Niseko ski holidays have become world famous for its amazing powder snow and is now popularly regarded as the best ski resort in Japan and arguable the best resort for powder skiing on the planet.
But many people enjoy the best ski holidays Niseko can offer due to a whole range of other attractions – the great service, the stunning scenery, the friendly locals, the hot springs, the excellent food, the hi-tech toilets …the list goes on.
Unlike other areas in Japan, English is not a problem with many English speaking international staff and restaurant menus in English. But this is still a very different destination to the usual European or North American ski holiday and it feels very special.
Like many of the world’s great resorts, Niseko has grown from the merger of several smaller areas. The combined area known as Niseko United is fully inter-connected by lifts and ski runs above the main village of Hirafu, along with nearby Niseko Village and An’nupuri (linked at their bases by a free ski bus service).
Pretty much wherever you are on the slopes you have amazing views back across the valley to Mt Yotei, a perfect snow-capped volcano which is said to be a perfect half scale replica of Mt Fuji.
Niseko is most famous for its amazing powder skiing and boarding. The snow, which arrives in incredible abundance (a total of 20 meters in winter 2012-13), is also exceptionally light, making it perfect for skiing or boarding. Off piste skiing was largely banned in Japan until recently and Niseko made the concept popular, bringing in dedicated skiers from around the world to try it out.
As a result Niseko has a very international vibe like Chamonix, St Anton or Banff. However as the slopes are relatively gentle, they are easier for intermediate level skiers to try heading off piste on to, and they are also less avalanche prone. There are steeper slopes for good skiers and boarders, but access is more limited.
But you do not have to be a powder hound to enjoy the best ski holidays Niseko provides. There are extensive pistes for all ability levels and good terrain park facilities too which is all well maintained. The Japanese culture of politeness and respect means there’s no pushing to get on the lifts which is a nice change. If you can’t get enough skiing in during the day, the lifts run to 9pm and the ski season continues to May.
Off the slopes Niseko has a vibrant multinational après ski scene with a wide range of bars, restaurants and accommodation ranging from traditional Japanese establishments including karaoke bars to Western style establishments. There is even an Irish pub, and there’s everything in between with establishments ranging from budget to gourmet.
Some of the best ski holidays Niseko provides are available from HT Holidays who have been in Niseko since the start of its rise to world fame more than a decade ago. Their accommodation is in the main village of Hirafu providing the largest range in resort. All of their accommodation comes with free Wifi and use of the Gondola Ski Valet so you can leave your equipment in a heated room at the base station.
If you still need convincing (you shouldn’t!) then please read our guide to the best Japanese ski holiday in Niseko.