guide: design, place, people

Explore Niseko and beyond with us. [Photos © Sanctuary Niseko unless stated otherwise]

Bar the ICE, Niseko (2014/15)

Located diagonally across the Grand Hirafu Welcome Centre, the famed Bar the ICE (or more commonly referred to as 'The Ice Bar Niseko') is a rather out-of-the-norm magical ice cavern, with an equally unusual sounding name. Its name 'Bar the ICE' – almost a playful disjuncture in itself – is an intended spin on the traditionally known 'Ice Bars'. It tilts the visitor's expectations of space and prepares the visitor for an unforgettable experience within. Started 10 years ago, Bar the ICE is an ongoing art project conceived by owner and ice sculptor Takenaka Hirohiko to bring to Niseko a unique winter-ice sculpture/bar that serves delicious cocktails, whisky and sake in a space entirely sculpted in ice every winter. The ice bar provides a special spatial experience that is meant to tease and inspire, to allow visitors to be part of the beauty of the multi-dimensional space, as well as to partake in the organically evolving space of nature.

Do check out the ethereal qualities of this labyrinthine ice cave, and while you are here, have some butterscotch baileys, hot liquor coffee or a  shot of Japanese whisky to 'live' music performances on some evenings. This year's Bar The Ice art project is created by owner Takenaka Hirohiko, his team of sculptors and artisans Kanako Ueno, Arthur Eguchi, Dada Kashani, his 8-year old son Bodai, as well as all its visitors.

Bar the ICE 2014/15: Hirafu Zaka, Aza Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido (Opposite the Grand Hirafu Welcome Centre)

Opening hours: 3pm to 9pm daily (depending on the weather conditions), December 2014 to mid-March 2015

See also, Hiro of the Ice Bar: Interview with Takenaka Hirohiko, Owner, Bar the ICE Niseko

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