Ski Japan - Hokkaido

Niseko Grand Hirafu Resort Reviews

Ski Japan - Hokkaido

Niseko Grand Hirafu Resort Reviews

Visitor reviews for Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort

Niseko Grand Hirafu Ratings

Overall: 3.9. Based on 53 votes and 108 reviews. Vote

Access: 3.8

(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Niseko Grand Hirafu.

Public Transport: 4.3

(1) There are no buses or taxis to Niseko Grand Hirafu, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.

Scenery: 4.1

(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.

Accommodation: 4.5

(1) No places to stay in/near Niseko Grand Hirafu, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.

Cheap Rooms: 3.7

(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.

Luxury Hotels: 4.5

(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Niseko Grand Hirafu.

Ski in/Ski out: 4.2

(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.

Childcare: 3.9

(1) There are no child care facilities at Niseko Grand Hirafu, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.

Snowsure: 4.6

(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Niseko Grand Hirafu is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.

Snowmaking: 2.0

(1) Niseko Grand Hirafu relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.

Snow Grooming: 4.2

(1) There are no snow groomers at Niseko Grand Hirafu, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Niseko Grand Hirafu are groomed daily.

Shelter: 3.5

(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Niseko Grand Hirafu is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.

Nearby options: 3.5

(1) If snow conditions are poor at Niseko Grand Hirafu, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.

Regional rating: 4.5

(1) Niseko Grand Hirafu usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.

Lift Staff: 4.7

(1) The staff at Niseko Grand Hirafu are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Niseko Grand Hirafu are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.

Crowds/Queues: 3.5

(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.

Ski Schools: 4.6

(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.

Hire and Repairs: 4.6

(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.

Variety of pistes: 4.3

(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Niseko Grand Hirafu has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.

Beginners: 4.3

(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.

Intermediates: 4.6

(1) No intermediate terrain at Niseko Grand Hirafu, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.

Advanced: 4.2

(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.

Snow Park: 3.7

(1) Not even a kicker at Niseko Grand Hirafu, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.

Off-piste: 4.5

(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.

Cross-country: 3.1

(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Niseko Grand Hirafu, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.

Luge/Toboggan: 1.9

(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Niseko Grand Hirafu has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.

Mountain Dining: 4.1

(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.

Eating: 4.5

(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.

Apres-Ski: 4.2

(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.

Other Sports: 3.0

(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.

Entertainment: 3.2

(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.

Winter Walks: 3.1

(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.

Ski Pass Value: 4.1

(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.

Value (National): 3.9

(1) Overall, Niseko Grand Hirafu is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.

Value (Global): 4.0

(1) Overall, Niseko Grand Hirafu is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.

