Niseko is easily the most popular skiing destination in Japan. It’s famous for getting lots of dry powder snow (usually upwards of 15 meters) every year, and it’s one of the few places in the country where you can ski off-trail. What’s more, the major uptick in international visitors has made Niseko more accessible than ever. Here’s everything you need to know about getting from Tokyo to Niseko.

Niseko is in Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaidō. You can opt to take a plane (plus a bus or a train), drive (sort of), or — thanks to the Hokkaidō Shinkansen — take the train to Niseko.

Check out our guide to the 2022/23 Niseko season.

Flying from Tokyo to Niseko

5 hrs
Fly to New Chitose Airport + train or bus to Niseko
From ¥5,000 for the flight + ¥3,000 for a direct coach to the resorts

Alas, Hokkaido is far from Tokyo, so flying is usually the fastest option. Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport is the most convenient airport for Niseko. The flight from Tokyo to Sapporo takes about 1.5 hours, though of course you’ll need to factor in the time of getting to and from the airports.

Prices can vary wildly depending on the time of year and the airline. Low cost carriers like Peach, Jetstar, Skymark, and Hokkaido’s own Air Do are obviously popular with Cheapos. Skyscanner offers a good comparison of what’s available right now, and at what price.

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RouteAirlineOne-way FareDate
Tokyo Narita => Sapporo ChitosePeachUS$37.00 Mar 04, 2024Booking options
Tokyo Narita => Sapporo ChitoseSpring Airlines JapanUS$38.00 Dec 20, 2023Booking options
Tokyo Haneda => Sapporo ChitoseJapan AirlinesUS$78.00 Apr 14, 2024Booking options

Our article on getting from Tokyo to Sapporo also has lots of details and tips on flying into New Chitose. And here’s more on finding cheap domestic flights in Japan.

Pro tip: Ship your bags on ahead to your hotel (or going the other way, to the airport) so you don’t have to worry about them.

airdo plane in Japan
Niseko is a pretty decent distance from Tokyo, and while you can’t ski there, you can hopefully glide through ticket gates and sweep past stops along the way. | Photo by silsaksom

Getting from New Chitose Airport to Niseko

The most convenient way to get from the airport to Niseko is to take one of several direct coach services. You can also take a train from New Chitose to Kutchan, the best train station for accessing Niseko, or rent a car and drive yourself from the airport to Niseko.

Pro tip: If you’re traveling in a group, booking a private transfer from Sapporo to Niseko can be affordable.

Buses from the airport

Direct coaches make easy work of getting from the airport to Niseko. Between December 10, 2022 and March 31, 2023, the Chūō Bus company will be running a regular service between Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport and three of Niseko’s main ski resorts (Annupuri, Hilton, and Harafu).

There are three services daily, departing New Chitose at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The bus journey to Niseko takes 3–3.5 hours (depending on which resort you’re headed to). There’s also a return service so your transport; see the tables below for times.

Timetable for buses departing New Chitose Airport for Niseko resorts
(Departs) New Chitose Airport(Arrives) Niseko Annupuri Ski Resort(Arrives) Hilton Niseko Village(Arrives) Niseko Hirafu
10 a.m.12:56 p.m.1:16 p.m1:33 p.m.
1.30 p.m.4:26 p.m.4:46 p.m.5:03 p.m
3:30 p.m6:26 p.m6:46 p.m.7:03 p.m
Timetable for buses departing Niseko resorts for New Chitose Airport
(Departs) Niseko Hirafu(Departs) Hilton Niseko Village(Departs) Niseko Annupuri Ski Resort(Arrives) New Chitose Airport
8 a.m.8:21 a.m.8:41 a.m11:28 a.m.
10 a.m.10:21 a.m.10:41 a.m.1:28 p.m
3:30 p.m3:51 p.m4:11 p.m.6:58 p.m

A one-way ticket for adults costs ¥3,000 while an adult round-trip costs ¥5,200. For children, a round-trip ticket is ¥2,500 and one-way is ¥1,500. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Chūō Bus at 0570-200-600 (English should get you through the process).

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If it’s booked up you can try White Liner or Hokkaido Resort Liner. These two services can be booked online, but note that they’re quite a bit more expensive with tickets starting at ¥4,500 one-way.

Buses from Sapporo

If you’re planning to see a little of the wonderful city that is Sapporo (and we recommend you do, especially for the food!) then you can also catch one of two daily Chūō Bus services running between Sapporo Station Bus Terminal and the resorts listed above (during the same time period).

