|Hokkaido (Shiribeshi Subprefecture)|
|Prefecture||Hokkaido (Shiribeshi Subprefecture)|
|• Mayor||Kenya Katayama|
|• Total||197.13 km2 (76.11 sq mi)|
|Population (31 March 2012)|
|• Density||23.81/km2 (61.7/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|- Tree||Japanese White Birch|
|- Bird||Great Spotted Woodpecker|
|Address||47, Aza Fujimi, Niseko-chō, Abuta-gun, Hokkaidō
|Website||Town of Niseko|
Niseko (ニセコ町 Niseko-chō ) is a town located in Abuta District, Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. To the Japanese people, Niseko principally refers to a mountain range and a municipal area. However, overseas the name has come to refer to a wider area of ski resorts encompassing Hokkaido's Mount Yōtei, often referred to as the "Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido", and Annupuri ranges. The name Niseko derives from the Ainu language and means "a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains". Its main industries are agriculture and tourism.
The town had an estimated population of 4,667 with 2,187 households as of 31 March 2012, and a density of 23.81 persons per km². The total number of visitors during the 2009 winter season was 201,000. The total area is 197.13 km².
Niseko is composed of six ski areas, in order of size:
- Niseko Hirafu.
- Niseko Higashiyama (also known as Niseko Village).
- Niseko Annupuri.
- Niseko Hanazono.
- Niseko Moiwa.
- Niseko Weiss.
Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu, refers to the combined areas of Hirafu and Hanazono. Both of these and Weiss are within the municipality of nearby Kutchan. The other three resorts are within the adjacent municipality of Niseko.
Of these six ski areas, the main four (Annupuri, Higashiyama, Hirafu, and Hanazono) are sequentially interconnected and may be skied on one ski pass. The lift systems are owned respectively by the Chuo Bus company, YTL Resorts (which purchased Niseko Village from Citigroup in 2010), Tokyu Corporation and Pacific Century Premium Developments. Together they form 2,191 acres (8.867 km2) skiable of what is known as the Niseko United. The lift system comprises 38 gondolas and lifts connecting 61 ski runs. Kutchan's sister city is St. Moritz, Switzerland in a relationship established in 1964. Niseko Moiwa, adjacent to Annupuri, can be skied to from Annupuri but is not currently connected by the lift system. Niseko Weiss has not operated its lifts for decades, but people can still ski in this area, being taken uphill by snow cats.
Niseko also has back-country ski-courses that are unofficially on the maps. To the furthest right of Annupuri lies Sannozaka, an area prone to avalanche but with high quality snow. To the far right of Hirafu lies Higashi One, also prone to avalanche but with a challenging back-country terrain. Near the lower half of Hanazono is a forest route called Strawberry Fields, which is perhaps the most famous run in Niseko. Climbing Mount Yōtei also provides back country skiing.
For the first time, in March 2008, Niseko was voted into the world's top 10 ski resorts. Coming in at No. 6 it was the highest ranked of the new entries in the poll.
Originally known primarily for winter sports, Niseko has gradually gained a reputation as a centre for a wide variety of summer activities, including golf, tennis, fishing, horseback riding, sea kayaking, white water rafting, trekking, and bicycling.
Because of its northern location, Niseko is fed more by weather fronts that come from Siberia than from Eastern Japan, although all of Japan, especially the west coast of the main island (see Yukiguni), experiences northwest-to-southeast Siberian winds in the winter. The resort is internationally renowned for its consistently good falls of the lightest powder snow and its long ski season which runs from late November until early May. The snow is not as dry as other areas in Hokkaido, but the volume is high, with the average snow depth in March reaching 351 cm.
Niseko was named as the world's No. 2 snowiest resort in December 2007 with annual average snow fall of 595 inches (15.11 m) First place went to the Mt. Baker Ski Area in Washington State with 641 inches (16.28 m).
Infrastructure and development
Niseko, although a growing area, does lack public and private infrastructure in certain areas. Simple public items such as rubbish bins, street lighting and winter footpath clearing are left wanting in comparison to other international ski resorts (though this is common in rural Japan). Private infrastructure includes shopping and retail areas from which both are still in growth phase. These facilities, along with entertainment and a wide range of nightlife, are best accessed in Kutchan a 7-minute drive away. Significant infrastructure development – initially focused on the road heating and redevelopment of the main street "Hirafu-zaka" – has been approved and is to begin in the summer of 2012.
Counteracting this lack of infrastructure is the high demand for real estate. Foreign-owned companies are developing in the area along with Japanese companies. Purchase demand has expanded from Australian markets to include Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China.
Nightlife and accommodation can be found across the district, Niseko Town is home to many of the larger Hotel properties, such as the Hilton Niseko Village and The Green Leaf Hotel, Northern Resort Annupuri, Hotel Ikoi no mura and Hotel Kanronomori, Grand Hotel and Hotel Ashiri Niseko. The Hirafu area is home to many of the districts modern condominium style accommodation, this village type area is an eclectic mix of the old, new and traditional bars, restaurants, hotels, and lodges. The Japanese dining experiences that can be enjoyed across the district are extremely popular among both the domestic visitors to the area and the international visitors to the area.
Niseko is located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido. The nearest airport is New Chitose Airport. Japan Rail Hokkaido Taxis Limousines Rental vehicles are some of the many options available to get people to Niseko. The journey from the Airport takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Niseko has day trips to many of the surrounding areas.
The Hokkaidō Shinkansen (bullet train) linking Kutchan (倶知安) with Tokyo and Sapporo is planned for 2035.
Niseko Town completely renovated and reopened its Community Hall as a conference center in January 2012. This modern and well equipped center is located in the center of the town close to local restaurants and the Town Council chambers, local schools and is on a well serviced bus route that connects the town with the surrounding resort areas that make up Niseko. There are a wide range of local businesses that can provide support to your conference and the towns Chamber of Commerce office is located in the Conference center to help facilitate conference needs.
Hokkaido International School opened a Niseko Campus in the center of Niseko Town on 23 January 2012. The International School offers educational a full-time all-year-round study program and special school holiday programs for both the domestic and international markets. The full-time program aimed is at elementary school children and also offers a pre-school program for 3 to 4 year olds. Hokkaido International School Niseko welcomes students from all over Japan, Asia and the world. The school provides vital education services for the town and addresses the needs of the local and growing international community.
- Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu
- Shikotsu-Tōya National Park
- Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park
- Snow Place Like Home – Monocle, 10 Feb 2010
- Top 20 Snowiest Ski Resorts in the World – ForbesTraveler.com
- Yoshino, Michiru, "Hirafu-Niseko's powder melts hearts", Japan Times, 17 November 2006, p. 24.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Niseko, Hokkaidō.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Niseko.|
-  Japanese version comprehensive Niseko Product Directory
-  English version comprehensive Niseko Product Directory
-  Korean version comprehensive Niseko Product Directory
- Welcome to Niseko Town