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Visitor reviews for Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort

Niseko Grand Hirafu Ratings

Overall: 3.9. Based on 55 votes and 108 reviews. Vote

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: 3.8

(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.

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: 3.6

(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.

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: 3.8

(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.

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: 2.0

(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

February 23, 2011
No Back Country For Old Men from Ski United Kingdom United Kingdom
Lots of lovely dry powder, but lots of Aussies tracking up the easily accessible stuff in a matter of hours. It's not unusual to see a snake of literally 100's of people hiking up to the peak in the morning. There is a lot to go around though. Hike & ye shall find ;-) Often windy & they seem quick to close lifts. Fairly outdated lift system, with few modern lifts. Queues in Hirafu (Niseko Hirafu) are commonplace. Niseko Village & Niseko Annapuri are quieter, but smaller. Can be expensive, although not outrageous compared to Europe. The only nightlife is in Hirafu, but it is fairly laid back. If you are looking for wild apres ski, look elsewhere.
February 22, 2011
Kose from Ski Australia Australia
Just got back from my first boarding trip to Japan, specifically Niseko (Niseko Hirafu) and instantly I was blown away by the consistency and quality of the snow. But as soon as I started traveling around Hokkaido, I realized I was working way too hard for fresh lines back there. As soon as I got back to Niseko it just seemed way too hectic to worry about anymore. Great mountain, too many people.
February 16, 2011
Adam from Ski Australia Australia
I first went to Niseko - Rusutsu in Feb 2005 with six mates and we have been back four times since. We have also skied Hakuba twice but I think the north island of Hokkaido has been more reliable for the powder. Yes, we too have seen the development of Hirafu become very westernised but it's not all totally bad. It's how you look at it, I guess. I agree with the comments from "Broad Meadow" and intend to explore many other resorts in Japan. If you look outside the popular main ones that are promoted at the ski shows, etc the choice is enormous. As for the "abundance of annoying Aussies" in Niseko, that can be anywhere in the world. Try surfing in Sydney these days at your local break with the "abundance of annoying Brits, Brazilians, etc".
February 09, 2011
Broad Meadow from Ski Japan Japan
A little perspective on the Niseko propaganda machine is probably a good thing. There are over 500 resorts in Japan. The vast majority get similar and, yes it's true, better snow than Niseko (Niseko Hirafu). Been all over the world, skiing and think Niseko is the best out there? Try skiing all over Japan. The key is powder in Japan is amazing; it's not limited to Niseko. As for resort size, Niseko probably ranks somewhere in the middle. Terrain difficulty even lower than that. Japanese culture in Niseko? That's like going to Euro Disney and commenting on French culture. With very few exceptions, from hospitality, to accommodation, to food the culture you are getting is a western based developer/marketers version of Japanese culture. Niseko is only unique in that it caters to westerns. If you don't want to go out of your comfort zone it's a great place. You never even have to attempt a word of the language and the locals will put up with you because you are spending a fortune to be there. Personally, and you hear this a lot from ex-pats living in Japan, I like it because it feels like a trip outside of Japan without having to leave the country. It was a great place that is losing its charm to massive developments a la Whistler. Having said all that, it's still a good place for an introduction to skiing in Japan but don't limit yourself to going there year after year. Be adventurous and try something different!
February 04, 2011
Robb from Ski Japan Japan
Amazing snow and an abundance of annoying Aussies at Niseko Hirafu. Kind of a Noosa heads on Ice. Shame to see it each season swallowed up by very greedy western developers that say they are helping the locals and town,if that was the case they wouldn't have such a nightmare on their hands when it comes to clearing all the snow after a big dump.
December 13, 2010
Kretinburger from Ski Australia Australia
