Gouka is a remarkable four-bedroom chalet at the centre of Hirafu Village, Niseko. It is an excellent accommodation choice for families or groups of friends, offering two master bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and two guestrooms with a shared bathroom, all with lovely views. A charming lounge, cosy fireplace, modern entertainment facilities, well-equipped kitchen and a large dining table make the perfect base at the end of an active day. During winter months, nearby Mount Yotei and Annupuri offer ski slopes for all levels of ability. Thermal spas (onsens) are also within walking distance of the chalet.
Here's a quick overview of some of the varied activities on offer within easy reach of the chalet.
- The property is located one kilometre from the Grand Hirafu Gondola which gives you access to some of the area's steepest slopes, as well as some great beginner runs. Simply ask one of our on-call drivers to take you there. From the gondola, there are also free shuttle buses that will take you to any of the other Niseko resorts.
- Whether you're a first-timer trying to familiarise yourself with a pair of skis or an accomplished snowboarder trying to perfect your turns, the Niseko Grand Hirafu Snow School has a wide range of lessons and programmes available which cater to all levels.
- Driving a snow mobile is an exhilarating way to explore Hirafu's incredible scenery. From adventurous guided tours speeding down forested trails, to skidding along the snow on a banana boat, there are plenty of options available for safe and exciting family fun.
- For those slightly more adventurous we can recommend Niseko's specialist mountain guides. Highly trained in rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and off-piste skiing, their incredible knowledge and understanding of the local terrain will provide you with an unforgettable experience of the area's wild backcountry in the safest possible way.
- Regularly hosting Japan's largest cycling race – the 'Tour de Hokkaido' – Hirafu is a much-loved cycling destination thanks to its stunning landscape, comfortable summers, excellent cycling facilities and wide variety of cycling trails which cater to all abilities.
- Come spring, the snowmelt raises the water levels of the Shiribetsu river by almost two metres, making it ideal for white water rafting. A 12 km-long course runs from Hirafu Station to Niseko Station across Japan's cleanest river. Although it will take you past a number of exciting challenges, the course is easy enough to navigate while enjoying the valley's stunning beauty.
- With its elevated rope courses, zip-lines, free-fall platforms, bouncy slides and horse rides, the recreational park PURE provides a wonderful day-out for children and adults of all ages.
- The 18-hole, 73 par Niseko Village Golf Course is considered the jewel in the crown of Hokkaido's golf scene, thanks to its excellent facilities and the area's dry and pleasant summers. With the photogenic Mount Yotei in the background, we really can't think of a better place for practising your shots or improving your handicap.
Any time of the year
- The village of Hirafu is at the centre of a flourishing food scene, so you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Meat lovers will appreciate the rare Kobe beef at Steak Rosso Rosso and if you prefer seafood we suggest trying out some of Hokkaido's freshest catch at Ezo's. Hirafu has not one but two Michelin-star restaurants – Kamimura and Ichumura – both serving exceptionally fine Japanese dining.
- For a night out on the town, we suggest sampling the rare Japanese whiskies at Bar Gyu or the awesome selection of Japanese craft beers at Mick's. If you still have energy left, be sure to check out Wild Bill's for live music and late-night DJ sets.
- Hirafu has steadily built a reputation as one of Hokkaido's prime health and wellness resorts. Relax those sore muscles in Hotel Niseko Alpen's volcanic hot spring (or 'onsen') – a very popular choice because of its stunning mountain views, 25-metre pool and high-tech infrared light stone sauna. Be prepared to follow Japanese custom by getting naked alongside other visitors of the same gender.
- Explore some of the area's local museums on a rainy afternoon. The architecturally striking Shu Ogawara Museum of Art in nearby Kutchan is an ode to one of Hokkaido's most famous painters. With its display of colourful art pieces by the artist himself, as well as its seasonal exhibits and regular classical concerts, it is well-worth a visit any time of the year. Located right opposite the Museum of Art is the Kutchan Natural History Museum which hosts fascinating exhibits about the local fauna and the area's rich local history.