East meets West or West meets East?
Do you want to enjoy the legendary powder snow, or are you just intrigued by the special vibe in this place? Is it an ideal "East meets West" or "West meets East"? Are still in Japan, but find that many people speak English? Let's get the real lay of the land.
"I work in Niseko!" "No, you don't!"
So after some investigation, you discover that:
You will actually work in Hirafu
Niseko town is not the place where you will actually work
Kutchan seems like the biggest place out here
So what does it all mean?
The resort ...
The resort commonly called Niseko is a combination of four resorts which access the mountain called Annupuri, part of the Niseko Volcanic Group.
The groomed/ accessible portion of the mountain is actually divided into four resorts called Niseko United:
Hanazono and Grand Hirafu belong to the administrative region of a town called Kutchan. While Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri Kokusai Ski Area belong to the administrative region of a town called "Niseko".
Now I'm confused...
Here is a brief primer on what's what with seasonal staff at Vacation Niseko.
You reside in Hirafu:
Lucky you! You live in Vacation Niseko staff accommodation! You can walk to the main lifts at Grand Hirafu. What's more you can very likely walk to your place of work. You are near the most famous bars and restaurants.
Rent is expensive, your accommodation will very likely be crowded, and most (if not all) the restaurants and bars have prices pretty high for a seasonal staff wage. You have a couple of convenience stores in the village, where you will have the privilege of waiting 40 minutes to buy 6 slices of white bread.
You reside in Annupuri Village or Niseko Village:
Get ready to move around with shuttle buses, because there is not much to do around there. And grocery shopping is pretty difficult. However on powder days you will have first access to the back bowls and some of the best back country spots out there!
You reside in Niseko town:
On the plus side, it is quiet and the few restaurants open in winter are more for locals than for tourists. read affordable. Also you are one step closer to Rusutsu resort and the rent is cheaper. Availability notwithstanding.
On the minus side, you need a car.
You stay in Kutchan town:
You will be 30 minutes away from the lifts, but there is the United Shuttle. You will be amazingly close to the grocery store, the train (day trip to Sapporo!), karaoke and the rent is much more affordable than Hirafu. Moreover, the town is a "real Japanese town", unlike Hirafu which in winter is much more a circus. So if you want to get a real feel for Japanese culture, you will have to live in Kutchan. You will be able to go to a local restaurant and chat with locals, and the prices are reasonable.
There is no "ideal solution", so it really depends what you really want and what you are ready to give up in order to get this.
In any case - enjoy your season in Niseko!