Last week was an emotional one here in Niseko as on Friday we said farewell to Trever Ponting a kiwi born Niseko local who had been coming to the area for more than 20 years. Trevor or Trev as he was better known was also a valued member of the Holiday Niseko team working as our head of snow clearing in the winter and staff carpenter in the warmer months. If you had ever come accross Trev while staying with us you would likely have seen the lengths he would go to help others and to share his experience of the area with anyone who was interested. We take a closer look at Trev the father, pioneering snowboarder and skateboarder, rock climber, teacher and so much more to the many people he came into contact with.
Trevor first came to Niseko in the mid nineties with good friend Quentin Robbins drawn by the areas incredible snow and lucrative snowboard sponsorship contracts that were on offer in Japan at the time. Trev was living his life as most can only dream of without fixed abode, foot loose and fancy free. It is to people like Trev who we owe the global discovery of Niseko for without them the early pioneers, word may never have gotten out as to how amazing the place is. If you had ever stood at the bar for a chat with Trev you would know his early days in Niseko were not without drama and on more than one occasion he was responsible for saving the lives of those trapped in avalanches and many more eye opening adventures. Since those early pioneering days Trev enjoyed more untracked runs down the slopes of Hirafu than any of us and ten friends could ever hope to do but he did not try to keep Niseko to himself and was responsible for introducing and guiding countless numbers of people here. Bringing people to Niseko was the ultimate for Trev and for him sharing smiles, turns and experiences was what he loved best.
Trevor was one of the forefathers of skateboarding and snowboarding in New Zealand and he passed on his wisdom and experience to many. He built up a skate scene in Methven literally with his own hands first with a ramp in his back yard and later getting the Methven community skatepark up and runnning. If you were a snowboarder and passed through Methven most likley you stopped at Trevs place for a skate, a beer and a yarn. Trevs ramp was skated by some of the greatest snowboarders in history, even Terje Haakonsen stopped by for a roll. If you stopped by Trevors place you were welcomed with open arms, he was a man that gave whenever the opportunity arose and his contributions to the New Zealand skate and snow scene will last a life time.
At the beginning of 2020 Trevor under went brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and once he was released from hospital and was able, set about pursuing his passions once more. With the support of his wife Aiko Trev was able to share these passions with his young family, Mia pictured above and 1 year old Toa who although was not quite ready for climbing was definitely keen on lego with Dad, which Trev informed us he was very good at, Trev that is. Trev spent last summer where he wanted to be perched high on the cliffs of Hokkaido making every reach and hold count.
From everyone here at Holiday Niseko we send our love and condolences to Trevors family and friends at his home in New Zealand and those here Niseko and elsewhere. We will miss ya mate, Rest in Powder good friend.
So the time has finally come, your Niseko dream holiday is but a couple of clicks away from being comfirmed. The question now is where to stay. The last couple of years has seen the Niseko development boom continue explosively despite the ravages of Covid 19 giving guests even more fantastic options to choose from. The majority of the new accommodations are hotel or serviced apartments which are excellent choices if you are looking for a full service luxury stay. However if you are looking for a more home away from home kind of luxury a stand alone villa or chalet may be just what you need. Holiday Niseko have a wide range of stand alone homes from 7 bedroom luxury properties to cozy cheap & cheerful 1 bedroom chalets.
The key here is space and plenty of it, with a 4 bedroom option such as Sekka House above you will have 4 bedrooms to choose from, an ensuite each and 220 sqm in which to spread yourselves across plus a fully equipped kitchen, dining and generously sized lounge area. If you compare this to the space typically offered by a 2 x 2 bedroom hotel rooms the choice between the two is an easy one! Other similar large stand alone homes you might like to consider are ISE, Nero, Ori and Yoteiyama House.
If you are looking to enjoy some of the best snow in the world and emerse yourself in the beauty, peace and tranquility the area offers, a stand alone home such as Kabayama House may be just what you are looking for. This beautifully appointed 3 bedroom home is nestled amongst the trees in the quiet neighbour hood of Kabayama. Just picture yourself sitting back with a glass of your favourite while you watch the snow flakes fall. When you compare this to the experience of staying at a hotel with hundreds of other guests the choice is once again an easy one. Check these three more great 3 bedroom places here Ikigai, Fumoto and Ruby Chalet.
