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Ori House Hirafu

2021

Ori House in lower Hirafu is one of Holiday Niseko's premier properties for descerning guests. Completed just 5 years ago Ori is an architectural statement that promises comfort and a stay in Niseko that you will treasure forever.

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spacious balcony attached to bedroom with glass wall
Ori's master bedroom is beautifully designed and offers some of the best Yotei views in the village.

A stay at Ori is an experience in itself with stunning views of Mount Yotei and the Hirafu Ski Area, which when lit up at night looks like something from a fairytale. Ori's solid concrete construction and sheer size makes for a striking exterior and combined with architectural details such as the enclosed gardens visible from the lower bedrooms you have a building steeped in character.

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Ori house exterior view at night
Ori is striking building from inside or out.

The living, kitchen and dining area at Ori provides an incredible sense of space and it's floor to ceiling windows invite Mount Yotei in to share it with you. The living area is of course stylishly furnished and comes complete with wifi and an entertainment system, including Netflix to keep the kids busy.

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stunning view of Mt. Yotei from living room window
Watching TV is tough when you've got views like these distracting you.

Ori's kitchen has absolutely everything you need to feed everyone in the house with multiple rice cookers, hot pots, a fantastic aray of cookware, glassware, western and Japanese style crockery and much more. There is a breakfast bar and a stunning solid timber dining table that comes comlete with a view of the resort.

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breakfast bar with comfortable stools
The kitchen is large and comes fully equipped.

The bedrooms are spread accross all 3 floors with a small tatami room off the living room and another small tatami room without ensuite on the 1st floor. On the second floor you will find the master bedroom, a bunk room and a 3rd bedroom with ensuite. On the first floor there is also an additional tatami room with ensuite and a larger bedroom with ensuite. Ori's bathrooms are of course luxurious and 5 of the 6 come with a bath tub.

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marble walk in shower and tub
Luxurious and beautifully designed bathrooms.

Ori has everything you need to bring the ski holiday of your dreams to fruition with ample space, style and modern design. During a regular winter the house also comes complete with a 9 seater van,  plus the house can booked with an additional complete concierge service. If you would like to make a booking or would like to know more about Ori please feel free to contact us anytime ([email protected]). You can also find further details here on the Ori Property Page.

 


First Snow 2021

2021

The first significant snow has fallen on the slopes of the Niseko United and this year it was just as special as always. No matter how long you stay in Niseko there is always something exciting about the sight of fresh snow on the mountains. Interestingly the first snowfall last year came much later on November 9th but it came with a bang and set up the base for the winter that followed, you can check out that report here. Looking further back the first snowfall of 2019 /20 came earlier with the first dusting of snow on Mount Yotei on September 9th.

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A snow dusted Mount Yotei with pampas grass in the foreground
The snowfall on Mount Yotei was significant and the snow at the top might even be there till June!

So does this early snowfall bode well for the coming winter? Historically this is nothing unusual and according to snow forecast.com the average snowforecast for the 4h week of October is 4cm with a corresponding 0.1 powder days so things are at least on track!

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A large wooden Hanazono sign with a dusting of snow all around it.
A new look Hanazono complete with new chairlifts and fresh snow for 2021/22.

When the next snow fall will be, for this week at least, remains a mystery but without doubt it will be on the way and any day in November could be the start of the serious snow, snow that might not stop until the new year as was the case 4 winter ago. Stay tuned.

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A dusting of snow on the slopes of Hirafu with tall night skiing light towers scattered across the slopes
Fresh snow sprinkled across the slopes of Hanzono, just a little bit more to go!

 


Hokkaido Road Stations

2021

The Michi No Eki's in Hokkaido are a must stop on any road trip, with something unique and often delicious in every one. So what is a Michi no Eki ? It is a government designated road station or rest area where you will always find a clean bath room and quite likely fresh vegetables, souvenirs snacks, possibly a restaurant, road information and maybe even a ski field! The Michi no Eki`s will often be stocked with fresh produce from the area and showcase whatever tourist attraction the region is famous for. 

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A bed of purple flowers in front of the NIseko Michi no Eki with tents selling produce outside.
The Niseko Michi no Eki has become world famous for it's fresh produce and don't forget Niseko Gelato across the road for a delicious treat after shopping.

