Niseko Hirafu

Niseko Hirafu
Hirafu Village
View of Mt Yotei
Upper Hirafu Village
Niseko Hirafu is renowned for the nightlife
There are many Hirafu restaurants
Hirafu nightlife
The Fridge Door Bar
Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort
Food trucks in Hirafu Niseko
The imposing Mt Yotei
Hirafu Village Niseko
Hirafu has plenty of lovely self-contained accommodation
Hirafu has lots of eating options
Abundant restaurants in Hirafu
Looking up to Grand Hirafu Ski Resort
The Barn Restaurant Hirafu
Hirafu cafe with lovely coffee
Most of the Niseko ski shops are in Hirafu
Niseko Hirafu

Niseko Hirafu

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Niseko Hirafu

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Niseko Hirafu is the main heartbeat of Niseko in Hokkaido. Hirafu is the largest of the Niseko villages (although Hirafu Village is probably large enough to be considered a town), and the Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort is also the largest of the four interconnected Niseko United ski areas. Niseko Japan is famous for the high quality powder that falls in abundance. Niseko is also world renowned as a premier Japanese ski resort due to its huge range of restaurants, bars, shops, and services, yet in reality, these are largely just elements of the Hirafu Village.

Pros and Cons of Niseko Hirafu

Pros
  • Hirafu has the best developed facilities and services in Niseko, so it has the best choice for snowboard and ski rentals, and the most options for ski and snowboard lessons with an English speaking instructor (group or private format).
  • Niseko Hirafu is very family friendly with kids’ lessons, child care, babysitting, and a kids’ play park.
  • The Hirafu Village is somewhat unique. There aren’t many Japanese ski resorts that have a village where you can wander around and explore lots of restaurants and shops.
  • The nightlife is very vibrant, which is rather rare for a Japanese ski resort.
  • Apartments and houses are also rare at Japan ski resorts, but Niseko Hirafu has a multitude of options.
  • As part of Niseko United, the Grand Hirafu Ski Resort provides access to extensive terrain (relative to other Japanese ski resorts), and off-piste and sidecountry skiing and snowboarding is permissible.
  • Grand Hirafu itself is a decent sized ski area.
  • The Hirafu night skiing is very impressive.
  • As with all of Niseko, Puki Yuki the snow goddess blesses Hirafu with lots of blower powder.
Cons
  • Niseko generally is rather busy, but Grand Hirafu in particular can get a little crazy during peak holidays (see when to ski in Niseko).
  • All of Niseko is very expensive relative to most other Japanese ski resorts, and Hirafu accommodation comes with a premium price tag.
  • A small amount of the Hirafu accommodation is ski-in ski-out, but much of the lodging sits below the Hirafu ski resort which requires a walk or shuttle bus to get to the slopes.
  • For a busy ski resort that charges so much for lift tickets, it’s surprising that the lift infrastructure isn’t better.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • Most people speak English in Hirafu and Japanese is not widely spoken. Most of the staff in the hotels, restaurants, ski schools and shops are not Japanese native speakers. 
  • Some of the pros have come about because Hirafu is very westernised (e.g. nightlife, self-contained accommodation, international ski school).
  • Only small amounts of Japanese culture have been retained.
Most other pros and cons outlined on the Niseko overview also pertain to Hirafu.

Grand Hirafu Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort is a decent sized ski area (by Japanese standards) with 30 marked trails (or courses as the Japanese call them in English), 940 metres of vertical (260 - 1,200m), and 12 lifts. These include a gondola and 3 quad chair lifts (only 1 with a hood). Otherwise the lifts are crappy old double chairs, and there’s also the infamous pizza box chair lift at the top which (if it’s open) often attracts some ridiculous lift lines.

The official trail statistics are 30% beginner, 38% intermediate and 32% advanced. The Family run is a good beginner run, although it can get pretty congested, and other beginner runs are concentrated around the gondola base and aren’t that mellow for novices. There are several red runs for intermediates and short black runs that tend to bump up rather quickly.

Hirafu Ski Resort offers some great off-piste skiing including fabulous tree skiing and more open off-piste terrain. A little sidecountry skiing is on offer out gate 9 whilst the terrain to skiers’ right of Hirafu Ski Resort is out of bounds. The Niseko An’nupuri peak is accessed from Hirafu and provides more slackcountry as well as backcountry over the back of the resort.

Grand Hirafu is inter-connected via the slopes and lifts to Hanazono and Niseko Village and onto Niseko Annupuri (so long as ferocious winds haven’t closed lifts down), so a Niseko United lift pass provides access to additional terrain.

Niseko Hirafu Snow

The Niseko snow is world famous for the quantity and quality of the powder, providing Japow at its finest. The slopes have an east to southeast orientation which isn’t usually fantastic for snow quality, but the sun doesn’t actually come out all that often.

Where is Niseko Hirafu?

The Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort and the Hirafu village that sits at the base are located between Niseko Village and Hanazono. Hirafu is officially located in Kutchan Hokkaido, although the actual town of Kutchan is 8km to the northeast.

The New Chitose Airport (Sapporo Airport) is the main gateway airport (100km away) and there are airport shuttle buses and private transfers available. See the travel to Niseko page for more information on location and transport.

Hirafu Accommodation

The Hirafu village can be subdivided into Upper Hirafu (above Highway 343) and Lower Hirafu (below Highway 343). Upper Hirafu is closest to the slopes and includes some ski-in ski-out Hirafu accommodation. Lower Hirafu accommodation is a short walk to the Ace Family lift, or a shuttle to the slopes is required. As a gross generalisation, there are more Hirafu hotels in the upper zone and more big houses and apartments in the lower village.

