The 9 Best Bars and Clubs in Niseko

Skiing and snowboarding is just the start of the fun in Niseko. After the slopes close, you’ll want to spend some time checking out the local nightlife.

Most Japanese ski resorts aren’t known for their après-ski activities, and if you’re hankering for some evening drinks once you’re done shredding the slopes, you typically won’t have many options beyond the occasional quiet bar. But Niseko, located on the south end of Hokkaido Island, is a rare exception to the rule.

As a globally renowned skiing destination, Niseko boasts a thriving nightlife scene filled with buzzy clubs and bars. Visitors can also sample plenty of unique drinks around town, as Japanese whiskey, sake, and a special-edition Sapporo beer are all brewed in the region.

Most of the action is found in Hirafu village, where you can make your way around via taxi or the Kutchan Night Go bus. You can start your evening on the dancefloor in the Powder Room, sip artisan cocktails at Musu Bar, and wrap up with a quiet meal and casual drinks at an izakaya, or traditional Japanese pub. No matter what kind of night you have in mind, any visitor can enjoy all the best bars and nightlife in Niseko.

Wild Bill’s

One of the most happening bars in the area, Wild Bill’s in Hirafu has become a Niseko nightlife institution. Warm up by playing pool and listening to live music, or just grab a seat at one of the cozy tables and order a pint or two of Sapporo Classic, the perfect accompaniment to Wild Bill’s extensive menu of Latin American-inspired eats (no bland pub food to be seen here). There’s even a small but usually lively dance floor, where you can party into the wee hours of the morning alongside fellow snowbirds.

2. Bar Gyu+

Tucked away behind a vintage Coca Cola vending machine in Hirafu village, Bar Gyu+ is Niseko’s oldest and arguably most iconic cocktail bar. Families with kids are welcome before 7 pm, but after the sun goes down, Bar Gyu+ easily lives up to its billing as one of the hottest après-ski spots in town. The “Fridge Door Bar” features an inventive cocktail list, a comfortable and friendly environment, and an extensive record collection curated by the owners. It’s no wonder that both locals and tourists love to frequent this hopping hotspot.

3. Barunba Bar

You might not expect to find a taste of the tropics in the mountains of Japan, but the Indonesian-themed Barunba Bar delivers. Get on (Hokkaido) island time with a Jet Li or Bruce Willis cocktail, chilled with ice made from pure spring water, then mix and mingle your way around this cheerful spot. Space can be tight since the low-priced drinks (starting around 600 yen each) tend to draw more visitors than this 20-seat bar can handle, but on the bright side, attentive staff are on hand to take care of Barunba’s many guests.

4. The Powder Room

Since opening in 2016, the Powder Room has made a major splash in Hirafu and the place stays packed just about every night of the week. At this swanky restaurant-lounge combination, you can dine on upscale Western and Japanese fare, show off your moves on the dance floor, and catch sets performed by major DJ acts — ideally with a glass of champagne or Japanese whiskey in hand. You might need to sleep in a bit to recover from a night here, but it’ll be well worth it.

5. Musu Bar and Bistro

In Hirafu’s Odin place, Musu Bar and Bistro serves a globally inspired drinks menu as well as hearty African- and Spanish-style dishes. Head to Musu on a weekend night to try cocktails and listen to live music around the central fireplace, then make it back the next day in time for brunch. But whether you’re coming in for lunch, dinner, or drinks, be sure to arrive as early as you can. The restaurant and bar are both walk-in only and can get quite crowded at times.

6. Toshiro’s Bar

The 2020 winner of Best Bar in Niseko, Toshiro’s serves up an elevated menu of drinks and snacks within a refined setting. Prices may run a little high compared to those at other bars in the area, but don’t let sticker shock scare you away. As soon as you settle in and order the photo-worthy Smoked Penicillin (or any of the other whiskey cocktails on offer), you’ll see why Toshiro’s has earned such a great reputation in Niseko’s nightlife scene.

7. Half Note

This relaxed bar ranks as one of the best, if not the best, live music venues in Niseko. Half Note opens early to sell espresso and pastries before the lifts start running, and stays open until midnight with cocktails, a diverse set list, and sporting events on TV. To accompany your drinks, pick up some authentic Vietnamese street food from the recently opened Rob Photons restaurant — there are even vegan options, a rarity in Japan.

8. Jam Bar

Owned by a Niseko native, the izakaya Jam Bar serves craft beers on tap as well as dishes like sashimi, Hokkaido scallops, and even elevated versions of bar comfort food. Jam Bar is fairly popular thanks to its central location, so be warned that the place can get a little crowded on weekends and around the holidays. If and when you score a table here, though, you’re all but guaranteed to fall in love with the welcoming ambiance and high-quality eats.

9. Niseko Taproom

Niseko Taproom serves a wide variety of cocktails and a rotation of local craft beers, plus tasty bar food within an intimate setting. Emphasis on intimate, though — the Niseko Taproom is a bit on the small side, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. The atmosphere is warm and the drinks are cold, the perfect antidote to all the sore muscles caused by a day on the ski slopes.