Updated: May 24, 2019
Japan has rapidly become one the centres for international tourism worldwide and Niseko is developing along with it. In recent years it has become one of the number one destinations for skiing. With its access to remarkable snow fall, relaxed culture, and luxurious accommodation – it’s unsurprising the wealthiest in Asia flock to Niseko.
Niseko- The New Center Of Culture In Japan
The north of Japan has typically been overlooked by all but the Australians for international tourism, yet this is starting to change.
During the late 1990s the municipal government set out to learn what made the most successful ski resorts in the world so popular and modeled their resort around them (with a uniquely Japanese twist).
Now, Niseko is one of the highlights for skiers from across Asia looking for both incredible skiing and luxury living. Indeed, in 2018, 660,000 visitors came to the Hokkaido region from China alone. These days, it’s home to modern town ski infrastructure, Michelin star dining, and spectacular ski-in-ski-out condos.
Luxury restaurants in Niseko
Niseko boasts some truly luxurious offerings when it comes to fine dining. Some of our favorites here at Snow Dog Village include:
Kamimura: the Owner Chef, Yuichi Kamimura, has been awarded a Michelin Star and his restaurant is a must-do in the resort. Diners can choose from the regular 6-course menu or the daily’s special called Omakase, sourced from seasonal delights from the Hokkaido region.
Teuchi-Soba Ichimura: A popular choice among both visitors and locals, this exceptional restaurant uses fresh local ingredients to produce famous soba noodles and tempura.
Bistro Kutchan Sakaba: Head Chef Tsuyoshi trained at the Michelin-starred French restaurant Kamimura before opening up his own place in Kutchan and the impressive wine list and delightful tapas reflect his considerable experience.
Raku Ichi Soba: Is one to look out for in 2020. The much loved restaurant is being redeveloped to cater to the most luxurious of visitors, with an accompanying 14 apartment condominium to match this new style. Head to the website to find out more.
Luxury accommodation in Niseko
All across Niseko luxury accommodation has sprung up to cater to this new breed of tourist. This new generation of millennial skier is looking for the perfect combination of relaxation and adrenaline – all of which Niseko is happy to provide.
Some notable developments include:
Snow Dog Village: Set in the natural wonderland of Higashiyama, these sleek and stylish apartment offer affordable luxury for visitors and investors alike. Set at the base of the mountain, the accommodations are just a 5 minute walk to the ski lift.
Zaborin Ryokan: Nestled in the private forest of Hanazono, each of the 15 private villas has access to their own indoor and outdoor baths. They also offer the choice of traditional Japanese tatami mats and futons or western-style beds.
The Vale Niseko: Five-star hotel offers 49 residences that vary from hotel rooms to one, two, and three-bedroom luxury apartments. Or you can opt for a penthouse if you would prefer your own private onsen on a balcony overlooking Mt Yotei.
There is much to choose from when it comes to luxury living in Niseko. New developments from the W and Hilton signal that there is a growing market for it too. More investment in the more upmarket tourist facilities is sure to follow suit with these industry giants signalling their commitment to the area.
On the Slopes of Niseko
Niseko main attraction – and the reason so many tourists flock there – is in the incredible skiing that this resort has the offer.
Each of the resorts of Niseko run from Mt Niseko Annupuri, over a thousand metres from base to peak, and with amazing views of nearby Mt Fuji and Yoeti – it’s an unmissable experience.
Where to Ski in Niseko
The four main resorts of Niseko are collectively known as Niseko Hirafu, Niseko Village, Niseko Annupuri, and Niseko Hanazono, and each have their own unique culture and attractions.
Niseko Grand Hirafu: This is the largest ski area of the resort based on the southeastern side of the mountain. The area is perfect for those looking for the buzz of a busy ápres-ski location as well as extensive pistes to explore and child-friendly nursery areas.
Niseko Village: Slightly smaller than Grand Hirafu, this area still boasts some challenging and varied skiing. Some of the steepest runs can be found in this area and the Woodland Chair leads to some truly exceptional powder runs.
Niseko Annupuri: This area is suitable for all level of skier, the slopes are particularly well groomed and have a gentler incline than some of the neighbouring ski areas.
Niseko Hanazono: The perfect area for beginners and park skiers, with terrain parks that boast rails, pipes, jumps, and slalom runs as well as long sloping runs perfect for small children and those new to the sport.
Apres Ski for the Luxury Traveler
Niseko is starting to attract the after-ski lifestyle the European resorts are so famous for. For now, they have retained a uniquely Japanese culture. Here are of our favourites (each with their own twist):
Mùsu: Here Japanese bartenders will can prepare a selection of cocktails with a Japanese twist. Some notable selections include: the Fall Fashioned, which has Hokkaido pumpkin bourbon in it or the Wasabi Margarita, featuring wasabi-infused tequila and a garnish of nori seaweed.
The Barn by Odin: Set in the stunning backdrop of a converted barn, this classical french restaurant offers an authentic yet chic bistro atmosphere.
Bar Gyu: Or more commonly known as the fridge door offers a unique after-ski experience. With magical forest views and fridge door in the snow entrance.
Luxury Onsen in Niseko
Possibly one of the most attractive parts of visiting Niseko is the opportunities for rest and relaxation after a hard day on the slopes. In the northern reaches of Japan where natural hot-pools are in abundance, there is a culture around onsen: Or Japanese hot-springs.
Niseko has plenty of hot springs to choose from, and many accommodations will have their own onsens. Yet for those looking to journey further afield we have picked out a few of our favourites:
KANRONOMORI: Designed for those looking for a private onsen experience without the expense of having one in your own apartment. You can book a 50-minute session to have the luxury hot springs at this location all to yourself.
Private Indoor onsen – 50 mins: ¥3,000
Note: Face & bath towels set rental ¥200. Indoor/outdoor onsen baths and sauna, men and women separate.
GOSHIKI ONSEN: A truly authentic experience, with a onsen constructed from larch wood and hot-spring water from nearby Mt Iwanopuri – it’s a spectacular view.
Price: ¥700 Adult, ¥500 Child (3－12 years old)
Note: Face towel purchase ¥300, bath towel purchase ¥600. Indoor/outdoor onsen baths, men and women separate.
MAKKARI ONSEN – HOYU CENTER: Conveniently located next to a Michelin Star restaurant, this onsen also boasts stunning views of Mt Yotei.
Price: Adult ¥500, Child (4－12) ¥200
Note: Bath towel ¥600 Face towel ¥220, Indoor and outdoor onsen bath.
Off the slopes – shopping and art in Niseko
Niseko has a lot to offer the wealthy tourist in terms of luxury shopping and art galleries. The shops available match the expectations of the ‘Aspen of Asia’ and the majority of the shopping can be found in Niseko village proper.
There are some art galleries worth mentioning though:
Shu Ogawara Art Museum: Honors the life and work of Ogawara and opened in 1991 and blends in beautifully with the surrounding landscape.
Katachi Located in Upper Hirafu is an art gallery for Niseko artists. For those interested in the Japanese arts or simply keen on window shopping, it’s a must-see destination.
Niseko boasts an incredible range of options for the luxury traveler – almost too many to choose from. Those mentioned here are just some of many, and the wealthy Asian tourist is only going to attract more development in this market in the years to come.
If you would like to learn more about Niseko resort, or the developments Snow Dog Village have on offer, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.