They say the family that eats together stays together and a stand alone home gives you a more intimate chance to spend time with your loved ones enjoying delicious home cooked (or takeaway) food on those nights that tired legs don't allow exploring the many great restaurants the Hirafu Village has on offer. Midori House above is a great value 2 bedroom home just perfect for a family of 4 or a small group of friends with a total of 6 beds on offer. The Green House is another great value smaller stand alone option to consider especially good or a family of 3.
By choosing a stand alone home such as one of the above you get privacy, peace and quiet, a chance to spend quality time with those closest, the opportunity to get closer to the natural beauty that draws people to the area and a space all of your own to enjoy the ultimate holiday in the snow. Holiday Niseko have a great number of superb stand alone homes acrosss Hirafu Village and surronds so if you are interested in any of the places featured above or you'd like to see some more great options please feel free to conatct us anytime (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Niseko Hokkaido is one of Japan's most popular destinations for domestic and international tourists a like. It put itself on the map for it's incredible snow and has since built on this to establish a reputation as Asia's premier winter play ground with excellent restaurants and an incredible range of accommodation. The whole area and in particular Hirafu Village is a fantastic draw card and one of its beauties is its close proximity to many other must see destinations from the city scapes of Sapporo to the stunning coast lines along the sea of Japan. Niseko puts the amazing natural beauty of Hokkaido at your finger tips with rivers, mountains and lakes within easy access. Lake Toya is one such natural beauty and is less than one hours drive from HIrafu Village.
Lake toya is beautiful anytime of the year with stunning views wherever you look. From the starkness of winter's black and white foot print to the lush greens of the summer. The easiest way to access Lake Toya from your Holiday Niseko accommodation is by car and rentals can be arranged upon request. It is also possible to catch a local bus but having your own vehicle is far more convenient. Lake Toya is Hokkaido's the 3rd biggest caldera lake and as this may suggest it lies in volcanic area which is still very much active. You can make the most of this by enjoying one of the fantastic onsens in the area and you can find out more about Toya's volcanic history here.
People are drawn to Lake Toya for its scenery, onsens and outdoor activities such as hiking and water sports. Below are 5 must see and do activities the area has to offer.
There are many onsens in the area and some excellent hotel options avaialble if you with to spread your stay accross Niseko and Lake Toya. Most hotels come complete with incredible lake views looking accross to Nakajima Island pictured above and many will come with a similar view from the onsen, simply blissful.
During the summer months the air temperature sits around 25 - 30 degrees and the lake is refreshing and comfortable to swim in. There are many places to swim along the edge of the lake and the many public parks provide some of the best locations with shallow water extending out from the beaches makeing them safer for the kids. The great family swimming spot pictured above can be found here at Ukimido Park (浮見堂公園)
The fireworks are a spectacular nightly event during the summer and run for 20 minutes from 20:45 to 21:05 4/28 to 10/31. The fireworks are a great way to finish a day at the lake whilst you sip on the last beer of the barbeque or lay back in the comfort of your hotel room or better yet onsen!
With all this activity you will have worked up an apetite and if you are looking for a non hotel meal in a disitinctly local setting look no further than Hydune ハイドゥン a speciality hamburger shop brimming with flavour, character and delicious onion rings. Hydune is locted in the heart of Lake Toya's onsen hotel district and is great place for a quick meal and a drink. You can find Hydune here.
Sight seeing options abound at lake Toya, simply driving around the lake is a nice way to take in the surroundings or you might like to look from above at one of the areas many look outs. One of the best and most elevated is the Usuzan Ropeway from which you can see all the way back to Mount Yotei in Niseko. There are also restaurants and souvenir stores at the top.
The Niseko United Resort area is one of the most popular resorts in Japan and for good reason. The ski areas encircles Mount Annupuri from Annupuri Ski area to the south to Hanazono to the north with Niseko Village and Niseko Grand Hirafu in between. The summit of Mount Annupuri stands at 1308 meters, giving a vertical drop of over 1000m from the peak to the bottom of the lifts making for a very solid run from top to bottom. Of course if you want the pleasure of every available meter you will need to ascend the to 100m or so on foot. What most refer to as "hiking the peak".
