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Niseko is located south-west of Sapporo, Hokkaido, and about two hours' drive from New Chitose Airport. Tourists from around the world flock to Niseko, and it's an interesting place because during the peak season, more than half there are from overseas. As well as having some of the world's finest powder snow, Niseko offers beautiful streets that resemble places overseas, great dining experiences, onsen (hot springs), and a very friendly atmosphere. It's a world-class, very popular resort that attracts endless crowds of enchanted repeat visitors.

Powder snow paradise

Niseko gets so much snow that on some days, you get the luxury of skiing on a fresh surface every time you go down a run. It's quite normal in Niseko to have an overnight snowfall that completely transforms the scenery the next day. Because Niseko is close to the ocean, the snow is slightly more moist than the Doto area's, but it's the ultimate, creamy powder that's not too light, not too heavy, and feels just right when you set your foot in it. The feeling is amazing. The wonderful thing about Niseko is that you get more than plenty of this powder on-piste, and once you hit a great day you'll be hooked forever.

Ski in the wild through natural snowfields

Niseko veterans, who wanted visitors to enjoy the great nature of Niseko more safely, collaborated for a long time with the local government and devised the Niseko Rules. These rules allow visitors to access great spots off the pistes, and given the right snow or weather conditions, offer an incredible experience. The feeling of descending a mountain off-piste is highly addictive, but don't forget to keep to the Niseko Rules at all times.

Niseko's four ski resorts

Niseko is centered on a large 1,308-m high mountain called Annupuri, which plays host to four ski pistes stretching across its terrain. These four ski resorts are collectively called NISEKO UNITED, and it's received the highest award for three straight years as Japan's best snow resort at the World Ski Awards held in Austria. Each piste has its own unique characteristics, meaning there's loads of great skiing and snowboarding to match your skill level, whether you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced skier or snowboarder.

Niseko Hanazono Resort

Niseko Hanazono Resort, at the top-right of the map, tends to have great snow because it's the most north-facing among the four pistes. While there are only three lifts, there are great powder spots across the resort. There is also one of the largest terrain parks in Hokkaido for those of you who want to have some fun in a park. For the last few years the resort has been home to a large banked slalom competition, attracting skiers and snowboarders of all styles.

Niseko Mountain Resort Grand Hirafu

Niseko Grand Hirafu, to the left of Hanazono Resort, is home to one of the largest ski pistes in Japan. There's a whole range of runs and facilities for beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders to enjoy. You'll also find restaurants, stores and hotels at the foot of the mountain for great après-ski. Niseko Grand Hirafu can be busy during the peak season, but if this is your first time visiting Niseko and you're not sure which piste to choose, Grand Hirafu would be a good choice.

Niseko Village Ski Resort

Further to the left on the map, you'll see Niseko Village Ski Resort, with its egg-shaped gondolas. Though there are beginners' runs, it's more a place for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders, offering a variety of terrains, steep slopes, gorges, and long runs stretching up to five kilometers. They also include spots where you can enjoy powder snow. The runs feature interesting names like Namara (translation: "very", in Hokkaido dialect) and Jaga'imo (translation: "potato") after some of Hokkaido's renowned attributes. The resort is also very convenient, with direct access to world-class, high-end hotel Hilton Niseko Village.

Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area

Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area, at the top-left of the map, has wide runs and some gentle slopes with a sense of wide-open space, great for beginners and families to enjoy safely. It is easy to go from there to the adjacent Niseko Village Ski Resort, as well as to Niseko Grand Hirafu. You'll also spot a few Niseko-rule gates that'll thrill advanced skiers and snowboarders. Though Niseko welcomes more and more tourists each year, Annupuri is relatively less crowded than other three ski resorts, so it would be a good place to visit if you want to avoid busy ski resorts.
While Niseko is growing in popularity and seeing some crowded runs at times, there are still many "undiscovered" pistes. First is the small Moiwa Ski Resort next to Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area. It has only a few lifts, but there are plenty of enjoyable spots and a high chance of abundant powder even in the afternoon! Also, Kutchan-cho Asahigaoka Ski Resort near Kutchan Station is a family ski resort with a very local atmosphere, perfect for a family of beginners to have some fun skiing at a relaxed pace. Heading further west, to the westernmost end of the Niseko range mountains, will provide a panoramic view of the Sea of Japan. Another place to visit is Niseko Iwanai International Ski Area. Check out the chance to have powder snow all to yourself on the resort's snowcat tours.
text: Natsuko Matsumura

Facility Information

Niseko Hanazono Resort

Address
328-1 Iwaobetsu, Kutchan-cho,Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0082
URL
https://snow.gurunavi.com/guide/htm/r0945ens.htm

Niseko Mountain Resort Grand Hirafu

Address
204 Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0081
URL
https://snow.gurunavi.com/guide/htm/r0148ens.htm

Niseko Village Ski Resort

Address
Higashiyama Onsen, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1592

Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area

Address
485 Niseko, Aza, Niseko-cho Abuta-gun Hokkaido 048-1511

Moiwa Ski Resort

Address
448 Niseko, Aza, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1511

Asahigaoka Ski Resort

Address
Asahi, Aza, Kuchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0083

Niseko Iwanai International Ski Resort

Address
350-4 Nozuka, Aza, Iwanai-cho, Iwanai-gun, Hokkaido 045-0024

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