TOP RECOMMENDATIONS Niseko United
An international winter resort known for its Japow
Skiers and snowboarders from around the world rate Niseko very highly for its excellent snow conditions, and it remains a popular snow resort amongst visitors to Japan. Niseko United is located on the mountainside of Niseko Annupuri — a 1,308-meter-high mountain — and consists of four ski resorts: Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area, Niseko Village Ski Resort, Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort, and Niseko Hanazono Ski Resort. While each resort is independent, they all connect near the mountaintop and the Niseko United All Mountain Pass — an all-encompassing lift pass — is valid for each resort. Snow travelers can glide down a variety of courses at the four ski resorts, and each resort offers lessons and rental equipment.
Many high-level skiers and snowboarders are attracted to Niseko for its high-quality snow, but the area is also a great place for beginners hitting the slopes for the first time. There are also other ways to get active in the snow including riding on snowmobiles, snowshoeing through the wintry landscape, and relaxing in natural hot springs. The backcountry in the Niseko area is also popular, and you can enjoy Niseko’s great snow in the open bowls.
How to get there
From New Chitose Airport, the airport express train to Otaru Station takes 72 minutes. From Otaru, the local train to Niseko Station takes a further 90 minutes. Be aware that few trains run from Otaru to Niseko, so be sure to check the schedule carefully. Take a taxi from Niseko Station to the ski resorts.
Chuo buses run directly to Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village, and Niseko Hirafu resorts from Sapporo Station Bus Terminal and New Chitose Airport.
From Sapporo, take National Road 230 via Kimobetsu to reach Niseko.
Worldwide passes — the Mountain Collective Pass and IKON Pass
Niseko United is an affiliate of the Mountain Collective and IKON Pass. The Mountain Collective is an alliance program consisting of well-known ski resorts worldwide, including Aspen Snowmass in the United States and Banff Sunshine in Canada. Mountain Collective Pass holders are entitled to two one-day Niseko United All Mountain passes and can get a 50% discount on pass purchases from the third day. There are discounts for hotels and condominiums as well. The IKON Pass is a partnership between 38 resorts from the US, Canada, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Holders of the IKON Pass can receive seven one-day Niseko United All Mountain passes, and purchase an additional 10 tickets at a discount of 25%. If you hold the IKON Base Pass, you are entitled to five Niseko United All Mountain one-day Passes, and purchase an additional eight tickets at a discount of 25% (not available for use during certain periods.) For more detailed information about individual passes and offers, check the official websites.
From high-class hotels to condominiums, find accommodation that suits you
There are high-class resorts on the side of each slope offering guests a comfortable stay in the mountains. Some of these resorts include the Hilton Niseko Village and Kasara Niseko Village at Niseko Village, the Niseko Northern Resort Annupuri at Niseko Annupuri, and the Hotel Niseko Alpen at Grand Hirafu. If you are planning a longer stay, there are also about 300 condominiums in the Niseko area that might be a better option for you. At the base of Niseko Grand Hirafu is the Hirafu Main Village, the largest of its kind in the Niseko area. Here, you can find accommodation options, sports shops, restaurants, bars and more. There is plenty of English information available, and many restaurants have English menus, so there is no language barrier in the way of a comfortable stay.
Travel with ease between the ski areas and Kutchan Town on a shuttle bus
Shuttle buses run between Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village and Niseko Grand Hirafu. Niseko United All Mountain Pass holders (time-based passes, day passes, and seasonal passes) can ride the bus for free. A free shuttle bus runs between Hanazono and Niseko Grand Hirafu. The Niseko United Shuttle Bus runs back and forth to Kutchan Station during the evening, so you can enjoy the plentiful après-ski options in Kutchan and stay the night in Niseko.