In the summer months, Niseko Village offers opportunities to savour nature’s bounty, with activities in store for families.
From May to September, Niseko promises sunny, cloudless days and boundless opportunities to commune with nature. This vista of green and blue unfurls before you upon your arrival at Sapporo’s New Chitose airport – the main transit point to the entire island of Hokkaido.
The ensuing journey to Niseko takes you through emerald forests and mountains in silent repose. Don’t miss out on the chance to stop by the fabulous rest station on the Nakayama Mountain pass to enjoy quintessential Hokkaido novelties such as age-imo (deep-fried potato balls) as well as rollicking American country and western music blaring over the speakers. This rest stop draws visitors in the multitudes each year who come to the vantage point to behold the magnificent 1,898-metre Mount Yotei.
The solitary mountain, frequently ringed by clouds from the nearby ocean, takes an even grander prominence when you reach Niseko Village. Here, Mount Yotei becomes the backdrop to the delightful slew of outdoor diversions that lie in wait. Golfers would inevitably head for the Niseko Village and Niseko golf courses; the former has topped the Japan’s Best Golf Courses category at the World Golf Awards for three years running and the latter is an Arnold Palmer-designed beauty with a signature Par 3. Golf is a recurrent theme at Niseko Village, with plenty of amateur-level tournaments held throughout the warmer months. Other highlights on Niseko’s summer calendar include trail runs, classic bike races and the own’s Tanabata Fireworks Festival with a display of over 1,500 varieties.
At Niseko Village, accommodation choices range from the modish Hilton to the relaxed ambience of The Green Leaf, all the way to the spacious three-bedroom townhouses of Kasara and the luxurious Hinode Hills Niseko Village – all surrounded by a resplendent landscape of natural wonders. A Pure Super Passport enables you to have unlimited access, within a day, to treetop trekking, cart exploration of the golf courses, gondola rides and much more. Park Golf – a hybrid variation of golf and croquet unique to Hokkaido – is also included in the Super Passport ticket.
In summer, afternoons remain mild and evenings quite cool, making it ideal for nature rambles around Niseko Village, which is perfumed by woody, floral scents and redolent with birdsong. Families seeking competitive-type activities may request for treasure hunts to be set up – with difficulty levels ranging from novice to expert. Mountain biking on the trails, white-water rafting and zipline guided tours will set pulses racing, while horseback riding and hot air balloon rides offer a different perspective of the bucolic countryside. Slightly farther afield, one may indulge in fruit picking at nearby orchards or visit the legendary Yoichi whisky distillery. Mount Yotei provides climbers and hikers with a full day’s workout: five hours are usually required to reach the top, another two to circle the volcanic crater and four hours back down. Summer is best for this activity because of the longer daylight hours and the incentive of hiking among flowers in bloom.
Another advantage of spending a summer at Niseko is to experience its transformation into a large greenhouse. As the breadbasket of Japan with a food self-sufficiency rate of 200 per cent, Hokkaido produces a myriad of tasty delights such as dairy, sweet cherry tomatoes, eggplant and seasonal seafood such as uni (sea urchin).
During the Niko Niko Niseko Village Festival, local vendors show up at the village centre with fresh harvests, while children are entertained with crafts and games. The period between mid-August and October is when all of Niseko celebrates its annual harvest. Amid the colourful autumnal foliage, families can easily enjoy outdoor barbecues and the ubiquitous Genghis Khan lamb broiled in a shallow iron pan.
Over at Niseko Village’s shopping and dining precinct, The Crab Shack serves plenty of seafood and meats, while Yang Shu Ten’s menu tantalises with sushi, tempura and teppanyaki. The Flame, a bar and lounge at Hilton Niseko Village, possesses a cosy ambience of leather couches and warm lights where you can partake of the barbecued cornucopia of summer’s bounty. Meanwhile the adjacent golf course can be set up with a Golf Paradise Party Plan – a seven-course dinner paired with beer, sake, wines, whiskies and teas at the completion of a round of golf. All of this feasting naturally leads to the unmissable onsen experience, available at both Hilton Niseko Village and The Green Leaf. A dip in these thermal waters as the day’s light wanes is the panacea to sore muscles and a relaxing cap to a perfect day.