Hokkaido is famous for its smorgasbord of delicious fare and one of it's most well known is the trusty bowl of ramen noodles. Many who have visited Hirafu will know Niseko Ramen or Tokeidai Ramen near Max Valu in Kutchan, maybe you've even ventured into Sapporos ramen alley where you are spoiled for choice and flavour in the heart of Susukino. It is not just the cities that you will find this hearty bowl of goodness many countryside towns have hidden gems such as Pipara no Mori in Sobetsu.
Sobetsu Cho encompasses the eatern side of Lake Toya and borders Noboribetsu and Date to the south. You will most likely find yourself here on a trip to lake Toya which is also an excellent destination any time of the year. Driving back to Niseko from Sobetsu you will also find Kita Yuzawa which is home to some fantastic onsens. Pipara no Mori restaurant is about 20 minutes from the Lake Toya resort area and well worth the drive.
The restaurant is half the attraction here with its rugged log construction, vaulted ceilings and alpine feel. It is run by two wonderful older ladies who keep the the place spotless and decorate it with seasonal flower arrangements. It is like a step back in time and you almost feel like one of Hokkaidos pioneers sitting down to lunch after a day in the fields. The Ramen is hearty and delicious, pictured above the spicy miso with mushrooms is a flavour sensation. If you feel like mixing things up a little they also do a pork curry / ramen set and the curry is excellent. Lunch here is without doubt a truly authentic, timeless and delicious Hokkaido experience.
Getting to and from the restaurant is also a delight as you pass through farmland and orchards, many of which offer fruit picking for strawberries, plums, cherries, grapes and apples. If you keep your eyes open you may even come accross this stunning filed of cosmos for your viewing delight.
A drive through rural Hokkaido in the summer is always a great experience with every town having something on offer, the Sobetsu area no exception, with it's close proximity to lake Toya, it's Orchards, scenery, rivers and of course ramen shops too. If you'd like to know more about Sobetsu, the lake Toya area and how to include these detinations on a trip to Niseko please feel free to contact us anytime (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Yuki no Taki 1 & 2 are a fantastic pair of houses tucked away in the trees of the tranquil Soga area. The houses are located directly between Niseko Village and Annupuri Ski Resort with each just a 4 minute drive away. If you are looking for a great value stay out of the hustle and bustle of Hirafu Village that is set in the beautiful snowy natural surrounds that have made Niseko famous look no further than Yuki no Taki.
If you wish to enjoy the restaurants or shopping opportunities in Hirafu they are an easy 15 minute drive away. The majic of Yuki no Taki is it's location and there is nothing more relaxing than watching the snow fall through the trees from the comfort of a modern home such as these. Beautiful views in a serene setting near one of the worlds most acclaimed ski resorts, sign me up!
The lounge, kitchen and dining area is open plan with a dining table for 6 and large comfortable lounge suite to sit back and relax after a big day on the mountain. There is of course a television and this comes fully equiipped with Netflix and apple TV for your viewing pleasure.
The kitchen is fully equipped and comes with an IH stove top, fridge and microwave. The island bench set up provides ample space for food prep and doubles as a breakfast bar too.
Bedroom 1 and 2 can be made up as two singles or one double. The bedrooms temperature can be invidually controlled and have carpet under foot for an extra cozy feel. The third bedroom is a bunk room perfect for the kids and up to two additional futons can be provided for extra guests. There are two bathrooms one downstairs serving the bedrooms and 1 upsatirs off the lounge. The downstairs bedroom comes complete with a bath tub and upstairs has a spacious walk in tiled shower.
Over all both of the Yuki no Taki houses are a brilliant option for your Niseko holiday especillay for those looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of Hirafu Village. Sit back realx and emerse youself in the best of Niseko's beautiful snowy surrounds. If you'd like to know more about Yuki no Taki head over to the property page or contact (email@example.com) if you have any questions.
It has been a long hot sumer here in Niseko but amzingly opening day is just around the corner, from the time of writing we are just 71 days away from the first lift spinning on the Niseko United area! What will the season bring, first off we hope it will bring you back to enjoy what we know is guaranteed, epic skiing, steaming onsens, delicious food and smiling faces. Word on the street is that the Sea of Japan is likely to stay a little warmer than usual this year which means in a simple sense we'll see more evaporation, more precipitation and combined with some frigid Siberian air a strong possiblitly of another massive winter like last year. Time will tell. In the mean time we have some all important opening dates for you, plus the unveiling of one awesome looking lift.
