Located on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido and overlooking the active volcano of Mount Yotei – a smaller version of Mount Fuji – Hirafu, one of Niseko’s four separate but interconnected ski resorts, is blessed with some of the driest, lightest and most abundant snow on Earth. Despite an average yearly snowfall of 15 metres, Hirafu also enjoys comfortable summers. Its untamed volcanic landscape, excellent hiking trails and increasing reputation as a wellness haven, make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts all year-round.
Chalet Seshu is conveniently located on a quiet edge of Hirafu’s middle village, close to many of its most popular restaurants and entertainment venues. It is a mere ten-minute walk from the Grand Hirafu Ski Gondola. An on-call driver will be happy to drive you to and from the gondola and any other locations within Hirafu village. There are also free shuttle buses that will take you to any of the other Niseko resorts.
Things to Do
Here are some of the other many activities on offer within easy reach of the chalet. Please do contact our dedicated concierge team to arrange any of the activities below, or visit our dedicated concierge page, if you’d like to find out more.
- Hokkaido’s produce is renowned throughout the world and thus it is no wonder that Niseko has a thriving food scene. Meat lovers will appreciate the rare Kobe beef at Steak Rosso Rosso, and if you prefer seafood, we suggest trying out some of Hokkaido’s freshest catch at Ezo’s. Hirafu has not one but two Michelin-star restaurants – Kamimura and Ichimura, both serving exceptional fine Japanese dining.
- Japan’s volcanic hot springs or ‘onsen’ not only soothe your aching muscles after a long day, but they are also known for their health and wellness benefits. Ask the Concierge team for the best onsen in the region and also some of the dos and don’ts in terms of attire and behaviour.
- There are several art galleries in Niseko which are definitely worth a visit. Kiyoe gallery in Hirafu village showcases some of Hokkaido best artists, while Somoza gallery in nearby Hanazono also offers a beautiful place in which to relax. Our favourite remains Galerie Ram in Niseko Village, with its exciting collection of steel sculpture and woodwork. Inside the gallery, you’ll also find ‘La Cave’, a cellar with a great selection of imported wines. Now you understand why we love it, don’t you?
- A little further afield, we can recommend a daytrip to the attractive seaside city of Otaru any time of the year. Less than two hours away by car from Hirafu, it is best-known for its hairy crab and seafood delicatessen, fish markets and historic buildings.
- For a more urban experience, you can also visit Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital and central transportation hub. As a relatively recent city, it somewhat lacks the alluring architecture you might find in other Japanese cities. Yet, Sapporo is a vibrant and pleasant metropolitan with lovely tree-lined boulevards, excellent shopping and varied cultural activities, including the world-famous annual snow sculpture competition in February.
- Experience some of the typically Japanese matsuri festivals any time of the year. The ‘Potato Festival’ in nearby Kutchan town and the Niseko Fireworks Festival are two of our favourites.
- Chalet Seshu is only one kilometre away from the Grand Hirafu Gondola which provides access to some of the area’s steepest slopes, as well as several great runs for beginners.
- Whether you’re a first-timer trying to familiarise yourself with a pair of skis or an accomplished snowboarder aiming to perfect your turns, the Niseko Grand Hirafu Snow School has a wide range of lessons and programmes available which cater to all levels.
- Part of four interconnected ski resorts, Hirafu and the neighbouring resort of Niseko Village boast of some of the steepest slopes in the region, with those in nearby Hanazono offering slightly easier terrain for beginners. Meanwhile, the Annupuri Resort is well-known for its backcountry gates, popular with accomplished skiers and snowboarders eager to access some of the area’s deep snow on off-piste trails – something we don’t recommend doing without necessary training.
- Whether it is tobogganning or snowmobiling that gets your adrenaline pumping, what better place to slide down the slopes than Niseko? Our Concierge can help rent a snowmobile for your use or guide you on the best places to go to.
- With its elevated rope courses, zip-lines, free-fall platforms, bouncy slides and horse rides, the recreational park PURE provides a wonderful day out for the whole family.
- Come spring, the snowmelt raises the water levels of the Shiribetsu River by almost two metres, making it ideal for white water rafting. A 12 km-long course runs from Hirafu Station to Niseko Station across what is known to be Japan’s cleanest river. Although it will take you past several exciting challenges, the course is easy enough to navigate while enjoying the valley’s stunning beauty.
- The 18-hole, 73 par Niseko Village Golf Course is seen as the jewel in the crown of Hokkaido’s golf scene, thanks to its excellent facilities and the area’s dry and pleasant summer. With the photogenic Mount Yotei in the background, we really can’t think of a better place for practising your shots and improving your handicap.
- Indeed, regularly hosting Japan’s largest cycling race, the ‘Tour de Hokkaido’, Hirafu is a much-loved cycling destination thanks to its stunning landscape, comfortable summers and a massive variety of cycling trails.
- Looking at its well-developed infrastructure and the sheer number of international visitors, it might be hard to believe that the wider Niseko area was once better known for its potatoes than for its powder. Relive its starchy past by hiring a scooter and driving through some of its vast rice paddies and buckwheat farmlands. Close your eyes and feel the wind in your hair. Be sure to visit one of the many farmers’ markets on the way and sample delicious fresh local produce.