Niseko Ski Resort

Niseko is the best known Japanese resort and with good reason – it's an absolute powder playground and 15m of snowfall a season isn’t uncommon.

The lift pass actually covers four different resorts, all linked and all as powdery as each other – so wherever you base yourself bring your powder skis and a good pair of low-visibility goggles. This is because between December and March the snow barely stops falling so expect to ski day after day of fresh tracks in some of the lightest powder on the planet. Compared to other Japanese resorts, Niseko has a more western feel, but there are still some great traditional eateries and family-run guesthouses.

With so much powder to explore, why not let Olly Allen – an IFMGA mountain guide – show you the ropes on the Ski Club Freshtracks Japan Powder Pilgrimage?

Our Niseko Resort Ratings

  • Beginner ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Intermediate ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Advanced ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Snow Reliability ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • Fast Lifts ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Resort Activities ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Après ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Value ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Pros

Endless powder that gets almost daily refills

Good lift system to access the snow

Chance to experience a different skiing culture, albeit a more westernised version recently

Cons

Don’t come here expecting to see the sunshine

Resort has quite a westernised feel now

Lots of areas are closed off without a mountain guide

Niseko Skiing and Snowboarding

Good beginner areas are located at the foot of the dormant volcano that the ski area is located on – in particular at Grand Hirafu and Niseko Village. Intermediates then have access to some good greens and reds further up the hill (note that blue markers are not used here). However the incessant snowfall can make for tricky conditions on piste, with groomed runs turning rapidly into what might seem like off piste as the snow falls.

The real attraction here is the plentiful powder, which transforms the entire mountain into one big playground. Niseko has some fine tree skiing on the lower half of the mountain, particularly on the ungroomed blacks below the Niseko Gondola, and some open powder fields at the top. Make the most of the terrain on offer and the deep snow by hiring a mountain guide and being prepared to hike for those turns.

  • Total Pistes: 44.5km
  • Green: 46%
  • Red: 36%
  • Black: 18%
  • Lifts: 32
  • Altitude: 300m – 1200m

Niseko Piste Map

The local area map can be downloaded here.

Niseko Resort

There are several modern ski-in-ski-out hotels but little else at the bases, where it is mostly quiet after the day’s skiing. Alternatively you can stay in the atmospheric little town of Hirafu where, in the last few years, impressive modern apartments have gone up beside traditional pensions and lodges.

It is worth bearing in mind that Niseko is not the best choice for those looking to experience real Japanese culture – it has an international feel as a lot of the clientele are Europeans, Americans and particularly Australians.

How to get to Niseko

The closest airport is Sapporo, a short hop flight from Tokyo. From here there are regular buses up to the resort, with the drive taking around two and a half hours, the same time as the train takes. Alternatively, if you want to see more of Japan, the high speed train from Toyko would take around nine hours.

  • Sapporo airport: 2.5 hours
  • Toyko airport: 9 hours

Niseko Contact Details

Good For

In Resort
  • Ski To Door

Sign up to receive email snow reports

Going skiing? Get your snow reports direct to your inbox

Go

Join the Ski Club today

Join Now