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Japan’s Newest Developments

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Japan’s ski resorts are in a state of constant evolution, and every season brings new developments at many of them, exciting powder hounds and investors alike. Here are some of the latest and most breathtaking developments happening right now in Japan.

 

Grand Phenix Hakuba

Luxury accommodation is now in Hakuba with the opening of the Grand Phenix Hakuba. There are five elegant residences laid out over four-storeys featuring spacious rooms, modern kitchens, relaxing baths, concierge services, restaurant and bar. Grand Phenix Hakuba is just less than a minutes’ walk to the Happo Bus Terminal, and a short stroll to the Happo lifts.

Yu Kiroro

Kiroro’s first luxury condominium-style hotel, Yu Kiroro, will be accepting guests later this year for the 2019/20 winter season. The spacious apartments will overlook the resorts new gondola and beginner ski area, which are due to open at the same time. The project comprises two buildings and a total of 108 separate apartments ranging from intimate studio apartments to lavish penthouses. Yu Kiroro will feature a ski valet, onsen, lounge, gym and a restaurant and is now open for bookings.

Park Hyatt – Hanazono

Niseko’s biggest construction project, The Park Hyatt Niseko in Hanazono, is due for completion this winter in January 2020. The impressive structures will overlook the Hanazono snow play park, and guests will be able to ski straight to the lifts from the entrance. The Park Hyatt Niseko will feature 114 lavish residences with studios and two-bedroom apartments being available.

Hanazono 308 will also undergo a renovation adding a new kid’s activity area called “Galaxy of Kidz” featuring a ball pit, athletics area and a climbing wall. There will also be a brand new restaurant, café and bar located right next to the Hana 1 ski lift.

Midtown Niseko

Niseko’s developments are not exclusively luxury apartments, with the moderately priced hotel Midtown Niseko opening to guests for the first time this winter. The budget-friendly hotel offers both twin and triple rooms with an onsite restaurant, gym, reception desk and onsite parking. There is also a shuttle stop to take guests directly to Hanazono and Hirafu. There is also a new Lawson convenience store located right outside the development.

Rusutsu Onsen

The award-winning ski resort of Rusutsu has opened its brand new onsen ahead of the winter season. The stunning Rusutsu Onsen has a modern design with contemporary finishes. The Vale Rusutsu is also currently under construction and is due for completion for the 2020/21 winter season.

New Chitose Airport

New Chitose Airport in Sapporo has had a facelift with extensive renovations adding new gates, restaurants and shops. The Departures lobby is now greatly expanded, making check-in much smoother with additional counters, automatic check-in machines and smart lanes. The Arrivals lobby now has an information desk as well as Wi-Fi rentals and a Tours Desk. The SkiJapan.com arrivals desk is conveniently located in the Arrivals lobby to meet and greet all SkiJapan.com guests. The exclusive “Royal Lounge” has been overhauled with a modern ‘Made in Hokkaido’ design.

Rusutsu’s New Onsen

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No winter trip to Japan is complete without a post-ski soak in an onsen. The traditional baths are an integral part of Japanese culture and are a godsend after a long day on the slopes. If you’ve never heard of on onsen, check out this handy onsen guide.

Rusutsu resort in Hokkaido has just announced the opening of their brand new onsen “Kotobuki”. The popular resort has been undertaking a modernisation of many of their facilities in recent times, including the construction of the new Vale apartments, as well as new services including running Hokkaido’s only Heli Skiing operation alongside Hokkaido Backcountry Club.

The luxurious bathhouse is beautifully modern with lush wooden details throughout the facility. The baths themselves are generously large and offer views across the west mountain. There are four separate baths – three inside and one outside. The inside baths consist of a 41.5-degree bath with calm water, a more mild 39.5-degree bath with light spa jets, and a cold 15-degree plunge pool. The largest pool is outside and features comfortable “lie down” spaces with headrests.You can take a virtual walk through the Kotobuki Onsen here to see yourself in Rusutsu.

If this inspired you to ski in Japan, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today or take a look at the Rusutsu accommodation here.

 

Discover Milk Kobo – Niseko’s Delicious Dairy Desserts

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No visit to Niseko is complete without a visit to the region’s most famous dessert hub – Milk Kobo. Visitors from Japan and all over the world flock to this iconic spot to sample some of the stores legendary, delicious dairy desserts. The store is located in the quiet area of Niseko Village; just a few minutes walk from Snow Dog Niseko.

