Matt Mckenna has been going to Niseko every winter for the last five years – and he has great insight into exactly where to go, what to eat and what to do while you’re there (including a very interesting supermarket-related activity that we never would’ve thought of).

Why Niseko?

Niseko has pretty much everything you need in one place – a super fun resort, easy access to nearby resorts, side country and back country. The village has a fairytale vibe with a wide selection of great bars, tasty food and friendly people.  Oh…  and the endless amounts of powder of course!

Favourite ski run

I’d have to say the good old Miharashi. I definitely spend a lot of my time there.

Favourite après spot

You can’t come to Niseko without having a whiskey or cocktail at the Gyu bar. It’s a speak easy style bar where you have to enter through a small red fridge door.  It has a really beautiful lit up view of the winter forest as the back drop to the bar and a jazzy feel. Oh and on your way home go grab a Bruce Willis from Barunba although you probably won’t make it home after that.

Favourite on mountain dining

Just above the Hirafu park is Boyoso. It’s a cosy and affordable authentic Japanese restaurant in an old wooden building. The Katsu curry and pork buns are my hot picks.

Favourite village dining

This one isn’t in the main village itself although only a short 15min drive into the local nearby town of Kutchan. It’s called Ryougoku and is run by a retired sumo wrestler so bring your appetite. They specialise in Chunko Nabe which is basically a hot pot filled with goodness. I highly recommend getting the beef ribs as a starter as well.

Must do snow activity

Go do your AST 1 with Black Diamond tours.  It’s a great entry level avalanche course that will teach you the basics of being in the back country and give you the confidence to ride out the gates without making ignorant decisions.

Best coffee

Mountain kiosk just next to the Welcome Centre do a great coffee. There is also a little coffee shack at the bottom of Annupuri that did a great Chai.

Best breakfast

Green Farm Cafe all the way. Locally sourced organic produce.

Favourite non skiing/boarding activity

This may sound a bit weird and it might be because I love food but anyone who has been to Japan would agree – and if you haven’t then go and do this when you are there. Head over to Kutchen and go to Max-Valu or Co-op grocery stores and buy some weird and wonderful food, hours of entertainment right there.

Best activity in resort or town for kids/families

Kids would have a load of fun on the climbing wall over at NAC.

Where do you take visitors to impress them?

Milk Kobo, those shu creams are life changing.

What should visitors not leave your resort without doing?

If they have backcountry experience or if they’re with a guide… a run in the back bowls. On a powder day it could be one of the best runs of your life.

What item should visitors take back with them?

Yuzu Umeshu – it’s a citrus infused sake that is insanely delicious.

8 luxe ski hotels in Niseko Japan


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