Holiday March 2017

Naturally Niseko

More than just a ski resort, Niseko offers plenty all year round

Niseko, located in northern Japan on the island of Hokkaido and situated near Mount Yotei, is the most famous ski resort in the country among international skiers and snowboarders. The unspoiled nature and differing seasonal weather also provides ample opportunity for travellers to experience the variety of activities available in this fascinating town, enticing visitors from around the globe.

Theodor Edler von Lerch, an Austrian, is said to have introduced skiing to Japan at the beginning of the 20th Century. Being an excellent skier, Lerch was asked to train the Japanese army and local high school teachers in Niigata Prefecture. On his visit to Kutchan, Hokkaido in 1912, he climbed and skied down Mount Yotei. This accomplishment was widely published in local newspapers and made Lerch the first recorded skier in Niseko.

The Niseko resort is internationally renowned for its consistently good falls of light powder snow and its long ski season, which runs from late November until early May. The Niseko ski resort has received the World Ski Award for the best ski resort in Japan, and is famous for having the best powder, best off-piste and best backcountry.

But Niseko is no longer just a world-class ski resort. In fact, it is a great summer holiday destination, with long, sunny days and a wealth of fresh produce and activities. It also boasts world-class golf courses, with the season running from late April until mid-October.

In addition, Niseko has become a hot spot for cycling, with numerous options for road and mountain bike trails. Beautiful roads, mild temperatures and attractive country landscapes all add to the appeal. And you can also ramble along footpaths through Shinsen-numa Marshland, traverse the Niseko mountain range or climb Mount Yotei.

Visitors can sample delicious local produce from surrounding farms and fresh seafood caught on the very same day. Niseko has a world-class dining scene, with restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes and fantastic quality and service as a standard, whether you pay ¥500 or ¥5,000.

And there are a lot of accommodation options in Niseko too, including hotels, boarding houses, lodges and self-contained apartments and houses to meet all needs. Some of the properties have onsen (hot springs) to sooth your body and help you relax. And ski-in, ski-out properties make it easy to experience the fabulous Niseko style all year round.