You came to Niseko for the powder or the tarmac but you will fall in love with the Japanese tradition of onsen before you leave. Onsen are communal Japanese mineral baths, often served by volcanic or mineral hot springs and you’re in luck, because there are dozens of them in the Niseko area.  In winter they are gloriously refreshing after a hard day on the slopes. In summer they’ll soak away every ache you’ve accumulated on the bike, trekking through forests or rafting on the Shiribetsu River.

Out of consideration for your fellow bathers the onsen ritual involves a cleansing beforehand at the shower provided and the whole process is taken naked, with a hand towel (or ‘modesty towel’) as an accoutrement. Onsen are almost always male/female separated, but some are unisex.

You’ll find a comprehensive set of instructions and tips for enjoying onsen here. While traditionally tattoos can bar you entry from onsen in Japan it’s fair to say that the Niseko onsens have adapted to the volume of tattoos sported by their visitors and often adopt a more relaxed approach. Ask at the front desk, if you do have tattoos, and you’ll generally be ok.  Some onsen will allow alcohol, and sell you a beer, but often it is frowned upon. Ask first. The point is both to cleanse and relax both body and spirit. Soak and enjoy!




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