Niseko, Japan


Rates from (inc tax)$604.77

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (JPY68,265.00), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Ravishing ryokan


Hanazono Forest haven

With all the meadows and mountains you could wish for, Zaborin on Japan’s Hokkaido island is a series of secluded villas, each with two onsen baths, filled with the purest, mineral-rich volcanic water. Dinner is an 11-course ritual of organic, locally foraged food, with fish from a nearby lake and produce from the surrounding countryside. The serene hotel is a peaceful place to retreat – but if it’s adventure you’re after, Japan’s best ski resort is 20 minutes away.

Smith Extra

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A half bottle of local sake from Niseko brewery


Photos Zaborin – Niseko – Japan

Need to know


15 suites.


11am, but flexible for a fee. Earliest check-in, 2pm, but flexible for free, if your room’s ready.


Double rooms from $604.77 (JPY63,208), excluding tax at 8 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of JPY150.00 per person per night on check-out.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (JPY68,265.00), via, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include breakfast and dinner.


Helping the chef with his foraging is Sato, a septuagenarian who has been studying what is and isn’t safe to eat from the wild since he was 20; he also helps out with hotel flower arrangements from his haul.

Hotel closed

Occasionally in low season.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, spring-water onsen baths, valet parking. In rooms: Apple TV, iPod dock, Bose sound system, Nespresso machine, locally made bath products and underfloor heating.

Our favourite rooms

For a traditional Japanese experience, book a Washitsu room, which come with typical futons, as opposed to Western-style beds. Some villas come with an extra tatami-mat room and can sleep four. The other major dilemma is whether you want to look out to the Hanazono forest or the nearby meadow…


There’s no spa, but each villa comes with two onsen baths (one inside, one out), filled with the purest, mineral-rich volcanic spring water.

Packing tips

The region is famous for its ski resorts; since it snows every day for six months of the year, thermals will probably come in handy. Don’t forget your ski gear if you want to hit the slopes of Niseko, Japan’s most-prized piste.


The villas have steps and so are not suited to wheelchair users.


Free cots can be provided for under-twos, for three to six-year-olds, it's JPY6,480 a night for stays with breakfast and JPY10,800 a night for breakfast and a futon; daily half kaiseki course and a futon mat are JPY16,200 for seven to 12-year-olds.


Mountain spring water is used to keep the cellars cool and volcanic water heats the hotel in winter.

Food and Drink

Photos Zaborin – Niseko – Japan

Top Table

Each table is private and intimate, with views of the forest, but ask to sit closest to the window so you can watch the local wildlife frolicking as you breakfast. Or book the private dining room, where screens with holes in them give you a taste of what’

Dress Code

Guests don’t have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses; a yukata robe is left in your room and you are strongly encouraged to wear it.

Hotel restaurant

The chef cut his teeth at Japanese restaurants in Tokyo and New York, before returning to Hokkaido to helm the kitchen at Zaborin. Using ingredients from the forest and nearby lake that he’s picked and caught himself, a traditional kita kaiseki meal is served nightly – essentially a set menu, 11 courses long and changing with the local harvest. Breakfast is a similar affair, with vegetables picked that morning, fresh eggs and grilled fish.

Hotel bar

There’s a candlelit library and lounge where pudding and tea is served post-kaiseki dinner. Settle by the fireplace and enjoy a local wine or sake from the cellar; or head back to your villa to raid your minibar’s Nikka whisky and Japanese craft beer selection.

Last orders

Breakfast is served between 8am and 10am, and dinner between 6pm and 9pm. The bar opens at 6pm and calls time at 11pm.


Photos Zaborin – Niseko – Japan
76-4 Hanazono, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun


The New Chitose International Airport is a two-hour drive from the hotel. For international travellers, connections are available through both of Tokyo’s airports (Haneda and Narita).


Kutchan station is closest, 20 minutes away by car; hotel transfers to and from this station are free. JR Rail operates services to this station from other Japanese cities, including Sapporo and Otaru on the coast.


Niseko is the nearest town, a 20-minute drive away. From the city of Sapporo, the drive will take around two hours. There’s free parking at the hotel and detailed driving instructions can be provided on request.

Worth getting out of bed for

Japan’s most impressive piste is 20 minutes away by car in Niseko. Non-skiers can trek through the Hanazono forest, visit the Yoichi distillery to learn about all things Nikka whisky, or just stay at the hotel for a wine and sake tasting in its cellar or a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Local restaurants

For excellent homemade udon in Kutchan, head to Homemade Udon Gokoro (the clue’s in the name). For local classics such as yakitori (charcoal-grilled skewers of meat), king crab and plum wine in a typical izakaya (an informal Japanese pub), visit Izakaya Jisaku in Niseko. If you’ve filled up on all the sushi and sashimi you can stomach, try L’Ocanda, a family-owned, mountain-facing Italian restaurant also in Niseko.


Photos Zaborin – Niseko – Japan

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this ryokan hotel in Japan and unpacked their kimonos and silk slippers, a full account of their countryside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Zaborin in Hokkaido

Lagging behind the rest of the world’s obsession with instant gratification (in a good way), Japan is more concerned with storytelling and subtlety, a concept reflected at Zaborin. The very name comes from two ideas: zabo, which means to sit and to forget; and rin, a forest or wood. And this is somewhere you definitely want to sit around in. With onsen baths ready for you to constantly dip in and out of (each villa has two: one indoors, one out), an 11-course dinner each night and the sort of peacefulness that comes with being shrouded by a forest, it’s a destination for taking stock or finding fresh inspiration. The staff enjoy a bit of cinematic staging; at dinner in the private dining room, the walls have holes in for you to watch the kimono-clad waiter walking around the perimeter glimpse by glimpse to deliver your food. As with Japanese society itself, conservativism is something to be respected and it is certainly true of the rooms – everything is smartly concealed for when you need it, instead of being on display. In Japan, less really is more.  

The Guestbook

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