The easiest way to access the peak is from either the Hanazono or Hirafu resort areas making the last chair assisted ascent on the single chair which is part of the Grand Hirafu area. It' a bit rickety but delivers you to where you need to go but you'll probbly want to keep a firm frip on the pole or seat if you're at all adverse to heights!
The higher you climb the better the view gets and by the time you get to the top of the single you are looking down to Hirafu Village Kutchan and beyond. Of course the journey doesn't fininsh here, to get to the peak you'll need to take off your equipment and put one foot in front of the other. Access to the peak is governed by the the Niseko Local Rules gate system so it is out of bounds and if you plan to go there you should do so with a the right equipment, knowledge of the back country and best with a guide or someone who knows the area. As far as hikes to the summit of mountains go this one is a breeze and most people will get up in about 20 minutes. It is a fairly steep ascent to start with but the pitch mellows out as you near the top.
From the top there are a number of options for the descent, the shot above shows a rider dropping down toward Annupuri with Goshiki Onsen in the back ground. Another option is to head straight down from the peak back toward Hirafu, here if you pull out early enough you can make it back to the single chair or keep going down to the base area of Hanazono or Hirafu. The shot below shows a rider taking this route.
Another popular route (and arguably the best vertical bang for buck powder run on the greater Niseko United are) is to head slightly skiers left from the peak toward the Hanazono area. If you take this route remeber that you will need to hike out and once you hit the cat track this is the end of the line. The hike out is also an easy one as the resort grooms the cat track daily and it is a gentle pitch all the way up and out to Hanazono. The hike is scenic and there's nothing better than walking out with friends after some of the best powder turns of your life!
When you think of a ski trip to Japan you will likely be dreaming of endless snowfall, delicious sushi, onsens and given the chance you'll want to absorb some of the rich culture the country has to offer too. A visit to a Japanese shrine is a means of connection to the culture, history and and serenity that is held within their gates.
In Japan you will find two kinds of temple or shrine specifically Budhist temples or Shinto shrines. The structure above is the entrance way to a Budhist temple the one below the Tori gates of a Shinto shrine.
Any one can enter a shrine in Japan but before you go there is an etiquette that should be followed. When you approach the the entry way or gates you should pay your respects before you enter, done so by bowing respectfully. From here you can enter, walking on the edge of the pathway toward the main shrine.
The Makari shrine above is a classic example of a smaller shrine that you will find in the Hokkaido countryside here entry is simple but in a larger shrine you may find a washing area where one can purify themselves before entering the shrine. The idea here is not to actually wash your hands and face but to to so symbolically. To do so pour a little water from the ladle (or hishaku) provided onto your hands , first the left and then the right. After this symbolic hand washing pour more water onto your left hand and bring this to your mouth so it just brushes your lips, following this rinse you hand again by pouring on water from the hishaku. To complete the washing lay the the hishaku back on the shelf where you picked it up from, bowl first so that water runs down the handle cleansing it for the next person.
From here you can move on to the main hall or Honden, outside you will often find a large bell which you should ring with a swing of the rope or chords that hang from it. In front of the Honden you will also find a box where people will drop coins as an offering, usually a ¥5 coin or "goen" which interestingly also means good luck. Once you have moved through this process you can pay your respects to the deity, you do so by bowing twice, ringing the bell twice and clapping your hands twice then finishing with your hands locked in the prayer position to finish release your hands and bow a final time. The ringing, clapping and bowing ritual is known in Japanese as nirei nihakushu ichirei or simply put 2 bows, 2 claps and a bow.
Finally when you leave one lst bow is traditioanlly made when you exit through the tori gates. At larger shrines such as the Hokkaido Shrine in Maruyama, Sapporo you will find plent of other tourists and it is not expected that you follow the ritual when you visit but why not give it a go and visit and pay your respects as a local would. You can read more about the Hokkaido Shrine here. Visisting a shrine while you are on a ski holiday in Niseko is a great way to experience Japanese history and culture and a must do if you are visiting a city or have access to a vehicle while in Niseko.
