FAQ's

 

What is the closest international and domestic airport to the Niseko Resort Area?

The closest international airport to the Niseko Resort Area is New Chitose International Airport (CTS) also referred to as Sapporo Chitose (CTS). The airport is located in Chitose city which is 36km south east of Sapporo city and 115km east of the Niseko Resort Area.

Where is Niseko?

Niseko is in the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. It is a two hour flight from Tokyo or Osaka. You will need to fly into New Chitose (Sapporo) Airport.

How do I get to Niseko from the Airport in Sapporo, and how long does it take?

There are buses which connect the New Chitose airport in Sapporo to Niseko. Hooting Owl Lodge can help arrange these transfers. The bus is approx 2.5 hours from the airport to Niseko. Otherwise you can book your own train and it takes about the same time.

Below is links to book your bus online:
http://www.access-n.jp/winter2016/en/skibus/detail/1_1.html#000005

http://ixsmtravel.com/bus-chitose-niseko.html

http://www.goodsports.co.jp/white_eng/ski-bus/

http://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/otoku/index.html#buspack

http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/ 

 

How do I get from the bus depot or train station to Hooting Owl Lodge?

Hooting Owl Lodge provides free transfers on your arrival and departure. We pick up and drop off from the Hilton Niseko Village for bus arrivals and the Niseko Town train station for train arrivals. Please inform us at least 7 days prior of your arrival time so we can arrange the pickup.

How far is the lodge from the closest ski lifts?

Hooting Owl Lodge is about a 7 minute walk to the closest lift. You can also get a NUS bus which has a stop 50 meters from the lodge or we provide a free first tracks shuttle bus every morning to the Niseko Village gondola from 8-9 am.

How far is Hooting Owl Lodge from Hirafu?

Hooting Owl Lodge is located in Niseko Village about 5 kms from Hirafu. 10 minutes on local bus.

Does the lodge have a Bar?

We have an honesty bar which has basic beers, mixed drinks, soft drinks and snacks.

Can I bring my own drinks and food to the lodge?

Yes, we have a guest fridge and cupboards in the kitchen which you are welcome to use.

Where is the closest bus stop?

Bus stops are located 100 meters from the lodge and operate from 8 am till 1 am.The closest bus stops are Milk Kobo and Higashiyama pension Village stop.

How do we get around once we are there?

There are local buses called the NUS bus and they are free throughout the Niseko United Ski area if you purchase an all mountain pass. Otherwise they range from 200 yen to 500 yen. They operate from 8.00am until 12.00am. There is also Hilton buses operating until 1.00 am from Hirafu to Niseko Village. The other option is to get taxis, or hire a car. If you hire a car you need an international drivers licence.

Are there restaurants in Niseko Village?

Niseko Village has a few restaurants within walking distance from the lodge. The newly renovated Freeride Lodge has The Mexican Mule restaurant and Cantina. Offering a great place to go for Après and also has an extensive  Mexican menu. Make sure you grab your privilage card at the time of check in.  Now you can catch a glass bottom Gondola form the Green leaf down to the the Hilton dining precident. The Hilton Hotel is located in the Village with a variety of bars and restaurants, Pritivo Restaurant is also in walking distance and offers great buffet lunch and dinner options as well as focusing on local produce.  Black Diamond is a 3 min walk offering Japanese and western food. A number of restaurants in Niseko Town provide free transfers to and from your accommodation; this is a great way to experience some great local food and culture away from the main tourist hub of Hirafu.

Can we cook our own food at the lodge?

At Hooting Owl we have a large kitchen so you can cook your own meals if you don’t feel like going out to dine. Open for guest to use from 10.00 am until 9.30 pm. Or you can order take away Mexican form the Mexican Mule Restuarant and Cantina

Is breakfast provided in the rate?

We provide a hot cooked western style breakfast every morning as well as a continental selection, all included in the room rate.

Do you have ensuite rooms?

No, the lodge has share bathrooms, which have baths and showers and separate male and female toilets. These are shared between 6 bedrooms.

Are there onsens nearby?

The closest onsen is located at the Hilton, a two minute bus ride from the lodge. There is also the Yumagari bus which does the circuit of the onsens and operates until 9.00pm. You can also get a Yumagari pass which is great value and offers 3 onsens for 1200 yen. It can be purchased at most onsens

Money?

Niseko is a cash based society, so it pays to get money out at the airport as you will find that most small restaurants and bars  only accept cash. There is one ATM in Hirafu in the Shiki building, another at the Hilton. Also one in the nearby town of Kutchan. There is also a currency exchange machine located in Seicomarkt in Hirafu.

Is Niseko Village connected by the lift system to the entire Niseko United Ski Area?

