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Release | Yulia Ezhikova

Hirafu by night: best bars to visit this winter

Historically speaking skiing in Japan has never been known for a great apres ski scene, but things are changing quickly in the Grand Hirafu resort with new restaurants and bars popping up every season. From a high-end champagne parlor to a speakeasy cocktail bar, DJ club, craft beer place, whisky tasting room, wine bar and various well loved underground local establishments, there are quite a lot of options to keep you entertained well past the lift closing time. 

We’ve wined and partied our way through the village to put together a list of the best places for a night out in Grand Hirafu this season, so you can find a spot that matches your mood just right.

Powder Room

What: Champagne bar & DJ club
Must try: Caviar vodka shots

Powder Room

Probably the most glamorous establishment in the whole of Hirafu, Powder Room calls for your best outfit like no place else. Come early in the evening for a top-notch steak dinner accompanied by an elegant lounge playlist or make it your late night stop just in time for the finest champagne bottles, legendary caviar shots and dance floor extravaganza inspired by one of the resident DJs. 

Bar Gyu

What: Speakeasy cocktail bar
Must try: Best old fashioned in town, a flight of local Japanese whiskies or sake

Bar Gyu
Bar Gyu
Hidden behind a tiny vintage fridge door in lower Hirafu, Bar Gyu  is as good as it gets when it comes to a sophisticated, but cozy night out in the resort. With artisanal cocktails served by elegant barmen in bow ties to wooden chalet like interior with soft candle light, panoramic windows overlooking a snowy forest and soulful vinyl playlist, Bar Gyu strikes a fine balance between being quirky and elegant at the same time. Having earned its reputation for years, it has recently been featured on Bloomberg’s list of “Best apres ski bars on earth” and we couldn’t be more proud.

Tamashii

What: Laid back apres ski establishment with history
Must try: Round of darts or pool against one of the local teams

Tamashii
 Tamashii is one of a few places in Hirafu that has been around for over a decade and based on how much it is loved by locals and visitors alike, it will most certainly continue being the center of gravity for Hirafu’s nightlife for years to come. Expect casual, but fun atmosphere, no nonsense drinks and surprisingly good bar food with choices ranging from delicious fried squid legs to vegetarian friendly dishes like a pita bread hummus dip and of course the signature burger itself. Watch out for posters announcing DJ and live music nights during the season, as those are usually a shame to miss.

Musu

What: Cosmopolitan cocktail bar
Must try: Wasabi Margaritas by a designer fireplace 

Musu
Designed by a world wide famous New York based architect studio and run by a French chef and restaurant manager, Musu has a very cosmopolitan and contemporary vibe about it that immediately sets it apart from any other place in the village. Come early in the evening to get a leather sofa sit by the fireplace and take your time to explore their extensive wine list and tapas style food menu or stop by later in the night for trendy cocktails and DJ music. 

Niseko Taproom

What: Craft beer bar
Must try: Niseko IPA accompanied by signature rotisserie chicken

Niseko Taproom
A tiny bar counter located on the third floor of recently opened Odin Place building may not look like much, but is in fact the craft beer mecca in town. With a great variety of both international and Japanese brews available on tap and in bottles, this place is well loved as a casual apres ski destination. The lack of space makes for a great atmosphere since guests are almost forced to talk to each other and it may not take that long till you are happily sharing your Niseko Pale Ale and a signature grilled chicken with a couple of charming strangers.

Toshiro’s Bar

What: Whisky tasting room
Must try: Nikka whiskies from Yoichi region of Hokkaido

Toshiro’s Bar
Toshiro’s has an impressive collection of over 400 different whisky bottles lining up its shelves and is a great place to come for a thoughtful tasting experience. Be sure to try a variety of world wide famous Japanese whiskies available, but also give cocktails a go. The bar is owned by a former hotel barman, who is passionate about all things spirits and mixes amazing cocktails that are then being served by his partner wearing an elegant kimono. 

Mick’s

What: Soulful wine bar
Must try: Bottle of wine that Mick is excited about at that particular point in time

Mick’s
Just a few tables and a tiny wine shop located at the main Hirafu intersection, Mick’s has a very casual, almost underground vibe to it. The owner himself is always around and is a truly interesting character with great sense of humor and passion for wines. Be sure to ask him for a recommendation if you get a chance and you are in for delightful journey into the world of boutique wines. 

The Big Foot

What: Cozy wooden bar and a burger joint
Must try: Craft cocktails and a burger by a cozy fireplace

The Big Foot
Arguably one of the best burger joints in town, The Big Foot doubles up as a casual bar serving great well priced drinks in a setting of an old wooden lodge cabin with a fireplace and a few pool tables. They also keep a huge bonfire in front of the lodge going, so you can head there after your dinner for an unforgettable drink under the winter skies. 
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