While there are definite highlights of each season, some activities remain not to be missed year round.
- For that perfect Niseko night out, we recommend popping into Bar Gyu and enjoying one of their delicious craft cocktails, grooving to old-school jazz records. Next, make your way to izakaya Kougetsu for a delectable meal of seasonal Hokkaido favourites such as raw oysters, baked local cheese, zangi – boneless fried chicken, popular in Niseko and local sake. Finish up with some raucous fun at Wild Bill’s – where the party kicks off at 10pm.
- The Niseko area is one of Hokkaido’s top destinations for health and wellness, thanks to its lush natural surroundings and abundance of volcanic hot springs. Hotel Niseko Alpen’s onsen is a popular choice thanks to its stunning mountain views, 25-metre pool and high-tech infrared stone sauna.
- Kiyoe Gallery in Hirafu displays work by local artists inspired by the Hokkaido landscape, while Somoza Gallery in Hanazono is housed in a historical 150-year old kominka - Japanese folk house, and showcases the owner’s personal collection of artwork and artefacts. The gallery is also home to a doma, where exquisite Italian-Japanese meals are served and seats at the Chef’s Table are coveted. Local museums such as the architecturally striking Shu Ogawara Museum of Art in nearby Kutchan – an ode to one of Hokkaido’s most famous painters, and the Kutchan Natural History Museum next door, host compelling exhibitions tied to the area.
- The Nikka Yoichi Distillery is a popular place to visit and learn the workings of the world-renowned whisky’s first distillery, opened in 1934. Some use it as a halfway point to Otaru, the quaint harbour city known for is well-preserved canals, café culture, glassworks, music boxes and street side stalls plying amazing seafood. For something more urban, Sapporo City is abuzz 24/7. Japan’s fifth largest city is known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, ramen and great beer, as well as the annual snow festival in February featuring art and sculptures made of snow and ice, including snow slides.