10 Dec Skiing Niseko-Grand-Hirafu, Hokkaido Japan
Skiing in Niseko and Grand Hirafu was an incredible experience. Having skiied in Australia, France, Canada and the US we found skiing with young children in Niseko Grand Hirafu a fantastic family experience. Compared to other ski regions, it’s the abundance of fresh, fluffy, dry powder snow plus the large and varied terrain that sets Niseko Grand Hirafu apart. The kids also enjoyed night skiing!
The Niseko ski resort has four major zones that are interconnected (for intermediates and above) via lifts and the slopes towards the top of the mountains. The An’nupuri area has great groomed runs for beginners and intermediates and access to sidecountry skiing. The Niseko Village ski area is largely a beginner and intermediate area, with a couple of black piste runs. Hirafu has something on offer for everyone, whilst Hanazono is good for tree skiing, sidecountry access, and terrain park fun.
Some of the incredible powder snow we enjoyed on our trip.
Off piste skiing, in fresh powder in Strawberry Fields (right of Hanazono no. 1 lift).
View of snow covered trees, from the Hilton Niseko Village Hotel.
Views of the summit. Niseko’s most famous gate, “Hirafu Peak Gate” (at an altitude of 1180m) located above the top of the highest lift point in Niseko, the single seated King Lift #4. Both the lift and gate can be extremely crowded on a powder morning and a line from top to bottom can often form as people make the 20 min climb to the peak. No special equipment is required, but I’d recommend a backpack fitted to carry skis as the climb can be quite a work out, when you have to climb through waist deep fresh powder snow.
Some of the food options in Hanazano. Our favourite was the crab ramen, prepared fresh by the friendly staff at the Hanazano ski station.