abuta District, Hokkaido, Japan.

Pros

  • Very regular snowfalls, lots of powder.

Niseko-Hirafu is a great place to go. There are so many great restaurants to go to. The skiing and snowboarding is fantastic. Lots of places to hire skis and snowboards at resonable prices. Lots of FUN!

Cons

  • High wind, few blue sky days

Contacts

Phone: +81-136-23-3503 Fax+-136-23-3505 Postal: Kutchan, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido

Planning

Getting There

From Sapporo: 2 hours 30 minutes (110km) (via Nat'l highway 230), there are bus and train options as well. Sky Bus provides meet and greet service between Chitose Airport and Niseko. They use Hiace type minivans and will drop off or pick up at your accommodation. Tickets must be purchased prior to travel, they don't have a stand at the airport. Chuo Bus is a public coach type transport, you can purchase tickets at the arrival area of Chitose airport, they cost 2300 Yen each way. The attendents at the ticket office may not speak english, but they have signs and fares in english. The coach also has prerecorded audio messages in English when arriving at Bus stops, when arriving at Hirafu the Bus stops at the top carpark.

Accommodation

OWASHI LODGE Niseko Backpacker's hostel A mere two minute walk from the main quad lift, Owashi is a backpackers's hostel designed to cater for the modern independent skier and boarder. A combination of small private rooms and great communal spaces gives guests the option to relax in quiet comfort or party with fellow snow enthusiasts.

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

The Niseko Company The Niseko Company is the premier provider of luxury western style chalets and homes in Niseko Hirafu. Perfect any time of year for family or group self catering holidays. Offering professional, friendly and personalised service ensuring a luxurious and hassle free stay. For details: [1]Properties include Zekkei [[2]]Seizan and Higuma.

Hokkaido Tracks Hokkaido Tracks, in addition to having developed some of Niseko's most popular vacation rental properties (Youtei Tracks, Powder Tracks, First Tracks, Deep Tracks, Miharashi, the Hirafu Houses, etc.), also manages a wide range of other Alpine luxury accommodation (Shinsetsu, Powder Haven, HatsuYuki, J House, & Horizon to name just a few): [3]

Niseko Alpine Developements NISADE Niseko's premium property developer offering ski-in ski-out sales and central village accommdation.[4]

The Lodge at Niseko The Lodge at Niseko is a boutique chalet in the centre of Hirafu's upper village. A Niseko Gourmet [5] chef and host prepare a nutritious, energy fuelled breakfast daily and also provide private transport to and from the ski lifts.

Izumikyo Rental Cottage and Property Sales Izumikyo has been succesfully seling and leasing land and vacation rental properties in Niseko and surrounding areas for the past 33 years and are dedicated to providing the best possible service to our costmer. For details: [6]

The Alpen Hotel is based at the bottom of the Ace Quad lift with genuine ski in/ski out access. They provide lockers for ski equipment on the ground floor with easy access to the snow. Rooms are comfortable, some overlook the Family run. There are a number of restaurants in the hotel, including a buffet breakfast that serves bacon, eggs, picklets and cereal aswell as Japanese food.

Powderhounds.com is a good resource for a range of properties in Niseko [7]

Lift Tickets

Range of tickets available including 5 hour and 8 hour tickets. Adults are around 4300 yen for one day with discounts on multi day passes. They also offer cheaper rates for junior high school kids (youth rates) and child rates. Typically they are about 1000 yen cheaper each.

Ski Schools

More info at: Lessons & Programs Niseko Ski School [8]

SAS SnowSports & Niseko Base Snowsports are based at the bottom of the Family run, they have 2.5 hour group lessons in the morning and afternoon as well as the option of private lessons. Instructors were all very good.

Equipment Hire

Plenty of options on mountain. 2 lift co approved ones are at the Hotel Niseko Alpen and Kogen Ski Center.

Two of the most popular options are DEMO and Rhythm&Beats.

SAS Snowsports & Niseko Base Snowsports also offers ski hire, and provide combined packages with lessons.

Resort Facilities

Getting Around

Niseko Hirafu is relatively small and most restaurants and bars are no more than a 10 min walk away. Caution needs to be taken though as walkways and roads are often snow and ice covered and many people have found themselves down in Kutchan hospital after a fall in the village. There is a free shuttle bus that runs throughout the day whilst the lifts are running that is very useful for accessing lifts or getting around the village. In the evenings there is a free bus service to the nearby town of Kutchan.

