Set against the backdrop of Mt. Yotei on the northern island of Hokkaido, Niseko is a 2.5 hour drive from Chitose airport. Receiving on average 15-18 metres of incredible powder snow per season, it is no surprise that Niseko is one of the most popular resorts in Japan. Niseko resort is made up of four main areas - Annupuri, Higashiyama (Niseko Village), Hirafu and Hanazono.
Hirafu is the largest of the areas, with over a dozen lifts and a sizeable town area around its main base. A 15 minute drive to the east of Hirafu is Kutchan, the biggest city in the area, with plenty of shopping and dining options. Located west of Hirafu is the next largest resort, Niseko Village, which has a small collection of restaurants, bars and boutiques. Further west lies Annapuri, a less crowded resort where the ski trails are not quite as steep or wide as the other resorts. Haranzo, on the north-eastern side of the mountain, with dedicated areas to learn, is ideal for beginners.
Skiing in Niseko is a powder hound’s dream. The resort boasts incredible tree runs, long trails and big powder bowls. Expert skiers can also enjoy skiing off-piste, something that is not common in Japan. Some of the steepest runs can be found at Niseko Village whilst Hanazono has some real backcountry gems, including the off-piste Blueberry Fields and Strawberry Fields.
It is also possible to try heli-skiing, snowmobiling, cat skiing and snowshoeing. Relaxation is also covered as Niseko is home to blissful onsens (hot spring baths). Hiragu is where you’ll find the best dining opportunities and vibrant nightlife. The resort has a range of accommodation from hotels and lodges to self-contained apartments, and more recently a series of luxury apartments have been built in Niseko. Niseko is also beautiful in the summer when visitors can enjoy various outdoor pursuits, from ziplines and rafting to mountain biking and golf.