Guide to New Years Skiing (Ja-Pow!) in Niseko, Japan

Advisor - MaryAlexa Divver
Curated By

MaryAlexa Divver

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  • Japan

  • Niseko

  • Adventure Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Group Travel

  • International Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Mountains

  • Winter

  • Skiing

wood sign in the snow with mountain in the background during daytime
Curator’s statement

If you’re looking for a mountain with guaranteed powder and relaxing après, Niseko is your new best friend. Considered a destination with the world’s best snow (rightfully so), Niseko is a playground full of fluffy powder for skiing and snowboarding at all levels. It can get a bit crowded on the lower runs over the New Year's holiday but it does bring some life into the otherwise sleepy town of Hirafu. You’ll come for the snow but the kind people, cathartic onsen and incredible food will have you quickly considering extending your stay.

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Where to stay in Niseko, Japan

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Ki Niseko

Design-forward boutique ski-in, ski-out hotel at the foot of Niseko Mountain Resort.

Aman Niseko

Year-round luxury residences with wellness amenities on Mount Moiwa.

Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Nestled in Niseko Village, this luxurious sanctuary offers guests everything they need after a day on the slopes.

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Things to do in Niseko, Japan

buildings near road with mountain in background


  • Skiing / snowboarding - The main attraction, all levels can enjoy the playground that is Niseko United. It is compromised of 4 different mountain areas - Annupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu, and Hanazono. Be mindful that heavy winds can close the lifts that will allow you to cross between them. The Ikon Pass includes access to all of these lifts and you can use the card to get directly on the mountain.

  • Niseko Academy - As a non-native and a rookie to the mountain, we opted to hire a guide for a full day. They will be able to take you to the untouched snow and know the routes without needing the map. There are plenty of English tour guides, but I can recommend Jackson from Niseko Academy for a day of fun.

  • Night skiing - Not typically available, but flood flights on select runs will let you ski well until 19:00. Be sure to add an extra layer to stay warm. Even though you usually can’t see the sun during the day, the temperature does drop.


  • Walk around Hirafu - Upper Hirafu, closest to the mountain, has an array of shops, restaurants, food carts, and galleries. On your off day, take some time to venture around the town. While your snow shoes will come in handy, the main road has heated sidewalks just in case.

  • Spa treatments - After a few days of surfing through the powder, you’ve earned a recovery day. A deep tissue massage will have your legs back in tip-top shape for the rest of your trip.

  • Onsen -  No better way to wrap up your spa treatment, or just a regular ski day, than the traditional Japanese baths. Hotels tend to have private bath areas available for reservation if you’d like some privacy but typically they are divided by men and women. They can offer hot baths inside and outside and there’s nothing like watching the snow fall while in relaxing in a hot bath.

  • Fireworks - On New Year’s Eve, there are fireworks but make sure you get yourself to the right mountain base to enjoy.

Places to eat & drink in Niseko, Japan

man wearing white chefs coat placing food on tan plates

Places to eat in Niseko, Japan

An dining - This restaurant is in the Ki hotel and easily accessible from the Hirafu gondola. The pork belly rice bowl is just what you’re looking for to warm up before your afternoon session.

Bang Bang - This izakaya has something for everyone. The potato mochi is a sleeper and the waygu beef is one of the best. The yakitori options are plentiful for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Bo-yo-so - Easy to miss hidden in the trees of the mountain, Bo-yo-so is a ramen joint like no other. Just above the Holiday Pair Lift #1, the meal is worth the hike. The miso ramen and chicken rice bowl with some Sapporo hits the spot every time. You can also get there via the Konayuki run.

Sushi Shin - A 2017 winner of 3 Michelin stars, Chef x will deliver a top notch Edomae experience. Each course is prepared in front of you with a menu that rotates daily to incorporate the freshest ingredients for the 8 person seating. Be sure to save some of your sake to share with him at the end.

Koko - This 2nd-floor bakery is a great time out from the snow with some coffee or tea and a pastry.

Places to drink in Niseko, Japan

Bar Gyu - The famous bar with a refrigerator front door with cocktails that you don’t want to miss. If you want to go for NYE, make sure to snag a ticket.
Mina Mina - Ornately donned in pieces of vinyl and CDs, this music-forward bar is great for some cocktails and a snack before dinner.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Guide to a Weekend Away in Santa Barbara.

Advisor - MaryAlexa Divver

Travel Advisor

MaryAlexa Divver

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Japan.