The Explore Niseko Blog

10 Things to Expect From Your Visit to Niseko

During our time here, we’ve come to recognise a few Niseko “specialities” that everyone encounters during their visit. We’ve rounded up our top observations for first-timers to look forward to:

View Of Mt Yotei Snowy Volcano Niseko United Ski Resort 539971926 5472X3648

1. The Snow

Niseko is famous for its “Champagne Powder” and insane snowfall. Get your powder skis and boards ready for the best conditions in the world.

2. Get Addicted to “Rice Triangles”

Oh, onigiri – the snack of choice here in Niseko. Whether you’re stopping at a 7-11, Seicomart or even the local pharmacy, expect to become addicted to these delicious little rice triangles. Each are wrapped in dried nori seaweed and come with a choice of fillings, with vegetarian options ranging from sweet and salty ‘pickled plum’ to peppery wasabi, and classic fillings including salmon, tuna mayonnaise, bonito flakes and more.

3. To (Inadvertently) Go Ice Skating

Get your spikes on, 'cause you’re in for a ride. Aside from the main street running up to the welcome centre, which has heating built under the road, the entire village of Hirafu turns into an ice rink when temperatures drop and the paths freeze up. Have fun skidding down the sidewalks, or, if you’re not so steady on your feet, you can purchase a pair of spikes from Seicomart or Rhythm Japan to save those potential bruises.

4. Drink a Strong (and maybe regret it!)

The classic “Let’s Get On It” pre-drink. Cans of Strong are available everywhere, and with the price at just 150 JPY and a 9% alcohol content, drinkers are in for... a treat. The pineapple flavour is probably the most palatable. We suggest trying just the one, initially. Good luck soldier.

5. Belt Out Some Bangers at Karaoke

If you visit Japan and don’t try Karaoke, you haven’t experienced Japan to its full potential. All you can drink beer, food served to the booth and videos with a Japanese twist from your favourite tunes (think pretty tranquil images of nature as you rock out to Bohemian Rhapsody...) what’s not to love? Our favourite is Utaya Karaoke, located just 10 minutes away in Kutchan. Hop on the bus or taxi and give it a go!

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Interested in powder skiing? See number 10 for our advice

6. Buy Something From Oyuki.

Born in Niseko, “Oyuki” means “big snow” in Japanese and that’s what this local brand designs: gear for the big snow. You’ll find Oyuki gloves, thermals, balaclavas and more in the Rhythm Japan stores in town.

7. Visit an Onsen

If you perhaps overlooked our earlier advice on Strongs and shoe spikes, or you’re just feeling a little sore from sending it on the mountain, you will want to visit an Onsen. Yukichichibu Onsen is our favourite, being naturally heated and featuring a volcanic mud bath for the ladies. The sulphuric water is said to have healing properties and relaxing here is the best way to recover from any strenuous activity.

8. Spend Your Yennies in a Vending Machine

Hot coffee, cold coffee, corn soup, green tea, Pocari Sweat, beer, soft drinks, sometimes even plain water... the possibilities are endless with Japanese vending machines. Find them on the streets, inside hotels, on the mountain, outside someone’s front door... they are one of the best things found in and around town.

9. Tuck into some Ramen

One of the top questions we hear from visitors is “where is the best ramen?”. Seeking a decent ramen joint is synonymous with travelling to Japan, for who can deny a hearty broth full of thick noodles and endless delicious toppings? Niseko Ramen is a local favourite, with its unique offering of Potato Ramen, made from locally-grown spuds to make a potato foam which sits on top of your miso broth. Yum!

10. Use Niseko’s “gate system” to access the incredible backcountry powder

The best and deepest snow Niseko has to offer is found outside of the resort boundaries (i.e. outside of the groomers). This doesn’t mean it is forbidden, however, rather that skiers and boarders can access these areas through the "gates" which provide the safest entry points for the powder playground, and by following the rules surrounding this. As with any offpiste activity, safety is paramount and both avalanche kits and guides are highly recommended to organise for your backcountry adventure.

Book a Backcountry Powder Guide Here

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