So you’ve booked your accommodation in Niseko and you’re all geared up for the slopes. Oh yes, oh-yes, OH YES, you’re going to ride that scenic gondola, jump off ski lifts, and whiz through the pistes.
But, what if we told you, there’s more to the Niseko experience that that precious #JaPow?
That’s right, gather your elders and button up your rosy cheeked cherubs, here are (only) a dozen activities you can do together as a family!
#1 Learn how to make soba noodles
Take a break from the snow and experience traditional Japanese soba making! Soba noodles are made of buckwheat and are delicious both hot and cold. Learn the art of mixing and kneading Soba noodles at Ugasoba, a Soba noodle restaurant in Niseko.
#2 Ride a reindeer sled
That’s right, Santa’s left some reindeer in Niseko and they’re giving out rides to good little boys and girls. Whip across the snow on a reindeer sled, don’t forget to snap pictures while you’re at it! Reindeer sledding is available in Niseko Village for children below the age of 12.
#3 Go on a snowmobile adventure
You don’t have to train your glutes to take in the local scenery. Jump on a snowmobile for a tour over snowfields and through the striking snow-covered trees overlooking Kutchan and the surrounding valley. Don’t forget your neck warmers, gloves, and goggles!
Also, whip around in a snow raft. Sit in a rubber boat that’s being towed by a snowmobile swerving left and right, hopping up and down bumps and pistes. It’s almost like your own personal roller coaster.
#4 Stroll along the Otaru Canal
Approximately an hour and twenty minutes from Niseko, Otaru is the picturesque port town of Hokkaido with an interesting history. The canal twists throughout and is flanked by quaint aging warehouses that once-upon-a-time was a hotspot for international trade and craft production.
Don’t forget to try some of the world’s best sushi while your there!
#5 Take a turn at the Music Box Museum
Housed in a building built in 1912 and heralded by a 5.5-meter clock tower that chimes hourly and plays music every 15-minutes, this museum houses more than 25,000 ancient and modern music boxes. The museum showcases mechanical instruments from as early as the 1600s with exhibits on the delicate and exquisite craftsmanship of music boxes.
#6 Build a snowman
What’s a winter holiday with the kids without at least one snowman? Pack a little snow between your hands and keep on adding snow until it’s too heavy and then start rolling it into a giant ball. Repeat, add in some pebbles for eyes, and twigs for hands. Sling some snowballs at each other while you’re at it!
Pro tip: Build the snowman on a flat space under some shade—less sunlight means your new buddy melts (a little) slower.
#7 Spend some time snow tubing
Here’s a fun and easy activity that everyone can enjoy. Snuggle into your inflated donut and slide down the hillside! Hanazono Tube Park even has a magic carpet that transports you and the kids back up the hill so you can whisk down again. Snow tubing is great for everyone aged three and up.
There are also toboggans and sleds that are great introductions to toddlers who are a tad too young to join in the fun at ski school.
#8 Make ice cream
Some things know no season, and when better to make ice cream than during winter! Less chance for accidental drips right? Takashi Farm Milk Kobo offers workshops for visitors who would like to learn how to make ice cream, or simply experience that dairy farm life. Stop by the cafe for fresh cream puffs, cakes, yoghurt, cheese, and more on your way back. You can burn the calories off on the ski slopes.
#9 Try an onsen a day
Niseko has some spectacular indoor and outdoor boutique onsens. The oldest hotspring has been open since 1899! You’ll have your choice from old school, natural, and traditional hot springs, to sleek, minimalist, and modern options, both indoors and outdoors. Do you really need a reason to soak in mineral-rich, geothermal water that (may) cure aches and stimulate deep healing?
#10 Join a snowshoe tour
Looking for a new way to explore the great outdoors at Niseko? Strap on a pair of snowshoes and wander out—with a guide of course! A snowshoe tour gives you the unique experience of trekking through the wintry landscape at your own pace. If you really want to up the game, surprise the children with a night tour instead. Experience hiking under stars or with soft snow fluttering down onto your cheeks. It’s great for children ages six and up.
#11 Stay for a festival
The annual Sapporo Snow Festival attracts over two million visitors with hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures every February. Otaru also has its own Snow Light Path Festival which finds the snow-covered town alight with glittering lanterns.
#12 Whip up a Japanese meal
Chef Chisato Amagai, the co-author of Harvest Niseko, offers private cooking classes in the comfort of your own chalet or apartel. The chef, as well as an English speaking assistant will walk you through pantry necessities, and how to use miso and Japanese seasoning to cook up a Japanese teishoku menu. Teishoku is a traditional style of Japanese cuisine that is eaten daily and uses everyday ingredients. Worthy souvenir—being able to rustle up Japanese soul food anytime, anywhere.