The Niseko area is located in the southwest of Hokkaido, Japan’s stunning northern most island. Hokkaido is the agrarian capital of Japan and is famed for its natural beauty. The area has become an internationally acclaimed destination for winter sport enthusiasts mainly due to the quality and consistency of powder snow, with annual falls in excess of 10 metres. Outdoor enthusiasts are not limited to Niseko’s winter though, as the warmer months in Niseko offer visitors a chance to explore the beautiful mountains, forests, farmlands and abundant hot springs scattered throughout the Niseko’s ski resort.
Comparatively, Niseko is cheaper than many other world class ski resorts, making it attractive year round. This means that you can enjoy great food, excellent accommodation and a variety of activities at very reasonable prices. A winter trip to Niseko is one of the most affordable ski holidays you’ll ever experience. Equally attractive, summer’s affordable accommodation rates and pleasant climate set the base for a great summer holiday in Niseko.
Credit cards are widely accepted in the Niseko area, but cash is still the preferred method of payment. Once at the resort it may be difficult to access and exchange money.
Public telephones can usually be found in the lobbies of most hotels and pensions in Hirafu. However some may not be able to handle international calls. For details on calling internationally see the Iink below.
NTT International call information
¥500 and ¥1000 pre-paid telephone cards are available from vending machines, convenient stores and some shops and hotels. Most telephones also accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins. A local call costs ¥10 / minute. If calling overseas from a public phone it is recommended to use a telephone card. Seicomart sells a variety of international phone cards.
3G mobile telephones are compatible with the Japanese network provided they are set correctly. The Niseko Company recommend renting or even purchasing a local phone as an easy and affordable way to keep connected both locally and internationally.
There is no post office in Hirafu, the nearest one is located in Kutchan-open Weekdays 9am-4pm. In Hirafu’s main street there is a postbox in front of the shop “Piz Gloria” with stamps available from Seicomart.
The electricity supply in Japan is 100V AC 50Hz, with a two-pronged plug / socket arrangement. Adapters may be available in Kutchan, but it’s best to bring them with you.
Medical Insurance is highly recommended as any serious medical treatment requiring hospitalization or medical evacuation can quickly make your holiday very expensive. A medical translator or ambulance may be required. For tourists, most medical facilities will require you to pay after receiving treatment. Remember to ask the doctor or staff for a written medical report and receipt if you want to claim medical costs through your insurance. Health Hokkaido provides some handy hints and tools to help with a visit to a Japanese hospital.
Hirafu has 2 well stocked convenience stores (Seicomart & Lawson’s), along with internet cafes, souvenir shops, and ski and snowboard rental shops all within easy walking distance. With the continued development of the resort it is expected you will to see an increase in retail operators. Another shopping alternative is to head into Kutchan which is easily accessed by taxi or from 6pm onwards the free Night Go bus. Kutchan is home to several large supermarkets and a variety of other stores.
Skis and Snowboards
There is a growing number of rental and retail stores in Hirafu and you should be able to find all your ski and snowboard needs. Please feel free to ask The Niseko Company for assistance with reserving rentals.
Dining and Restaurants
Renowned for fresh local produce and fine fare, the Niseko area offers gourmet travelers plenty of opportunities to enjoy quality restaurants and cafes. Many visitors are surprised at the affordability and range of fine dining options on offer throughout the area.
Hirafu offers a great selection of Japanese and international restaurants and cafes. Exploring these eateries and the many tucked away bars over a night or two out on the town will become one of the highlights of your stay.Outside Hirafu, Kutchan and Niseko also have a great selection of restaurants and bars. Please inquire for recommendations or see for further information on dining in the Niseko area.
Hot Springs (Onsens)
Scattered throughout the Niseko areas are numerous natural hotsprings (onsen), many with both indoor and beautiful outdoor baths. A visit to an onsen is a highly enjoyable cultural and social experience. We recommend adding at least one soak in an onsen into your itinerary while in Niseko. For tour details please inquire.
Within an hour of Hirafu you can enjoy a diverse range of natural scenic attractions, from the beauty of rolling farmlands, spectacular volcanic mountains to the rugged coastline. Likewise the diversity of outdoor and indoor activities offers something for everyone all year round.
Arts & Crafts
There are many small privately run galleries and museums where local artisans display and sell their work. For a hands-on experience there are several places where you can try anything from pottery and glass making to making soba or tofu.