Parking

There is plentiful free parking at the base of all major access lifts.

Activities

The first obvious actvity would be skiing and snowboarding, which is great. But there also many other things to do. You can go to the onsen, which is like a hot spring. You can also go for great walks around Niseko. Theres a lot of great restaurants and cafes in Niseko to go to also.

Dining

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.

Niseko Gourmet Niseko Gourmet is a catering company with a modern fusion food identity. It is about food, encounters with people and being in a geographical location linked with nature and an environment offering fresh produce. It's passion is to provide service that is professional yet relaxed and friendly. A breakfast or dinner with Niseko Gourmet includes the service of a host and chef in your accommodation, preparing and serving delicious gourmet meals, and best of all cleaning up for you.

Bars & Entertainment

Wild Bills Bar does a good Mexican meal.The Burgers at JoJos are good.

AbuCha has good coffee and a bakery, at the lights at the intersection of the main road, not far from Seico-mart.

In Kutchan, the best coffee around is at Cafe KaKu, a small shopfront on the main drag from the station. Left side a couple of blocks up. The resident chef (a Yank, ex Buddist monk) does a great pizza and his "mom's cheesecake" is to die for.

Shopping

Not a lot of shopping to be done in Hirafu (aside from ski and boarding gear). Seico-mart is a well-placed convenience store that stocks food, drinks, and daily necessities.

To do any proper shopping you need to go into nearby Kutchan (about 10 minutes by car). Max-Value and Coop are the main supermarkets. There are also shoe stores, video stores, and post offices. About what you'd expect in a town of 15,000.

Ride Guide

Beginner Areas

Fair range of beginner areas but be aware that green runs are rated on "average" pitch meaning some have steep sections (well steep for beginners at least) in them. The lower runs tend to get quite icy and packed as well.

The Family run is a genuine Beginner run, but can get icy at times, the Alpen run is classed as beginner, but some steep sections would make this an intermediate at other resorts. The runs either side of the Ace 3 lift are also beginner level, but you will have to either make your way back down the more difficult Alpen run or download on the Godola to get home.

Groomed Runs

Huge amount of intermediate terrain that is constantly topped up with pow.

Off Piste

Miharashi Trees, Strawberry Fields, and Annupurri bowls for those of you who like to get off the beaten track. A walk up the summit is also a must on a clear morning. Main powder runs are often fully tracked in a couple of hours of lifts opening.

Out of Bounds

If you walk from the top lift of Hirafu and ski or board down the south west ridge, there is a snowbound spa resort that welcomes visitors. After a soothing outdoor spa ("rotenburo") you can ski on to Niseko Annupuri resort.

For daily reports on snow movement and avalanche information go to http://niseko.nadare.info/. Snow patrol check the conditions every morning during the season and usually post an update by 7:30AM.

Cross Country

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Parks & Pipes

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Bumps

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Powder Zones

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Sheltered Runs

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Snowplay

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Other

Weather

Niseko is situated in the southwest of Hokkaido. Although an island the weather in winter is mostly affected by continental air masses moving out of Siberia. A dominant high pressure system over Siberia directs a northwesterly airflow over northern Japan for much of the winter. This cold dry air picks up moisture from the relatively mild Sea of Japan and dumps large amounts of snow right along the western side of Japan. In Niseko this snow is some of the driest powder found anywhere on the planet. Around Niseko average snowfalls are in excess of 12m per year in the valleys and upwards of 14m in the mountains. Although there are high mountain areas around the world and in other parts of Japan that receive more snow than this there are few, if any, places in the world that receive more than 12m of snow at less than 200m above sea level. In summer a warm humid airmass moves up out of the South China Sea covering much of Japan. By August this airmass usually reaches up into Hokkaido for a few weeks and temperatures will peak in the high 20's in the Niseko region. Although some years this southern monsoon is not strong enough to reach Hokkaido and a relatively cool summer will be experienced. Spring is relatively short with snowfalls to low levels lasting well into April and cool rainy weather continuing into June. Autumn is also fairly brief but beautiful with the deciduous forests displaying magnificent colour until snow starts to blanket the valley again by early November.

Geography

Niseko, Hirafu, and Kutchan are all clustered in the mountains about an hour and a half (two and a half from Chitose Airport)south of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.

The winters are bitterly cold but average 12-14 metres of highly sought after champagne powder snow each winter. The snow starts in late November and doesn't stop falling until early April. The snow melt isn't complete until mid-May.

History

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Resources

Maps

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