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Niseko Gourmet: The Chefs At Your Doorstep

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

The lure of fresh, white snow is strong. The slopes call out for you to explore this pristine and picture-perfect landscape. You ski and snowboard to your heart’s content. Welcome to Niseko, where all your dreams of an adrenaline-packed snow adventure are fulfilled. With so much daily physical activity, there is a need to replenish and re-energize, and this is where Niseko really delivers the goods. Niseko Gourmet is the local culinary favourite, providing a private chef, fresh ingredients and a host to your own chalet.

Twelve years ago, Tess Stomski came to Japan to work as part of the winter staff in a resort. She vowed to come back and live in this wonderful country, a dream she fulfilled a few years later. She started providing food and dining experiences to skiers and other vacationers in Niseko and thus Niseko Gourmet was born. Needless to say, it was an instant hit.

“As one of the world’s top ski destinations, Niseko can accommodate 20,000 people. But the restaurants can only seat 2,000. Even if they do multiple seatings, the opportunity gap was fairly large,” says Jon Stonham, CEO of Elite Havens, which owns Niseko Gourmet.

Stomski ventured out to meet potential business contacts and farmers.  Niseko Gourmet’s first chef was Chef Chisato Amagai, with whom she co-wrote a book,  ‘Harvest Niseko’. Chef Chisato conceived the first home-cooked five-course dinner, to be prepared in front of the guests in their own holiday home. 

“We have three levels of offerings. At the very base, we can do market shopping for those who wish to self-cater. Then there is delivery of gourmet food to the chalet. And at the very top, we offer bespoke gourmet experiences like a chef preparing a special meal within your chalet,” Jon Stonham elucidates.

Stomski then met Chef Kamada, a 70-year old sushi master with his own 35 year old restaurant in nearby Kutchan. Kamada now makes two to three sushi dinners every night for the clients of Niseko Gourmet.

The most popular part of the Niseko Gourmet service is the bespoke experience. The indulgence of having a luxuriant meal cooked especially for you, makes it stand out. “We use local Hokkaido ingredients,” shares Annie Craig,

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5 Offbeat Things to do in Niseko this Summer

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation/Tips by

As the winter recedes, so do the crowds that throng Niseko for its dreamy powder snow. And in their wake, they leave behind a countryside that seems to slowly stretch out and rise from its winter slumber. The grinding sound of ski ploughs and the whir of ski lifts is replaced by melodious songs of summer breeze and chirping birds. The country blooms all around, unaware of its unpretentious innocent beauty yet not needing the crowds to confirm what it already knows. That Niseko is divine in the winters, but it is in summer that Niseko truly displays its mesmerising self.

It is a step towards the unknown, but curiosity is well rewarded. If you truly want to explore the heart of the countryside, why not take a walk away from the beaten path and indulge yourself with these quirky offbeat activities instead?

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Beat the Rush for Powder: 7 Things to Do in Niseko

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The perfect snow, with adequate depth and powdery white texture – welcome to Niseko, where you can chase your ultimate powder dream. It’s the ideal place to ski, snowboard or try a host of snow-filled activities. From snowshoeing to gliding on your snowmobile, and even water-rafting in spring-time rapids, Niseko gives frozen water a good name.

Its increasing popularity as a ski-destination is further fuelled by the availability of high-end chalets for individual families as well as groups. But don’t follow the crowds. Beat the rush for powder by coming to Niseko a few weeks early to discover what the season truly offers. Explore the winter dream minus the crowds. It isn’t just about skiing!

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Summer in Niseko

in Destinations by
Mount Yotei

Summer fun in Niseko

Niseko is best known as Japan’s powder playground, but you don’t need to be a winter sports enthusiast to enjoy the charms of this beautiful region located in the mountainous north of Hokkaido. The alpine scenery makes a sensational backdrop for all kinds of summer activities from hiking to kayaking to horse riding to hot air ballooning.

Plum trees and Lake Toya and Mt.Yotei

Soak up the scenery

As the snow melts the landscape explodes with wild flowers making Niseko a perfect base for hiking and biking. Enjoy the crisp clean air as you ramble across the moors or climb Mount Yotei to enjoy a 360 degree panorama from the trail that winds around the caldera.

Sekka Ni 3 - Fabulous view of the living and dining areaSekka Ni 3

Quiet country lanes are ideal for family biking, while cycling enthusiasts can access exhilarating downhill mountain trails via gondola. Golfers will be thrilled to know that Niskeo has some renowned courses to choose from, including Niseko Village Golf Course, which was named Japan’s Best Golf Course at the World Golf Awards in 2014.  For those who like to enjoy the scenery in a more prone position, and enjoy a touch of Japanese culture in the process, Niseko has some beautiful onsen (hot springs) in various scenic locations.

Japanese onsen

Fun on the water

Picturesque lakes and rivers make fresh water fishing, kayaking, canyoning and rafting popular summer pastimes. Shiribetsu River offers some of the best rafting in Asia and you can expect stunning alpine scenery and crystal clear water. Alternatively, head to the nearby Shaoktan Peninsula where sea kayaking reveals a magical ocean colour known as “Shakotan blue.”

kayaking background

Fun for all the family

Tree top adventures and the longest zip line in Japan are just one of the draw cards at Pure at Niseko Village – a  nature activity centre and great all-round family destination. This is also the place for horse riding, exhilarating hot air balloons rides and cycling. ‘Pure’ Adventure is the parks newest attraction and has proved a huge hit thanks to its inflatable playground filled with mazes and slides. 

Family experiencing horse riding

Food and festivals

Niseko has grown a formidable dining scene in recent years, with the  paddock to plate philosophy embraced by restaurants and cafes.

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Niseko: The Way To Go

in Destinations/Tips by

Famed for prolific white powder snow, fabulous accommodation and apres-ski scene, Niseko lures winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe.  Yet this beautiful region in the northern island of Hokkadio, Japan, has more to offer than top notch skiing and snowboarding, with stunning alpine scenery making it a popular year round destination. Here’s our insider tips on how to get to Niseko.

By Plane

Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport is just 110 km from Niseko and is well serviced by domestic and international flights from many parts of Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok as well as Hawaii. Those travelling from further afield can easily connect through Tokyo Narita International airport, with a two hour flight time to Sapporo.

Flight to Niseko

Ski season runs from late November to early May and if you fly into New Chitose, the quickest way to hit the ski slopes is by taxi or private transfer. Catching a bus is also cheap and easy and takes approximately 2 – 2.5 hours.

For a private door to door service try Sky Express otherwise White Liner Ski Bus, Hokkaido Resort Liner  and NGS Big Runs all have various drop off points in Niseko.  

By Land

Self drive is another option, but while rental cars are fitted with snow tyres, it is not recommended unless you are experienced driving in wintery conditions.

How to get to NisekoParking in Niseko is also limited in the busy winter months, so  its perhaps better to save the hire car option for the summer months when you can enjoy a leisurely cruise up to the mountains, stopping to enjoy the glorious scenery along the way.

Trains also depart direct from the airport to JR Kutchan Station (a 10 minute taxi ride from Niseko), but you will need to change at Otaru station for a total travel time of around 3 hours. Japan has one of the best developed rail networks in the world which is something to consider when travelling from other regions.

Shinkansen - Bullet train

If coming from Tokyo you can experience the famous Shinkansen – bullet train, which travels up to 320 km an hour and hurtles through an undersea tunnel that connects the main island of Honshu with Hokkaido. Travel time is around 4 hours to Hakodate where you can connect with a regional train to JR Kutchan (3.5 hours) .

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