Nearby are sub-villages that are within walking distance of the hub of Hirafu such as Hirafu East village (Izumikyo) and South Village (some call it West Village), where the cost of accommodation is more affordable.

Search for Hirafu accommodation rates and availability and book online:

Ski Resort Facilities & Activities

Hirafu Ski Resort and Hirafu Village pretty much have whatever amenities and services you may be looking for, including snowboard and ski rentals, snowsports schools, child care, on-mountain eateries, and even the all-elusive international ATMs. See the Niseko facilities page for more information.

Niseko Hirafu also offers an abundance of activities including ski tours, onsens and day spas. See the Niseko activities page for more information.

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Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Southern Hokkaido Powder Tour
HOSTED & GUIDED ADVENTURE
10 Nights - Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Advanced to Expert
The Southern Hokkaido region scores the most snow and with this lift accessed sidecountry tour you'll get to explore the best ski areas. 3 nights in Otaru, 5 nights in Hirafu Niseko & 2 nights in Hakodate.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for group tour for 2019-20 season.
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,329
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Safari Japan Tour
GUIDED POWDER SKIING SAFARI
9 Days | 8 Nights | 7 Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
This guided backcountry powder skiing safari takes in Central Hokkaido's best locations as well as Niseko & surrounds. Each tour has a maximum of 6 spots; join as a solo, small group or book the entire 6 spots.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy with a full group of 6.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,959
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Niseko Hirafu here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Niseko Freeride Tour
POWDER ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Riding
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
This snowboarding tour takes in what many would argue are the best ski areas in Japan with a choice of up to 11 ski areas in the Niseko region. Home base is a nice hotel in Niseko so you have access to Niseko's vibrant nightlife. Have a guide to take you to the best powder stashes at each location.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,977
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BDT Lift Assisted Backcountry Tours
LIFT ASSISTED BACKOUNTRY TOURS
Niseko Area | PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY | Min 2 Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Join Black Diamond Tours for 1 day of guided powder hunting in Niseko or one of the nearby resort or backcountry areas with your own PRIVATE GROUP. Areas include Niseko backbowls, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Teine & Kokusai. Primarily lift accessed so minimal hiking.
Price p/p From price based on 1 day tour per person - 5 people in private group (lift tickets not included).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 140
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Backcountry Touring Day Trips
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY DAY TOURS
Niseko & Surrounding Areas | Private Groups Only
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Ideal if you are staying in NISEKO and are looking for a guided BACKCOUNTRY day in or around Niseko. These day tours are specifically for those who are happy to earn their turns and are for private groups of 1 - 5 guests (but 6+ is also doable).
Price p/p From price based on per person rate for a private group of 5 guests.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 134
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Niseko Hirafu here

Ski & Snowboard Camp Tours

Ultimate Early Season Camps
EARLY SEASON TOUR
8 nights | 7 days | Cat Skiing, Avi Training
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Beat the high season rates and crowds and get Japow earlier than the punters. Based in Niseko, you'll visit 4 ski resorts for lift accessed sidecountry, enjoy a day of cat skiing at Chisenupuri, receive 2 days of avalanche awareness training & get an intro to backcountry touring.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share, 9-day package for 2018-19 season.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,944
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See all Ski & Snowboard Camp tours that visit Niseko Hirafu here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

BDT Guided BC Day Tours
PRIVATE GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOURS
Niseko Area | Shiribetsu & Yotei | Min 2 Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Join Black Diamond Tours on an epic day (or days) of guided backcountry skiing or riding near Niseko. Ideal for private groups (or waiting list for group tours). Areas include Niseko backcountry areas, Shiribetsu, lower Mt Yotei or Yotei summit (weather pending).
Price p/p From price based on 1 day of guided backcountry skiing/riding per person (5 guests in your group e.g. 75,000 yen total).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 140
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See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Niseko Hirafu here

Cat Skiing Tours

Iwanai Cat Skiing Day Package
MIXED GROUP DAY CAT SKIING
8 - 10 Runs (Approx 4,600m vertical/day)
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Iwanai Cat Skiing serves up powder runs of 325-650m of vertical bliss, with 8 to 10 runs for the day. Located near Niseko, the Iwanai Resort snowcat skiing terrain scores masses of snowfall. Ideal for strong intermediate & advanced riders.
Price p/p Price is per person per day for shoulder season
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Displayed price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations. Price includes 8% sales tax
USD 651
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Shimamaki Snowcat Packages
GUIDED CAT SKIING ADVENTURE (2, 3 or 4 days)
Stay in Traditional Japanese Inn Inc All Meals
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This is the best Japan cat skiing! Departing from Niseko, the trip offers incredible snowcat accessed powder skiing & boarding, staying in a traditional coastal Japanese inn. Ride deep untracked powder all day, feast on Japanese cuisine and soak in the hotel's onsen in the evening.
Price p/p Display price is based on 2 days + 2 nights per person for 2020 season (regular season)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
USD 1,632
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Chisenupuri Cat Skiing
UNGUIDED CAT SKIING NEAR NISEKO
Single Day, Pick Up & Return Niseko
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Unguided cat skiing near Niseko is at the former ski resort of Chisenupuri. You have the freedom to explore and it is ideal for apprentice powder hounds or advanced riders heading to Niseko. Chisenupuri cat skiing is a lust-do! Finish the cat ski day with a soak in an amazing onsen.
Price p/p Price is per person per day
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
USD 512
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See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Niseko Hirafu here
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