Niseko is the largest and most popular ski resort town in Japan. It is located in the Abuta District, in the Shiribeshi Subprefecture of Hokkaido. Derived from the Ainu language, Niseko translates to “a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains,” but is simply known to the Japanese people as a mountain range and municipal region. With a population of about 10,000 people, Niseko’s main industries are tourism and agriculture.
To the international scene, however, Niseko has become synonymous with ski resorts, encompassing Mount Yotei, which is often called the “Mount Fuji of Hokkaido.” Niseko primarily offers winter sports activities but it has gradually offered other summer activities such as trekking, bicycling, fishing, golf, tennis, horseback riding, and white water rafting.
Niseko has a northern location and is fed by the weather fronts that come from Siberia rather than Eastern Japan. The volume of snow is high in Niseko, with the average snow depth in March at 35 cm. Internationally known for its powdery snow, its long ski season starts at November and lasts until the early weeks of May.
Because the town has garnered a reputation as being the best and largest ski resort in Japan, it attracts large numbers of tourists each year, which range from young skiers and boarders to entire families on a ski holiday. As such, the town hosts a wide variety of accommodation options from hotels, chalets, lodges, and even self-contained apartments.
Niseko is known for having a vibrant nightlife, thanks in part to the area of Hirafu, which has become westernized in recent years. English is also the second-most used language, as signage across town is either in English or Japanese. Restaurant and accommodation staff also mostly speak English, with many restaurants having English menus.
The nearest airport is the New Chitose Airport, which is about 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Niseko. Shuttles and taxi rental vehicles are some of the many options available for tourists to reach Niseko.