I think next Feb will be visit no 8 to Niseko (Niseko Hirafu). We will have about 10 in our party next year. We always stay at Pension Fullnote where Tohsan and the crew look after us like kings. We even have our own Jazz Bar downstairs. Yes, it's popular with Aussies but with very good reason. Because it's so good its popular but why should we go somewhere else when we love the snow, love the people and love the village. Oh, and we looooove the beer,Sappo Black of course. [note from editor: some editing here in order to maintain relevance]
September 03, 2010
Mike Wilkinson from Ski Australia Australia
Having been lucky enough to have skied around the world since childhood and lived in Sun Valley, Idaho and St Anton in Austria, I thought that Japan would be too expensive and crowded. It wasn't till 2004 that we decided to go to Hokkaido and specifically Niseko (Niseko Hirafu) and was blown away how something so good was below our Radar for so long. I have sat in some of the best resorts in the world looking up at majestic peaks with little or man-made snow on the slopes, where as in Hokkaido,(Niseko) they mighten have the longest and steepest slopes but they have consistant powder that you can ski all day. It seems that you wake up every morning expecting it to be knee to waist deep and I for one have skiied more powder in the last 6 years in Niseko than I have in the last 30 years in Canada, USA and Europe. Niseko reached its peak with powder starved Aussies in 2006 and the resort has been overtaken with Hongkongese, Singaporese and Expates from Asia that arn't powder skiers but normal punters that get lessons and leave the ungroomed for us. Niseko and surrounds have turned into a truely international resort, with a thankful local comunity and some of the best food in the world. I now have a house there and will retire to pow heaven as soon as the Japanese goverment allow me to stay more than 90 days or I marry one of those beautiful local ladies. Niseko is the total package: great snow and mountains, excellent food and amazing people.
April 26, 2010
Dillan Josland from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
I just got back from my first trip to Niseko (Niseko Hirafu) having skied April 10th - 24th. Although it was the end of the season, the snow was great with main trail snow depths of 1.0m at the base, and 3.0m at the summit, deeper drifts in the gullys. The weather remained cold for the whole trip with several days of snow falls freshening up the hill. Having skiing throughout New Zealand at the best of times, the skiing in Japan even in late spring was far better than I could have imagined. Being able to ski a 3000' verticle drop all day and relax in Onsen hot pools after skiing are the way forward. The town of Hirafu was fairly quiet, night skiing had finished with most bars and restaurants closed, but Kutchan and Sapporo are reasonably close by train and have great night life. Even though the powder is the best from Dec-March, if you want the entire mountain at Niseko Hirafu to yourself ski in April!
April 14, 2010
Brad from Ski Australia Australia
My next trip will be Niseko Hirafu in search of more powder days + a bit of the home comforts that you do miss & struggle to get at other resorts in Japan. And I for one will be glad to see some other Auzzies around. I purposely chose Hukuba for more of a cultural experience & to see the snow monkeys. Stayed @ Hukuba Goryu @ Alpine Aqua which was great(part owned by Steven Bradbury so westernised), locals were great & although we had 3 powder days out of 8 & there were no lift lines (spoilt if you get that @ Auz resorts) you couldn't get a barista made coffee, little English signage in Hukuba resorts & not many English speaking ski instructors + little western food on offer. Those little things may not effect others, but when you have a young family with two young kids 8 & 10 years old it makes a big difference. We had enough of that isolation feeling by day 8, as we were lucky to see anyone that spoke English on the slopes, and when the lifts shut due to wind and you had to ski back to where you came from with no direction with whinging cold kids @ the end of the day, it does your head in. I can't get the family back to Japan unless it's Niseko. I hope this gives family people some insight.
March 16, 2010
Chris from Ski Australia Australia
I've been round a bit, and skied a fair few places, but for mine nothing compares to Niseko (Niseko Hirafu) for the all round experience it offers. Everyone raves about the snow, and they're right, but there's so much more. The food and accommodation's amazing. There's no crowds, and once you actually get here it's really cheap. And you can nowadays get some real cheap flights too! A friend of mine summed up the pow best when he said "I skied a week of Heli in BC (Canada) in January, and it wasn't as good as what we're getting here straight off the lift." Ski everywhere, then go to Niseko is my advice. Ski Niseko first and you'll end each holiday saying "Yeah, it was good... but it wasn't Niseko!"