Many of our guests are quite surprised to know that Ashley and I have spent over 11 years in Hokkaido and that we have also been friends since our snowboarding days in New Zealand.  What brought us here and kept us here so long? Our common interest in snowboarding and Hokkaido's famous powder snow of course. With winter rapidly approaching here is a taste of what to expect - (see if you can spot Ashley)
Thanks to our good friends Johnny Samoa, C
The 30cm snowfall that blanketed the village earlier this week is a sharp reminder the 09/10 ski season is only 3 weeks away.  Many people have taken advantage of our early bird discounts this season and the key dates around Christmas and New Years are starting to fill up.  If you are planning to ski Japan this winter and haven't organized your Niseko Hirafu accommodation yet I would recommend doing so soon. In winter many guests staying in our
In October many Japanese people love to travel into the mountains and countryside to see "Kouyou" (Autumn colours). The mountain roads and hot springs around Niseko become quite busy in the weekends during this period. For those without a car, Japan Rail puts on a special kouyou steam locomotive that runs from Otaru and through the Niseko area.
There are currently 108 active volcanoes in Japan (ten percent of the world’s total). On average eruptions or abnormal phenomena are observed at 10 volcanoes a year in Japan. In Japan an active volcano is defined as “volcanoes which have erupted within 10,000 years or volcanoes with vigorous volcanic gas and water vapor releases.” In Hokkaido 19 volcanoes fit that description and there have been 16 large-scale eruptions in the last 350 year
羊蹄山Youtei-zan (pronounced Yoo-tay and not you-tie or ute-tee) dominates the surrounding Hirafu-Niseko skyline. Mt Yotei is one of the 100 famous mountains in Japan and the name can be translated as sheep’s foot. Standing 1898m tall, Mt Yotei is also known as Shiribeshi-yama, Makkarinupuri and Ezo Fuji (Hokkaido Fuji). Mt Yotei is an active stratovolcano less than 100,000 years old.
If you are driving near the Annupuri ski resort around dawn or dusk during the summer months you may have noticed a strange yellow object in the sky.  It is the Niseko Balloon and recently I got the chance to check it out. I headed out to the Niseko Annupuri Ski Resort at 4pm as I wanted to see the whole process of setting up a hot air balloon.
In winter many international guests often ask us what we do over the summer months. “Do we remain open?” and “Who visits Niseko in summer?” are also common questions. Yes, we do stay open, and we are kept relatively busy providing accommodation for the domestic market.
The fastest way to the Rusutsu ski area from the Niseko resort area will take you through the small village of Makkari. The Makkari area gained some exposure recently when the wives of the G8 leaders visited the village and had lunch at the French influenced Restaurant Maccarina.
Often in winter I get asked by guests who stay in our Niseko apartments, “Is there anything to do in Kutchan? Or “Is there anything to do that isn’t skiing or snow related?” Choices in winter are usually pretty limited so I set out to find something to do in case the ski lifts are closed due to bad weather.
While the primary reason to stay in Niseko during winter is for the skiing, people also travel for the cultural experience. Using cul
Lake Toya is a more developed area than Shikotsu. It takes 40-50 minutes to get there from Niseko.  On Toya's south east side are several large hotels as well as Volcanic Mt.Usu which closed down the  area when it erupted in 2000.  Toya hosted the G8 summit last year at the exclusive 5 star Windsor hotel. In July and August there is a fireworks display every night that can be seen from all sides of the Lake.