Niseko is located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, in the hilly district surrounded by Mt. Yotei-zan (national park) to the east and Mt. Niseko Annupuri (quasi-national park) to the north. Niseko is only about 100 kilometers away from Sapporo, the center of Hokkaido, and has earned a worldwide reputation as an ideal ski resort in winter with the Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area and Niseko Village. However, Niseko is also known as a summer resort. The magnificent beauty of its rich nature appears in TV commercials, drawing great attention to this area, and making it well known as a leading all-season resort in Japan. In recent years, Niseko has welcomed many visitors not only from Japan but also from overseas.
Arguably the best skiing location on Earth for powder snow!
The name “Niseko” (ニセコ) means “sheer cliff” in the language of Ainu, an ethnic group indigenous to Hokkaido, while “Niseko Annupuri” (ニセコアンヌプリ) means “‘mountain with a (river which runs around the bottom of a) sheer cliff.” The volcano that dominates the Niseko area is Mt Yotei, or Yotei-san. Currently sleeping, this typical strato-volcano is 1898m high. Yotei-san was formed approximatively 10,000 years ago, its main portion being formed by lava from three eruptions. Mt Yotei’s nick name is “Ezo Fuji” as the “Fuji of Hokkaido” due to it’s resemblance with its Honshu cousin. The annual average temperature is 6.3 degrees Celsius, while the record snowfall in winter can sometimes reach up to 2 meters in depth! For ski aficionados, Niseko is definitely one of the best places to go- find out why!
There’s lots of things to do in and around Niseko. These are just some of the possibilities for you to spend a great time here.
Other cities in Hokkaido
Otaru is situated in the western part of Hokkaido, facing Ishikari-wan Bay. It has developed and prospered as “the sea entrance of Hokkaido” over the last 100 years and it has gained the nickname “Wall Street of the north.” The glass-works shops, coffee shops, restaurants and shopping malls along the canal have been converted from stone-built or brick-built warehouses, which were used for storage when the canal was crowded with jostling barges in former flourishing days of commerce.
When night falls, oil lamps on the cobbled streets are lit. The town gently evokes a nostalgic mood.
Otaru’s nickname is “the town of hills” as there are so many hills including Jigoku-zaka (the hill from hell) – a very steep slope – and the long-winding Funami-zaka. Mt. Tengu-yama that towers behind Otaru becomes a popular ski resort in winter. There is an observation point on Mt. Tengu-yama and the panoramic view including the whole of Otaru and its port is absolutely wonderful. There are also cable cars to the mountaintop. The coastal area in the suburb of Otaru belongs to the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru-Beach Quasi-National Park and beauty spots including Otamoi Cliffs attract many visitors especially in summer.
Sapporo in western Hokkaido is divided up in a grid pattern, and is the largest city on the island. Odori Avenue Park stretches from east to west in the center of the city, and is a symbol of the city – full of art objects, fountains, lilac and acacia plants and lots of flowerbeds. To the north stand trading companies, financial institutions and local government offices, while to the south is a large underground shopping mall, which is always busy as the city’s main shopping center. It is directly connected to Sapporo Station, which is the transport hub for all Hokkaido and is the place to board JR Lines, the subway, and both local and tourist buses.
One of the most magnificent sights is the Snow Festival that fills the 1400-meter long Odori Avenue Park with an endless display of snow sculptures and ice statues.
The city contains many essential landmarks, such as the Sapporo City Clock, which has been marking time for over a century; the old Hokkaido government building, a Neo-baroque building known as “Red Brick” that is lit up after dark; and the poplars outside Hokkaido University (formerly the Hokkaido Agricultural College). Last but not least, the only beer museum in Japan- the famous Sapporo Beer Museum.
Located in the southwest of Hokkaido and facing the Tsugaru Strait, Hakodate developed as a port town for trading with foreign countries at the end of the 19th century, and is a gateway of Hokkaido connected with Honshu (the main island of Japan) Island by the Seikan Tunnel. At the bay area near the railway station, a morning fair is held where more than 360 stalls packed tightly together attract shoppers with There is a restaurant and a coffee shop at the bow where you can spend a nice, relaxing time viewing the scenery around the port.
Rise early to catch the morning market for a rich variety of seafood such as freshly caught squid, scallops, salmon eggs, Atka mackerels, and many other fishes and shellfishes.