A mountain destination protected and nurtured by local people
Why visit Niseko Town
Niseko Town is a cozy, small town with a population of about 5,000 located in the western part of Hokkaido. Nestled between Mt. Yotei (1,898m) to the east and the Niseko Annupuri mountain range (1,308m) to the north, Niseko developed on the shores of the Shiribetsu River, which was designated as the clearest river in all of Japan.
Niseko is well-known as an international resort area with magnificent natural scenery and a variety of outdoor activities on offer, including winter activities like skiing and snowboarding and summer activities like mountain climbing, rafting and cycling. See also the website of Niseko Resort Tourist Association.
Read further to find out all about a green trip to Niseko!
An official short film about Niseko Town
Niseko Town is a place unlike any other where you can enjoy unforgettable scenery and become one with nature as you take pleasure in the leisurely passage of time.
The Spirit of the Mountain
Created during the coronavirus pandemic, people throughout the Niseko Tourism Zone (Rankoshi Town, Niseko Town and Kutchan Town) appear in this video. The video was produced by the Niseko Promotion Board, a community relations DMO.
Culture & Local Life
The Japanese scholar Takeo Arishima announced the liberation of his family’s Arishima Farm to his tenant farmers in 1922. He gathered all the farmers at the Iyateru Shrine and took the unprecedented step of releasing his property rights, giving his ex-tenants about 50 square kilometers of farmland for free. His philosophy has been passed down to the present day and is an important part of Niseko’s identity.
“Natural resources critical to production such as air, water, and soil, should be used by the whole human race and not be privately owned by individuals for their own benefit. I hope that all of you will take responsibility for this land and help each other.”
(Private magazine Izumi 1st issue)
Planning a green trip to Niseko Town is easy. It is accessible by train and bus from Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. In addition to local bus services within city limits, there is an on-demand bus service in Niseko Town that can be used by both residents and tourists (advance reservation required, 200 yen per person).
Designated cycling roads and walking paths weave throughout Niseko Town. The footpath walking courses in particular are perfect for visitors. These paths really immerse you in the nature, history, and life of Niseko and everyone from children to the elderly can enjoy them at their own pace. Due to the large differences in elevation in the area, we also recommend renting a Green Bike+ electric bicycle at JR Niseko station for those who are less confident in their physical abilities.
Nature & Wildlife
Mt. Yotei (1,898 meters), which is designated as a national park, is famous for its striking resemblance to Mt. Fuji and has been cited in the popular book One Hundred Mountains of Japan. Climbers are attracted to Mt. Yotei in the summer and stroll along the caldera at its summit to see a variety of beautiful alpine plants.
In the winter, Siberian winds accumulate moisture above the Sea of Japan before arriving with the powdery snow Niseko is so renowned for. Skiing in this powdery snow provides a smooth, floating sensation like no other and makes Niseko a ski mecca that attracts winter sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
Niseko Town has a long history of self-governance. The spirit of the town is deeply rooted in community building through resident action and respect for diverse cultures and values. Through its Landscape Ordinance, the town regulates all new developments and effectively prevents excessive, unrestricted commercial development from happening in the first place. In addition, the town has set high goals for CO2 reduction in response to climate change and has been selected as an Environmental Model City and SDGs Future City.
Health and Safety
As a countermeasure against COVID-19, Niseko Town is becoming a model for the so-called “New Hokkaido Style” by ensuring all public facilities and events enforce social distance, ventilation, temperature checks, and disinfection procedures. The town encourages visitors to wash and disinfect their hands and promotes registration with both the Hokkaido Corona Notification System and the Contact Confirmation Application (COCOA).
Good Practice Story
The Niseko Rules, designed to prevent off-piste (backcountry) accidents, are official rules that ensure the safety of all skiers while simultaneously respecting everyone’s right to freely enjoy the fresh, powder snow that Niseko is blessed with. During the winter the local community works together to support these rules by monitoring snow and weather conditions daily and updating the official Niseko Avalanche Information online throughout the season.
Travel tips from our editors
Visit Mt. Yotei
Mt. Yotei is the soul of Niseko, ever reliable in its magnificent stature.
Plants at footpaths
Walk along the footpaths and hiking trails to find a multitude of beautiful flowers.
A lucky combination of geographical and meteorological factors have blessed Niseko Town with some of the finest powder snow in the world.
It’s always an adventure to go whitewater rafting on the Shiribetsu River in the spring, when the river swells from the influx of melted snow.
Niseko hot springs
A gift from mother nature herself, Niseko is abundant with world class hot springs.
Hike & Bike
If you are planning to visit Niseko Town for hiking or climbing in summer, we recommend that you first visit the Goshiki Onsen Information Center. Maps and pamphlets are available as well as information on what plants are in season. Information on cycling routes and footpaths is available at the Tourist Information Centers (JR Niseko Station and Niseko View Plaza). (The photo shows a signboard of footpaths in the town)
Niseko Town was the only municipality in Hokkaido prefecture to be selected to both the 2020 and 2021 Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories. Niseko Town has been a leader in community development through resident action and has also been selected as an SDGs Future City.
What does it mean?
- They have shown at least 60% compliance with the Green Destinations Core Criteria. Check out their scorecard to see their performance on each criterion.
- They have submitted a story that was selected to the list for its innovative, effective and / or transferable good management practice.
Explore destinations nearby
Niseko Town Good Practice Story
Niseko Town submitted two Good Practice Story’s. The one selected was about a ski-resort seeking to preserva its economy and environment. Read the full story here. The other one was about Niseko addresses now the important issues linked to greenhouse gas emissions and reduces energy use. Read the full story here.