These buses depart at 7:55 a.m. and 9:20 a.m., taking 3–3.5 hours to reach Niseko’s resorts. Return services arrive back in Sapporo at 5:45 p.m and 8:05 p.m. Prices are the same as the airport to Niseko route, so it works well if you fancy some sightseeing!

Trains from the airport

From New Chitose Airport, it’s around a 3-hour train ride on JR lines to Kutchan Station. Pick up a Rapid Airport service to Otaru (75 mins) and then transfer to a JR Hakodate line train to Kutchan (75 mins). The journey costs about ¥3,720 if you don’t have a rail pass (if you do, the trains are covered).

The following rail passes cover the journey between New Chitose Airport and Kutchan: the countrywide Japan Rail Pass, the East–South Hokkaidō Pass from JR East, and the JR Hokkaidō Pass.

Getting to Niseko by train

8 hrs from Tokyo Station + transfer time
2 transfers (at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto & Oshamambe stations)
¥29,100 to Kutchan (or completely covered by a rail pass)

The Hokkaido Shinkansen has made it a lot easier to get to Niseko by train. In a little over 4 hours, you can get all the way from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, from where it’s another 4 to 5 hours by train to Niseko. The bullet train ride costs approximately ¥23,430 one-way (unless you’ve got a rail pass, in which case the cost is covered).

After the ride on the Shinkansen, you need to take express/local trains to Kutchan Station, which is the closest station to Niseko. At Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station you can catch either a JR limited express Hokuto train (70 mins, ¥3,780) or a regular JR Hakodate line train (3 hrs 10 mins, ¥2,100) for Oshamambe. At Oshamambe, transfer to a local JR Hakodate line train for Kutchan (90 minutes, ¥1,890)

Without a rail pass, the total cost of the one-way train journey between Tokyo and Kutchan is ¥29,100. That’s using the faster and pricier limited express Hokuto service from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto; using regular trains from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, the total cost is ¥27,420 — but you’ll add 2 hours to the journey time.

The following rail passes cover the whole train journey: the countrywide Japan Rail Pass and the East–South Hokkaidō Pass.

Getting from Kutchan to the resorts

The small station of Kutchan is the gateway to the ski resorts of Niseko, and it’s only 20–25 minutes from station platform to ski lifts.

There is a shuttle bus service running between the station and Hilton Niseko Village daily from 7:50 a.m. to 10 p.m. The bus is free for those with valid Ski-passes or costs a few hundred yen as the local rate.

Once at the resorts, you can use the Niseko United Shuttle Bus, which runs on an hourly basis between all the resorts from December 3, 2022 to April 2, 2023. This service runs between approximately 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., depending on your direction. There are three later services until running about 8 p.m. during peak season (December 17, 2022 to March 19, 2023). This service is also free for those with valid Ski-passes and has a charge of a few hundred yen for those without.

If you prefer, there are taxis available for the short journey, with the ride to Hilton Hirafu costing about ¥3,500 as a marker.

Niseko ski village
Photo by

Driving (and other unconventional ways of getting to Niseko)

First things first: you can’t actually drive all the way from Tokyo to Niseko. That’s because there’s no public road access through the Seikan Tunnel that connects the two islands, Honshū and Hokkaidō. This means at some point you (and the car, if you’re taking it all the way) have to get on a ferry. (It’s also a big reason why you can’t get a long-distance coach bus from Tokyo to Niseko).

There is also the question of driving in winter in Hokkaidō: this is probably not something you want to attempt unless you have a lot of practice driving in winter conditions.

Ferries to Hokkaidō

The most obvious ferry connection is the one between Ōarai, in Ibaraki prefecture (about an hour from Tokyo), and Tomakomai, in southern Hokkaidō and a 2-hour drive from Niseko. This ferry takes 17 hours and costs a minimum of ¥9,800 per person one-way (or ¥29,700 if you’re bringing a car).

There’s also the option of driving all the way to Aomori (at the northern tip of Honshu) and taking a ferry from there. We’ve got all the details on these car+ferry routes in our getting from Tokyo to Sapporo article. And here’s the tl;dr version: driving is by no means the quickest, cheapest, or most convenient way of getting from Tokyo to Niseko but it could be a lot of fun.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Last updated in October 2022.

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