Niseko, in Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, is easily the most popular skiing area in the country. It’s famous for getting lots of dry powder snow (usually upwards of 15 meters) every year and is one of the few places in Japan you can enjoy off-trail skiing. What’s more, the major uptick in international visitors has made Niseko Ski Resorts more accessible than ever.
Here’s a quick guide to the basics of Niseko—how to get there, what slopes to visit and how much it will all cost you.
Getting from Tokyo to Niseko: Transportation options
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.
Getting to Niseko by Train: 8 Hours
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 to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, from which it’s another 4 to 5 hours by train to Niseko. The bullet train ride costs around ¥23,430 one-way, unless you’ve got the JR Pass, in which case the cost is covered. After the ride on the Shinkansen, you need to take express/local trains to get to Kutchan Station, which is the closest to Niseko. Without a JR Pass, this costs about ¥5,310.
Flights from Tokyo to Niseko (via Sapporo): 5 hours
Alas, Hokkaido is far from Tokyo, so flying to New Chitose Airport in Sapporo is usually an easier option than the trains. The flight from Tokyo to Sapporo takes about 1.5 hours. From the airport, it’s around a 3-hour train ride on JR lines to Kutchan Station, at a cost of about ¥3,720 if you don’t have a JR Pass (if you do, the trains are covered).
Getting the bus from Sapporo to Niseko
It’s also possible to take a bus from the airport in Sapporo to Niseko. Look up the Niseko Bus website for prices and timetables.
Niseko’s Ski Resorts: Passes, prices and extra info
From biggest to smallest, the ski resorts at Niseko are:
Some, like Moiwa, offer discounts when passes are booked online, usually around 10% of the price.
Best Value Flights To Tokyo
|Hirafu||December 3rd, 2022 to May 7th, 2023||¥6,600||¥5,500 (5 hrs)||¥3,000|
|Niseko Village||December 3rd, 2022 to April 2nd, 2023||¥6,200||¥5,400||¥2,100|
|Annupuri||December 3rd, 2022 to May 7th, 2023||¥5,900||¥4,900 (5 hours)||¥2,600|
|Hanazono||December 3rd, 2022 to April 9th, 2023||¥6,600||¥5,500 (5 hrs)||N/A|
|Moiwa||December 3rd, 2021 to April 2nd, 2023||¥5,500||¥5,000 (4 hrs)||N/A|
The prices above are taken from peak season, so there will be cheaper prices for early, spring and end of season passes (see the Niseko United Pass section for a guide to these).
Niseko Tokyu Grande Hirafu
Grand Hirafu is the largest of the Niseko ski resorts, and with a foreigner-friendly town at its base to boot. Here, you can find restaurants, bars, and all kinds of accommodations, including the reasonable Absolute Niseko hotel. Hirafu is a 15-minute bus ride from Kutchan Station.
Niseko Village Ski Resort
Niseko Village is in between Grand Hirafu and Annupuri. It has hotels around its base like Hilton Niseko Village, and The Green Leaf is close to the beginner areas and the Upper Village Gondola. There are also some dining and shopping options.
Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area and Moiwa
Annupuri’s slopes are comparatively less steep and wide, but there is a run that connects to Moiwa. Both are less crowded, which makes them ideal for beginners and people who don’t want the crowds of the others. Neither have much dining and nightlife around, but there are hotels and pensions for easy access to the slopes.
Niseko Hanazono Resort
Hanazono is managed under the Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu umbrella, together with the bigger Grand Hirafu. You can buy a “Hanazono and Grand Hirafu Lift Ticket” at either resort to ski on both. Its forest route, Strawberry Fields, is arguably Niseko’s most famous run.
Niseko United All Mountain Pass
You can use the Niseko United All Mountain Pass at Annupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu, and Hanazono. These four areas are all interconnected, so they’re the best for getting all your snow sports fun in one place. The prices vary depending on season and length, with some examples below. A one-day Adult Pass in Regular season is ¥8,500 and a 12-point pass that limits the uses in a day for ¥5,000. The passes range from 12-point to two weeks (coming in at ¥86,600). There are also cheaper tickets for kids and seniors, with free lift passes for pres
The Four Seasons
|Season||Dates||1-day Pass Price|
|Early||December 3rd 2022 to December 16th 2022||¥6,000|
|Regular||December 3rd 2022 to April 2nd, 2023||¥8,500|
|Spring||March 20th 2023 to April 2nd 2023||¥6,000|
|End||April 3rd 2023 to May 7th 2023||¥4,300|