I’m no stranger to BBQs, but last weekend’s Scenic Yakiniku Night in Niseko Town was a little different from what I’m used to. I mean, a snowy setting, dozens of little fires, and a hundred people cooking for themselves? I was a little unsure, especially as I don’t like being cold or having to wait for my food. However, with the words ‘once in a lifetime’ ringing in my ears I bundled up and set off.
The event was staged right across the road from JR Niseko Station, in the carpark of the Kiranoyu onsen, and the set up was impressive. There were speakers blaring some terrible yet catchy Japanese pop music, stalls serving the food and drinks, and one random sock shop. I initially thought ‘sock’ was a typo for ‘sake’, but I was wrong.
Smoldering embers fueled the dozens of little fires that dotted the car park, and we purchased our yakiniku sets and some mulled wine and got down to business.
The set was excellent value, particularly when you consider it included a pass to the Kiranoyu onsen. For ¥2200, you got a tray loaded with pork slices, chicken skewers, squid, sausages, and ambiguously named ‘offal’, which I was pleased to see meant chicken skin.
I had an awkward time juggling my meat tray and wine as well as the bowl of vegetable miso soup and rice that came with the set, and there was a devastating moment when the meat slid onto the snow. One of my male colleagues took pity on me and offered to eat the floor meat while I took his fresh tray, so all was well, and we hunched around our little fire grilling to our heart’s content.
Our hosts for the evening were giving away prizes every half hour, and we were lucky enough to walk away with a six-pack of beer, some sake, and a set of ostrich sausages.
Despite several cups of mulled wine, my toes were numb after an hour of grilling, and I went inside to take advantage of my free onsen pass. I did have to pay for a towel, but it was well worth it, and I soaked away the last vestiges of wood smoke for a good half hour.
If you’re visiting while this yearly event is being held, I highly recommend you check it out! It was definitely a night to remember, and a truly Japanese experience. Just try and hang on to your meat.