Japan, like in China, greets the New Year with a series of celebrations dialled up on a grand scale. For the Japanese people, Shougatsu is an annual party – really an opportune time for family members to get together and spend fun time with each other. The event, which is pretty much the equivalent of Christmas festivities in the western countries, serves as the much anticipated platform for many of the unique local traditions to take centre stage.
In Niseko, for example, Shougatsu means the uncorking of champagne bottles and the launching of fireworks by all the resorts and hotels operating in the area. It is the ski resort town’s wonderful way of bidding goodbye to the final hours of the outgoing year and embracing the new one. The glittering town acts as one and unabashedly reveals its beautiful Japanese soul in welcoming what the fresh year has to offer.
Unwrapping Niseko’s Different Flavors Of The New Year
As mentioned, New Year in Niseko mirrors how the holiday plays out in the western world. The obligatory fireworks will be there and so are the New Year countdowns normally observed around the world. But what separates the Niseko New Year from the rest of world is it is rendered stuffed deliberately with the local flavour. The manner that Niseko ushers in the coming year and sees off the old one is certainly an experience of a lifetime.
On the first day of the New Year, local resorts and hotels hold the traditional Kagami-Biraki, which is breaking open a wooden sake cask. The occasion is also marked by the sharing of sake, meaning servings of the Japanese rice wine will be passed around for free. Usually, the event can be experienced in several places like AYA Niseko, The Vale Niseko and Hotel Niseko Alpen, Grand Hirafu and Hanazono but it is in the latter resort’s Hanazono 308 where the free sake is served the earliest, at 10 in the morning of January 1, according to PowderLife.com.
One certified fun activity for the holidays though is Mochi or Rice Cake making. Locals view mochi making as integral part of the old-fashioned New Year celebration in Niseko, which chiefly involves kneading and pounding the rice dough all by hand. To see how the sticky rice cake takes form, the one place to go is The Vale Niseko Hotel, again on January 1.
And for attracting good vibes at the start of the year, it is a must to drop by at the Yamada Shrine in Hirafu, where the Hatsumode or First Shrine Visit takes place in Niseko. Taking part on the celebration, a festivity observed across Japan, is thought to inspire the realisation of one’s wishes, according to the long-held belief by the Japanese people.
Apparently, the best of luck too will be on the side of those who opted to witness the First Sunrise of the Year or Hatsu Hi No De. “In Japanese tradition, watching the first sunrise of the year … will bring you good luck,” per the report from ExperienceNiseko.com. Niseko Village makes happen of memorable experience – watching the first sunrise of year gradually emerging behind Mt. Yotei – through a gondola ride that will bring spectators at the top of Mt Annupuri. Call time on this starts at 6AM.
Having Fun While Feasting
And when the need to take a bite of the Niseko holiday cuisine arises, the best bets are the mix of Japanese and western restaurants that can be found on the area. For the holidays, places such as the Hilton Niseko Village and La Villa Lupicia press the transformation button and reconfigures their menu and ambiance to suit the cravings by diners for Christmas- and New Year-centric servings.
Among the more highly recommended, taking the word offered by MinistryOfVillas.com, is Kamimura that boast of badge of honour in the form of Michelin stars. Another good pick is The Vale Bar & Grill, which in time for the season regularly includes kid-friendly selections on the menu.
Of course the best restaurant in town is right on your door step, plus we treat our resident guests like royalty, so joIn us at Upashi Seta.
Calling It A Day
It’s quite obvious that accommodation in Niseko is unlikely to run out of supply but prudence dictates that for the holidays advance booking will ensure of hassle-free vacations. Resorts and hotels in the town are aplenty and the options are wide-ranging. Visitors looking to be pampered by luxury can easily go to hotels attached with the familiar brands like Hilton, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, all of which have their imposing presence on Niseko.
Or visitors can look beyond brand names and retreat for the night at Snow Dog Village, a year-round property in the natural wonderland of Higashiyama. Set at the base of the mountain, Snow Dog is fast shaping up as Niseko Village’s most inspiring address that draw in tourists looking for a comfortable base from which to explore Hokkaido’s natural playground.
This premium apartment room development is created for investors and visitors who seek a quality yet affordable base from which to experience the ultimate Niseko adventure.