Niseko is full of life! The locals are so friendly and helpful.
When it comes to all things ski related, Kieran is our go-to person. A ski instructor in a former life and an avid skier, he knows snow and he was keen to give us the insider guide to one of his favourite skiing destination: Niseko.
Where exactly is Niseko? How easy/ difficult is it to reach?
Niseko is located in the west of Hokkaido (Japan’s North Island), an approximately 2 hour drive from Sapporo New Chitose International airport. It’s pretty easy to get there from Hong Kong as there is a direct flight (4.5 hours) and then only another 2 hours’ drive once you get to Sapporo.
Tell us what makes Niseko different from other ski resorts?
Niseko is all about the powder! Compared with North American and European Ski resorts the powder snow you get in Niseko is amazing. You don’t only get loads of snow but the snow is so dry and light which makes for fantastic skiing.
Also in comparison to other Japanese ski resort Niseko provides much better accommodation options and many fantastic Japanese and international restaurants.
Niseko is full of life! The locals are so friendly and helpful. Though skiing is the main draw, dining is equally important and there are a myriad of superb restaurants.
What sort of accommodations can you find in Niseko?
There are different sorts of accommodations in Niseko. The most common are serviced apartments which are stunning and which will make you feel instantly at home. If you are travelling with a rather large group, chalets are the way to go and Niseko is teeming with superb chalets which offer amazing facilities like games room, onsen etc. There are also a few hotels, but the best way to experience Niseko is by booking a service apartment of chalet.
Best places to stay for families?
Our top choice is hands down The Vale, which is a fantastic ski-in ski-out residence so close to the slopes that parents can watch their kids taking ski from their window. The rooms are spacious and guests are only 150m away from the village centre.
If you prefer a chalet, Annabel is our go-to retreat. Sleeping up to 12 (so perfect for large families) and with an impressive media and games room, you can have fun on and off the slopes!
What about couples or friends?
Couples should head straight to Kimamaya! With only 9 rooms Kimamaya by Odin has the intimacy of a private chalet with the service and facilities of a hotel. For a group of friends, we recommend Ki Niseko. Another great ski-in ski-out option, and their bedroom condos come decked with kitchen, dining facilities and entertainment system. Plus there are a number of restaurants and bars at your doorstep.
Top 3 places to eat
A Bu Cha, which serves Japanese dishes and hotpots became so popular that the owners decided to open A Bu Cha 2. We have a personal presents for the later, just because it boasts a bar with over 400 different drinks, but the food in both is superb!
For sizzling yakitori and other delicacies such as salmon and herring, nothing beats Bang Bang. With a focus on using the freshest ingredients, dining at this izakaya is nothing short of outstanding.
Travellers staying at Kimamaya must stop by The Barn by Odin for a wonderful experience. Inspired by the traditional Hokkaido farm architecture, the bistro serves up alpine food in an authentic atmosphere.
Tell us about ski/ snowboarding lessons
There are a number of international ski & snowboarding school in Niseko, our favorite is Go Snow which is the brand new ski school located right next to Hirafu Gondola. The instructors are fantastic and fun and very experienced so you are in good hands.
Though a little further out (10 minute drive from Hirafu), NISS ski school is really great for the little ones and offer the best facilities.
Is Niseko just a winter destination?
Not at all! There are so many things to do in the summer as well, like hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, fishing and more! Summer holidays to Niseko are becoming increasingly popular each year and with good reason: superb accommodations, plethora of outdoors activities and great dining options, all the making of a perfect holiday.
How does Niseko fit into a more global Japan holiday?
You can easily combine Niseko with a trip to other parts of Japan. There are numerous flights from Tokyo to Sapporo each day and we have many clients who like to combine Kyoto/Tokyo with Niseko for a mix of culture, urban escape and skiing. That way, you get to see various facets of Japan, a truly intriguing and surprising country.