With more than 1000 road stations scattered accross Japan and plenty in Hokkaido you can't help but pass one on the way from A to B. Close to Hirafu is the Niseko Michi no Eki or Niseko View Plaza which is a great source of fresh vegetables and is frequented by locals and tourists a like. It is not only fresh porduce either there are also some delicious little stalls selling hot dogs, fried chicked, baked sweet potatoe and many other yummy treats. 

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A older man wearing a hat looks toward an ice cream stall at the Sunagawa Michi No Eki
Ice cream ofetn features at the top of the list on any Michi no Eki stop as this gentleman is about to demonstrate

Most Michi no Eki's can be found on the main roads running through major towns but some such as the this one at Sunagawa can be found on the toll expressways too. Wherever you do find one you can guarantee they will be immaculately clean with toilet facilities and a place to rest and take in the surroundings and some may have even more.

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A ski lifts extends up a small hill with forest and and green grassy surrounds above a busy parking lot
The Engaru Michi no Eki, Mori no Okhotsk comes complete with ski feild!

The Engaru Michi No Eki in eastern Hokkaido is some what of a super Michi no Eki with its own ski field, impressive modern building, its own fast food restaurant and giant sized parking lot! You'll find this one on the express way to the Abashiri and Shiretoko areas and it provides a great stop on what is a substatial drive to or from the west side of Hokkaido. Closer to home there are some excellent Micho no Eki to visit, the Niseko Michi no Eki mentioned above is well worth the short drive from Hirafu Village.

A little further away is the Aputa road station that has a great range of fresh produce from the area plus a great little restaurant that specialises in scallops or hotatae as they are known here. The restaurant over looks a small fishing port and is a lovely spot for lunch. Another quick one from Hirafu is the Meisui-no-sato Kyogoku Road Station at Fuki Dashi Park in Kiyogoku the park itself is the main draw card but the road station also offers out and indoor barbeque options and a small restaurant offering classic Japanese fare. Like all Michi No Eki you will also find a nice range of souvenirs to buy for friends and family.

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A box of Hokkaido Fairy cheesecakes with a photo of a small fluffy bird on the front.
Who could say no to this box of cheese cake?

If you are on the road before, after or on your way to Niseko the Michi no Eki is a must stop and you know one is never far away. If you'd like to find out more about road trips in Hokkaido or accommodation options here please feel free to contact us anytim ([email protected]).

 

 

 


Hokkaido Ramen - Pipara no Mori

2021

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.

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A thick wooden bench top with 3 lights above and 3 chairs
Pipara No Mori has a true log cabin feel with beautiful solid timber benches an A frame ceiling and atmosphere galore.

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.

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A bowl of ramen noodles with white spoon
Pippara No Mori's ramen is delicious and the restaurant and its owners a delight.

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 place spotless and decorate it with seasonal flower arrangements. It is like a step back in time and you almost feel like one of Hokkaido's 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.

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Dried flowers and clay statues sit on top of a wooden bench with a restaurant kitchen in the back ground.
A step back in time and an earthy feel throughout.

 

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 across this stunning field of cosmos for your viewing delight. 

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A field of cosmos flowers in bloom.
Driving through the Sobetsu country side you are greeted with many lovely scenes such as this filed of cosmos flowers in full bloom.

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 destinations on a trip to Niseko please feel free to contact us anytime ([email protected]).

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A glassy river half in shodow with sun lit trees on its banks.
The road from Sobetsu to Kita Yu Zawa and on to Niseko follows the picturesque Osaru River


Yuki no Taki

2021

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 surroundings that have made Niseko famous look no further than Yuki no Taki.

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A house in the middle of lushly forested green hills
Yuki no Taki is tucked away in the trees in an area known as Soga pictured here with the Niseko Village Gondola in the back ground.

If you wish to enjoy the restaurants or shopping opportunities in Hirafu they are an easy 15 minute drive away. The magic 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 world's most acclaimed ski resorts, sign me up!

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A dining table set with 6 places
Large windows provide plenty of natural light and beautiful views of the forest surrounds.

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 equipped with Netflix and apple TV for your viewing pleasure.

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A kitchen island bench and lounge suite in an open plan room
A fully equipped kitchen makes meal preparation a breeze.