Made up of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms Mountain Butterfly is perfect for families even two of them, with the kids accommodated in the bunkroom and the 2 sets of parents with a bedroom each. There is also plenty of space for up to 8 guests to kick back in the comfortable lounge, distract the kids with the telly and sip on a glass of your favourite while you watch the snowflakes fall.
The master bedroom is ensuited with a bath tub and both bathrooms are fully tiled, modern and sleek. Just think how good this bath will be after your long fulfiling days on the mountain.
If you're just too tired to make it to the restaurant why not eat in? Making meals is a breeze in the modern well laid out kitchen that has everything you need to prepare delicious dinners, lunches or breakfasts coming complete with pots, pans, crockery, cutlery a coffee maker, dishwasher and much more.
Although out of the hustle and bustle of the village Mountain Butterfly is just a 2 minute drive to the lifts, is very close to Lupicia Restaurant and Deli and is within easy walking distance of Elements restaurant. During a regualr winter the property comes with a 4WD drive, 9 seat Hiace Van so getting around is a breeze and you have the freedom to explore more resorts, sightseeing and restaurants. The supply of the van for this property will be confirmed in September when there is more clarity on likely guest numbers. If you have any questions on this or anything else regarding Mountain Butterfly please feel free to contact us anytime (Res@holidayniseko.com). You can find all the finer details on Mountain butterfly on it's listing page here.
Ishi Couloir is a fantstic apartment building well located in Hirafu, Niseko. With 3 different apartments to choose from it can be booked for almost any sized group with 2, 3 and 4 bedroom options available.
From the moment you walk through the door of Ishi Couloir you feel at home with its carpeted floors, vaulted ceilings and warm wood finish. Built by West Canada Homes the apartments have a distinctly North American feel that is consitant both inside and out with stone work, large exposed beams, spacious rooms and ample kitchen space.
If you are looking for accommodation that is convenient but just out of the hustle and bustle of central Hirafu, Ishi Couloir is an excellent choice. Just a stones throw from the The Niseko Adventure Center (NAC) and Jo Jo's cafe and only a couple of minutes walk from the Lawson convenience store. To get to the lifts each morning you only need to jump on the village shuttle which will have you to the base of the Hirafu Gondola in no time or accross to Hanazono if you prefer to start the day from that side of the mountain.
Living areas are tastefully appointed, again with carpeted floors through out and complete with leather lounge suites, big screen televisions and pleasing wood finishes.
The kitchens of course have everything you need to cook delicious dinners and entertain guests. They come complete with dishwashers, coffee makers, rice cookers and all utensils, cook ware and crockery. An added bonus is a large didning table in each apartment plus seating at the island benches.
Following the theme of the building the bathrooms are elegantly finished in tile and wood, each with a heated towel rail and louvered blinds. The basement floor also has plenty of room to store and dry equipment.
Ishi Couloir is the perfect home away from home that will have you never wanting to leave, if you are looking to visit summer 2021 or winter 2021/22 bookings are now open so if you would like to know more or you have any questions please feel free to contact us anytime (email@example.com).
If you've ever been to Niseko or Japan before most likely you've enjoyed a meal Hokkaido is famous for, ramen noodles. A simple yet satisfying meal with its deep delicious flavours it is an awesome winter warmer that makes the perfect lunch or dinner, especially if you are pressed for time. It also goes very well washed down with a beer. A little out of Niseko you can find a fantastic ramen shop that is hard to beat and there is plenty of competition out there.
In Japanese this store is known as えぞらーめん勝二 or Ezo Ramen Katsuji and it is located in the small country side village of Rankoshi. The shop is a 30 minute scenic drive from Hirafu that follows route 343 to route 5. During the winter months you will enjoy a beautiful snowscape and glimpses of the Shiribetsu river.
But what about the Ramen, tell me about the ramen! The restaurant is small and cozy and has half a dozen tables and a few bar seats. The staff are very friendly and accommodating and the pride they take in the food they serve is very obvious, everything is of course immaculately clean and nicely presented. Don't expect luxurious leather seating and oak table tops but you can expect great service and excellent food. There are a choice of ramen flavours to choose from, the one pictured is possibly the most delicious 濃厚(Rich thick) miso. There is also regular miso, soya sauce, kimichi, spicy and salt flavours along with a small slection of delicious side dishes.
