Our last day of skiing was perfect. Niseko, known for its powder snow, truly upheld that reputation. We ended up getting the five hour consecutive ride for Hirafu which connects to the Hanazono side and has the most number of runs. At ¥3,600 a pass, these were by far the best deal and is literally a whole day of skiing as lifts close by 3pm.
For those looking to rent a car, DO make sure that you have an international driver’s licence as that is a mandatory requirement when renting. A car during the off peak season would save you quite a bit of money and way more convenient.
The last meal of the trip, was the famous Rakuichi Soba. Reservations for the restaurant need to be made very early on as it fills up quickly. Expect to spend around ¥10,000 per person on the Kaiseki (Japanese Set Menu) meal. Since everyone gets the same menu, you need to inform the restaurant beforehand for any allergies or dietary restrictions. One important thing to note is that it is a CASH ONLY establishment, so make sure to bring more than enough.
The simple yet delicately prepared meal started with fresh sashimi. The ebi sashimi was one of the highlights – sweet and succulent, it was a perfect start to the coming meal. Next was a seafood soup with clear broth that cleansed the palette. Hokkaido scallop topped with uni followed, and showcased the renowned shellfish that the region is famous for. Our next dish was an Iberico pork shabu shabu where you dip the meat into a broth for mere seconds and cooks it to a nice pinkish color, letting you know it is ready to eat. A sweet soy sauce based sauce accompanied the dish for you to dip the meat in, which you thereafter pour into the soup to drink. We were then presented with a vegetable tempura platter – each piece of broccoli, yam, red pepper, and radish perfectly fried. The batter was just the right amount without the usual oiliness. Lastly was the chef renowned Soba or Japanese buckwheat noodles. You have the option of getting it hot or cold, having tried both, I would go with the cold which gives you a more holistic taste of the dish. Overall each course was cooked remarkably well and you can tell how fresh ingredients were. Run by a family, the restaurant also provided remarkable customer service and made the dining experience all the more enjoyable!
The next day on our return to the airport, we booked a transfer with Chuo Bus Lines. At almost half the price of our original transfer, the cost for each person was only ¥2,600, and takes the exact same route. Do try to book this roundtrip to secure a spot on the bus.