2016 Hokkaido Winter Holiday - Day 4 in Niseko (Hirafu)

Click here to read day 1day 2day 3day 4day 5day 6day 7day 8day 9  trip report

I was so excited this morning. You know what? I'm going to ski in Niseko!!! This is my first ski holiday and I'm so looking forward.

Niseko is the first choice in Japan for ski holiday. Its famous dry and light snow attracts many skiers all over the world every winter. I'm not quite into skiing, but I have never tried skiing before, so I was thinking why don't include skiing in this trip? Rusutsu is another popular ski resort, especially among tour groups from Singapore. Both Niseko and Rusutsu are close to each other, Rusutsu is very self contained, main hotel is at the mountain foot with restaurants, shops and etc. There's nothing much outside of hotel. Niseko (Hirafu village) is an English friendly town where you have different accommodation choices from luxury to budget lodge. There are also shops, bars, cafe and restaurants in town.

Getting here and around

We took JR train from Otaru-chikko station to Kutchan station. Otaru-chikko is a small station, change of train at Otaru is required. I almost missed the 10am train from Otaru to Kutchan due to train delay at Otaru-chikko station. The next one would be 12pm if I missed the 10am train. Luckily the train to Kutchan was waiting for passengers from delayed train when we reached.

Click here for bus schedule from Kutchan to Hirafu town. Donan Kutchan bus terminal is located just right beside Kutchan JR station. It is a quiet and small station. There is no lift or escalator at this station, we had to carry 2 big luggage climbing up and down crossing an overhead bridge from opposite platform to exit the station.

Public transport is available here but not very frequent. Some hotels provide pick up service from Kutchan, it will be good to check with your hotel.

What to eat in Hirafu

There are many restaurants in Hirafu village, ranging from fine dining to food truck. Many new hotel buildings and restaurants are coming up every winter in Hirafu. Ki Niseko restaurant guide and tripadvisor are good source to look out for restaurants.

Hirafu is a busy town during winter season. It's recommended to reserve a table at your preferred restaurant before you arrive Hirafu, especially those popular restaurants like A-Bu-Cha 2nd, Bang Bang and Ezo Seafood. It's not surprised that these popular restaurants are booked out months ago.

I had lunch at A-Bu-Cha 2nd right after I reached Kutchan. It was their first business day in this winter and looked quiet.

The lunch menu was not very extensive, limited choice and expensive, but the food was not bad. If I were to choose again, I wouldn't come here for lunch, too expensive for a pot of beef shabu shabu and fried chicken. I think I paid about SGD80+ for these.

Snow shoe photography tour

I signed up this photography tour with Niseko Photography. I paid 38,000 yen for a 4 hours session. A guide who is also a photographer, transportation and show shoes are included in the tour. All images taken for the day were also given to me.

Snow-ladden river

Hirafu station

The guide brought us to this farm, Niseko Takahashi. Drop by this place if you can, quite a nice place to visit.

Their famous yogurt drink

And cream puff

Mount Yotei can be seen clearly from the farm

Is the photography tour worth it? If you visit Hokkaido with family and you need someone help you to capture the precious moment, probably you can give this a try. Otherwise I think it's quite expensive to hire them. The problem is the guide is not a local, they are foreigners who had come to Hokkaido for some time and known where are the places for great photos but they couldn't tell you much story about Hokkaido. 

Dinner at Ezo Seafood

This restaurant is very popular among tourists during winter season, it's always full house. Reservation is highly recommended.

Fresh Hokkaido oyster. I still prefer those imported from NZ, USA which I ate in Singapore.

Yummy scallop

Clam chowder

Hokkaido food is expensive especially in Niseko. Seafood is pretty fresh here but expensive, we spent almost SGD$200 for dinner in Ezo Seafood. Go elsewhere in Hokkaido like Hakodate if you want to eat seafood, you can find the same quality but cheaper price.

We went strolling after dinner and saw this beautiful night view at the ski slope.

Here is my Hokkaido trip video 

Interested to visit Hokkaido? Check out my itinerary and click here to read day 1day 2day 3day 4day 5day 6day 7day 8day 9 trip reportTop 10 food must not miss in Hokkaido. 

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  1. Hi Ivan,I will like to know if taking the bus from Kutchen Station, which stop should I get off at Hirafu area? Is it the Hirafu Intersection also known as Hirafu Cross Street? Is there any way to know the fare cost? Thank you!

    1. Hirafu intersection is located within Hirafu centre. I’m not sure if it’s also called hirafu cross street but hirafu intersection is widely used.