11 years ago, when I last visited Niseko, the ski resort area outside of Sapporo on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, the place still felt off the beaten path, for expats and tourists alike. I remember snowshoeing through a river valley, among rocks and trees mushroom-capped with some of that “champagne powder” snow that is making this part of Hokkaido internationally famous. At the time, Niseko was still a destination worth visiting for some peaceful communing with nature.
Hopefully, that’s still the case. However, in the ensuing 11 years, Niseko has apparently gone from a sleepy village to a world-class resort town. Australians and others are buying up vacation condos, and the area is now on the radar of the international jet set. And service infrastructure, ie restaurants for foodies, is arising to meet the needs of this new class of visitor.