For those of us fortunate enough to visit Niseko on an annual basis it is mind-blowing to see the vast changes that can take place in a short period of time. Hirafu in particular is a dynamic area which constantly sees expansion and growth whether it’s a restaurant re-design, a house renovation or a brand new hotel. Just a quick look on google maps and you can see how remarkably outdated images that were shot just a few years ago are.
Within a couple of decades Hirafu has become a vibrant town overflowing with visitors and being met with incessant development on every corner. As this ski town goes upwards with new luxury accommodation, and outwards with new bars, restaurants and modern ski chalets, Niseko continues to offers the world’s best combination of culture, powder and sophistication no matter where you choose to stay.
Upper Hirafu Village:
The upper village of Hirafu places you in arguably the most convenient of Niseko locations. No matter your position you’ll find most attractions are well within walking distance. Perhaps the best benefit is being located nearby the Grand Hirafu slopes and in turn having quick access to the various chairlifts. For ski-in-ski-out access Upper Hirafu is the place you want to be and with the likes of The Vale, AYA and The Maples, there is no shortage of choice. The extra height that comes with this territory also enables some of the best vantage points in Niseko. With 360 degrees of possibility you will find picturesque views of the Niseko slopes, the Hirafu Village and Mt Yotei are offered by most hotels. The Upper Village is also home to a number of Niseko’s most popular restaurants including A-Bu-Cha and Bang Bang as well as the relaxing Hirafutei Onsen.
Middle Hirafu Village:
The Middle Village places you in the heart of Niseko and it is here where you’ll discover Niseko’s vibrant and lively nightlife as well as many popular izakayas, grocery stores and some of Niseko’s most exclusive accommodation. Accommodation in the Middle Hirafu Village ranges from condominium-hotels to modern townhouses as well as small charming chalets. While playing host to much of Niseko’s nightlife, the Middle Village still offers plenty of peace and quiet; on the peripheries you’ll find many beautiful state-of-the-art houses collide with serene forrest areas and pristine creek views. Kozue, Mukashi Mukashi and Aspect are perfect examples of the style, sophistication and prime positioning that is experienced by Middle Hirafu accommodations.
Lower Hirafu Village:
The Lower Hirafu Village is a continually developing area that combines a central location with a surreal tranquility. Of late this area has seen a lot of luxury development with many stylish new apartments and houses emerging in recent years. With the Lower Hirafu’s many bluffs and escarpments most accommodations enjoy spectacular, unobscured views of Mt Yotei and the Niseko Valley. Kado P4, Soseki and Panorama each epitomise the deluxe developments that we are beginning to see in the area. Many renowned restaurants occupy space in the Lower Village including Rin and Ebisutei as well as the Yukoro Onsen, further enhancing the luxury of the lower village.
The Izumikiyo district comprise of a number of small enclaves that can be found to the east of the Inner Hirafu Village. Considered an underrated location by many, the Izumikyo estates balance centrality with tranquility in the perfect proportions. Providing an ideal spot for families or groups who appreciate peace and quiet during the evenings yet also wish to access lifts, bars and restaurants with ease and convenience. With a frequent shuttle bus servicing all Izumikiyo estates you will enjoy the option of accessing both the Hirafu and Hanazono ski area with little difficulty. A stay at Old Man Creek and Mangestsu Lodge will enable you to enjoy this exclusive spot and experience the best of both worlds.
In the opposite direction, to the west of Hirafu you will discover the slightly less developed but extremely central area of Kabayama. Perhaps sitting on a future gold mine Kabayama is a location that sits central to all the Niseko United resorts; Hanazono; Grand Hirafu: Niseko Village; and Annupurri. With some stunning modern chalets that have have been developed in recent years this location is beneficial for those who enjoy a serene setting, luxury style and sophistication and value for money. Chalet Luma and Heiwa are two chalets both exemplifying Kabayama’s potential in the most luxurious of ways.
While Niseko has experienced plenty of development in recent years and has become an attractive holiday destination, the villages are still bursting with much potential. Each year the benchmarks are set a little higher and expectations are met and exceeded. The potential is infinite in this area of Japan where snowfall is relentless and endless visitors to the area is inevitable. To accommodate with Niseko’s growing popularity, it is likely we will see even greater development in the Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri area in the years to come.