Niseko United Ski Resort
Niseko ski resort, or Niseko United (by official title), is located on Mt Annupuri in the South West of Hokkaido, some 20kms from the Sea of Japan. Niseko is made up of 4 linked resorts; Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri and Hanazono.
Niseko is seen as Japan’s premier resort and certainly not without reason; a snowfall of over 14m’s per season; a continuous vertical drop of 1000m; a massive selection of terrain including off-piste, trees, park, pipe, night skiing, long groomers, bumps and one of Japan’s most progressive backcountry policies. It’s an epic mountain with something for everyone, even breathtaking views of Mt Yotei, a dormant conical shaped volcano.
Niseko is located on the Northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido. It’s only a couple of hours from Sapporo’s New Chitose International Airport, which is 40kms from Sapporo City itself. Getting to Niseko is pretty simple; here’s the run down…
Getting to Sapporo
International flights directly into Sapporo’s Chitose airport are available from a number of countries including Hong Kong, Seoul in South Korea, cities in Mainland China, Russia and Guam. Airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and Air china are some of the options available.
Most flights coming to Japan from Australasia or Europe however arrive in either Tokyo or Osaka. It is then necessary to take a domestic flight on to Sapporo.
There are two main airports in the Tokyo area. Tokyo Narita ( 1.5 hours from Tokyo city by train ) and Tokyo Haneda close to to city. When flying into Narita there are a limited number of onward domestic flights available. Haneda typically has more frequent domestic connections. If necessary there are regular transfers avaialable between the tow airports transfer across the city
Flying into Osaka can be an easier option as you do not need to transfer to another airport, however flights from here to Sapporo are less frequent.
Getting to Niseko Resort and Hirafu Village
From New Chitose Airport there are regular bus services to Niseko resort and a train service to Kutchan (the closest main town to Niseko resort) is available via Sapporo and Otaru. Most courses include return transfers to and from Chitose airport and meet/greet services
The bus trip to the Welcome Center in the main Niseko Hirafu carpark takes approximately 2.5 hours, depending on road conditions.
Working and Living in Hokkaido and Japan
Of course, there are many renowned powder destinations around the world, but very few compare to Japan’s unique environment. As a country that receives one of the highest snowfalls in the world, you’d almost expect the snow to be a little wet and heavy. Think Tahoe or Whistler: huge amounts of snow, but not as dry as their in-land counterparts like Colorado and Banff.
Japan gets the best of both worlds. Northwest winds bring intense cold air streams and strengthening weather systems down from Siberia picking up just enough moisture on their way over the Sea of Japan. And the first thing these systems hit is the mountains of Hokkaido, where they bust their almighty load unleashing some of the driest powder snow in the world.
A fascinating country of contrasts…
How many places around the world can you ski or ride and experience such a unique culture at the same time?
Japan has an ancient history and culture steeped in tradition, with tranquil Buddhist temples, Shrines and Zen gardens; the grace and style of tea ceremonies, the quiet appreciation of cherry blossom and the change of season. From that to the hustle and bustle of the third largest economy in the world, where the majority of its 120 million population is based in 30% of the landmass in its massive sprawling cities… leaving the powdery mountains to those who crave it!
A natural wilderness…
Hokkaido is second largest, most Northern and least developed of Japans four main islands. Very popular tourist destination for Japanese and international visitors alike, with less humidity during summer than areas further south and amazing snow during the winter.
Hokkaido is approximately the size of Ireland, but only has a population of 5 million. So while Japan is known for its population density, Hokkaido is the exception.
Living in Japan is a unique experience. It’s not like doing a season in Europe or North America. Here you get all the comforts of a developed country but a real cultural experience. Oh… and did we mention the snow?