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Niseko Ski Holidays

Since hitting the big time in the nineties, Niseko’s quickly found a spot among the titans: it has some of the best backcountry on the planet, and is one of the world’s snowiest resorts. The powder hasn’t gone to its head though, and half the charm here's the chilled, culture-rich Japanese character it’s long been loved for.





At a glance: • World-beating powder • Japan's premier ski resort • Gourmet East Asian cuisine

Great for: • Snow sure • Off-piste • Foodies

Since hitting the big time in the nineties, Niseko’s quickly found a spot among the titans: it has some of the best backcountry on the planet, and is one of the world’s snowiest resorts. The powder hasn’t gone to its head though, and half the charm here's the chilled, culture-rich Japanese character it’s long been loved for.

Niseko Resort

Niseko’s famously the capital of the “potato kingdom” - North Japan’s island of Hokkaido - but we don’t just ski here for the spuds. It also reigns supreme in the snow department, receiving a mighty 50ft (the length of a bus) of ridiculously dry, light fluff each season.

Overlooked by the formidable silhouette of Mount Yotei (an extinct volcano, Hokkaido’s answer to Fuji), Mount Niseko-Annupuri is the home of all this wonderful white stuff. Its ski area, ‘Niseko United’ is split into 4 sectors and wrapping around the bottom of the mountain, each sector has a resort base of the same name.

At one end is Annupuri - the peaceful one - where alpine-style chalets, steaming onsens and a few high-end eateries edge into the wonderful wilderness of the National Park.

Niseko United’s most central is ski-in, ski-out Niseko Village (‘Higashiyama’, back in the day). This is a funky hub of traditional wooden Machiya townhouses, laden with boutiques, galleries, spa hotels and chic Asian restaurants.

The largest is Grand Hirafu, a town where clusters of chalets, restaurants and shiny apartment blocks draw skiers off the slopes and onto the main après-ski stage. Neighbouring Hanazano (at the far end of the ski area) is on the smaller side but has big offerings, including an adventure park, multiple snow parks, a 3 Michelin star restaurant and the 308 Snowsports Centre.

Gondolas and chair lifts directly link each of the villages with its ski area, and more lifts and trails seamlessly connect the 4 ski areas on the mountain. You can also get from village to village by a shuttle bus (usually included in the lift pass) and a fifteen minute bus ride from Hirafu takes you to the city of Kutchan, home to more restaurants, a bigger nightlife and urban accommodation.

Wherever you stay, the main event’s up on the mountain. The green, red and black pistes that snake down the sectors mightn’t have the mileage of the 3 Valleys, but their powdery make-up is a delight to ski. The backcountry – well it’s like nothing else on earth: seemingly bottomless and heavenly light.

Stats & FAQ

Location: Southwest Hokkaido, Japan

Established: 1923

Open: November - May

Downhill: 48km

View our detailed Niseko snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Niseko snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
120 km from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport (CTS)2.5 hours by public bus
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 18km 30%

  • 25km 40%

  • 18km 30%

Top Altitude:1,308m
Bottom Altitude:300m
Resort Altitude:300m
Longest run:5.6km
Slope Orientation:N
Vertical Drop:900m
Skiable Vertical:1200m
Night Skiing:Yes

Snow Report

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Web Cam

Niseko web cams
Downhill Runs:48km
Beginner slopes:30%
Advanced slopes:30%
Lift Pass Price: £173 (adult 6 day)
Nearby resorts:

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Niseko

All areas have fantastic facilities for beginners: in Niseko village, after conquering the basics on the beginner area, do the rounds on the cleverly named ‘Next Stage’, then follow a confidence-boosting succession of greens from the Country Road chair, all the way back to base. Hanzano has less by way of green runs, but it does tend to be quieter – the 3.3km ‘Silver Dream’ beginner run is the longest run in resort, ideal for building up a rhythm. The other sectors have their fair share of greens too, with favourites including the tree-lined ‘Holiday’ in Hirafu, and ‘Paradise’ at the bottom half of Annupuri.

