Hokkaido's world-class ski resort town
Niseko gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It is the most international ski resort in Japan and consistently gets some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The mountain, Mt. Annupuri (which, in Ainu, means White Mountain), is home to three ski resorts: Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village (formerly Niseko Higashiyama) and Niseko Annupuri.
Collectively they form Niseko United and share a common lift pass. The Hanazono area of Niseko Grand Hirafu is independently managed, and one of the more progressive areas on the mountain, featuring three terrain parks and the only FIS Half Pipe in Japan, which is well maintained throughout the season, and a bag jump, where you can safely practice your freestyle tricks.
Niseko Village (which is a 10-minute drive from the main Hirafu Village area) also has nice facilities and a lot of activities. Niseko Annupuri keeps the lowest profile of the three, but has some nice areas that can be less crowded. Other nearby resorts are Niseko Moiwa and Niseko Weiss. The lifts are no longer running at Weiss, but cat tours service the area. While a few other resorts may challenge Niseko’s claim to the best powder in Japan, there is no doubt Niseko has the best, and widest, selection of restaurants and accommodations in Japan.
The infrastructure is well organized, with efficient bus service to/from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport and a shuttle bus that takes visitors to the various resorts. On one of those rare mid-season clear days, the view of Mt. Yotei from the slopes is the quintessential image of skiing in Japan.