The Short answer is yes you definitely should.
The long answer is it does require a little more planning and thought. Pre -covid Niseko was experiencing a boom in non-skiing visitors to the town and the area provides some amazing activities to keep you interested if you are not on the slopes. Niseko does have room for improvement on the tourism transport options to see some of these great locations and we could also use some more shopping and boutiques.
Here are 10 suggestions on what to see and do ( in no particular order ) if skiing or Snowboarding is just not your thing or you may be recovering from an injury.
1.Take the Gondola
For just over 2,000 yen you can purchase a return trip from on the Grand Hirafu Gondola that will stop around 940 metres above sea level allows you take some amazing pics of the surrounding mountains and valley below. On a clear day you can even see glimpses of oceans and lakes. Once you are done the Gondola will take you back down and you can continue sightseeing.
It is much colder at that altitude so make sure take lots of warm clothing.
2. Explore Niseko village and Milk Kobo
Another good option is take advantage of resort shuttle bus ( small fee if you dont have an all mountain pass ) head over the Niseko village where the Hilton has a great Cafe and an Onsen with one of the best aspects of any Onsen in Niseko with many resutrants and the charming ” Niseko village “.
We also recommend a stop over at Milk Kobo which is one of the areas oldest diary farms where you can purchase on premises made Cheese and amazing deserts. They also have some great craft shops as well. From here you can get the next shuttle bus back to Hirafu.
You can see a google maps link to milk Kobo here
3. Fukudashi Park
You will need a car for this one. About 20 minutes drive from Hirafu and 10 minutes from the town of Kutchan is an amazing natural spring that has been transformed into a tourist attraction where you can fill up your own containers of some the cleanest tasking water in the world.
he water here is icy cold and takes about 80 years to get filtered through the granite bedrock of the mighty mount Yotei. Fukudashi park is great place to take a good camera and take some amazing family pics. There are also a few gift shops and local stores selling local produce. For coffee lovers there is great little shop that sells coffee beans from all over the world.
If you require assistance getting to Fukudashi park please email NisekoML and we will do our best arrange something or even drive you there ourselves if time allows.
Here is a google maps link to Fukudashi Park
4. Hang out in some local Cafes
As Western tourism was pioneered by Australians in the early days of Niseko the coffee is of a high quality. If your are without transport we would recommend The Green farm Cafe in Hirafu or if you feel like being more adventurous Sprout Cafe in Kutchan or The Pow bar in Niseko town are all well respected by Niseko locals as having consistently great coffee, atmosphere and services.
5. Indoor rock climbing at NAC
A great option for the kids or for some indoor adventure if the weather turns unexpectedly nasty. The wall climbes right up through a cafe so you can sip coffee and some great burgers whilst the more adverntours members of your party tests their skill on the wall.
6. Take a train trip to Sapporo city
It’s a big day but its possible to get a local train from Kutchan, change at Otaru and then an express train into Sapporo central station. Allow about 2 hours for this trip each way from Kutchan to Sapporo. The train is also very scenic, hugging the coastline for much of the trip where you can see snowcapped cliffs and snow all over the beaches.
The shopping around Sapporo station needs no introduction and has all the top end brands as well as good range of outdoor adventure clothing. Our tip would be to get the subway to Odori park, climb the clock tower and then walk around Susukino for a bit and find a good Ramen bar.
7. Do a Snow Shoe tour
Snow Shoeing allows you to walk on top of the powder snow and get see Hokkaido’s nature up close whilst being far less strenuous on the body than snowboarding or Skiing. This sport is growing rapidly in popularity and there are now several companies in Niseko that offer this service.
Our recommendation is Rob from Niseko Snowshoe Tours who is retired from the US Military and spent several years stationed in Japan.
8. Go and see lake Toya
Lake Toya is lake located about 40 minutes drive out of Niseko. You will need a car for this one but the drive is stunning taking in Yotei and passing the Rusutsu resort. A ferry service runs to the Island both in Summer and Winter and it’s a great day out to see an Aline lake. Some customers chose to also add on the Volcano musuem which is a great option to learn more about the eruption of Mount Usu in 2002.
Here is a google maps link to Lake Toya
9. Go visit an Onsen !
Niseko boasts Hokkaido’s best collection of Onsens and most are located within a short drive of Niseko. We have covered this in more detail on our Onsen blog post here.
We have also recently posted an article on Onsen ettique and some tattoo friendly options around Niseko. You can find that article listed here
10. Yoga and wellness
Niseko has strong Yoga scene with classes for beginners right through to seasoned Yogi’s. Powder Yoga is Niseko’s main Yoga company and Yoga with Marika is also recommended by Niseko Military Leave as as well.