If you’re a red run skier or snowboarder, the mountain’s yours. Head straight to the peak where you can ski in any direction - ‘Wonderland’ starts a trail of reds (and greens if legs need a break) back to Niseko Village or ‘Youtei Sunset’, ‘Crystal Garden’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ snake down to Hanzano along the edge of the ski area. If you’re prepared to delve into expert territory, go to the top of Annupuri: after a short-ish black, the route down gets progressively easy via reds, then greens (with a detour via black ‘Challenge’ if you fancy it).

Experts can dart down the short blacks from the top of the mountain, then link reds and blacks down to each of the villages. We love the ‘Misoshiru’ in Niseko Village – also known as Miso Soup, it somehow seems to be different every time you’re on it.

Hanazono’s your place if you’re into freestyle, with three terrain parks – easily the best in Hokkaido. Put simply, Niseko has some of the best off piste on the planet. Easy-to-reach gates serve as entry points here, for hours of divine, floating descents. Get the Hanazono Power Guides to show you the Niseko Back Bowls from the top of the Hanazono ski area - it’s a 15 minute climb to the peak but that’s soon forgotten - the northeast bowl is crammed with 600ft of powder, while the north and south faces have 1200 and 1800 vertical feet of the fluffiest white, untainted by rocks or hollows. The Blueberry and Strawberry fields are a thrill-hunter’s heaven - head through the forest for steep gradients, sharp turns and more quality snow.

Niseko Apres Ski

We love that ski holidays here aren’t all about the skiing – they’re also a cultural rollercoaster through Japan’s traditions. The hub of après ski is the Hirafu area, where the Ice Bar is seriously cool… crafted each year by ice-carving eccentrics, you can take a shot of your own poison from a glass made of… you guessed it. Popular with seasonaires, Wild Bill’s has the Tardis effect – a small dance floor with all the noise and crowds of a nightclub.

Just down the road, Kutchan has a fabulous nightlife if a late one’s on the cards; the quirky Gyu Bar (a.k.a the Fridge Door Bar) is a good port of call for cocktails, sipped to the soundtrack of upbeat jazz - try the ‘Apple Pie’, for a taste of our beloved dessert with less of the KCAL.

In Niseko Village, The Cigar Bar’s your best bet for a more reserved evening sipping mind-blowing whisky, distilled just down the road. On its own level is Milk Kobo, a cake store that’s slap bang in the middle of the village, which sells heavenly baked goods, straight from the oven.

A world away from the Alps, dining out here gives the full Asian experience and most you’ll eat will have been grown or caught in Hokkaido. For some of the best home-grown grub, head to A-Bu-Cha in Hirafu which is a snug place to hole up in; order the Hokkaido salmon and veg Hotpot, and watch as it’s cooked in front of your eyes. Hanazono’s Restaurant Asperges is fabulous for fine dining, where head chef Hiroshi Nakamichi has three very well-deserved Michelin stars.

If you feel peckish on the piste, pop into the 1000m hut at Ace Pair Lift #3, for a mix of Japanese classics and Western home comforts, as well as their uber-chocolatey Niseko hot chocolate with lashings of thick cream. If you hear a bell ringing, it’s probably not last orders quite yet – it’s a long-standing tradition here to ring the bell outside and pray for the safety of everyone on the mountain.

Hanazono’s your place for activities, with a host of things to try from ziplining to snow tubing and winter rafting. Horse-rides are another popular pastime here or if you’re in search of pure relaxation, head straight to the nearest Onsen – dotted around the villages, a soak in these volcanic springs is a tradition engrained in Japan’s history.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Niseko

Best time to visit & ski Niseko

Niseko’s clearly in Mother Nature’s favour – every year, Eurasian winds gather moisture from the East Sea, forming snow clouds that drop some of the lightest, driest and deepest powder on the planet. Peak time to enjoy the white stuff is December through to February, when barely a day goes by without a dusting (if you’re caught in the middle of a snowfall, birch-lined runs like ‘Silver Dream’ should provide shelter).

Combine this with a trip for the Chinese New Year, and you’ll find yourself joining in with Japan’s biggest annual party.

March brings the sun and while children will prefer the milder climate, the powder can be a bit more temperamental. As a result, the focus shifts to skiing hard in the morning and retiring to an Onsen for the remainder of the day (you won’t hear us complaining!).

