Niseko: Where to Eat, Stay, and Ski in Japan's Hottest Luxury Resort Town
If you’re into travel (or you follow me on Facebook or Twitter), you’ve heard of Niseko by now. Maybe you’ve been there yourself; maybe you’ve seen your friends there in their instagram stories; or maybe you’ve read about it in the Wall Street Journal (“Billionaires, Luxury Hotels Discover Japan’s Aspen;” paywall) or Business Insider (“What it's like to visit the 'Aspen of Japan,' where billionaires and actors dine on sushi in ski lodges and relax in natural hot springs on the side of an active volcano”). Here’s a guide to where to eat while you’re visiting Niseko & staying in Hirafu village.
Where to Eat in Hirafu Village
Bang Bang Niseko Izakaya - Delicious small plates perfect with cold Sapporo, sashimi, and sake. Bang Bang, 188-24 Yamada, Kutchan 044-0081. Reservations essential (credit card required; must arrive within 15 minutes of reservation time).
Niseko Ramen Kazahana - Don’t leave Niseko without trying the potato ramen - a delicious and addictive original. Noodles are perfectly chewy and come with a fluffy and creamy “potato foam” on top of miso broth. Be prepared to wait in the cold - they don’t take reservations and the restaurant is limited to 35 seats, with only a tiny waiting area inside. Open from 12-2:15 for lunch (you must be seated at 2:15 or you’ll be turned away) and again at dinner. Double check their website for opening hours and times before heading over to avoid disappointment. Niseko Ramen Kazahana, Yamada 179-36, Kutchan town, abuta-gun, Hokkaido. (0)136-23-3444
Tsubara Tsubara Soup Curry - Soup curry is a Hokkaido invention that needs to be replicated in Hawaii ASAP. Tsubara Tsubara, 132-14 Aza Yamada (Niskeo Kogen Hirafu), Kutchan-cho
Sessa Hot Pot - Choose your broth (nabe or sukiyaki) and a “course” menu of either beef, pork, or crab. Each menu comes with tofu, vegetables, and your choice or rice or udon. About $40/pp and open for both lunch and dinner. So good! Sessa Hotpot. The restaurant runs a free shuttle that will pick you up from your hotel and drop you back off again.
Crab. Just crab.
Crab Dining Kanon - Crab is the name of the game. Choose one of two prix fixe menus (either 7500 or 10000 yen) — the more expensive special menu comes with a sashimi set in addition to the three types of crab served. Snow crab, hairy crab, and king crab were on the menu when we went. An absolute must if you’re a crab lover (I am totally a crab > lobster type of person). Crab Dining Kanon, 1F Lodge Kanon, 165-25 Aza Yamada, Kutchan-cho 044-0081
Soba (Buckwheat Noodles)
Soba Kaiseki Ichimura - Fresh, handmade soba made from specially sourced buckwheat is the name of the game here. Cross over the wooden bridge to experience delicious warm or cold soba. Soba Kaiseki Ichimura, 68-4 Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0081 Japan.
On the Go
Food Trucks - There’s something weird and wonderful about eating a steaming hot pizza roll from a food truck in the middle of a parking lot in a Japanese resort town. Find them next to Seico Mart.
I wrote here on the blog about AYA Niseko’s spacious, luxurious accommodations. One of its biggest draws is its ski-in, ski-out convenience; and it’s just two blocks from many shops and restaurants in Hirafu Village. If it’s just two of you and you don’t want a kitchenette, go for an atelier rooms, which is like a traditional hotel rooms. There are also studios, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments; penthouses; and standalone villas. Choose from forest, resort, or Mount Yotei views — we loved the forest view because it was so private! Book through TRAVELHAPPY for discounted rates not available to the general public + concierge service for booking restaurant reservations and ski lessons. Review + pictures here. Website for photos and up-to-date details: Aya Niseko.
Skye Niseko Ski-in, ski-out luxury accommodations located near the Hirafu Gondola. Skye Niseko.
A new Park Hyatt is scheduled to open in December 2019, check here for details
GoSnow Niseko offers ski and snowboarding lessons either solo or in groups of no more than 8. Full-day ski lesson, 5.5 hours, ¥10,000. My instructor Ivan was nice, but I was exhausted after lunch so by the 5th hour I was ready to call it a day. Next time I’m gonna just do a half day.
We rented our ski gear from Rhythm Japan which was super convenient as they delivered the rental gear to the ski valet at AYA.