Beyond the Slopes: 7 things to do in Niseko even if you’re not skiing

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

Photo by Florian Metzner on Unsplash

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)

Read also: New Niseko restaurants to look out for in 2019

#2 Onsen, Spa and Onsen again

Relax like the snow monkey. Photo by Jonathan Forage on Unsplash

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.

Read also: Onsens in Niseko: Hot Springs You’ll Want to Jump Right Into

#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

Image from Explore Niseko

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

Image from Hanazono Tube Park

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.

Read also: Insider Guide: 5 Great Places in Niseko You Should Know About

#6 Snowmobiling

Image from Hanazono

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.

Read also: Ski Fashion: Sandy Ip of The Ski Project tells us how to look great on the slopes

#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!

Plus, The Luxe Nomad has a discount code to get you sorted. You can use the code THELUXENOMAD to get USD20 off your first photo session with SweetEscape.

Bonus: Go Skiing!

Image by SkiAsia

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.

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Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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