There’s hiking, biking, cycling, designer shopping and hot springs, to start…
Niseko, Hokkaido, is renowned for its dry powder snow, crisp winter scenes and reputation as a world-class skiing destination. But come mid-April, the snow is a distant memory and Niseko is awash with Japanese wild flowers and hues of green as Japan’s northernmost island transforms into an idyllic springtime getaway. With plenty of alfresco adventures and deluxe gourmet experiences on offer, Niseko is far more than a skier’s hot spot, promising a rewarding alternative experience to its famous winter offering.
What to do
Hiking, Biking, Sauntering and Ballooning
With only a sprinkling of snow atop the mountain range, Niseko’s rolling landscape is ideal for gentle springtide strolls or more invigorating hikes through alpine trails to Mt Yotei. With Niseko’s roads and undiscovered trails making ideal cycling tracks, guests can hop on the bikes provided by Niseko Green Bike Project and cycle along smooth roads, tracking volcanic terrain and passing by hot springs as they go.
Or, if you’re set on pursuing a more leisurely pace, take in the luscious topography and endless wildflowers of the region from horseback. The gentle trails surrounding the Village suit walkers and riders alike for a peaceful perusal of Niseko’s wilderness. Alternatively, enjoy an elevated perspective along the Niseko mountain range and Mount Yotei and ascend into the skies by hot air balloon. This memorable experience will see you float up to 30 metres above the earth, where you’ll find breathtaking vistas of verdant ground and mountain peaks – while the balloon remains safely tethered to the lush ground below.
Shop ’til You Drop
Not just a pretty face, Niseko Village also boasts a deluxe retail experience in addition to its impressive scenery. I Zone Ikeuchi offers a carefully selected collection of designer goods from some of Hokkaido’s finest brands, including Somès. Known as one of Japan’s best leather goods makers and once a purveyor to the imperial house – and emperor of Japan – the brand’s manufacturing began from Hokkaido in 1964. Somès crafts a range of products from horse equipment to stationaries, bags, wallets and belts that are only available to purchase exclusively in Japan.
Niseko Village is also home to Otaru Taisho Glass Palace. Here, you can find the intricate works and refined lamplight arts of eight established glass artists – a superlative memento to take home with you.
After a day of outdoor adventures, what could possibly beat some spa time? Niseko Village has an onsite natural onsen where guests can indulge in a blissful soak, and with mineral properties renowned for their restorative qualities and a spectacular alpine backdrop, these Japanese hot springs should be at the top of your list during your stay in Niseko.
Or for those wanting a good old-fashion rub-down or facial, the Hilton’s Wakka Spa is considered one of Japan’s top 10 spas, known for its restorative treatments and therapies that call on natural resources from the surrounding area.
Where to stay
Set at the south base of Mount Annupuri, Niseko Village delivers a variety of premium accommodation options with direct access to the mountains and breathtaking views across the Marsh Marigolds, Japanese wood poppies and rhododendrons straight from your window.
Neighbouring the Niseko Gondola, a stay at the Hilton Niseko Village means you’ll have immediate access to the peak of Mount Niseko Annupuri. A multi award-winning ski hotel since 2013, Hilton retains its impeccable service throughout the quieter, warmer springtime months. Its 506 guest rooms have been carefully designed with simple contemporary décor, floor-to-ceiling windows that invite views of Mt Yotei and authentic touches such as a Yukata (Japanese cotton kimono) making it a comfortable base for a re-energising springtime break.
The Green Leaf Niseko Village offers 200 well-appointed modern classic rooms, including expansive corner suites with undisturbed views across the mountainous landscape. Each room accommodates up to three guests, with flexible deluxe twin room options for families. Inside the rooms, neutral tones inspired by the surrounding vista and original Tomioka artwork prints create a tranquil, authentically Japanese feel. With rejuvenating touches such as complimentary Japanese teas, a massage showerhead and dream beds specifically designed for guests to descend into a blissful state of sleep, this is a good option for those seeking some R&R.
Full of authentic charm, these heritage townhouses personify the history of Niseko. Traditionally occupied by merchants and craftsmen during the Edo period, YTL Hotels and the award-winning team at Design Intervention pay homage to Kasara’s cultural rooting through interiors that combines shibumi – a key Japanese design principle that favours simple beauty – and modern elegance and comfort. The Kasara Townhouses, designed across two floors, comfortably accommodate up to six people, with flexible layouts for guests and direct mountain access.
Recently announced, the eagerly anticipated Hinode Hills, set to open in December, will feature a collection of bespoke luxury apartments in the heart of the village. Hinode, translating to ‘rising sun’ in Japanese, is curated to follow the natural forms of the landscape in a traditional ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic. These low-rise deluxe apartments offer unobstructed views across Mt Yotei through studio, one, two or three-bedroom layouts. A truly sumptuous immersion into Green Niseko.
Where to eat
In line with the Japanese tradition ‘shun’, Niseko celebrates seasonal fresh produce. Known as the ‘breadbasket’ of Japan for its rich, fertile soil, Hokkaido is abundant in delicious, simple flavours for chefs to integrate into their dishes. In Niseko town you’ll find freshly baked local delicacies and the renowned Milk Kobo grounds – home to the famous cream puff. Who knew a light and crispy shell and a rich vanilla cream custard could taste so good?
With views across Mt Yotei and expertly selected fresh meat and seafood produce, Rera Sushi offers an authentic, immersive sushi counter experience.
The Crab Shack features a seafood display that changes with the seasonally based menu, a rustic interior design and traditional aromatic cooking methods that make this eatery a go-to for an authentic Hokkaido boathouse dining experience.
Venture a short 20-minute drive from Niseko Village and dine at Maccarina, the French-influenced and locally inspired haunt. With broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, Japanese radishes, eggplants and turnips as just some of the fresh vegetables harvested and delivered to Maccarina every day, the dishes draw on the local surroundings to create a fusion of flavours, resulting in Maccarina being one of the best fine dining experiences in Niseko.