www.grand-hirafu.jp/winter/en/ | Yamada 204, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun | 2+81-136-22-0109 | Days 8:30-20:30, Nights 18:30-20:30 (Limited time only) | Travelling times to Grand Hirafu New Chitose Airport: 2 hrs (car), Sapporo: 2 hrs 30 min (train)
Niseko Grand Hirafu is the biggest resort in Niseko, with the lion’s share of terrain on the 1,308-metre Mount Niseko Annupuri. It has 30 diverse courses, including 9 of more than a kilometre, and a 5.6-kilometre long cruiser. Tree runs, fresh powder and panoramic views all feature on a grand scale, over 940 metres of vertical.
Niseko Grand Hirafu’s snowboard park and moguls also continue to satisfy, and resort provides snowmobiling and snow rafting as additional options to enjoy the powder.
Visit the Mountain Center at Niseko Grand Hirafu for the Niseko Grand Hirafu Snow School, which coaches riders of all levels and does powder guiding and hiking trips, deep into the beautiful natural reserve area around the resort.
The potential of the powder snow at Niseko Grand Hirafu was first uncovered in 1912, when Austro-Hungarian army Major Theodore von Lerch visited the slopes of nearby Mt Yotei. He had just introduced skiing to Japan in 1911, and 50 years later, in 1961, the first lifts were built at Hirafu for the All-Japan Alpine Ski Championships.
The 2016-2017 season at Niseko Grand HIrafu will feature a newly-upgraded King 3 Triple Lift, set to reduce queueing times; reborn as a high-speed quad lift, it will carry an extra 600 passengers per hour. The lift’s base station will also be shifted 170 metres further down, to streamline access from connecting trails.