The second day in Niseko we had breakfast at the hotel, which was included in the rate of $140 a night. Quite a wide spread of options, the breakfast buffet included both traditional Japanese and Western options.
We then got suited up and headed to the mountain. Since we did not have any gear with us, we had to rent for the duration of our stay. Good Sports was by far the most affordable company and were very accommodating as well. The day before you hit the slopes, they schedule a time for you to try on and fit the gear, ensuring the perfect fit. The total cost for the three day rental was only ¥13,000 and includes the board and bindings, boots, and a helmet. You can choose to add gear depending on what you already have.
There are a few options on ski passes for visitors which I have posted below. For beginners, I would recommend the 12 point pass and should last a few days. Passes are cheaper at your hotel so make sure to get it before you hit the slopes!
Since it was still off peak season, not all the lifts were in operation, with a majority of them only working on the Hirafu side. I would highly recommend staying there as most shops and restaurants are in the area. During the off peak season, there bus schedule is limited and only run until 5pm with full operations only beginning on December 10th. A cab from Hirafu to Annapuri will cost roughly ¥3,000 one way, which can add up!
The late morning conditions were not ideal, with icy snow and low visibility. After a few runs on the Annapuri side, we decided to grab lunch in Hirafu and took the bus to the intersection. We decided on a Japanese restaurant right by the bus stop. We ordered the seafood ramen, tempura set meal, and a chirashi don. Although all were satisfying, the food was not that great and I would definitely recommend other spots.
After walking around a bit after lunch, we decided to have a quick drink at Green Cafe. I got the hot chocolate with butterscotch – extremely satisfying after a day on the slopes, albeit a bit pricey at ¥800. We also tried the beef burger which had roasted potatoes on the side for ¥1,200. It was very tasty and a good change from all the Japanese food.
Just around the corner was our dinner reservation. Ezo Seafoods is unlike most restaurants. Their menu is displayed live in front of you and you simply choose what you want. We chose the mixed sashimi platter that included the famous Hokkaido scallops, with all the sashimi tasting so fresh! The Alaskan crab, meaty with a hint of sweetness, is another dish worth getting at ¥4,000. The tuna cheek is also a must try. Cooked in a sweet sauce, the dish is perfect with a hot bowl of rice. For those wanting a taste of fresh seafood, Ezo Seafood should be on the top of your list!