Hokkaido is famous for its fresh produce, laid back farm life, and dairy farms – and Niseko is no different. Almost everything at Milk Kobo is made in-house with milk produced from their very own dairy farm. The store backs right onto the very farm where the milk used in all Milk Kobo desserts is produced. It can be a little hard to see the farm itself (due to the meters of snow that piles up across the fields), but if you’re driving along the road, you can occasionally spot the “Happy Holsteins” (cows) as they nibble away in the comfort of their very own heated farmhouse.The most popular item on the menu is the signature “Choux Cream”; a crispy sweetbread shell filled with creamy vanilla custard. Each Choux Cream is made fresh and filled with just the right amount of cream. These can be a bit tricky to eat without making a mess – but that’s all part of the fun!Everything on the menu is special, but we have to mention the amazing cheesecakes. The smooth cheesecake filling is a perfect mix of sweet cream with a hint of savoury flavour for a balanced taste. These are also often available on Hirafu Zaka opposite Hirafu 188 during winter.

Guide to Niseko Annupuri

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The Niseko Annupuri Ski Resort is the smallest and quietest of the four inter-connected ski resorts that make up Niseko United. It provides easy access to some of the best Niseko side-country terrain as well as Moiwa and is within close proximity to the Konbu Onsen area.

Terrain

Made up of 13 trails and six lifts with a vertical drop of 890m (400m -1,156m), Niseko An’nupuri offers a variety of mellow terrain for beginners as well as some of the best side and backcountry access in the Niseko area.

Accommodation

Located at the base of the mountain is the An’nupuri Village; a quaint and laid-back village made up of an eclectic mix of lodges, pensions, chalets and hotels, all set in a tranquil alpine setting. The luxurious, private chalet-hotel of The Kamui Niseko perfectly match the natural beauty of An’nupuri.

Dining

An’nupuri hosts some of the finest dining options in the Niseko area, ranging from world-class gourmet restaurants like Sushi Shin and Sobatei Rakuichi to quirky and casual options such as Lucky Fingers and Pizza Del Sole.

Onsens

There are a plethora of natural hot springs available in An’nupuri, with up to 9 onsens located within a 2km radius, including Yugokoretei, Iroha, Grand Hotel, Kanro no mori and Moku No Sho.

Guide to Skiing Japan in March

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March is the unsung hero of the ski season, especially in Japan. There are no crowds, stunning weather, and the chance of some serious Japow (yes even in March). There’s also the sweetener of reduced rates on accommodation, lift passes and there’s so much more to love.

Hokkaido

With so much snow falling across the island, Hokkaido’s ski resorts are among the best to visit in March. With a great snow depth, the snow cover lasts a long time right into May. There is also the occasional full-on powder day just like in the middle of winter – since the snow cover is already good, all it needs is a top-up of powder for some fantastic riding.

As well as good snow, there are some awesome events in some of the big resorts. Hanazono in Niseko is hosting Banked Slalom and Slopestyle events this year, and Hirafu has hosted some of the best park days of the season with events like the Mad Dog Jam in previous years. As the season moves further into spring, there are even more things to do in Niseko – check out our guide to Niseko in spring for more.

March also sees much of the crowds dispersed, so you can expect much quieter streets, less competition for booking at Niseko’s famous restaurants and a very relaxed atmosphere. The snow that falls in March also lasts longer with far fewer people getting out there to carve it up.

Honshu

The Japanese Alps of Honshu are home to some of the highest peaks in Japan, but in the midst of winter, many of them are inaccessible due to the wind, poor visibility, unstable snowpack or frigid weather conditions. With March bringing clearer weather, riding Honshu’s legendary peaks starts to become more attainable giving adventurers the ride of their life.

With a generally high altitude, most major resorts in Honshu retain good quality snow up high well into the end of March and even April. Even with the sunshine expected in March, the high altitudes mean the temperatures stay low keeping the snow soft and light. Happo One resort in Hakuba Valley offers great lift access to a vast backcountry area with some of the best terrain in the country.

