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Niseko – One Mountain, Four Resorts
Niseko is Japan’s premier ski destination, and with an average of 50 feet of powder snow falling every season the resort has become renowned as having some of the best powder snow conditions anywhere in the world.
The view from the ski area is dominated by the iconic Mount Yotei. This is an extinct volcano that adds to the mystical feel of the Hokkaido region. You’ll never tire of the view, especially on days when the very top of Mount Yotei is shrouded in cloud.
Niseko is the largest ski resort in the Hokkaido region and there’s plenty of skiing here for all abilities. Yes it snows, it snows a lot – but when it does the resort has a fantastic grooming fleet to make sure that beginners and intermediates have plenty of groomed runs to play on.
The upper mountain is ungroomed and that’s where you’ll find open bowls with knee deep powder. Whilst the terrain isn’t steep, advanced skiers will think they’re in a ski movie, making powder eight turns in the deep ‘Japow’ and skiing through the birch trees.
One of the highlights of skiing in Niseko is that the lifts stay open until 8.30pm every day. The mountain has some of the best night skiing anywhere in the world and skiing under the floodlights is not to be missed, especially when it’s snowing.
Niseko is a ski anywhere in-bounds type of resort. However there are some areas which are considered backcountry and you will need to have appropriate backcountry gear to go through the gates. If you want to try backcountry skiing then this is a great resort to try it for the first time. However, we would recommend hiring a local guide. Better still, try a day of cat-skiing at Hanazono. Cat skiing is tremendous fun and you don’t need to be ski film standard to try it!
If you’re looking for backcountry adventures, then a local guide company will take you to Mount Yotei, where you can ski down the crater of an extinct volcano. You’ll have to hike out – but it will definitely be a unique experience!
Another great adventure option is to travel to the nearby ski resort of Rusutsu, which is only 45 minutes away by car. There is a local transfer service that can take you between the two resorts. Rusutsu is less westernised and offers more of an authentic Japanese experience. This modern purpose built resort also offers some fantastic powder and tree skiing and it’s definitely worth spending a day exploring the skiing here.
There are four villages; Annupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu and Hanazono all giving access to the one mountain.
If you stay in Niseko Village, nightlife is a quieter affair. Most of the nightlife action is centred around Upper Hirafu Village. If you stay in Niseko Village, this can either be a blessing or a curse depending on whether you’re looking to be part of the rowdy apres scene. There is good access to the slopes from Niseko Village and the other base areas are all connected by the local shuttle buses. However, if you’re looking to bar hop and enjoy more of the apres scene then Hirafu Village is your best option.
Hirafu Village is the most central of the four base resorts and the main base for international guests. The ski mountain is nestled against Upper Hirafu Village and there are some great slopeside accommodation options here, which is a real bonus when you want to go night skiing.
Hirafu has the best apres scene of the four villages, with lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. Food here is tailored to international taste buds and you’ll have a wide selection of restaurants to choose from offering everything from upscale international fine dining to classic Japanese delicacies. Most people in Hirafu village speak English (either as their first or second language) so ordering is not usually a problem.
We offer a range of 3*, 4* and 5* hotels in both Niseko Village and Hirafu Village. Both authentic Japanese hotels and westernised hotels are available.
Check out our featured hotel, which has been recognised as Japan’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel (2018) in the World Ski Awards. This hotel has a fantastic slopeside location in Hirafu Village and is one of the most impressive hotels in Niseko offering ski-in/ski-out convenience, combining alpine charm with Japanese sophistication. Check out our featured hotel: