Niseko Ski Resort - Niseko ski resort is very popular with excellent facilities. Niseko Ski Resort has excellent deep powder snow and a long ski season.

Niseko Ski Resort
Niseko ski resort facilities cater to the English language market with bilingual signs making life very easy for first time visitors to Japan. Niseko Grand-Hirafu Lift Ticket Office. Picture Oga

Niseko Ski Resorts


In terms of size, Niseko is actually four resorts in one. To the left of a typical non-topographical map can be found Niseko Moiwa it has the least amount of infrastructure and is the least ventured of the four main resorts. The next field is Niseko Annapuri which is typically hit with the strongest winds and worst weather. It's upper chairs tend to close when the gale force winds act up. But due to this weather, Annapuri has been granted the best snow conditions that can be enjoyed when the staff chooses to open the course.

In the middle can be found Niseko Higashiyama, managed by the Prince Corporation. With a large Prince Hotel located at the bottom of the gondola, the mountain is catered to families and touted as a major ski destination.



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To the right is Niseko Hirafu, the most well-known and popular of the three main resorts. Fast and efficient chairs offer excellent access to this large resort that consists of two main subsections - Kokusai and Hanazono. Hanazono itself is being rapidly developed by Australian and other foreign investors into becoming a ski resort to rival Annapuri, Higashiyama and its parent, Hirafu.

Niseko Annapuri, Higashiyama and Hirafu are are united at the top of the mountain. To get from one resort to another, all one has to do is ride the chair lifts to the peak and traverse to the other side. Alternatively, at the base, a free shuttle bus links all three resorts under the Niseko United Passport service. This service extends to the ski lifts and all three resorts can be accessed by one smartcard lift ticket.

Niseko Ski Resort
Mt. Annupuri Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski resort from the St. Moritz memorial bridge. Picture Nobuo Ogasawara.

For the back country fans, Niseko has easily accessibly back-country courses that are unofficially on the maps. To the furthest right of Annapuri lies Sannozaka, an area prone to avalanche but with a snow quality unrivaled by the rest of the resort. To the furthest left of Hanazono lies Higashi One, an area also prone to avalanche but with a challenging terrain that could only be found back-country. Near the lower half of Hanazono is a forest route called Strawberries, which has a reputation for being only for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

One hour away by car from Niseko is Rusutsu Resort. It is another mega-resort but run by one corporation. It caters more towards families and offers another alternative to Niseko.

Niseko Ski Infrastructure

In terms of infrastructure, a blossoming nightlife and accommodations are to be found at the base of Hirafu. New bars, restaurants, hotels, and pensions can be found at Niseko Hirafu every year (and in the near future, at Hanazono as well). There is a crop of small family-run pensions where a relatively inexpensive Niseko-weekend can be had without springing for a full hotel package by Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways.

Niseko Rapid Development

The result of this rapid development has been easier access to Japan's greatest ski resort to foreign visitors than ever before, most notably from Australia and Hong Kong. Property around Niseko has even been opened up for foreign purchase and with that, more capital has been flooding into the area. No other resort has perhaps better benefited from foreign direct investment than Niseko.

However, for the locals, the consequence of this development has been a steady increase in accommodation prices. There is speculation that with the secret out and Niseko on its way to becoming a major worldwide ski destination, it will be priced out of the market for its core group of visitors - the people who actually live in Japan.

Niseko Ski
Niseko Grand-Hirafu Alpen course. Photo by Oga.

(Article based on Wikipedia article and used under the GNU Free Documentation License)




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