Peak Dates

Christmas in Niseko is epic – Santa’s been known to deliver incredible snow in recent years, and we’re hoping Niseko stays on his ‘nice list’ for many years to come. Niseko Christmas ski holidays ‣

Ring in the New Year in Niseko, with a varied schedule that transforms this peaceful island into one big celebration. Niseko New Year ski holidays ‣

February Half Term in Niseko's a blast, good snow, good food and the biggest blow-out in the calendar – if the dates coincide, Chinese New Year here is unmissable. Niseko Half Term ski holidays ‣

You're likely to see some unforgettable sights during Easter in Niseko, when the sunshine brings out the magnificent Mt. Yotei in all its glory. Niseko Easter ski holidays ‣

Niseko Ratings & Customer Feedback
Average Rating 5 out of 5
Blessed with a gargantuan average snowfall of 15m per season, Niseko has more fresh powder dumped on its slopes than any other resort on Earth. Blistering in straight from Siberia, the pow here is the lightest, driest, fluffiest you’ll ever experience. Previously bound by strict laws which kept all visitors wi... + more
5 out of 5
The cool kids call this place ‘Ni-sick-o’, and the rest of us know it as a powder paradise – but we’re all in agreement that it’s a hop, skip and a jump ahead on the snowboarding scene. Racking up the numbers, this Japanese gift sits on its own pedestal, seeing 15m of dry, feathery snow each season. Making... + more
5 out of 5
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Families in Niseko

Climbing in popularity, Niseko is without a doubt a family favourite. 30% of the mountainside is labelled green, with runs in this category at both ends of the difficulty spectrum. Niseko’s tiniest residents can spend the day in the patient hands of one of the resort’s babysitting and childcare services like Niseko Nannies, and big brothers and sisters will love the Hanazono park with its winter-rafting, snow-shoeing and snowmobiling. For the daredevils, a zip line as long as the Times Square Tower is high gives a sweeping birds eye view of the area. In the same place is an array of half pipes, quarter pipes and jibs for a budding freestyler. With school schools in the same place, conveniently accessible from Hirafu hotels by a shuttle bus, all the kids can be kept together – taking the pressure off – so everyone can enjoy the holiday.

Thanks to multiple designated beginner areas, it couldn’t be easier for the littlest of people to find their ski legs, learning the basics in an atmosphere that’s laid-back and encouraging. Before long you’ll be watching as they take to the mountain on Hirafu’s magic carpet, popular among kids and adults alike, to barrel down a green in perfect group formation.

Christmas in Niseko is worth a visit if you’re bringing kids, as the village has put on festively-themed activities in the past, with sleigh-rides a firm favourite. New Year is also welcoming to families here, with the midnight celebrations mirrored at child-friendly times, so everyone can ring in the New Year Niseko style.

The right choice of hotel can keep everyone happy, so give us a ring for helpful advice on the best hotels in Niseko for little ones.

GroupsGroup Holidays Niseko

Thanks to a piste layout that sees runs interconnecting and skirting each other, Niseko’s a smashing resort for groups. Agree a meeting place (it works well if you like good wine/beer/sushi) in Niseko Village and everyone can be back to base at the same time from anywhere on the mountain thanks to a network of lifts that connects all the skiing areas. Mt. Niseko has a glorious mix of slopes and off-piste skiing, with an almost equal percentage of greens, reds and blacks across 4 different areas, with access to the famously powdery Niseko Back Bowls for powder seekers.

Any non-skiers coming for the ride will find plenty to do. A shuttle connects the four villages for days spent discovering quaint Japanese cafes and galleries and you can also catch the bus into Kutchan to explore the city. In cases where the white stuff isn’t completely off limits, Niseko has a wild snow activity scene, from snow rafting to snow shoeing.

For a group night out, head for Wild Bill’s in Hirafu, Niseko’s resident nightclub where a DJ will guide you through the night. A 15 minute bus or taxi ride will take you into Kutchan, for a taste of Japanese city nightlife. If you’d rather have a more relaxed evening closer to home, settle down for a quiet whisky on the rocks at The Cigar Pub.

Which are the best ski holidays in Niseko?

Accommodation Number of nights Price (per person) from
Hinode Hills 7 £ 2569
The Green Leaf Niseko Village 7 £ 2154
Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse 7 £ 4778

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