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Traditional Japan

Nikka Whisky from the Yoichi Distillery

If you like Whisky you must try the local drop. It is called Nikka Whisky from the Yoichi Distillery which is about a 45 minute drive toward Otaru from Niseko. One of the cheapest bottles and our favourite is the “Nikka Whisky From The Barrel” pictured above. It has a mellow sweetness to it and retails in the local Kutchan supermarkets for 1,900-2,600 JPY a bottle.
The founder of the Yoichi Distillery was Masataka Taketsuru who travelled to Scotland where he studied whisky making at Glasgow University. In 1920 he returned with his young Scottish wife and started making the first Japanese Whisky. There is a lovely story about Masataka, The founder of Japanese Whisky, on the distillery’s website:
At the distillery there are guided tours leaving every 30 mins only in Japanese though and you can sample 3 different whiskies – The above pictured whisky blended from multiple types of malt and grain, A blended pure malt and A Coffey Grain Whiskey.
The Distillery is open all year round from 9am-4:30pm and the telephone number for your cars sat nav is: 0135 233131

Lake Shikotsuko

Lake Shikotsuko is a one and a quarter hour drive from Niseko. If you take the bus from New Chitose Airport to Niseko you will drive right past this lake.

It has loads of onsen hotels, some very basic and some very smart places to stay but still fairly reasonable price wise.

We stayed a night at Lake Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei. It is a beautiful Japanese Onsen Hotel. The rooms were large and the buffet dinner and breakfast were delicious.

Lake Shikotsuko also hosts its own Ice Festival in February in line with the Sapporo Ice Festival. Much smaller in scale buy equally beautiful.

A Special Night to add to the Beginning or End of a stay at Fubuki

The most stunning new Ryokan Hotel has opened recently over near Hanazono and the Weiss Hotel.
It is called Zaborin.
I was lucky enough to spend a night there during February 2016 and it has to be one of the most memorable Japanese experiences I have had to date.
Zaborin is a fine example of Contemporary Japanese architecture and has interiors that compliment the peace and harmony of the surrounding nature.
It has only 15 rooms all with their own private indoor and outdoor onsen-private bath. Each room is individually named and ours was called FUBUKI of all things.
In the room rate, breakfast and dinner is included. It does not come cheap however the food was exceptional and the interiors were stunning..
Famous Hokkaido Chef Yoshihiro Seno who has worked in New York and Tokyo has returned to his roots and is all about using the locally grown produce and getting the best out of it all. His style is a northern version of Kaiseki which is more tactile and natural than the Kyoto Kaiseki style.
Dinner was an assault of visual excellence and taste.IMG_20160217_212739
Breakfast was much the sameIMG_20160218_094608
If you are after a special night either before or after a stay at Fubuki, make sure you book a night at Zaborin.

Kyoto Geisha

For those wanting to ski in Niseko, you must consider doing a few nights in Kyoto either before or after your skiing in Niseko. Stay in or near Gion and you may be lucky enough to see a Geisha. This one we saw out on a Saturday afternoon and she was very young and just so graceful.