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.

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A made up double bed in a room with large windows
Like the lounge the bedrooms have large windows from which to enjoy the tranquil views.

Bedroom 1 and 2 can be made up as two singles or one double. The bedroom's temperature can be individually controlled and has 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 upstairs off the lounge. The downstairs bedroom comes complete with a bathtub 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 especially for those looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of Hirafu Village. Sit back relax and immerse yourself 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 protected]) if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 


Niseko opening day news

2021

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.

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A snowboarder makes a deep powder turn
Deep days like this one are but a few sleeps away.

OPENING DATES 2021 /22

Annupuri 

  • Opening Date: 4 December 2021
  • Closing Date: 5 May 2022
  • Night Ski: 18 December 2021 – 20 March 2022 (till 8pm)

Niseko Village

  • Opening Date: 3 December 2021
  • Closing Date: 3 April 2022
  • Night Ski: 18 December 2021 – 20 March 2022 (till 7pm)

Grand Hirafu

  • Opening Date: 4 December 2021
  • Closing Date: 5 May 2022
  • Night Ski: 18 December 2021 – 20 March 2022 (till 7pm)

Hanazono

  • Opening Date: 4 December 2021
  • Closing Date: 3 April 2022
  • Night Ski: 18 December 2021 – 20 March 2022 (till 7pm)

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.

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3 men splicing a chairlift cable
The all important job of cable splicing for the new Hanazono 1 lift, make sure it's tight please !

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.

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A new gondola cabin with white cover.
Unveiled and ready for action.

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!

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A picture showing newly planned lifts.
Exciting news with construction already started on a new 6 seater chair and gondola

 


Hangetsuko - Niseko

2021

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.

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A two story building with a pointy roof and stained glass windows.
The trail head has a large parking lot and distinctive toilet block.

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.

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A trail map of Hangetsuko
The two routes give you the choice of circumnavigating the lake (about 45 minutes) or descending into the crater to lake level 45 minutes return.

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. 

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A child sits on a rock beside a picturesque lake.
The Hangetsuko trail is a a hike the whole family can enjoy.

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. 

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A forest view down to lake Hangetsuko and up to the ridge of Mount Yotei.
The trails around and down to Hangestuko offer delightful views of Yotei and the lake itself.

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 ([email protected]).

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A child walks across a steep slip face holding a rope
A little challenge on the way up and down the course!

       


Kihaku - Lower Hirafu

2021

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. 

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Kitchen and dining area with large windows in the back ground
The kitchen has plenty of space and is equipped with everything you need for meal preparation.
  

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.

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Two arm chairs and a black leather lounge with large windows behind
A spacious lounge with high vaulted ceilings.

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. 

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A large made up double bed with white bed spread in a light wooden floored room.
The master bedroom with ensuite.

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 protected]) and for full details on Kihaku check out the listing page here - https://holidayniseko.com/kihaku .


Lake Shikotsuko Camping

2021

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.

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A stand up paddle board sits on the side of a glassy lake.
Lake Shikotsuko is a great place for water sports with stand up paddle boarding fast becoming one of the most popular.

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.

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Two children eating at a table with a glassy lake at sunset in the back ground
The Morappu Camping Site is family friendly and an awesome place for the kids.

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.

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A curving lake shore framed by green foliage.
Lake Shikotsuko is an idilic spot from every angle. The Morappu camping ground lines the shore line visible here.

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.

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A solo Camper and lantern sits in front of a glassy lake at sunset.
A solo camper enjoys the serenity of the sunset

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.

          


Summer time in Niseko

2021

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.

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A sun sets behind the waves at a sandy beach in Shakotan
You can find great coastal spot for camping, sightseeing and much more less than 90 minutes drive from Hirafu.

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.

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People climbing across a trees ropes course in Hirafu.
Are you up for the challenge? The NAC Adventure Park has courses for everyones age and level of confidence.

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.

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A golfer drives down a fairway with Mount Yotei in the back ground
Incredible views compliment the Fukui Golf Course to a tee.

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.

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A display counter with multiple flavours of ice cream.
Niseko Gelato's flavours are extensive, deep and just what you need to cool off on a hot summers day.

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.

 


Hokkaido Government Travel agent Licence No. 3-777
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