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Photo By: Bar Gyu+
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Bar Gyu+

Warm up with a hot drink after a day of skiing in Niseko.

  • This bar is located in Niseko which is one of our Top 10 Japan Travel Destinations for 2020!
The little house buried up to its eaves in the snow is easy to miss when walking the chilly streets of Hirafu in Hokkaido. Look a little closer at the sticker-plastered vending machine front that’s been fashioned into a door, and you might be tempted to duck inside.

Do so and you’ll be rewarded with a warm drink and soft jazz tunes at Bar Gyu+.

A reprieve from Niseko’s ski slopes

Bar Gyu in Hokkaido, Japan.

Photo by: Bar Gyu+ Mosey up to the counter and order a drink.

The interior of Bar Gyu+ is wooden and cozy. It’s the perfect place to relax after a day of skiing on Niseko’s world-famous slopes. Hirafu, where the bar is located, is the biggest village in the Niseko ski area.

Flickering candles create a warm atmosphere, and windows frame a pretty picture of a frozen world that’s much more pleasant to look at from inside while clutching a hot drink. Take your pick from hot toddies to signature seven-spice hot wine, or just good old fashioned whiskey.

Bar Gyu in Hokkaido, Japan.

Photo by: Bar Gyu+ What’s your pleasure?

The lovely couple who run the bar began collecting Japanese whiskey more than 10 years ago. They’ve since built up quite the selection of rare spirits. Though cocktails are the main, you’ll also find craft beers and mocktails, as well as snacks like Hokkaido cheese plates.

Once you’ve had a few drinks, check out the carefully-curated record collection. It has plenty of jazz classics to lend a cool, down to earth atmosphere. Upstairs, large speakers fill the room with top-notch sound.

Bar Gyu+ in Niseko, Hokkaido Japan

Photo by: Bar Gyu+ Bar Gyu+ has an extensive record collection on display.

Hisashi, the husband of the owner duo, reinforced the exterior with straw bale construction for insulation from cold and noise, giving the bar its bunker-like look. The curious door came about when a friend randomly gave him a Coca-Cola vending machine. Now it’s one of the most photographed spots in Niseko.

The humble beginnings of Bar Gyu+

The bar has been around since 1999, making it one of the oldest bars in town. Hisashi opened it when he was just 24-years-old. He built his home in a tiny lot facing a beautiful forest but soon ran out of money which he needed to complete the bar.

Bar Gyu in Hokkaido, Japan.

Photo by: Bar Gyu+ Party like it’s 1999.

With no other options, he laid a slab of wood down as the counter in his living room and opened for business right there. In 2005, he met his wife Morelli while skiing, and they’ve been running the bar together ever since.

Today, Niseko is rapidly changing and continues to garner attention around the world for its highly-sought-after powder snow, but Bar Gyu+ remains an authentic staple.

Need some food to soak up all that whiskey? Check our list of Famous Foods in Hokkaido to find out what to eat on your trip.

Things To Know

Opening hours

Bar Gyu+ is open during the winter ski/snowboard season from late November to the end of March. Opening hours are 5 p.m. to midnight daily. Children are not allowed after 8 p.m.

How To Get There


167-21 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan

By train

The closest station is Hirafu Station on the Hakodate line. From there, it’s three kilometers (about half a mile), so it’s best to take a taxi.

By bus

Bar Gyu+ is located about one kilometer from the Hirafu Welcome Center and the Grand Hirafu Resort. You can walk to Bar Gyu+ from either of these locations, but it will take about 15 minutes of trudging through snow (or more depending on weather conditions).

Several highway buses run between Chitose Airport or Sapporo Station and the Hirafu Welcome Center. The Niseko United Shuttle Bus and the Niseko area circuit bus also run several times per day during the ski season, stopping at the Hirafu Welcome Center.

Where To Stay

Aya Niseko
  • 4-4-5 Nisekohirafu 1-Jo, Abuta-gun Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
  • ¥15,610 - ¥60,690
  • 0.4 km
Niseko Central Youtei Tracks
  • 3-5-11 Nisekohirafu 1-Jo, Abuta-gun Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
  • ¥21,330 - ¥44,730
  • 0.4 km
Niseko Central Powder Tracks
  • 3-4-23 Nisekohirafu 1-Jo, Abuta-gun Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
  • ¥21,330 - ¥54,750
  • 0.4 km
Setsu Niseko
  • 2-6-9 Nisekohirafu 1-Jo, Abuta-gun Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
  • ¥31,800 - ¥272,220
  • 4.86/5 (12 reviews)
  • 0.5 km
Niseko Central Yama Shizen
  • 3-6-8 Nisekohirafu 1-Jo, Abuta-gun Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido, 044-0080 Japan
  • ¥21,330 - ¥59,850
  • 0.6 km

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