Niseko is a town located in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is Japan’s most famous ski resort, known for its quality powder snow and world-class facilities, including traditional onsen and restaurants.
Niseko is renowned for having a large number of foreigners who in recent years have been responsible for popularizing the resort area with the skiing/snowboarding community outside of Japan. As a result, Niseko’s resorts are very accessible and welcoming to foreign visitors, which they keep busy with plenty of vast, long ski runs, endless powder, and a growing number of after-ski activities. Niseko’s ski resorts are all located on Mount Niseko-Annupuri. Three major resorts, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri, cover most of the southeastern half of the mountain while a few smaller resorts dot their perimeter.
Grand Hirafu is the largest of the resorts with over a dozen lifts and a secondary base at Hanazono on the east side of the mountain. Grand Hirafu is the only of the three resorts that have a sizable town area around its main base, Hirafu Town, which is packed with a variety of hotels, pensions, and holiday homes. This foreigner-friendly town also offers an interesting range of restaurants and bars with an active nightlife.
A 15-minute bus ride to the east of Hirafu is the town centre of Kutchan with Kutchan Station. The biggest city in the area, Kutchan has more shopping and dining options but is not as convenient a base for skiers as Hirafu.
The next largest resort on the mountain is Niseko Village (formerly known as Higashiyama). Located west of Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village offers two large hotels, including the Hilton Niseko Village, some townhouse accommodation and “the Village”, a small collection of restaurants, bars and boutiques.
Other than that, further west lies Annupuri resort and Moiwa. These relatively smaller towns do not offer many dining or nightlife options but tend to be less crowded.