Published: February, 2024
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Tokyo and Niseko, Japan

I am always incredibly inspired the moment that I get off the plane in Tokyo
— Blythe Harris, DailyCreative
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Group getaway, City, Mountains
  • Activity level: high
  • Ideal length of trip: A trip to Tokyo and Niseko is an explosion of creativity and adventure . I would allow for a few days in Tokyo and 5-6 days in Niseko (allow for 9-10 days total to include travel time)

to & from

My main motivation for traveling is to experience creativity and inspiration through other cultures.  As a Co-Founder of  DailyCreative, I believe that surrounding yourself with different visual, auditory and sensory input is an amazing way to tap into your innate creativity. Even before landing in Japan, I feel my perspective shift as I eat fish and seaweed for breakfast and undergo a 17 hour time change from San Francisco. I prefer flying into Tokyo, and having a night or two to adjust to the time change and enjoy the city, before flying to Sapporo. I am always incredibly inspired the moment that I get off the plane in Tokyo, from all of the surprising and enchanting visual stimuli-don’t miss the Hiroshi Senju immersive large scale paintings:my favorite, the Water Shrine, features prominently on my moodboard.

  • To reach Niseko, take an easy flight from Tokyo to Sapporo on ANA. From Sapporo, we hired a car for the two hour drive to Niseko.
  • When in Niseko, most restaurants are walking distance, but should you want to go a bit further you can download the ‘Go’ taxi app which is the Japanese version of Uber.

Where to Stay

In Tokyo, we stayed at the Okura Hotel great for its Japanese meets mid-century vibe but my dream stay would be at The Aman.  I have also stayed at The Peninsula which is walking distance to Dover Street Market Ginza, one of my favorite shopping experiences.

In Niseko, we stayed in the Hirafu Village in a rented ski house through VRBO. The Grand Hirafu ski resort was a short walk uphill. Lots of homes and condos available to rent in the area— make sure walking distance to town.

  • Kimamaya Niseko- Attached to The Barn, a simple but lovely hotel with a great location where friends have stayed.
  • Shiguchi-Attached to Somoza gallery and restaurant, these 150 year old residences are open for booking. After our dining experience at Somoza we are all aiming to stay here someday!

Where to Eat and Drink

The food in Japan is a big part of the cultural experience..and a huge source of creative inspiration. In Tokyo, a favorite is Kozue at the top of the Park Hyatt, made famous by Lost in Translation. For lunch, try Down the Stairs . In Niseko, from the ramen bars in the ski lodges, to the food trucks with hot sake, to 14 course yakitori and sushi dinners are a visual and culinary feast. The colors and innovative ingredients, and the artistry in both the preparation and presentation are incredible inspiring. I would recommend reserving restaurants ahead of time, unless you are on a budget and want to stick to food trucks and pizza!



  • For coffee in the morning, and casual breakfast and lunch try Green Farm Deli, Cafe & Roaster- breakfast & lunch, “from farm to fork”. The breakfast sandwich is not to be missed.
  • Yakatori Fujiwara Niseko- Small set multi course menu focused on grilled chicken.
  • The Barn- Wonderful French inspired restaurant — a nice break from Japanese food in a pretty setting.
  • Bar Gyu “the fridge bar”. SO worth the wait in line but be prepared to wait outside for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • For a truly special experience: Somoza- art gallery, hotel, authentic Japenese style buildings 25 minutes from town “a 150-year-old old private gallery restaurant nestled in a forest in Hanazono.” An amazing experience that will ignite all of your senses!
  • If you are on your reservation game, you can experience world famous soba noodles at Rakuichi Soba. This is an unforgettable and delicious two hour experience in an intimate setting.
  • For the nights that you do not have reservations, we loved Yummy’s Pizzeria, with delicious thin-crust pies, and the Ramen food trucks in the middle of Hirafu. We also loved the Dohyo Donut truck outside of Rhythm Japan for donuts and coffee served all day.

What to Do

In Tokyo, I love to walk around and check out the street style, which is incredible. I also love visiting my favorite bookstore, with rare art and design books, Daikanyama Tsutaya Bookstore. I love walking around each neighborhood-especially Shibuya and Ginza and looking at the typography and graphics on street signs, packing in stores, and restaurant menus. Another not-to-miss experience is a Japanese record listening bar- our favorite is Bar Martha, which has a carefully curated atmosphere regulated by an imposing looking doorman. In terms of Niseko, it is all about an adventure rush. Most people come to Niseko to ski. The non-stop, incredibly dry and light powder makes it predictably amazing for on-piste and off-piste terrain.

  • Ski resorts are mostly dated with hodgepodge lift situations and mellow hills— to ski Niseko powder it is best to get a guide and go back country. Backcountry can be accessed by skinning, snowcat, or lift assist— skiing out of bounds after taking a resort lift. For guides, check out Hokkaido Backcountry Club.
  • Iwanai Resort Cat Skiing-  We did not get a chance to do this but it comes highly recommended from multiple friends. Book in advance!!
  • Local ski resorts include: Moiwa- Rusutso- Niseko Grand Hirafu— accessible from the main town of Niseko. 
  •  If skiing in the resort, make your way to the Edge for lunch, the most modern of the ski chalets we encountered on our trip.
  • Annapuri Niseko—Climb the peak and ski the back bowls!
  • A great way to experience the local culture is by visiting an Onsen. Soak your sore muscles next to Japanese grandmothers...leave your modesty at home and make sure to scrub!

inside scoop

During ski season, Niseko is cold and snowing most of the time— pack warm layers and good winter walking boots. Hand and boot/sock warmers are a must!
You will need backcountry gear for backcountry skiing— Beacon, shovel, probes… Most guides can provide this or it can be rented but also nice to bring your own so you have it ready.

  • If you do need to buy or rent gear, Rhythm Japan in central Hirafu is a great go-to place for skis, boots, skins and all the gear you need.
  • Make restaurant reservations early, especially if you are going in high season in January or February. Restaurants book up and it is tiring to eat at the food trucks too many nights in a row!
  • If you find yourself in need of a massage or physical therapy from all of your backcountry runs, Niseko Physio on the main road in Hirafu has on-demand appointments with well-trained practicioners.

What to Pack

Thick, warm long down jackets and lined, warm boots (like Sorels) with good treads are a must for walking around town at night. Definitely pick function over fashion in this climate! I packed wool fair isle sweaters, jeans, Freda Salvador Brooke waterproof boots, Sorels, a Mackage long down coat, and lots of warm layers.




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