Friday, 25 January 2013

Skiing (inc Après skiing) at Niseko

After a couple of nights in Sapporo we caught a bus to the Hirafu Village which is one of the villages at the base of the Niseko snow paradise. In addition to the bus pass we also purchased a package for 8 hours skiing/boarding on the mountain for a heavily reduced discount.
Hirafu is the largest of the villages at the base of Niseko and the roads / footpaths can be a bit icy.P1030992_004P1030991_003
Niseko is known for having some of the best powder skiing in the world. For our first couple of days the weather was abnormal with beautiful blue skies, great visibility and semi-soft dry snow (which was still better than the snow 90% of the time at Mt Ruapehu). The majority of the people at our accommodation were however complaining about the weather though, since it meant a lack of fresh powder.IMG_3121_045IMG_3115_040
IMG_3134_055Night skiing is on every evening and it’s not a small part of the field. It is a mammoth area and there are a lot less people around. We went up when there was some light snow coming down and it was superb.P1040004_015
IMG_3147_064IMG_3149_066I didn’t bring my skis with me to Japan since they are too short and not fat enough for the conditions. This has meant I’ve been able to try out some different skis.
  • Solomon Shogun - good all round ski, little bit of lift in powder. Very small rocker. More effort to turn than I'm used to. Probably not great on ice.
  • Solomon Rocker 2 - huge rocker, loves deeper snow, manageable but not great on hard packed snow, skis quite short because of the large rocker.
On the mountain itself we have been impressed with the quality of the food which has also been well priced. I had a Chicken teriyaki set one day for 1200 yen (about NZ$17)which had chicken teriyaki, vegetables, rice, miso and a small potato salad. There are also options of tempura, sushi, ramen and more. We even skiied to the Hilton one day for lunch.
What has been really interesting is how Niseko doesn’t feel like Japan at all. It is like an Australian ski village; there are so many Aussies here. Everywhere speaks english as the first language and many of the staff in places don’t know Japanese.
Off the mountain there is an excellent après skiing scene and “The fridge” (officially known as Gyu+) is our most regular haunt. It is a great cocktail bar with drinks such as Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Apple Pie, Espresso Martini, Ume Mojito, Unpasteurised Sake. It also has a superb entrance and great ambiance inside.P1040003_014P1040001_012
Wild Bill's is more of a pub than a classy establishment, but good fun. We also found a table upstairs to play table soccer at with an old workmate of Chris’s and their other half.
2013-01-24-1330_033Moon bar is also similar but quite a bit smaller and they have a free pool table.
In terms of restaurants there are a good selection in Hirafu although you do need to book at many. We had a good Giant Red Crab meal, ramen, burgers and more. There are a lot of options.P1040008_019P1030989_001P1030998_010
P1040020_027There is an International Money machine in Hirafu at 7 Bank located at Yama Shizen on Sasayaki Ave. There is also a good Onsen that overlooks the ski field at Yumoto Niseko Prince Hotel.


  1. I love hot buttered rum!! And I notice Chris has some fancy new snow pants! I hardly recognised him!

  2. Yeah Chris is hard to recognise in pants that don't have huge holes in them. It's ok though, his gloves now have duct tape on them so he's making up for it.