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Niseko is the most famous ski resort in Japan, known for having tons of light powder snow, spectacular backcountry and a large number of foreigners - especially Australians - who in recent years have been responsible for popularizing the resort area with the skiing/snowboarding community outside of Japan.

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In addition to kilometers of ski trails, many of Niseko's resorts offer winter adventure seekers the option to explore off-trail skiing, a relatively uncommon attraction at most other ski resorts in Japan. The backcountry can be accessed through special gates around the resorts or experienced on guided tours and helicopter tours. The latter is also possible on nearby Mount Yotei, a nearly perfect volcanic cone, which can be seen from Niseko.

Niseko's ski resorts are all located on Mount Niseko-Annupuri. Three major resorts, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri, cover most of the southeastern half of the mountain while a few smaller resorts dot their perimeter. The big three are joined together with each other at the top of the mountain, and it is possible to ski between them, while shuttle buses connect them at their bases.

Popular areas in Niseko

Niseko Grand Hirafu is currently the largest ski slope in the Niseko region. The snow is impressive and the view of Mt. Yotei from the hills is spectacular. The resort has 22 routes and 13 lifts, and the nearby Niseko Hanazono resort can also be reached by a combined ticket. With so many options, it's hard to visit all the slopes in just one day, so stop for a couple to take full advantage of the snow.

Many travelers travel to Fukudashi Park to sample the fresh water from Mt. Yotei's bubbling springs, one of the 100 most popular springs in Japan by the Ministry of the Environment. Meisui-no-Kyogoku, a roadside resort, is situated on the premises and has a shop, playground and barbecue area. The facilities is ideal for tourists looking to buy souvenirs or just take a nice stroll along one of its walking trails. The spring itself is situated only a 3-minute walk from the parking lot and offers more than 8 tons of fresh water every day to over 300,000 people who rely on it for regular use. If you're there to get some water right from the spring, the water is 6.5°C (43.7°F) cold all year long and can be drawn from any of the park's filling stations. Take a minute to refresh yourself with clean, tasty water and a lovely atmosphere.

Things to do in Niseko

Enjoy the hot springs of"Toyako Onsen" which boasts the third-highest volume of hot spring water in Japan and one of the most popular tourist resorts in Hokkaido. Enjoy the magnificent view Lake Toya, a crater lake created by the collapse of a volcano. Now along with Lake Shikotsu, the ice-free lake of the northern frontier is situated within the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. There are two spectacular views, one from the Miharashidai Observatory between the JR Toya Station and the primary hot spring location, and the other from the Sailo Observatory. The very popular Hokkaido spots of Mt. Showa-shinzan and Mt. Usu are very similar to Toyako Onsen.

You can see the ostriches with Mt. Yotei in the distance at Niseko No.2 Arishima Ostrich Farm. There's a feed box by the fence so you can feed these huge birds (100 yen). You can also buy ostrich treats at the farm's confectionery, which opened in 2017. General access is prohibited during the winter to shield the ostrich from disease, but guided tours are available and you can make some enjoyable memories that can't be seen somewhere else.

Family fun in Niseko

Of course the countless snow parks in Niseko are suitable and fun for the whole family. There are ski lessons for kids, that learn them the basics of skiing with safety and responsibility. Beside skiing you can just play in the snow or go for a walk sightseeing the spectacula mountain views in Niseko.

Also on Niseko you can go  to Kiyoe Gallery – a must-visit for culture enthusiasts and fashion collectors, Kiyoe Gallery exhibits a wide variety of works of art, including paintings, photography, decorative art, sculptures and more. The place frequently holds community activities, such as tea and calligraphy ceremonies on a regular basis. Last but not least there is the Kutchan Museum of Natural History – The museum provides an interesting look into Kutchan's history. Browse through displays about the local fauna and life in Kutchan before and after the World War II.

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