Niseko Grand Hirafu – Ski Resort of Hokkaido
Niseko is one of the main ski destinations in Hokkaido, Japan. In Niseko alone, there are four ski areas and I was skiing at the Grand Hirafu area of Niseko. Grand Hirafu is known for its pictureque ski scenery with Mt. Yotei as a backdrop. Mt. Yotei is a volcano shaped similarly to the world renowned Mt. Fuji.
To get to Niseko is not easy. It takes about 2 hours from Sapporo or Chitose with the shuttle bus. There is also a train running to Hirafu but it is crucial to get the timing right for the train does not often go towards the direction of Hirafu. In my case, there were a lot of people with me so I hired a private shuttle bus to take us there.
Hirafu is not just a simple hotel/resort at the bottom of the ski area. It is actually a village packed with restaurants, small hotels and serviced apartments. You pretty much have to walk everywhere and some people have to carry their skis and snowboards up to the ski lifts. For foreigners, the good thing about Hirafu is that the area is packed with English speaking people. There are many expatriates working in the hotels, serviced apartments, restaurants and ski areas. In my opinion, it is also one of the few places in Japan with the highest density of Japanese people who can speak the English language.
The slopes here can also be challenging. Even the beginner’s course is not so easy comparing to other ski slopes I have experienced in the past. One must really play with caution. The good thing about the skiing here is the night ski. At Hirafu, people can ski until 8:30 in the evening. I very much enjoyed that. There were less people at night and I could basically skied freely and swiftly down without having to mind that other people might be in my way.
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