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. Read on for details.

Also read: Guide to the 2023/24 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, Hokkaidō 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 Hokkaidō’s own Air Do are obviously the more affordable options.

RouteAirlineOne-way FareDate
Tokyo Narita => Sapporo ChitoseJetstarUS$28.00 Sep 04, 2024Booking options
Tokyo Narita => Sapporo ChitoseSpring Airlines JapanUS$31.00 Jul 17, 2024Booking options
Tokyo Narita => Sapporo ChitosePeachUS$36.00 Jun 26, 2024Booking options

Our guide to getting from Tokyo to Sapporo has more details, as well as tips on saving money.

Pro tip: Send your baggage from New Chitose Airport to your accommodation, for easier travel.

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 Sapporo’s airport to Niseko Ski Resort 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 New Chitose Airport to Niseko

From ¥5,000 per adult, one way
Book here

Between December 9, 2023 and April 1, 2024, you can take a direct shuttle bus between New Chitose Airport and Niseko. The journey takes about 3.5 hours to reach the final stop.

There are seven departures per day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. from the domestic terminal, and four departures between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. from the international terminal. The bus stops are various places in the Niseko Ski Resort area, including Niseko Northern Resort Annupuri, Hilton Niseko Village, and Niseko Village. You can book your tickets online in English. There are also services available that operate between Sapporo City and Niseko.

Trains from New Chitose Airport to Niseko

¥4,040 per adult one way

From New Chitose Airport, it’s an approximately 3-hour train ride, on JR lines, to Kutchan Station, where you can hop onto a shuttle bus to the ski resort. 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 ¥4,040 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. Read more about Japan’s regional rail passes.

Private transfer from New Chitose Airport to Niseko Ski Resort

From ¥40,020 per group up to four passengers/ From ¥53,820 per group up to nine passengers
Book here

You also have the option of booking a private transfer from New Chitose direct to your accommodation. Even though it’s more costly, this is a great option for families and people traveling in groups, because you pay per vehicle — not per person. You won’t have to worry about transfers or trudging through the snow with all your luggage, and it’s completely private.

Getting from Tokyo to Niseko by train

7 hrs or more from Tokyo Station + transfer time
2 transfers (at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto & Oshamambe stations)
From ¥25,540 to Kutchan Station (or completely covered by a rail pass)

The Hokkaidō 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 there, you can either take a JR Limited Express Hokuto train (70 mins) or a regular JR Hakodate line train (3 hrs 10 mins) for Oshamambe. The Limited Express train will cost an extra ¥1,150. At Oshamambe Station, transfer to a local JR Hakodate line train for Kutchan (90 minutes).

Without a rail pass, the total cost of the one-way train journey between Tokyo and Kutchan is ¥25,540. That’s not using the faster and pricier Limited Express Hokuto service from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. If you use the Limited Express train from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, the total cost is ¥26,900 — but you’ll get there two hours sooner.

The following rail passes cover the entire train journey from Tokyo to Kutchan Station (the gateway to Niseko): the countrywide Japan Rail Pass, and the East–South Hokkaidō Pass.

Getting from Kutchan Station to Niseko Ski Resort

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

There is a shuttle bus service running between Kutchan Station and Hilton Niseko Village daily, from 7:50 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. The bus is free for those with valid ski passes, or costs ¥600 one way.

Once at the resorts, you can use the Niseko United Shuttle Bus, which runs on an hourly basis between all the resorts from December 2, 2023 to April 7, 2024. 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 16, 2023 to March 20, 2024). 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 rough marker.

Niseko tour packages

If you prefer to just click, pack and go, there are a huge variety of packages available. Here are some to consider:

Niseko Grand Hirafu Lift Pass and return bus from Sapporo

¥9,000 per person
Book here

This package includes a 6-hour lift pass for Niseko Grand Hirafu and a round-trip bus from Sapporo. It’s great value if you’re in Sapporo and just want to hit the slopes for a day. There are several pick-up points in Sapporo, so there’s sure to be one that’s convenient for you. However, one thing to note is that this packages charges full price (¥9,000) for children aged three and up, so it might not be the cheapest option for families. It also doesn’t include equipment rental. You can rent snowboard and ski equipment at Niseko separately.

Niseko private ski lesson

Night lesson ¥30,000 per group, up to four people / 6-hour full day lesson ¥85,000 per group, up to four people
Book here

Night lessons start at ¥30,000, with full-day lessons available a little later in the season, for ¥85,000. These prices are charged per group, for up to four people, so it’s great value for families and those traveling in groups. The ski lessons are available at all four of Niseko’s ski resorts, and there are English-, Chinese-, Cantonese-, and Japanese-speaking instructors. Note that this package doesn’t include equipment rental and transfers from New Chitose Airport or Sapporo, which will need to be booked separately.

Niseko ski village
Niseko. | 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 harsh 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 Honshū) and taking a ferry from there. But really, we don’t recommend driving from Tokyo to Niseko. Driving from Sapporo to Niseko makes a lot more sense. Read about renting a car in Japan.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in December 2017. Last updated in October 2023, by Maria Danuco.

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