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

December 23, 2011
John from Ski Australia Australia
I've been going for many years now - used to stay at Scot - there is still plenty of Japanese culture. Yes the bogans are at times (usually after drinking starts) a reason to hide your accent but I avoid bars etc. Crowds only on Japanese holidays and even then the manners shown make it okay - Aussies are the ones pushing or running over your new skis or board. One run in trees or through the gates and you'll love the place! So if your mate is a bogan leave him at Chintose with the duty free, bring your manners - learn some basics of language show some respect and it will be better than any Oz or Kiwi resort. I got a freebie in Perisher last August and only boarded for 3 days - slushy sugary and they charge $100 plus to be on that crud. The worst day in Niseko is better than the best day in Oz!!
November 21, 2011
Jo Hunt from Ski Australia Australia
Niseko has it all. Great snow, food, accessibility and more than hospitable people.As for Australians fearing other Australians tracking through their snow, get a grip,there a more Australians skiing the U.S. and Canada than Japan.
November 11, 2011
jon from Ski Australia Australia
Please, stick to Niseko. Leave the other Japanese resorts to me! Follow the ozy sheep to the peak! offend the locals! don't learn a word of Japanese! You don't need to, Niseko has it all! They're even opening a newer lift so more people can track out the powder even quicker! Jokes aside, this is a great resort. You can easily avoid the negatives (get a guide for day to show you how), it's not too expensive (yet) and snow? Yes it does. I personally prefer other Hokkaido resorts but this is a great place to start and once you get to know it, you can make the most of the positives and avoid those negatives. For the Niseko fans, give other resorts a go, they have so much on offer!
October 30, 2011
andy from Ski United Kingdom United Kingdom
Just about to head back to Niseko for another season. The snow, people and food are all incredible! I want people to know that the earthquake in the spring didn't affect Niseko at all! The radiation levels have not increased and the powder is still going to be there! They are even replacing the Hirafu gondola with a modern 8 seater, this will be running this winter (2012)! This will crunch through the queues and is one of the first of many developments in store for the resort!
August 26, 2011
Dean from Ski Australia Australia
Having been introduced to Niseko by a friend in 2007, we have since been back three times (already booked for Jan 2012) and we have one word to describe the experience - amazing! We are a family who, like everyone else, doesn't enjoy boguns, we love friendly people, good food, snow to die for and an experience that is so different to our day to day routine that it inspires you in a way nothing else can. Niseko has so much to offer and it will only get better in the years to come as the infrastructure and variety of accommodation and entertainment improves. Don't take notice of the ski snobs who would prefer that you listen to their incredible snow exploits elsewhere in the world rather than hear about the true joy Japan offers. As Molly says.. do yourself a won't regret it.
May 06, 2011
Don from Ski Japan Japan
Just want everyone out there to know that the earthquake that hit down south had no effect whatsoever on the Niseko region. There have also been no issues whatsoever with radiation. Levels have not deviated from normal background radiation levels at all. We've also had no issues at all with power as the grid up here is separate from that on Honshu. Basically there has been no interruption to normal daily life at all in this part of Japan. So if you're thinking of heading back here you can do so knowing that everything will be running as normal with no issues regarding your safety.
March 25, 2011
Mick - Snowy Mnts Aust from Ski Australia Australia
Fellow skiers, I live and work in the snowy mountains in AUS. I have skied all over the world and have just returned from Niseko, which was our first trip to Japan. Lucky, we left two days before the quake. I only have two things to say about Niseko, I love the place and the people (Felling for them at the minute). I found the snow second to none and the skiing was spot on, the runs were excellent. Do yourself a favour and visit the place before passing judgement. I will be back, why travel forever, when you can just go to Japan. Love the place! Regards Mick
March 24, 2011
Dom-san from Ski Austria Austria
Hi everyone, I am an Australian resident who has spent four seasons in Niseko. The snow, food, atmosphere and people are great, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I'm a bit disappointed to see that so many people are complaining about the the so-called 'bogan' and 'drunken' Aussies, or the abundance of Australians in general. In four seasons I personally have not encountered any bad or violent drunken behaviour by the Aussies (or Kiwis), and the claim that it's like Bali is very exaggerated. Likewise, a lot of the foreigners that have bought real estate or have started businesses here are nice people who have fallen in love with the Niseko way of life. It's a very special place of the world where people from various countries (Japan, Australia, NZ, all over Europe, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA and more) can enjoy a good time together. There are always going to be people who's opinions of the place are negative or jaded no matter what. I don't understand what they're complaining about. Just's all daijyoubu!!! Just for the record, 95% of the restaurants are Japanese! Hardly any western food in sight. Runs aren't crowded and it's great value for your cash. Come to Niseko : )
March 17, 2011
Michael from Ski Australia Australia
My first trip to Niseko as I only took up skiing five years ago when I turned 50. Last winter season in Victoria it seemed as if every second person you rode on a lift with had either been here or was going during Jan/Feb 2011. With some time available in March, I decided to head off to see what all the fuss is about. An adult son who is a builder decided to tag along even though he had never skied or boarded. One all day private lesson and he leapt from beginner to intermediate very quickly. Even though I had never been to Niseko I had travelled to Japan for work several times so was familiar with the culture and traditions of this wonderful country. We mainly kept to Niseko Hirafu and were not disappointed. The longest wait we had for the gondola was 5 minutes and that was only because a ski school of little tackers arrived before us. The rest of the lifts were ski straight on and most days it wasn't unusual to share the run with three others. There was plenty of light powder snow during our stay and the days were generally blue sky. Neither of us were good enough to go off piste so we stayed on piste but there were enough trees adjacent to the marked runs to ski in and out of to make us think we were off-piste. There are a huge number of Aussies working here but that didn't really detract from the experience and we certainly didn't run across any Aussie drunks, except perhaps on St Patrick's Day in the Irish pub in Hirafu. Go figure, Aussies celebrating an Irish holiday in Japan. My previous experience in Japan helped with dining at night as I was able to find those little gems of restaurants that were away from the main area. A couple of stand outs were A Bu Cha 1 on the main intersection & Kabuki, an okinomiyaki restaurant but we ate at stacks of other great places. We have already booked for March 2012.
February 24, 2011
Will from Ski Australia Australia
I've been riding in Japan now for close to 20 years, another ten before that. I'd ridden lots of places in Europe and North America before I ever got to Japan but Niseko (Niseko Hirafu) is special. I'd agree with another reviewer's comment, but I'd also say that I never really see the crowds of drunken punters (just like I never see them in Oz) because I don't hang out in those kinds of bars! There's some great people living in Niseko running wonderful restaurants etc. Look around! There's a reason that Niseko is among the most featured resorts in ski & snowboard movies - and it's not because it sucks. Many of the hardest skiing & riding guys and girls on the planet make a yearly visit because of the combination of snow, terrain, and culture. There's lots more to Niseko than what you'll find just off the Niseko United Lifts. Like No Back Country says, "Hike (or drive or sled or cat) and ye shall find" Great skiing, amazing food, wonderful people. What's not to love ?