Niseko promotes itself as the St. Moritz of Asia, and this alpine-style lodging at the bottom of Hirafu Village sticks with this theme with lots of dark wood and red carpeting. After a dinner of Swiss-cheese fondue, retire to the snug bar. The owners are exceptionally friendly: Nikawara-san is a woodcut artist and alpenhorn player, wife Yoko used to be a British Airways flight attendant, and son Kohei is a ski instructor. The rooms are simple, and only three have private bathrooms. Everyone heads to Yuko hot spring, just minutes away on foot; the truly exhausted use the pension's shared public bath.