THE Hirafu pubscape has gone from strength to strength this year with all the old favourites returning, and several impressive new additions.
Not be outdone by the lower village last season, which saw two new bars in Splash and The Brick, the upper village has this year stepped up to the plate.
Paddy McGinty’s Irish Bar stands out like a beacon to thirsty skiers and boarders, located in the middle of the main street in the old building that housed the popular Big Cliff izakaya.
Complete with Guinness shipped in from Dublin, the makeover is nothing short of spectacular as the rustic old restaurant has become an Irish bar to match any around the world (and maybe even outdo many in Ireland itself?!).
Offering food and drink in a smoke-free environment daily from midday, it will be one of the first foreign-owned Hirafu entertainment venues to open year-round.
Locals have applauded owners Roger Donazzon and Wayne Lazarus for the move as it adds another summer food and entertainment venue which will boost Hirafu’s perennial tourist appeal.
Managing the bar is Irishman Alan Power who has worked in and run Irish pubs in Tokyo for the past 15 years, and moved to Niseko with his wife and two daughters especially to run the pub.
Pub chef is local character Shin-san, who has worked for the Grand Hirafu resort and at one stage owned his own Italian restaurant. Shin-san is chairman and teacher at the local children’s mogul school and competed when he was young.
Just a snowball’s throw away from Paddy’s, old favourite the Jam Bar underwent a complete overhaul over the summer and has sprung up as a completely new building.
Formerly just a tiny shack that would cram a few dozen drinkers in for late-night parties, it’s now an impressive building with an amazing new interior created by well-known local carpenter Kuwa-san, who also gave the Dragon Bar it’s incredible overhaul last year.
Jam Bar has a funky mix of rainbow colours, wooden sculptures and furniture, all in a Mexican and Mediteranean style. It has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
Owner Shinya Katou loves a good party and is famous for his Guru-Guru parties and ¥1000 nomihodais (all you can drink) that last until the alcohol runs out… and he always makes sure he has enough to last almost until dawn.