Niseko is an amazing place to come to for both Japanese and international visitors alike but with so many options it can be hard to decide what to do. After living in Niseko for a winter, these are some of my favourite things that I recommend to everyone.
If Niseko didn’t have amazing powder I would still love it here just because you can visit an onsen. Nothing makes you feel more relaxed after a hard day of skiing than sitting in some mineral filled hot water and letting your aches soak away. One of my favorites is Yukoro Onsen, which is a small, rustic onsen located in Lower Hirafu. It can get pretty busy though so try to go early or late to avoid the crowds of weary skiers.
Soup Curry has to be one of Hokkaido’s greatest inventions. I tried it on my first trip to Sapporo and have fallen in love with this dish which is basically a soup version of a curry (the chefs all have their own signature spice combinations) with huge chunks of vegetables and meat in it, served with a side plate of rice that you put on your spoon and dip into the soup. In Niseko, the place to go is Tsubara Tsubara which is a 10-minute walk out of Hirafu in Izumikyo and is open for lunch and dinner.
Niseko is world renowned for its bountiful dry powder snow and one of the best ways to experience the powder is to head into the trees. Niseko’s four resorts offer a variety of different terrain and as long as you’re intermediate level or above, you could find a tree run to suit you. The best part about trees is you usually get better visibility than on the open runs as there is more contrast. So on those low visibility days, it can be worth exploring the trees on the side of the runs.
Milk Kobo is a dairy farm located in the Higashiyama area near Niseko Village. You can easily access it by catching one of the Niseko United Shuttles and there is a bus stop right outside Milk Kobo. Milk Kobo has lots of yummy milk-filled delights like cream puffs, soft serve ice cream, drinking yogurt and my personal favourite, cheese tarts. There are also other shops in the complex as well as a Prativo, a vegetarian lunch buffet restaurant that has drinking yogurt on tap and lots of local veggies.
Night skiing is often underrated in Niseko as many guests ski all day and just want to rest at night but it’s worth getting out there at least one night to try it out. Three out of the four Niseko United resorts offer night skiing until 8:30 pm throughout most of the season. Grand Hirafu is the best spot for it, though, as it has the largest night skiing area in Japan and one of the largest areas in the world. A good variety of terrain is lit for all abilities from beginner to expert and you can even head into the trees. Despite what you might think, visibility is often better at night as the lights are so bright so you can see the bumps on the run a lot better and slopes are typically less crowded. If you still want to ski during the day then head out early, have a break during the afternoon and then head back out when it’s dark. If it’s a powdery night you probably won’t regret it.
This is just a fraction of the awesome things that Niseko has to offer so come to Niseko and check it out for yourself!
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