Those accustomed to the mountainous areas of North America or the Alps can be forgiven for thinking that the apres lifestyle follows a certain formula: ski, drink, eat, repeat.
Yet Niseko, and its surrounding landscape present exciting opportunities for activities that European and North American resorts are unable to offer.
In fact, tourists who visit Niseko will realise that the word ‘apres’ means so much more in this Japanese year-round paradise.
One of the most exciting things about Niseko is its accessibility. No longer limited to the confins of a remote mountain village of the alps, you can use this area as a base to launch on a number of activities.
The first worth mentioning is Sapporo. The capital of the Hokkaido island is famous for its Japanese beer, culture, and world renowned Snow Festival featuring spectacular ice sculptures.
Sapporo snow festival began in 1950, when high school students built a few snowmen in Odori Park. Since then, every year from February 4th to 11th, it has exploded to an event that attracts over 2 million visitors each year.
To get there:
Sapporo is easy to reach with a direct bus service to and from Niseko and takes between 3 - 4 hours. A ticket costs around ¥3,500.
A favourite among tourists worldwide, this city is renowned for its classical Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines, and traditional Japanese streets.
It is like taking a step back in time. Spared the bombing of the Second World War, it has preserved much of the buildings and traditions of ancient Japan. If you visit, you can experience traditional Japanese kaiseki dining and tea ceremonies.
Our top picks include: Kyoto palace, Higashiyama District, and Nanzenji Temple. If these don’t take your fancy, there are over 2,000 buddhist temples and shrines to choose from.
To get there:
Flying would be your best option when looking to visit Kyoto. With flights from Sapporo airport to nearby Osaka taking less than 2 hrs.
*prices will vary.
Spas and Onesens
If you’re reluctant to leave the comfort of the resort there are plenty of opportunities for relaxation and culture in Niseko itself.
But first, what is Onesen?
Onesen is a traditional Japanese past-time, where people come to relax in the natural hot springs that occur around the mountainous regions of Japan. Each onesen is unique, with their own health benefits attributed to each different type of water.
Sodium Bicarbonate saline – for beautifying the skin
Chloride – retains body heat
Sulphate – for cuts & bruises
Ferruginous – for recovering iron levels
Sulphur – for high blood pressure & joint pain
Acidic Antibacterial – not recommended for people with skin sensitivities
Carbon Dioxide – for high blood pressure and rheumatism
Throughout the Niseko resort there are a number of onesens that you can relax in after a long day on the slopes. Some of our favourites include:
KANRONOMORI: If you want a unique and exclusive opportunity to experience onesen this one is for you. Book a 50 minute session to have the hot springs all to yourself.
Private Indoor onsen – 50 mins: ¥3,000
Note: Face & bath towels set rental ¥200. Indoor/outdoor onsen baths and sauna, men and women separate.
Click here: http://www.kanronomori.com/en/
GOSHIKI ONSEN: Experience a truly special onesen with water from Mt. Iwanopuri and and a natural larch wood build.
Price: ¥700 Adult, ¥500 Child (3－12 years old)
Note: Face towel purchase ¥300, bath towel purchase ¥600. Indoor/outdoor onsen baths, men and women separate.
Click here: http://goshiki-onsen.com/
MAKKARI ONSEN – HOYU CENTER: With stunning views of Mt.Yotei from the outdoor bath this is an impossible one to miss. It’s also conveniently located next to a Michelen Star restaurant.
Price: Adult ¥500, Child (4－12) ¥200
Note: Bath towel ¥600 Face towel ¥220, Indoor and outdoor onsen bath.
Niseko is great for apres activities both on and off the snow. And with a thriving tourism industry there all-year round, there are plenty of opportunities to try your hand at something new.
Whether you want to experience the famous Japanese powder off the beaten track with cat skiing, or snowshoeing through the wilderness at night – Niseko has plenty of options outside of downhill skiing.
Off the slopes there are plenty of opportunities too. Some of our top picks include: sea kayaking, gourmet cooking workshops, and fly fishing.
Cat skiing - ¥56,000 p/p
Snow kite - Beginner Lesson ¥10,800 p/p
Gourmet cooking class - ¥10,000 p/p
Fly fishing - ¥6,480 (Includes fishing gear)
Sea kayaking - Adult ¥12,900 (per person price for two people)
Visit http://www.niseko.com/ for more booking info.
There you have it. Japan offers something unique when it comes to culture and after ski activities. Niseko is particularly special for this, with its easy access to historic cities, world renowned events, and proximity to stunning natural hot springs.
So if you’re looking for an after-ski lifestyle that is a little different to the usual experience – Japan is where you should be looking.
To find out more about what it’s like visiting Niseko, get in touch with us.