Food & Nightlife
Niseko is renowned for the fabulous nightlife and the amazing choice of restaurants. It’s the best of any ski resort in Japan, so we've given Niseko “best skiing in Japan
” awards for the après, restaurants and nightlife!
Annupuri and Niseko Village (Higashiyama) have restaurants and bars, yet the Hirafu village is the heartbeat of Niseko, with most dining and nightlife options centred around this village. Some Niseko restaurants and bars don’t accept credit cards so make sure you’re cashed up with yen.
There are so many great eating spots in Niseko, prices are cheap by Western comparison, and the variety of cuisine will be a highlight of your trip. The Niseko restaurants are popular so you’ll need to make reservations for dinner at many of the mainstream restaurants during peak season.
The highlight of Niseko dining is at The Barn
in Momiji - Zaka St in the lower village. As you might expect from the name, the restaurant is shaped like a barn. It’s a gorgeous building and the huge glass frontage makes The Barn
the perfect place to sit and watch the snow fall (or dump!). The Barn has chic décor and beautiful ambience, and the mezzanine level in particular is rather special. Dinner is a set menu of three courses with a few gourmet options for each course. The menu is French inspired with mouth watering dishes such as beef cheeks and duck confit, and the desserts are to die for. The wine list is impressive and includes wines from the owner’s vineyards in Burgundy France as well as other international wines. Considering that this is such a delightful dining experience, the prices are very reasonable.
Hirafu has lots of western style restaurants. One example is Odin Place
(on the corner of the main intersection) serving up European mountain food in the evenings such as fondue, whilst during the day there are yummy crepes, bakery goods and the best chai latte going around.
at Shiki is pretty impressive. This Niseko restaurant serves up Hokkaido western fusion fare with some exquisite menu items such as tempura sushi salmon rolls.
Hirafu also has a large range of Japanese restaurants serving a variety of fare, many of which are reasonably inexpensive.
is a good little Japanese dining experience. As is typical of an izakaya, Raku has lots of little snacks, sashimi, sukiyaki and other treats, and thankfully they have table seating so you don’t need to drag your aching body onto the floor. Raku is located in Sasayaki Ave in the upper village. They accept credit cards.
Other favourite Niseko restaurants for Japanese fare where you can buy lots of little tapa-style items include Bang 2
(towards the top of Zaka street), the rustic Otsukisama
above the Moon Bar (on Zaka street just below the main intersection), and Ebisu-tei Izakaya (lower village on the main road).
Niseko Village Restaurants (Higashiyama)
There are several restaurants to choose from in the Niseko Village area. Most of these are located at the Hilton Hotel, and there are also a few restaurants at the Green Leaf Hotel. For a good dose of Hokkaido seafood, check out the Crab Shack
. Freeride Lodge on the main bus route offers Mexican food at its restaurant Mexican Mule
Other Niseko Restaurants
There’s a large variety of restaurants in the towns of Kutchan and Niseko which are not far from the Niseko ski villages. Meals tend to be cheaper and you’ll have a higher likelihood of finding a little of the “real” Japan.
Niseko après ski (ie late afternoon or early evening drinks) is really good by Japanese standards, but pretty quiet compared to Austria or Whistler. There’s the Après Bar next to the King No. 1 chairlift specifically catering to early drinkers, but our favourite is the A-frame building on the slopes, Boyo-So
which we affectionately named "the stinky bar" because the unplumbed toilets used to stink. This restaurant bar has become a little less rustic in recent years, but it’s still pretty low key and a great spot to sit around the fire whilst sinking Sapporo biero or rocket-fuel sake.
Niseko Hirafu Bars and Nightlife
Niseko gets the Powderhounds awards for the best nightlife in Japan for good reason. The Niseko nightlife is famous, and Hirafu in particular is very colourful and has a large range of bars to choose from. From wine bars and authentic Japanese izakayas for a quiet beer, to bars that absolutely rock, there’s something for everyone. Thankfully the majority of the pensions and other lodges have lifted their evening curfews so you can party on as long you like. Of course take care when rolling home and don’t do it alone. If you’re really likely to over do it with the revelling, perhaps consider wearing your avalanche beacon out?!
Many of our favourite old rustic bars have been bulldozed to make way for progress, but plenty of new funky Niseko bars have popped up in their place.
is a well known Niseko pub that frequently goes off and has a reputation for happy endings (and great meals too!). At the opposite end of the spectrum, head to The Barn
for a sophisticated drink at the mezzanine bar. The owner Brett is an institution of Niseko, partly from his old Wild Bill’s days, and he apparently still has a heavy hand when pouring the drinks.
Another good bar is the popular Jam Café Bar
. This bar has a funky vibe and good music.
The Niseko Ice Bar keeps moving around from year to year. The ice bar is generally made with love each season with plenty of creativity with respect to the ice patterns and the lighting. You can buy a drink in a glass made of ice that they let you keep as a souvenir – probably not the type of souvenir that would make it home in the suitcase?! The ice bar is great for a visit for the novelty factor, but generally one drink is enough because the shots are outrageously expensive and let’s face it, it’s a bit cold!
Next door is Blo Blo
, a cute little bar. It has wallpaper that is entertaining to say the least and the cartoons may make your mother blush. The bar even has a pole in case you’re in the mood for some pole dancing!
Another favourite Niseko bar is the Fridge Door bar (Gyu
) in the lower village (Yotei-Zaka St) where you literally enter the bar through a tiny coke labelled fridge door. This little bar always seems to be happening.
Other Niseko Nightlife
In Niseko Village (Higashiyama) there are a few upscale bars at the Hilton, whilst the Black Diamond Lodge Restaurant Bar has a pumped up atmosphere where powder hounds can trade their powder stories of the day. Lots of bevies, music, ski and snowboard movies, pool, and hot Japanese chicks behind the bar - all the necessary ingredients required for a good time! Freeride lodge has a Mexican restaurant & bar and is a great place have apres.
There’s not much nightlife in An’nupuri or Hanazono, so stay there if you’re looking for peace and quiet.