Show all 35 ratings

January 25, 2016
Spencer from Ski Japan Japan
The snowfall data is not accurate in any way, shape, or form. Snow-forecast has not projected more than ~8cm in any one time box in the time I've been here (Jan 14-25) but it has snowed at the very least 1 m since then (very conservative estimate). At least it's inaccurate in the good way, as in it snows much more than projected on this site. The temperature is pretty good, but the snowfall has been way off. [note from the editor: thank you for providing feedback on weather conditions at this ski area. Do use a weather reporting facility on the site, for future submissions, instead of Resort Reviews.]
January 22, 2016
Mark from Ski Australia Australia
Been coming here for the last 12 years; fantastic place and yes, Aussie bogans and a few other cultures like the Scandinavians, who disregard rules and culture, are the main drawbacks. For all the other complainers re no night life, no doctors, no chemists, please do us all a favour and please, please stay away and go find other places with what you want. Kampai!
February 17, 2015
Geoff from Ski Canada Canada
Just got back from a fantastic week at Niseko. 60cm on the first day and a couple 30cm days afterwards. It never stopped snowing! Cloudy skies throughout, but as one of the locals put it, "we don't get this much snow with blue bird skies"! Wind was our only trouble which closed the top lifts a couple times. We'll definitely head back!
February 15, 2015
Jason from Ski Japan Japan
Hirafu is an awesome resort town. If you're looking for something to do aside from hitting the slopes, look elsewhere. As with most of Japan, it is a powder paradise, only here you are allowed off-piste. Some of the resorts on the main island of Honshu are just starting that with the recent popularity boom of back country in Japan. Niseko is the best place I have ever ridden so far.
December 28, 2014
Brian Lloyd from Ski Japan Japan
Just wondering is the snowfall predictions in cm is that in total or per hour. What we have found is that if it is in total then it is usually way out so we are guessing it is per hour. Can anyone confirm this
March 04, 2014
david from Ski Australia Australia
Totally agree with another reviewer. Damage to cars and leaving rubbish in the streets is an insult to our courteous hosts. We Australians need to behave or stay home.
February 25, 2014
Toni from Ski Australia Australia
I love Niseko and have visited a couple of times. The only negative I have was in 2013 I got quite ill and there is no doctor or medical centre or chemist in the resort. The closest doctor is in Kutchen, a short bus trip away. This is a nightmare after experiencing being so sick. As someone who travels overseas to ski each year this is the only thing that would stop me coming back to Niseko either for myself or with a family. There needs to be a medical centre and doctor in the resort to make it a perfect ski destination.
February 17, 2014
zeke from Ski Australia Australia
12 years in Hirafu, how it has morphed! Still love it but my countrymen have brought some disgrace to the rest of us. Theft of coats & jackets from restaurants & bars is a really low act especially to our Japanese hosts which is taken as an insult to their ancestors and honour. Other problem is the town is now too big for the mountain suffocating under snowboarders unable to hold the fall line, traversing Hirafus awesome tree glades; starting to look like 'Kuta on Ice'.
February 16, 2014
Peter from Ski Japan Japan
As an Aussie living in Japan, I agree with another reviewer. Yes, there are a few Aussies in Niseko, but it isn't quite the 'Bali on Ice' that I was expecting when I first got there. Most Aussies are well behaved, fun to chat with and easy to be around. A few of us get out of shape, and they are easily noticeable, but the biggest complaint I hear about other Japanese resorts is ' There is nothing to do at night'. Japanese 'apres' doesn't really exist except in those resorts 'overrun by foreigners'. The Japanese skier or boarder is much more likely to have dinner with the family and friends they are there with and then have a drinking session in the restaurant or hotel room. That said, this is not exclusive and in the more foreign resorts you will see many young locals enjoying a beer or two also. I was critical of the foreigners coming in and 'taking over' this small Japanese town, until I learned a little more about its history. The town was almost a ghost town when the 80's boom went, and it was primarily due to foreign investment that it is the awesome resort it is today. If you want guaranteed snow, almost guaranteed powder daily, great food options, awesome accommodation options and a diverse range of terrain, this is the place to come. Peak periods can be busy (first week of new year and Chinese new year, which often coincides with the Japanese international school holidays, are very busy. But the rest of time is awesome). By the way, 'busy' in Niseko means waiting 2-5 minutes for a lift. Do not confuse 'Niseko Busy' (or for that matter 'Japan Busy") with busy elsewhere.
January 22, 2014
John from Ski Japan Japan
As someone who lives here I want to provide an unbiased account of what Niseko is. Yes, there are lots of Australians in January, this is the Australian School/University holiday period. As such, there and just as many Singaporeans/Malaysians here in December and Hong Kong/Chinese here in February. It is easy to bash the Australian culture as the Australian accent is easily identified as 'Australian' and people overestimate the actual number of Aussies in the resort. There are still 65-70% Japanese on the mountain each day but the Australian language is recognised and as such artificially inflated to numbers far greater than that are actually present. As most people can't identify which Asian language is being spoken, or which European language is being spoken, it is not easy to identify who is being referred to but the Australian accent is is strong and prevalent. In December, people are always critical of the pushy nature of Singaporeans and Malaysians but without them, the resort wouldn't function as it is. It is the same in January with the 'drunk' Aussies where a few and their actions result in the masses being typecast. It happens all over the world in ski resorts, beach resorts, cities and cultural hotspots and no one nation can lay claim to being perfect. Niseko is a fantastic place to visit for a ski holiday and as it has grown over the years, so has the number of people visiting. The unfortunate thing about people complaining here is that they have to share the mountain with a huge array of people from a multitude of countries and that is just part of the draw that has made Niseko what it is. When you have the snow that we have here, people will come, that is what they want. Without the western accommodation, people weren't coming but now they do and the primary reason is snow. If you want to spend your hard earned income on a ski holiday where you might not have any snowfall during your stay, that is fine, but snow is what you want and in most parts of the world it is a real luxury item. In Niseko, it is an affordable luxury in that is is very consistently falling and providing visitors to the area with an amazing skiing experience. Add to that, the restaurants and nightlife, the ski schools and rental shops, and the ease of interaction with English speaking Japanese and it is easy to see why so many keep coming back. It isn't perfect, but where is? Having lived in Canada and France and seen what resorts are like in those countries plus holidays in the US, Italy, Sweden and NZ, I happily call Japan home as the all round overall experience in Niseko is far greater than anywhere else I've experienced. You can't put a price on snowfall and if you want the Niseko powder experience, you have to come here and put up with the small issues to experience the greater good.