As is typical in shoulder seasons, hotel rates are quite low, and some already affordable hotels become even more tempting with significantly reduced rates. The Hakuba Gateway Hotel in central Happo is one the best choices with onsite rental, restaurant and massage. There’s also the Hakuba Goryukan Hotel which features an onsite onsen. Read more about the best way to see Hakuba here.

Some of the best places to soak in the culture are also in Honshu – Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka and Kanazawa are all easily accessible from the mountainous regions of Japan’s most central island. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is one of the fastest and best ways to get around Japan’s major cities in Honshu with affordable tickets and regular schedule. March is one of the best times of year to visit the cultural hot spots, with fresh, calm and generally clear weather making stopovers in these areas a great choice.

Sakura

A trip to Japan at this time of year is a great time to see Japan’s famous “Sakura” (Cherry Blossom) trees in bloom. Japan’s southern city of Fukuoka will receive the bloom in mid-March, so there’s no better way to top off a trip to Japan than with cherry blossoms after a week on the slopes.

Find out more about Japan’s Sakura season here.

If you’ve been inspired to visit Japan in March, contact our team of experts, and we’ll start you on your journey.

BOOK YOUR JAPAN SKI HOLIDAY

Guide to Niseko Village

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Formerly known as Higashiyama, Niseko Village ski area is one of the four inter-connected ski resorts of Niseko United. It’s a popular base for beginners and families due to its two resort-style ski in/ski out hotels, variety of beginner slopes and English-speaking ski school.

Terrain

Offering 27 marked trails (13 beginner, 9 intermediate and 5 advanced) and access to off-piste and side-country terrain, Niseko Village provides the steepest inbound terrain within the Niseko United area with a vertical drop of 890m (280m-1170m).

Accommodation

The Niseko Village features a variety of accommodation options, including the world-class Hilton Niseko Village and Green Leaf hotels, tranquil Snow Dog Village apartments as well as a handful of more traditional pensions.

Dining

Designed to replicate traditional Japanese architecture, The Village offers a selection of contemporary dining options and boutique shops in a convenient slope-side location. Take a short venture away from the slopes, and you’ll find a handful of unique, independent dining options such as Milk Kobo, Prativo, Upashi Seta and The House of Machines. For those looking for a night out, Niseko Village is within close proximity to the lively Hirafu Village and Kutchan town via shuttle bus or taxi. Check our insider’s Guide to Kutchan dining.

Activities

The Niseko Village offers plenty of off-snow activities for all ages including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and reindeer sled rides! Also, be sure to check out the Niseko Ice Village for an unreal experience! For a more hardcore experience, Hokkaido Backcounty Club offers backcountry and cat-skiing tours for intermediate to advanced riders.

Après Skiing in Japan – What to do after a day on the slopes

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Skiing in Japan is fantastic, but one of the best things about a winter holiday is the rest and relaxation and nowhere does that better than Japan. The nightlife in Japan’s resorts is a mixture of traditional, modern Japanese culture with some international influence thrown in for good measure.

NIGHTLIFE

When you head out for a night out on the town in a Japanese ski resort, you can expect traditional sake, famous whiskeys, and creative cocktails. Most resorts have great bars and Izakayas, and the popular resort of Niseko is no exception with dozens of restaurants and fun spots to get a drink. Sake is the most well-known Japanese drink, but there’s also Umeshu, Nikka Whiskey, Sapporo Classic and many more local favourites which should definitely be sampled.

ONSENS

After a day on the slopes, there’s nothing better than getting out of your boots and into a hot steamy onsen. Mountain regions in Japan are often volcanically active providing the perfect opportunity for some fantastic natural onsens. A visit to a Japanese ski resort is never complete without an onsen visit. Take a look at this onsen guide for more info about onsens, especially in Niseko.

FOOD

Japanese food is among the best in the world, and there’s no better way to get warm than a hot bowl of ramen. Other winter favourites are katsu-don (pork cutlet on rice), soup curry and yakitori. No trip to Japan is complete without a sushi experience, and winter is said to be the best time of the year for the freshest fish. If you’re going to Niseko, make sure to check out Kutchan dining guide here.

There’s so much to see and do in Japan, both on and off the slopes. If you want to make the most of your winter, talk to our Japan ski experts today. Contact us here and get started on your Japan winter experience.