OPENING DATES 2021 /22
A couple of months ago we announced the new lifts going into Hanazono and construction has gone successfully through the summer and is on schedule for open day.
The new lifts are looking lush and will be whisking you up the hill in record time and absolute comfort. The new 6 seater that will take the place of Hana 1 is Japan's only 6 seater chairlift and comes complete with luxurious leather seats and leg saving foot rests. Running up the other side of the hill is the new Symphony Gondola wich will service new beginner and intermediate terrain with two new slopes Colly's Folly and Juicy Fruit opened for your skiing pleasure. Perhaps the most exciting part of these new runs is that they will be lit at night. Below a glimpse at the the very stylish looking new ride.
For those who missed our last story on Hanazono's new lifts the photo below shows where they will go and the terrain they will access. The new six setaer won't open up anything new but it will get you to the top of Strawberry Fields a lot faster. The new Gondola with it's two stations will open up some new beginner and intermediate terrain and take some pressure off the Hana 1 chair. All in all both lifts are great news for Hanazono and for the greater Niseko United resort and we can't wait to ride them!
Hiking opportnities abound here in Niseko and a great option suitable for the whole family is Hangetsuko or Half Moon Lake. The trail head is just 5 minutes drive from Hirafu and the hike itself takes between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the route you take and your fitness level. The easiest and perhaps most scenic route takes you down to lake level and only takes about 40 minutes return depending on how long you enjoy the views for at the bottom.
The trail meanders through beautiful dense silver birch forest through which dappled sunlight lights the path. It is a great place for kids to experience nature and adults to unwind from the stresses from the week.
Hangestuko is located on the side of the iconic volcanic peak Mount Yotei and is a calders lake that was formed after an eruption around 3000 years ago, not long ago at all in geological terms.
Upon reaching the lake there are some areas just off the trail where you can set your self up for a rest and a snack, during the warmer months insesct repellent is a must. On the day this photo was taken unfortuntaley the magnificent Mount Yotei is obscured by clouds but on the right day the views from here are spectacular.
Being just 5 minutes drive from Hirafu village a trip to Hangetsuko is the perfect way to fill a morning or afternoon and embrace the natural surrounds that have put Niseko on the map. If you'd like any information on Hangetsu - Ko or are interested in visiting Niseko in the winter or summer please feel free to get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kihaku is the latest edition to Holiday Niseko's portfolio of vacation rental properties and it is a stunner. Set in lower Hirafu Village far enough away from the center to enjoy peace and quiet yet close enough to be convenient and within easy walking distance of some of the most popular bars and eateries including Ebisu Tei and the famous fridge door bar, Bar Gyu.
Kihaku is split over 2 stories with 2 bedrooms downstairs and the master bedroom, kitchen, living and dining upstairs. High vaulted ceilings add to the feeling of spaciousness in the living and kitchen area and the oak flooring throughout lends to a bright, light filled feel. The house is thoughtfully and stylishly appointed throughout with quality furnishings and appliances.
The large windows in the lounge area enjoy great views up to the resort which promise to be magical as night falls and the resort lights illuminate the ski runs. The lounge is cozy and again nicely appointed with thoughtfully chosen furnishings.
Kihaku's simple uncluttered style is continued into the bedrooms with large windows in the master bedroom offering leafy views to the south. The remaining two bedrooms downstairs are made up of 1 bunk room with 4 beds and the second room which can be made up as 2 singles or one double. The bunk room is perfect for the kids and each bunk has its own light and power point.
To make a booking at Kihaku or if you have any questions about this great new property feel free to get in touch (email@example.com) and for full details on Kihaku check out the listing page here - https://holidayniseko.com/kihaku .
Camping opportunities in Hokkaido abound with fantastic campsites within an easy drive from Niseko. Just an hour from Hirafu is lake Shikotsuko which has a number of camping spots, one of the most popular being Morappu Camping Site. Many visitors to Niseko will be familiar with the beautiful Lake Shikotsuko as it is on the route from the Chitose Airport to Niseko. The lake is stunning in winter or summer and in summer the area comes alive with people flocking to the area to enjoy the many outdoor pursuits on offer.
