Top 12 Things to do in Niseko in the Winter & Summer
Here are our top 12 Things to do in Niseko, a superb dual-season resort on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. There are so many activities during the Niseko Ski Season and the Niseko Summer Season that your biggest decision will be when to go!
Top 6 Reasons to visit during the Niseko Ski Season
Clearly activities in Niseko in the winter are based around the prodigious amounts of snow that fall on the island of Hokkaido, blowing over from Siberia. The resorts that make up Niseko are situated around the base of Mount Annupuri and often you will find specific areas dedicated to particular Niseko winter activities.
The Niseko Ski Resort is world famous for its off-piste powder and back country skiing, and consequently the area is exploding in popularity and drawing visitors from all over the world to ski and snowboard here, especially from East Asia.
With over 15 metres of snow every season this is as snow sure as it gets. The heady combination of light powder snow, Japan’s progressive attitude towards back country and off-piste skiing, as well as high standards of safety, are what attract increasing numbers of visitors every year.
In addition, in Niseko you can enjoy night skiing, an experience not to be missed with a number of slopes staying open until 8.30pm. This ensures quieter runs, a longer ski day and a surreal experience under the night skies.
2. Snowmobiling in the Hanazano Area
Hire a snowmobile and take the weight off your feet, blasting through the breath-taking scenery. There are 3 dedicated snow mobile courses available from the Hanazano Area offering the opportunity not only to rest your weary legs but also to experience the beauty of the surroundings, with magnificent views towards Mount Yotei. And if you are lucky, on a clear day the views reach as far as the Sea of Japan beyond.
3. Snow Rafting and Tubing in Niseko Village
If you don’t fancy sitting on a snowmobile then sit in a snow raft and experience an exhilarating thrill ride being pulled behind one. Or visit the snow tubing park which is a hit for all ages and includes a covered “magic carpet” that delivers you back to the top of the slope and keeps you out of the snow at the same time.
4. Visit the Grand Hirafu Children’s Snow Park
The children’s snow park provides a multitude of activities for the under-fives including tobogganing, snow tubing, igloo building and snowman building. Note children must be accompanied by an adult.
5. Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
If you want to enjoy the snow and scenery at a slower pace, then this is an ideal way to do so. Snap on cross country skis or snowshoes and discover the numerous routes, which are all extremely well signposted.
6. Visit the Japanese Onsen
For those looking to soothe their weary bodies or simply a relaxing bathe with a view, make sure to visit one of the Onsen in the area that are fed by the melting snow water and the geothermically heated underground springs.This is a uniquely Japanese pastime which is essentially communal naked, bathing in mineral rich hot springs. A wonderful way to unwind after a day’s hard skiing or snowboarding, there are a number of these “onsen” throughout the resort – some inside, some outside and all popular at peak times.
Top 6 Reasons to visit during the Niseko Summer Season
Clearly activities in Niseko in the winter are based around the prodigious amounts of snow that falls on the island of Hokkaido blowing over from Siberia. The resort is well thought out and often you will find specific areas dedicated to certain activities in Niseko.
1. White Water Rafting
The Shiribetsu River offers some of the best white-water rafting in Asia. For thrill seekers, the river flows much faster earlier in the season giving a more exhilarating experience as the huge volume of snow begins melting. Mid-summer brings a more mellow rafting experience and means that families with younger members can also enjoy the river. It is superb way to enjoy the scenery whenever you decide to go.
Japan’s love affair with a full day’s round of golf is put on hold in the winter (though there are numerous opportunities to whack a ball on driving ranges all over the country). So, the fading snows are eagerly awaited and reveal Japan’s immaculate courses in all their glory. Niseko’s Arnold Palmer-designed course does not disappoint. On the outskirts of the resort, its undulating fairways are framed by the famous backdrop of Mount Yotei, Hokkaido’s mini Mount Fuji.
3. Other water based activities on the Shirebetsu River
Duckying is another popular activity on the Shiribetsu River. This is easy to master after a short tutorial and offers a thrilling ride hanging onto a duck’s tail-shaped float, propelling yourself in the water along with the flow of the river. Canyoning is also a popular summer activity, using your body to push yourself through the crystal clear waters using the speed of the flowing river. Canoeing is a more sedate way to enjoy the fantastic scenery surrounding the river and to observe the wildlife along its banks.
4. Horse Riding
An excellent way to see the beautiful countryside in the Niseko area is astride a horse! The wildlife is abundant, having spent the winter either hibernating or living in tunnels beneath the snow. Due to the short spring season the foliage emerges at incredible speed, transforming the landscape into a valley of colour and beauty. The migratory birds also reappear making this a bird watchers’ paradise.
5. From the sky
There are many ways to discover the charm and allure of Niseko and the surrounding area. Have a head for heights? Then try paragliding or hot air ballooning.
6. Ground Based Activities
Prefer terra firma? Discover the multiple hiking and trekking trails which vary in ability, taking you up the steep dormant volcano of Mount Yotei or peacefully meandering along the valley floor. Both road and off-road biking are popular sports in Niseko and offer a different viewpoint of the natural environment.
For the youngsters (and young-at-heart!) there are zip wires, tree walking, inflatable parks and slacklining, amongst other activities, ensuring no one will be bored. To finish off the day a traditional BBQ is an iconic Niseko pastime ,and the smell of freshly cooked meat and vegetables is never far away.
As you can see, there is an abundance of activities in Niseko for both young and old, active and less active.
The area has benefited from a surge in property and hotel/leisure investment in recent years which we highlighted in our series of blog posts – The Investment Boom in Japan’s Niseko Ski Resort. The increasing popularity of this outstanding dual-season resort, dubbed the Aspen of Asia, is creating attractive rental returns and price appreciation, making it the number one contender for a property investment, as well as being an exceptional place to visit.