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Need information on Niseko

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

We are going to Niseko in March 2015 and need information on where to stay.  I know there are 4 villages and we are considering either Niseko Village or Hirafu.  We'd like to be near local restaurants and bars.  We looked at Niseko Hilton, which is very pricey, so now we are considering renting a condo in Hirafu.  Appreciate any suggestions and recommendations. 

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post #2 of 19

Welcome to EpicSki. 

Lets see if we can get someone in that part of the world to chime in. 

 

Perhaps @Spanna  or @jimintokyo can give some input. 

 

(Although I can't remember exactly where Spanna went last year.)

post #3 of 19
Stay in hirafu. Theres a shuttle to the lifts, and in the evening pretty much everything is a reasonable walk if you bundle up. Have at least one meal at Bang Bang and say hello to Sato-san for me.smile.gif
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  Any suggestion on condo vs ryokan or hotel? 

post #5 of 19

If the Hilton seems pricey, you can't afford the condos on offer in Hirafu (tho it never hurts to check airbnb).

Here's a link to some lodging choices: http://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/area/niseko-hokkaido

As Marko says, you need to stay in Hirafu to access nightlife, the bus network to other parts of the area shuts down at 8p.m.

That said, you can find some nice pensions over at the Higashiyama and Annupuri base areas that won't cost an arm & a leg, maybe only a toe.

Any particular reason for March? There will be plenty of snow on the ground, but not a lot falling from the sky by then, and the main reason to go to Niseko is to ski powder -- it's not that awesome a mountain, really. There are better choices in March.

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Any particular reason for March? There will be plenty of snow on the ground, but not a lot falling from the sky by then, and the main reason to go to Niseko is to ski powder -- it's not that awesome a mountain, really. There are better choices in March.

+1

Many people I met skiing in Japan said, "Skiing Japan in March is like skiing other places in April."

 

Average Niseko snowfall in inches by month:

Nov: 49

Dec. 148

Jan: 176

Feb: 115

Mar: 74

Apr: 8

Altitude range is about 1,000 - 4,000 feet with another 400 feet of hiking up to the summit. Exposure is mostly south to east.  Thus I expect snow surfaces are not so great once the Siberian "lake effect" snow machine slacks off.  Look at that stat of only 8 inches in April at the same place that gets 176 inches in January.  I don't think Niseko suddenly turns into a desert in spring; what's probably happening is quite a bit of rain at the low elevation.  March is likely a transitional month from snow to rain (probably November too).

 

Every source I've met says to ski Niseko in January or the first half of February.  Japan is a long way to go for not a cheap price to do it at the wrong time and be disappointed.

 

Hirafu is the resort town with multiple bars, restaurants etc.  Niseko VIllage is somewhat of a misnomer because there's not a lot there besides the Hilton.  I stayed at Black Diamond Lodge, about 5 minutes walk from the Niseko Village lifts.  It's a good location from a ski perspective, offers excellent guided tours and is fairly reasonably priced.  But it's isolated from after ski activities


Edited by Tony Crocker - 11/15/14 at 5:39pm
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi, thank you for the info.  I have to be in Tokyo from March 15th on business, so thought I'll make a 4-day trip to Niseko before Tokyo.  So, Niseko from March 11th.  Hope snow isn't too bad!  I'll definitely look into Hirafu.

post #8 of 19
Several years ago I spent the month of March in Niseko. Only got above freezing on the day I was leaving. Had great conditions and a couple of pretty good dumps, not epic, but very nice, and a good deal of 10cm overnight stuff. The touring was great! The moral of the story is you might have fantastic condtions while you're there. Mid to early March, I'd feel pretty positive about things.
post #9 of 19

The equation is naturally different if some one else is picking up most of the tab.  From Tokyo it would be easier to go to the Hakuba Valley (site of 1998 Olympics) than to Hokkaido, especially if you only have a few days.   These areas get about 2/3 as much snow as Niseko, in the same midwinter concentrated pattern.  Elevation range of 4,000 - 7,000 feet might help, though of course it's 7 degrees latitude farther south.  I spent 3 days in Hakuba and 8 in Niseko on my January 2011 trip.  http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2011/10/17/skiing-japan-hakuba-niseko/

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Several years ago I spent the month of March in Niseko. Only got above freezing on the day I was leaving. Had great conditions and a couple of pretty good dumps, not epic, but very nice, and a good deal of 10cm overnight stuff. The touring was great! The moral of the story is you might have fantastic condtions while you're there. Mid to early March, I'd feel pretty positive about things.


Thank you, I'll keep my fingers crossed for snow in March!

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

The equation is naturally different if some one else is picking up most of the tab.  From Tokyo it would be easier to go to the Hakuba Valley (site of 1998 Olympics) than to Hokkaido, especially if you only have a few days.   These areas get about 2/3 as much snow as Niseko, in the same midwinter concentrated pattern.  Elevation range of 4,000 - 7,000 feet might help, though of course it's 7 degrees latitude farther south.  I spent 3 days in Hakuba and 8 in Niseko on my January 2011 trip.  http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2011/10/17/skiing-japan-hakuba-niseko/


Thank you!  I have to go to Tokyo every year, so we'll look into going to Hakuba next time.  For this coming March, we can't change our dates, so I just have to keep my fingers crossed!  Thank you for the info!  Those are amazing pics!

post #12 of 19

I am staying at the Slow Life Lodge. Check it out. 

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
 

I am staying at the Slow Life Lodge. Check it out. 


I'll check it out, thanks.  When are you going?

post #14 of 19
Quote:
I have to go to Tokyo every year

Try to make it January next time.  And schedule at least a week of skiing before or after. You won't regret it!

post #15 of 19

If Niseko skis well into early February then you might be better to schedule early Feb rather than January because Australian and New Zealand school holidays run right through January. You may find that crowds drop and accommodation frees up quite a bit from early Feb. 

post #16 of 19

I was there during Australia Day and crowds were manageable.  There were noticeably more people on weekend days than midweek.  Accommodation pricing can be checked for the week before vs. week after the OP's business dates.  Locals say early February is still good.  Snowfall intensity drops some, but on the other hand the sidecountry sectors and the 400 vertical hike above the lifts to Niseko's summit are more likely to be open.

post #17 of 19
Odd, I've never seen the hike to the top of Annapuri closed. Maybe they monitor things differently than before. February should still be very nice. Always was in my experience. Had a great month of March there years ago as well.
post #18 of 19

The Summit hike on the Hanazono side was open more often than on the Annapuri side during my week in 2011.  It made sense to me since Annapuri is windward and Hanazono is leeward of prevailing winds.

post #19 of 19

A bit late to the party, but for anyone interested in Niseko accommodation, this is probably the most useful website:

 

http://www.niseko.cc/niseko/accommodation/about.jsf

 

Besides what you'll find on that site, I can recommend Freshpowder Apartments and Gondola Chalets.

 

If you want to rent skis, one good choice is the place just downstairs from the Hirafu gondola. Inexpensive and they welcome you to leave the skis with them when you're finished each day, so you don't need to carry them around. If you want more high-end equipment, try Harros' at Gondola Chalets.

 

March skiing in Niseko can be really enjoyable but don't expect big powder dumps. As others have said, mid-January to mid-February is your best chance for powder, although the Snow God (Kura-okami) sometimes randomly decides to bless us with unexpected gifts.

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