Essentials for Your First Niseko Winter Holiday
Everything you need to know to ensure you enjoy your winter stay in Niseko.
Niseko was once Japan's best kept snowy secret. A haven for powder hounds and practitioners of snow surf (a style of riding popularised by local snowboarders). Niseko has since exploded and more people from around the world are visiting every year. For many it is their first taste of snow, for others, their first foray into powder riding. To ensure you make the most of your time in Niseko, check out our essentials below.
Your First Day on the Mountain
Lift passes can be purchased at either the Mountain Centre near the Gondola, at Dot Base or at Family Base. Lift passes can also be purchased online at the Niseko United website this year and collected in resort. An All Mountain Pass will give you access to each of the four resorts. More information about each of these can be found here.
The two main rental stores in Hirafu are YamaSport and Rhythm. Each offer a great range of standard and premium ski and snowboard equipment, including poles, boots, jackets, helmets, goggles and snowshoes. Both stores will let you swap between skiing and snowboarding if you want to try out both.
As temperatures can dip fairly low into the negatives it is essential that you dress correctly on the slopes. This means a thermal layer made of either merino wool or polyester to keep you warm and wick away moisture, a warm middle layer to keep you toasty all day and an outer, waterproof shell that is breathable to keep off the snow. Don't forget warm gloves, a beanie and a facemask.
Conventional wisdom might be to wear a thick pair of socks however this might affect how well your boots fit. The professional tip is to wear a well fitting sock that is warm enough but doesn't move around or compress too much in your boot.
How to Get Around
Most of the bigger accommodations, Skye Niseko and Ki Niseko will have a complimentary shuttle service to take their guests to various parts of the village. Niseko United's Shuttle Bus service will take travellers between all four ski resorts as well as Kutchan Town with regular bus stops in between.
For a private option that provides ultimate convenience try Sprint Taxi which offers English support, or SkyExpress for larger groups or longer trips.
Off the Slopes
If you are looking for somewhere to relax after a day on your skis or want some off-slope action, there are a number of great activities for you.
Onsens are a must do post skiing and snowboarding. The warm mineral waters soothe and rejuvenate your muscles.
Dine at any of the world class restaurants that populate the snowy Hirafu streets. An Dining prepares amazing seasonal dishes and even has Hokkaido's first craft ginger beer! Kumo Restaurant provides modern izakaya food with epic views of Mt Yotei.
Temporada, Toshiro's Bar and Half Note are your must visit locations for local sake, craft beers and creative cocktails.
If you are looking to go further afield there are a number of winter festivals such as Kutchan's Yukitopia, Otaru's Snow Light Path Festival or Sapporo's Snow Festival.
Excited for the coming season? See what is in store!