Yes it is. The impressive lift system services all of the Niseko United Ski Area.

Is there Night skiing?

Niseko is renowned world wide as having one of the largest night ski areas in the world. A truly amazing experience which gives real value for your money when you purchase a lift ticket as you can be skiing or riding for 12 hours a day.

Can we hire Skis and snowboards, or telemark?

There are a variety of Hire places in the area . Hiring gear is easy and you can do this once you arrive or  follow the link to  book online  http://rentals.skihirejapan.com/?r=lr37vs6665

Can I get my luggage couriered from Tokyo or Osaka Airport to my Hotel in Niseko?

Yes you can and it is a great idea if you are staying a few nights in the city. You can forward your ski gear with this company http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html  at most airports or major hotels to the door of your next hotel.

I can’t get a direct flight to Sapporo Chitose (CTS), what other options are there?

Most people arrive in Japan via one of the two main international airports, Tokyo Narita (NRT) or Osaka Kansai (KIX). Most major airlines such as Qantas, Singapore Airlines, JAL and budget carriers such as Jetstar have regular flights to Tokyo and Osaka. From there you can easily get a domestic flight with Jetstar, AirDo, Skymark, Peach or any of the major airlines to CTS.

How do I get to the Niseko Resort Area from Sapporo Chitose (CTS) Airport?

The most convenient way is via bus transfer. The journey will take between 2.5 hours and 3.5 hours depending on road conditions.   Please get the bus to the Hilton Niseko Village stop.

Other options are JR train or private transfers

http://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/access/index.html this link has info on buses and trains and how to get here by car

http://www.niseko.cc/niseko/services/transportation.jsf  different options

http://www.ixsmtravel.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4  more booking options

Goodsports Whiteliner, as well as Resortliner which can be booked in English through www.Niseko.cc (along with a couple other transport options) For late night departures.

What options are available for late flight arrivals or early flight departures?

If your plane arrives after 8:40pm your choices are private transfer, car rental or to stay in Sapporo city or Chitose city for the night. The last bus departs the airport at 21:30.

If your plane departs before 11:45am it is possible to catch a train to the airport. The earliest train departs Kutchan station at 5:22am and arrives at the airport around 8:30am. (You will have to take a taxi from the Niseko Village Area to Kutchan Station.)

Skybus has a private transfer option to the airport. 

Staying a night in Sapporo city or Chitose city and taking the train to the airport in the morning is also an option. From downtown Sapporo city to Chitose airport the fastest and least expensive way to get there is by train. The cost is 1,040yen for adults. The earliest train departing Sapporo station to Chitose airport is at 6:00 am, arriving at the airport at 6:48am. This will leave you enough time to check in comfortably for domestic flights departing as early as 7:30am.

Can I ski at Niseko Moiwa on a Niseko United All Mountain Pass?

Despite Niseko Moiwa’s proximity to the Niseko United Resort a separate lift ticket is required to ski at Niseko Moiwa.

Where can I ski on a Niseko United All Mountain Pass?

The Niseko United All Mountain Pass can be used at Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village (formerly Higashiyama) Niseko Grand Hirafu and Hanazono.  For more information and lift ticket prices please visit the Niseko United website.

When to Visit Niseko Ski Resort

Early season Dec 12 to Dec 19

The Good - No crowds, cheap accommodation and plenty of availability. Night skiing and the free village shuttle bus begin operating during this time.

The Not So Good –Limited off-piste skiing.

A wide selection of accommodation is available at rates lower than Peak Season rates. Places start to fill up for dates around Dec 15 onwards.

Weather & Snow Information

The backcountry gates will not yet be open and off-piste skiing will still be limited on the lower mountain. Large snowfalls can rapidly change the conditions. Night skiing is available from Dec 14th.

Temperatures average - 3°C.

Crowd Information

There are no crowds at this time.

Reservations for restaurants are typically not needed.

Closure Information

All restaurants and shops will be operating by now.

High season Around Dec 20 to End of Feb

The Good – Excellent snow conditions. Lots of dry powder. Awesome night skiing. Nightlife has a good party atmosphere.

The Not So Good – Highest prices for accommodation. Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year can book out early. The coldest time of the year.

Highest prices for accommodation. Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year book out early.

When to book?

6 months to 1 year in advance. Peak periods book out so don’t expect much in the way of last minute deals.

Weather & Snow Information

Mid December through March is typically the snowiest season, with the best snow in late December, January and February. Niseko receives an average of 14 meters of snow per season with most of it coming during this time. There is excellent powder skiing during this time.

Temperatures range between - 2°C and - 11°C in the village and -15°C and -25°C at the peak

Crowd Information

The busiest times are during the two weeks around Christmas and New Year. The other busy time is during the Chinese New Year.

