The powder is deep, the sun is shining and Mt Yotei has been on show all day. When these three things align it most often means a full day of skiing or snowboarding and a very sore body at the end of the day. So what do you do when the sun goes down and the lifts start closing? Time for a nap perhaps, or an early night? Absolutely not!!
Unlike many other Japanese ski resorts Niseko has a vibrant nightlife and an abundance of activities to keep you entertained long after the chairs have stopped rolling. So time to switch from celepets to jeans, ski boots to sorrels and get ready for food, refreshments and plenty of fun.
If the body is feeling tender after backing up a couple of full days on the hill or a few tumbles through the Niseko powder then refresh and rejuvenate with a visit to one of the many onsens in the area. If you are staying in Hirafu, ‘Yukoro’ and ‘Hirafu-tei’ are great options and are within walking distance of most central accommodations. If you have access to a car, then be sure to visit some of the more isolated onsens in the area each with some amazing views and unique features. Onsens are a great way to experience Japanese culture, relax and bath at a relatively low cost. Most onsens charge around 1,000 Yen and are well worth the money.
• Yugokoro- Tei
• Kanronomori (private onsen)
• Niseko Grand Hotel (mixed bathing)
Niseko has developed a reputation for creating some fantastic local dishes as well as delivering many authentic Japanese experiences. Whether you are wanting to try some local ramen, yakitori, udon, sushi or alternatively feel like a pizza or a burger Niseko has countless options to refuel you at the end of the day. Some popular places during the peak of the season need to be booked well in advance and others will quickly acquire queues out the door over lunch and dinner periods, but regardless there are always a handful of places nestled amongst the Hirafu streets that will keep your energy levels high and taste buds content.
• Bar Moon
• Niseko Ramen
• Soup Curry
• Mina Mina
Seek Pain Relief
You’ve relaxed at the Onsen and refuelled with a warm ball of ramen but still feeling the days efforts? Nothing takes the pain away like a cold ‘Sapporo Classic’ or sipping on a warm sake. There are many unique bars and places to unwind after the long day whether you are just after a cocktail to take the edge off or looking to drink into the early hours of the morning. Why not start at ‘Gorilla’ for a few happy hours, drop in to the ‘Fridge Bar’ for a couple of cocktails and then ‘Brick Bar’, ‘Barunba’, or ‘Wild Bills’ for a few late ones. Be sure to down a few waters and look after your mates so everyone makes it to first chair in the morning.
Combine some food, drink and Japanese culture and have a wonderful night out with your friends. You will need to get yourself over to the town of Kutchan which is about a 10 to 15 minute drive from Hirafu. Karaoke is a common pastime for Japanese people and typically involves hiring out a small booth with the option of ‘nomihodai’; an all you can drink service. Kutchan has many wonderful options for dinner, so grab a bite to eat in preparation for a night of maximum amusement and endless entertainment.
Ski Some More!
If you’re crazy enough to have finished the day on the slopes and still haven’t had enough then rest assured as the lifts keep spinning until 8pm on most evenings during Winter. Although the terrain is limited to the bottom half of the slopes, there is still plenty of amazing skiing/boarding to do in the evening. In fact often the runs are empty, the powder has been topped up and the visibility is as good as it gets. Both Hirafu and Niseko Village operate night skiing during the season, although the dates of operation generally vary depending on the conditions each season.
As tempting as it can be to finish the day and head straight for bed, remember that the fun doesn’t stop at the end of the runs and your Japan Ski Experience can be far more memorable if you push through your pain and seek out some Niseko nightlife.