The camping ground at Morappu has good facilities with toilets and communal sinks for washing up. There is parking for about 150 cars and in mid summer you can expect these to be pretty well occupied. There is also a small store and reception desk where you will pay for your campsite when you enter or if reception is closed when you arrive the next day. You can rent barbeque equipment and buy charcoal here too. All other food and equipment must be bought in and you'll need to take your rubbish out.
Tents are pitched along the shore of the lake which is for the most part pebbles so you need some decent bedding if you want a good night's sleep. The beauty of this is that you have the lake quite literally on your doorstep and the sound of the waves lapping the shore will send you to a peaceful sleep. Sunsets are stunning and you will often be greeted by a little morning mist draped like cotton wool over the lush green hills.
There are many great hiking trails to explore in the area including Mount Tarumae (visible in the top photo) and an excellent hike up the active volcano. If you prefer more aquatic pursuits, standup paddle boards or kayaks are the weapon of choice and a great way to take in the surrounds. If you don't have your own vessel small boats and swan boats are avilable to rent for reasonable prices. Lake Shikotsuko is one of the deepest caldera lakes in Hokkaido and her crystal clear waters remain cool and refreshing through out the summer. The lake is home to many species of Japanese trout including ame masu, sakura masu, hime masu, niji masu (rainbow trout) and brown trout.
Although the campgrounds are busy during the peak month of August they are for the most part quiet and peaceful despite the number of campers. Camping in Japan is taken seriously and camping setups range from large scale family glamping homes to purposefully curated set ups for one where even the scent of the firewood is chosen with care. If you have the opportunity to experience camping at Lake Shikotsuko don't miss it. It is a stunning area and an easy extension to your itinerary if you are staying or passing through Niseko.
Every season in Niseko offers something special, with cherry blossoms in the spring, festivals through the summer and the emotive colours of the Autumn. Summer is of course one of the best times to visit with warm settled weather and temperatures hovering around 25 degrees, just perfect for sightseeing, hiking, rafting and many more of the fantastic activities the area has to offer. Below are 5 awesome summer activities Niseko has on offer.
Rafting season begins in the spring and runs through to Autumn. In the spring time the snow melt raises the river level and it is at this time it is the most exciting. During the summer the river runs slower and the experience is a little less action packed but the water and weather is warmer and the surroundings more scenic with lush greenery colouring the riverside. There are number of excellent rafting operations in the area and Holiday Niseko will be more than happy to make bookings for you or put you in touch with the right people.
In keeping with the watery theme, the next on the list is a trip to the coast. Although not what we usually associate with Niseko the area is a fantastic base from which you can access some incredible coastlines to the south and to the west. Shakotan is a crowd favourite with spectacular coastal scenery, delicious seafood, camping, fishing, onsens, sea kayaking and plenty of places for a swim. If you are staying in Niseko for more than a couple of nights a seasside excursion is an easy and rewarding activity. Check out the following links for more on some of the great coastal adventures at your finger tips from your Hirafu accommodation Bikuni, Shakotan, Kamoenai, Okishi.
Take to the trees! One of the few activities that can be enjoyed winter or summer is one of the areas 3 tree adventure parks, the largest and first to be opened is the NAC adventure park which is also conveniently located in Hirafu, so just a few minutes walk from any lower village property you'll book through Holiday Niseko. Test your confidence, immerse your self in nature, enjoy great views and keep the kids entertained. There are a total of 8 courses suitable for kids over 115cm in height, and 2 courses for those that are 140cm or taller, all courses are completely supervised and have 100% emphasis on safety.
Get into golf. If you are a golfer you will love the courses around Niseko. With a wide variety to choose from and the Hilton and Hanazono courses on Hirafu's doorstep you don't have to go far to enjoy some of the best courses the area has. If you're looking to go a little further a field there are more excellent options too check out more on A Brand, Rusustu and Hanazono here and more on Fukui, Hilton and Niseko Golf & Resort here.
