Niseko is Asia's most popular year-round destination. During the winter, it is famed for receiving the world's best powder snow, and during the summer, it is known for being a laid-back outdoor lifestyle destination.
Niseko is located in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island prefecture, and is about a 2-hour drive from Sapporo, Hokkaido's major city. The region is also noted for having some of Japan's cleanest rivers, as well as outstanding vegetables and agriculture.
In addition to kilometres of ski tracks, many of Niseko's resorts provide off-trail skiing, which is a very uncommon feature at most other Japanese ski resorts.
The backcountry is accessible via specific gates located around the resorts, as well as guided tours and helicopter tours. Mount Yotei, a nearly flawless volcanic cone visible from Niseko, is potentially a possibility for the latter.
Mount Niseko-Annupuri is home to all of Niseko's ski resorts. Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, and Annupuri are the three major resorts that comprise the majority of the southeastern side of the mountain, with a few smaller resorts dotted around their perimeter.
The largest three are linked at the top of the mountain, and it is possible to ski between them, with shuttle buses connecting them at their bottoms. The Niseko All Mountain Pass is a special combination ticket that grants admission to all three resorts.
The Niseko area hosts many festivals throughout the year. The main festivals to look out for are:
Kutchan Yukitopia Festival (Mid February) Blessed with tremendous snowfalls, Kutchan hosts a ‘snow-utopia’ festival that is packed with events.
Kutchan-jinja Festival (End July) Town’s designated intangible folklore cultural assets ‘Akasaka-yakko’ and the ‘Mikoshi’ portable shrine are paraded through the streets of Kutchan in this annual festival.
Kutchan Jaga Matsuri (Beginning August) The potato festival is one of the short summer’s most colourful events. It features street stalls run by local residents, and local performing arts such as taiko drums and dancing.
Kaributo-jinja Festival (End August) Keeping tradition alive, the ‘Mikoshi’ portable shrine and festival floats are paraded through the streets of Niseko in this annual festival.
Niseko Autumn Food Festival (September) This festival celebrates the delicious culinary delights that Niseko local chefs have created.
Konpira-ji Autumn Festival (Beginning October) Bustling stalls are the main feature of this annual autumn festival, which is held to mark the transition from autumn to winter.
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