Niseko Hirafu4 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Wagner Custome Skis

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

Niseko Hirafu

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.

Summary of the 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.
Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Southern Hokkaido Powder Tour DETAILS
HOSTED & GUIDED ADVENTURE
10 Nights - Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option for group tour for 2018-19 season.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 3,089
Early bird special if full payment made by Sept 7 2018
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. 7 nights in Niseko, 3 nights in Otaru, multiple resorts, complete flexibility & as much POW as you can handle!
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Niseko Hirafu here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Niseko Freeride Tour DETAILS
POWDER ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Riding
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,620
To be eligible for this special price you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions
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.
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BDT Lift Assisted Backcountry Tours DETAILS
LIFT ASSISTED BACKOUNTRY TOURS
Niseko Area | PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY | Min 2 Days
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.
Price p/p
USD 132
Deposit must be paid by the end of the promotional period to qualify for discounts
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.
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BDT Guided BC Day Tours DETAILS
PRIVATE GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOURS
Niseko Area | Shiribetsu & Yotei | Min 2 Days
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.
Price p/p
USD 132
Deposits must be paid by the end of the promotion date to qualify for discounts
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).
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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 DETAILS
EARLY SEASON TOUR
8 nights | 7 days | Cat Skiing, Avi Training
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.
Price p/p
USD 1,839
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.
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Backcountry Skiing Tours
Guided Tours DETAILS
GUIDED BACK/SIDE-COUNTRY DAY TOURS
Private & Mixed Group
price is per person per day (min 3 guests required for tour to operate)
base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Prices include tax.
Price p/p
USD 176
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Niseko Black Snowsports offer lift-access backcountry & sidecountry guiding services for advanced to expert mixed & private groups around Niseko/Moiwa, Rusutsu & Kiroro. Book for your own private group tour or join a group.
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Heli Skiing Tours
Shiribetsu-Dake Day Heliskiing DETAILS
DAY HELI SKIING RUSUTSU - 6 RUN PACKAGE
Includes Niseko pickup & lunch
From price based on 6-run heli ski day 2018-19 early bird rates.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,408
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
At last, a Niseko heli skiing operation! Make this one of the best days of your life skiing Hokkaido's deep dry powder on a dormant volcano (next door to Rusutsu and not far from Niseko).
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Cat Skiing Tours
Iwanai Cat Skiing Day Package DETAILS
MIXED GROUP DAY CAT SKIING
8 - 10 Runs (Approx 4,600m vertical/day)
Price is per person per day for high season
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Displayed price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations. Price includes 8% sales tax
Price p/p
USD 618
Deposit must be paid prior to promotion end date to qualify for any discounts offered.
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Iwanai Cat Skiing serves up powder runs of 325-650 metres 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.
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Niseko Cat Skiing Day Tours DETAILS
NISEKO DAY CAT SKIING
Single Day Guided, Inc. Lunch
From price is per person (min 4 persons required to operate)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese yen in taxes
*display price may vary slightly with fluctuations in currency
Price p/p
USD 493
Ability: Advanced to Expert
A day of awesome guided cat skiing near Niseko in backcountry terrain with some steep lines, technical trees, and pillows and mushrooms. The snowcat skiing is ideal for those craving bottomless untracked powder runs.
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Chisenupuri Cat Skiing DETAILS
UNGUIDED CAT SKIING NEAR NISEKO
Single Day, Pick Up & Return Niseko
Price is per person per day
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
Price p/p
USD 308
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.
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