If you are in Niseko winter or summer the journey to Ezo Ramen Katsuji is well worth the journey, the scenery is beautiful and the Ramen second to none!
It has once again been a quiet March here in Niseko with international visitors to Japan almost non existent. While it has been a little lonely the upside has been even quieter slopes and March is usually pretty quiet. This March has been similar to last March in other ways too, the best of which has been a nice scattering of powder days and some blue skies to go with them. It has been a great reminder of how good March can be here and below we've put together another 6 great reasons to vist in March.
1. The weather - Although the powder days aren't as consistent as they are earlier in the season they do still come and you are much more likley to have them coincide with some sunshine as you can see above! This March saw over 80cm of snow fall on the upper mountain which was spread accross the month meaning some great powder days!
2. Choice of accommodation - Less visitors in March means more accommodation to choose from and you'll get it for a fraction of the cost. Holiday Niseko offer up to 60% off in March so value wise it's hard to beat.
3. March is awesome for kids! - Kids love skiing in March the snow is soft and spring like, it's not going to be -12 and a howling bilzzard, goggles don't fog, gloves are easy to put on, noses don't get cold, the sun is more likely to shine and the learner slopes won't be crowded. Lets go Mum & Dad!
4. Deals - Accommodation isn't the only thing on special, during a regular winter you can also expect deals on rentals, lift passes and lessons. We are hoping that 2022 will once again bring the kids ski fee deals with 1 childs pass free for every adult lift pass purchased and the same deal for rental equipment from you favourite providers, awesome!
5. Dining - During a normal winter most restaurants are open until April or beyond and there's usually no need to book these in advance as they won't be too busy. If you do wish to book restaurants our front desk team will be more than happy to assist when you arrive at the resort.
Bookings are now open for 2021 so if you are interested in finding out more on visiing Niseko in March or you thinking of coming at different dates please feel free to get in touch with any questions or queries. You can reach us on (firstname.lastname@example.org) anytime.
If you are looking for acccommodation for a large group in Niseko that is modern, stylish, practical and well priced look no further than the Kabayama Townhouses. These four identical four bedroom townhouses built just 3 years ago have fast become one of Holiday Niseko's most popular options in both the summer and the winter. Did we mention they are also for sale?
On the first floor each house has a large open plan living, kitchen and dining area plus a bathroom, laundry and separate toilet. Upstairs you'll find four cozy bedrooms each with large windows, a beautiful outlook and it's own individual theme. The upstairs bathroom includes a bath tub and is centrally located.
Downstairs is tastefully apointed and well thought out with a pristine kitchen and large dining table perfect for keeping the troops fed after a long day on the hill. The kitchen is well equipped and comes complete with both western and Japanese style crockery plus a full assortment of pots and pans, utensils and everything else you may need for meal prepartion.
During a regular winter Kabayama Townhouse also come with a 4WD 9 seat Toyota Hiace van perfect for getting to the gondola in the morning, trips to the supermarket or exploring restaurants and more of what the area has to offer. Vans for the 2021/22 winter are yet to be confirmed but will be announced by October 2021. You can see more properties with vans here.
The Kabayama Townhouses are not only popular in winter they have also proven to be a summer favourite too. The summer is of course barbeque season and most weekends and public holidays see the townhouses bustling with activity. During these warmer months domestic guests make the most of the weather and the townhouses are set up to do just that with picnic tables, marquees and barbeque packages available. They are also dog friendly so guests can bring their four legged companions along too.
The Kabayama Townhouses are a fantastic value accommodation winter or summer and this coupled with the great service we at Holiday NIseko strive to provide to each and every guest make them an easy and very popular choice. If you are looking to make a substantial investment in the still booming Niseko property market the Kabayama Townhouses might just be the golden opportunity you have been looking for. More details here https://hnproperty.com/listings/5341/
If you would like to know more about booking a Kabayama Townhouse you can find full details on their property page here https://holidayniseko.com/kabayama-townhouses.