While the town is crowded during this time of year, and restaurant reservations are a good idea, the peak time of year can be a great time to visit just for the sheer energy of the town and great skiing conditions.

Secret tips

Here’s a nice little secret … there can be some incredible skiing in March. Sunnier days, fewer crowds and great deals on accommodation, lift passes and ski rentals make it an ideal time to visit Niseko.

Try the night skiing. Many people come to Niseko but fail to experience the thrill of night skiing. Visibility is surprisingly very good even on stormy nights. Dress up warmly though.

Hire a guide to show you the best of what Niseko has to offer. You can choose from in mountain tours to full back country tours get out and discover what this area has to offer

What other activities are available in the Niseko Resort Area if I don’t want to go skiing?

Niseko’s main attraction in winter is the snow.  Most non-skiing activities revolve around snow including snowmobiling, snow shoeing, horse riding and dog sledding cooking classes and cultural activities.  For shopping you will have to travel outside the resort area to either Otaru city or Sapporo city. Just going and checking out the supermarket can be an interesting day out as well. Trains run frequently from Kutchan station and Niseko town station to Otaru and Sapporo cities.

Are there international ATM’s?

There is an ATM located in Shiki in Hirafu near the main bus stop at the intersection(near siecomart)  .Other  ATM’s are located at the main post office in Kutchan , 7/11 convenience store near Coop supermarket in Kutchan (12km's from Niseko Village).In Niseko  Village the Hilton has an ATM’s which accept international cards

Do restaurants and shops accept credit cards or travellers cheques?

Most bars and restaurants in the Niseko Ski resort do NOT accept credit cards or travellers cheques.  Restaurants that do accept credit cards may charge an extra service fee. Ski rental and ski goods stores accept credit cards and lift tickets can be purchased by credit card.

What kind of restaurants are in Niseko?

With around 200 places to dine at in the Niseko area there is no shortage of options.  From traditional Japanese to Western style and from fine dining to burger and chips to food vans, there is something to suit all tastes.  make sure you grab a niseko wine and dine to give you all the tips on teh best places to dine.

Do I need to make reservations for restaurants in Hirafu, Niseko?

During the peak periods of Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year it is recommended to make reservations. Most restaurants have English speaking staff. Outside of these times you generally only need to make a reservation if you have a large group or want to dine at a popular restaurant.

Do I need to tip in the Niseko Ski Resort?

Tipping is not customary in Japan and you should not leave a tip at your restaurant table as the wait staff will probably think you forgot your change and will chase after you to return it.

Can I use my mobile phone in Niseko?

Most 3G phones will work however it is recommended that you check with your service provider before coming to Japan to see if your cell phone will work in Niseko.

Can I use a two way radio while skiing?

Australian and New Zealand UHF-CB/PRS radios are strictly prohibited in Japan as they use the same frequency as Japanese television and radio broadcasts. Possession or use of such radios is illegal and may lead to imprisonment or heavy fines.

Is it easy to get around Niseko speaking English only?

Generally it is very easy to get around speaking English only. Most signs and restaurant menus are in English.  Most Japanese have studied English at school but not many can speak it well. Simple written English is generally understood. There will be situations where English is not understood at all.  A simple phrase book and notebook and pen are quite useful to bring.

What's the average winter temperature around the village?

The average winter temperature in Hirafu Village is -2 °C. On the mountain temperatures can get as low as - 25°C with wind chill factor.  Neck warmers and face masks during skiing are recommended.

I want to do a decent grocery shop, is there a big supermarket nearby?

Kutchan town is 12km from the Lodge and has 3 supermarkets. Local buses and night buses go frequently from the ski resort to Kutchan. Taxis are also available.

I want to buy some souvenirs, are there souvenir shops in town?

Yes, there are several souvenir shops with a large range of goods. The Japanese hotels in Hirafu also have souvenir shops. There are a few shops in the Niseko town area which have local crafts as well. If you do not have time for shopping and your main focus is getting fresh tracks you can always checkout www.arcticoriental.com for unique one of a kind designer cushions and soft furnishings made form up cycled Japanese Kimonos and Obis for that unforgettable gift.

I have a minor sprain or ache, am there an English speaking physio in Niseko?

Yes, Niseko Physio staff are Australian registered physiotherapists with extensive knowledge of winter sport strains and injuries.

Where can I check the Niseko Snow report and Niseko forecast?

The current Niseko snow forecast, snow depth and weather forecast can be found at snow-forecast.com

Is there an App I can get for all info on Niseko?

Yes checkout http://www.niseko.com/nisekoapp/ for all the up to date info you will need.