Niseko Winter Necessities
Make the most of your time in Niseko this winter.
With so much to see and do here in Niseko, it's easy to get lost in the planning. But don't worry, we've got you covered with this list of must do activities, ranging from the well known and popular to some hidden local gems.
Ski ‘Out The Gates'
Niseko’s backcountry is famous for its ease of access and sheer volume of fresh, dry, powdery snow. A network of gates allows skiers and snowboarders to venture off in to the backcountry without the lengthy uphill hikes that are usually associated with backcountry skiing.
From these gates, you can ski down through forests and valleys outside of the resort boundary before returning in to the resort with minimal effort. Little wonder it’s nicknamed the ‘slack-country’. This means that fresh, deep snow can be found untracked throughout the winter, even when the resort is at its busiest.
Or Ski The Beginner Slopes
While the powderhounds race for the morning’s first chair lift and fresh lines in the backcountry, when it comes to catering for beginner skiers and boarders, Niseko certainly doesn’t discriminate. In fact, towards the bottom of Mt Niseko Annupuri, the terrain is open, wide and gentle. Perfect for newbies!
Check Out A Japanese Art Gallery
Situated in Aya Niseko, Kiyoe Gallery Niseko proudly showcases various artworks from established and aspiring Japanese artists. Expect to see paintings, prints, photography, bonsai art, calligraphy, sculpture and a range of other art/media, each inspired by Hokkaido and the local area.
The carefully curated gallery is open seven days a week in winter with a rotation of exhibitions scheduled.
Relax in a Traditional Japanese Onsen
Is it really a trip to Japan if you don’t bathe in an onsen?
Traditional Japanese hot springs can be found throughout Niseko and its surrounding areas. In fact, before skiing became so popular in Japan, Niseko was an onsen resort town. Many stressed-out business people from Tokyo and Osaka came here regularly for a relaxing escape from Japan’s big cities.
Two of our favourites are Yukichichibu and Yugokorotei.
Slurp Down A Big Bowl of Ramen
A staple dish for the Japanese, ramen noodle soup is a hearty winter-favourite here in Niseko. While this dish has become increasingly popular all around the world over the last few years, no one does it quite as well as the Japanese.
Bo-yo-so is a charming ski-in ski-out restaurant situated right on the mountain. All manner of Japanese fare is available here, including a comforting range of traditional ramen bowls. Niseko legend has it that the man who owns and runs Bo-yo-so was also the first Japanese man to reach the summit of Mt Everest!
And in Japan, it is not considered rude to loudly slurp your noodles, it’s actually a gesture of appreciation for the meal! So, forget what mum told you about chewing with your mouth open, grab a big delicious bowl of ramen and slurp it down as quickly (and as loudly) as you can.
Grab a Cocktail at the "Fridge Door Bar"
One of Niseko's most famous tourist sites and certainly one of it's most Instagrammable is Bar Gyu+, otherwise known as the "Fridge Door Bar". Set discreetly in Hirafu's lower village, the front door to the cocktail bar is, as the nickname suggests, a fridge door!
Contrary to what you might expect behind a fridge door, here you will find a warm, spacious and inviting cocktail bar space, friendly local staff and a mean cocktail list.
Sample Niseko's Craft Beer
Japan is home to a thriving craft beer scene with many micro-breweries developing unique and tasty beers. Two of the best places to try some of these in Niseko are:
Mick’s Bar Niseko – a Niseko institution formerly known as Niseko Wine Cellars, this wine store come wine bar come craft beer bar is popular with both tourists and locals. Here you can sample craft beers from a wide range of Japanese micro-breweries. A wide range of Japanese whiskies and wines from all over the world are also available.
Niseko Taproom - located right in the centre of town and serving a range of craft beers on tap, Niseko Taproom is a cozy little bar with great lunch and dinner menus too.
Experience Night Skiing
The on-slope action doesn't end when the sun goes down here in Niseko. Under powerful floodlights, four chairlifts operate right through to 8:30pm. Some of the best skiing and snowboarding can be found at this time. The lights are strong enough to enable off piste and tree skiing for the more adventurous rider while fewer people on the slopes makes life easier for beginners on the groomed trails.
Perhaps best to do this before heading to the cocktail and craft beer bars though!
For further recommendations see our Restaurant, Bar and Onsen listings.