After all this activity you may be feeling the heat and the kids getting grumpy, for either affliction there is one sure cure, ice cream! There are a number of great places for an ice cream in Niseko but the top pick has to be Niseko Gelato loacted in NIseko View Plaza just a 15 minute drive from HIrafu. Niseko Gelato is owned and operated by Dennis Van Den Brink, who is also behind a number of other great restaurant in the area including Niseko Green Farm where almost everyone who has been to Niseko in the last 10 years has probably visited for a coffee! The Gelato is fantastic with a wide variety of delicious flavours often made from the areas seasonal produce. Yum!!
If you have the chance to visit Japan in the summer Hokkaido is an essential stop on any itinerary and Niseko an easy place to base yourself in comfortable convenient accommodation. It is just over an hour from the city of Sapporo, even less to a great number of beaches and must see locations as well as having some awesome activities right on the doorstep. If you are interested in visting Niseko winter or summer please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have on accommodation or activities in the area.
Ever dreamed of riding bottomless powder all through the day and into the night? Well, in Niseko you can do exactly that with the lifts running until 9:00pm and a huge skiable area illuminated, so much in fact that it even possible to ride powder in the sidecountry trees. The night skiing experience is truly one like no other and not to missed if make a trip to the area.
10 years ago the night skiing area was even bigger with lights running all the way to the top of the 6C or Roku C lift (now known as the Kind Hooded Quad Lift #3) and down the length of the family course. With so much illuminated you could almost ski as if it were day time! Currently only the area pictured above is lit up. When we say only this is still a huge area and it is still arguably the best night skiing in the world!
It is not just deep powder turns on offer either the groomed slopes are less busy at night and night time can often present an opportunity to leave the kids with the better half or baby sitter and get your self into the zone. Night time brings cold temps, better snow quality and less crowds and the novelty of skiing under lights is one quite like no other.
Night skiing in Niseko is incredible and an experience not to be missed and below we've got 3 key tips tips to make the most of your Niseko Nighta experience.
# 1. Dress for the occasion - Night temps are significantly colder than the day time so you need to dress warmly, really warmly. Merino or polyprop base layers, fleece and a layer of down beneath a goretex shell are a good good start. You'll also want a face mask / balaclava, warm beanie and extra warm gloves or mittens. Bonus tip, stop by the Sapporo Drug Store on Hirafu Zakka and pick up some hand warmers to go inside your gloves.
# 2. Night vision - A clear goggle lense is the weapon of choice, if you don't have one yellow is probably the next best option. An interesting note on vision, on a heavy snow day if you get the goggles right visibility at night can actually be better than during the day as the light is coming from below the clouds rather than above it and the artificial lights provide better definition.
#3. Timing is key - For the best visibility wait until it is completely dark before heading up, during twilight the light will be considerably flatter than when it's dark.
If you'd like to know more about night skiing or are interested in making an accommodation booking please feel free to contact us anytime.
Ski and snowboard videos are what hungry powder hounds feast on during the summer months and the more video's you watch the more you realise Japan is the place to be if you want deep, dry all you can eat powder. Japan video parts are timeless and one man that defines snowboarding in Japan is Gigi Ruf. Gigi has been filmed in Japan by countless videographers and production companies over the last deacde and every part leaves you wanting more, none less than his part from the Union Team Movie, Stronger. Enjoy.
Over the last couple of years the Hanazono area in Niseko has undergone some big changes. First the park Hyatt has built an impressive hotel at the base which features ten lounges, bars and restaurants, including French cuisine, sushi, robata, teppan, Italian and Chinese. The hotel has raised the bar for luxury hotels in the area and all Hanazono skiiers will also be raising the bar on a brand new 6 seat POMA lift complete with leather seats and footrests. This new lift will whisk you up to the 1589 meter mark in just 5 minutes and 30 seconds and although the lift will be dropping you off at the same place as the original Hanazono # 1 lift, you will get there faster and in more comfort.
If the new 6 seater wasn't enough, construction has also begun on a second new lift, the Hanazono Symphony Gondola. This will be delivering beginner and intermediate snow goers to the top of the newly constructed intermediate course "Colly's Folly" and has a mid way station that riders can use to access the new "Juicy Fruit" beginners course. Although not opening up much new terrain the new gondola will most defintely alleviate pressure on the Hanazono #1 lift which is great news for everybody.