It should be no secret to anyone who has read Wanderluxe for long enough that we are completely obsessed with Niseko! We’re all about its world-class powder and apres-ski activities.
Even for those who aren’t crazy about flying down the slopes by day (or even for those who are), there is a ton to do in Niseko and the surrounding region that will make you fall in love. We spoke to Joey Woo, Head of The Luxe Nomad‘s Concierge Team to get an insider’s perspective of what you should be getting up to in Niseko.
#1 Eat your heart out
You have to eat in Niseko. The island of Hokkaido, where Niseko is located, is a foodie’s paradise – even the Japanese holiday to the region just to eat the food.
Obviously, sushi hits the top of our list for food to eat, but the region is famous for plenty of treats that you just can’t get anywhere else. You should, for example, try the cream puffs and other milk-flavoured treats from farm-to-table enterprise Milk Kobo. Then, you must go for some Hokkaido king crab, a speciality in the region, at The Crab Shack. The king crab is so synonymous with Hokkaido that you’ll see them everywhere – including on refrigerator magnets!
There are also plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants like Asperges! Yum!
Just remember to make reservations as soon as you know you’re going to Niseko. Many of the restaurants in the area are quite small and they book out well in advance! (Or book your stay with The Luxe Nomad, and let the complimentary concierge do the rest)
#2 Onsen, Spa and Onsen again
If you’re looking to relax, look no further than Niseko’s fabulous onsens and spas. There is little that is quite so invigorating as chilling out in the warm waters of an onsen while the snow falls around you.
Some hotels and chalets will have onsens within their walls, but Joey and The Luxe Nomad’s concierge team have a few they recommend to those who do not. These include the Hilton Niseko Village Onsen and its stunning views overlooking Mt. Yotei, and Moku no Sho, a place the team describes as ‘mystical’ as it looks directly into Niseko forest.
Then, if you’re feeling in the mood for a massage, facial, or other beauty treatment, Joey recommends the Niseko Spa, the first and only comprehensive spa, hairdresser and beauty salon in Niseko.
Note: if you’re going to Moku no Sho, it is not public, so you’ll have to opt for the hotel’s dinner plan which includes a visit to the onsen.
#3 Shop til you Drop
It’s not all about ski gear in Niseko, as you’ll quickly find out. Niseko has a fair few stores that you can get lost in without seeing a single ski pole. Cocoroya, which sells Japanese paraphernalia and antiques, is a favourite. Within Cocoroya, you can find everything from Kokeshi wooden dolls and vintage kimonos to kitchen knives!
There is also the very uncreatively named Gift Shop Niseko. Within Gift Shop Niseko you can find not only souvenirs but Ainu artefacts and artwork from local Japanese artists.
#4 Take a cultural tour
You’re in Japan, why not explore the culture a bit?
There are a variety of cultural tours that The Luxe Nomad’s concierge team can help you find and reserve. Tours can include everything from Japanese Tea Ceremonies, learning the art of how to wear a kimono, discovering traditional Shodo Calligraphy to Japanese cooking (because there is little better souvenir to bring home with you than the gift of food)!
#5 Slide down a hill
Recapture your youth (but say you’re doing it for the kids) and go inner tubing at Hanazono Tube Park! The tube park is very well equipped and considered one of the safest places in Niseko for children to play in the snow.
Best yet, it requires little physical exertion if you’re not in the mood to work for your ride. Hanazono has magic carpets that can bring you to the top of the slide.
Take it from Filipino star Ruffa Gutierrez, it’s really good fun.
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If you’re in the mood for an adventure there are also snowmobile tours! The instructors will teach you everything you need to know before heading out into the wilderness. From there, guides will take you through Niseko’s forests and pastures to see all of the best views of the area.
There are a variety of different tour options, depending on what provider you decide to go with – including tours for Kids! Children between 6 and 12 can get their own specially designed machines perfect for their stature.
#7 Photography Sessions
Niseko and all that wonderful snow is gorgeous, so why not get that perfect shot for your Instagram or family holiday album? Joey recommends working with SweetEscapes, an app-based photography service that will link you up with a professional photographer wherever you are – this way you get all your photos perfectly lit and your entire group can be in the shot!
Bonus: Go Skiing!
Sorry, not sorry, but we had to. Skiing is wonderful, maybe just give it a try – even if just for a half day. Grand Hirafu is world famous for its high-quality powder, the kind of snow that will make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud – so, even if you do fall, it shouldn’t hurt… much.