Niseko Overview

  • Niseko is on the Island of Hokkaido, Japan's north island.

  • Sapporo is the major city on Hokkaido & this is the easiest place to fly into if going to Moiwa.

  • The main Sapporo airport is south of the city in the town of Chitose. It is the New Chitose Airport (CTS).

  • Niseko is a 2 hour drive from both downtown Sapporo and New Chitose Airport.

  • Niseko is the popular name for a region comprising of 5 ski areas, 3 towns, and the surrounding developments.

  • The Niseko United ski pass is valid at 4 connected ski areas on one mountain -- Hanazono, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, and Annupuri ski areas.

  • Niseko Moiwa is the 5th ski area that is not included in Niseko United.

  • The main ski in ski out base village is Hirafu. Then the next closest village centers are the towns of Niseko and Kutchan .

Niseko is the most popular ski area in Japan and therefore has the plenty of luxury accommodation options as well as great restaurants, trusted guiding operations, and modern infrastructure. For these reasons, I think that Niseko is the best spot for this trip. 

January and February are the best times for deep snow in Japan. In early January there is historically plenty of snow, but I have witnessed a few seasons when winter was a little late to show up and the early January conditions were pretty bare. It only takes one or two weeks of delayed snow to make the early season conditions in Japan sub-par. If early January is the best time for your group's schedule then it can certainly work and usually Japan delivers, but a trip in Late January would just allow more time for a base to accumulate and would cut down the chances of this group missing the legendary Japanese powder.

japan map snowlocals.png
Hirafu Village


I suggest 2 or more luxury apartments in the same building for your group

A luxury apartment in Niseko is like a luxury apartment in Aspen or Arlberg... except with more snow to ski.

The Aspect Apartments: are in the heart of the Hirafu village and within walking distance to the Grand Hirafu ski area. 

  • The ideal setup for your group of 8 - 10 guests would be the two 5-bedroom suites. One is located on the ground level and one is on the top level of the building.

  • Each guest would have a private bedroom.

  • It is also an option to book one 5BR suite and a few 3BR suites depending on the exact number of guests and availability during your dates.

  • The Aspect apartments have an on-site concierge team to help with any local reservations or last minute transportation needs.

  • There is an on-demand shuttle service to dive the group to the ski area each morning (it is well within walking distance as well).

aspect snowlocals


A private bus will meet your group at the airport to transfer you and your ski gear directly to Niseko and your accommodations. This drive is about 2 hours with good road conditions. The drive can take longer in stormy conditions. 

A private bus will also take you from your accommodations back to the airport for your return flight.

private transfer snowlocals

Lift Tickets

  • Included will be a 5-day Niseko United lift tickets for each person that will be waiting at the accommodation. This lift ticket is valid at all 4 of the Niseko United ski areas (Hanazono, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, and Annupuri)

  • I have not included lift tickets for every day, so there is some flexibility for you to ski somewhere else nearby that is not included in the Niseko United ticket. These are ski areas such as Rusutsu Resort , Moiwa, Kiroro, or a day of heli/cat skiing.

Niseko United snowlocals


Includes a daily guide. This will be a certified ski guide (not an instructor) who can take you to the best on-piste or off-piste zones. This guide will also be an English speaking Niseko resident who knows the town as well as the surrounding mountains. 

  • For any off-piste or backcountry terrain, a second ski guide will join, as well as on any days that you may travel to a nearby ski area (not included in the Niseko United group).

  • Your guide will meet you at your accommodations in the morning and have the latest snow report and conditions to make a decision about where to ski that day. If a drive is needed to get to the best snow and terrain, then the guide will provide the transportation.

yotei ski
Niseko Guiding snowlocals
sushi snowlocals
snowlocals pow
snowlocals sushi

Heli Skiing / Cat Skiing

  • The heli-skiing season in Japan typically begins in late January or early February, depending on snow conditions. It could be a great early season in Hokkaido and the heli-skiing will open earlier, but heli skiing will usually not be available in early January. If this trip is just after New Years, then we will look to book a cat-skiing day instead of a heli-skiing day.

  • The heli skiing operation on Hokkaido is fairly young and still evolving. There is only one heli-skiing operation in Japan and it is 45 minutes from Niseko on Mt. Shiribetsu. The helicopter only takes clients to one peak and although there are many great lines to ski off this peak, it is worth noting that others can hike to the top of this peak from the Rusutsu Resort ski area (it is about a 2 hour hike though, so there is not much foot traffic).

  • If it is clear enough for the helicopter to fly, then you will certainly have an amazing day and cross very few tracks. But you will not be on a secluded peak all to yourself like heli-skiing in B.C. or Alaska (or Colorado for that matter). If you book a heli day and the heli cannot fly (as is often the case because it is always snowing on Hokkaido), then you will have the choice to re-schedule, switch to a cat skiing day, or switch to a guided backcountry day. A full heli day would be 6 drops (depends on weather and group speed of course).

  • There are a few cat-skiing operations around Niseko and they will be operating in early January.

  • The cat skiing is in mellow gladed tree terrain or on the runs of abandoned ski areas.

  • With a group of 10, we would book a private cat skiing day and you will typically get around 10 laps.

  • Lunch is included as well as a guide.

Cat ski niseko
snowlocals heli skiing


  • From January 3 - 10 (7 nights)

  • A 7-night stay at the Niseko Aspect in two 5-bedroom Suite apartments

  • Including private transfers to and from Sapporo's New Chitose Airport (CTS)

  • A full-time on and off mountain guide

  • With 5-day Niseko United Lift Tickets

  • And one day of cat skiing

    • would cost a total of US$ 86,321

*based on a group of  10*

**Heli-skiing not available for these early Jan. dates**

  • From January 21 - 28 (7 nights)

  • A 7-night stay at the Niseko Aspect in one 5-bedroom Suite and one 3-bedroom suite

  • Including private transfers to and from Sapporo's New Chitose Airport (CTS)

  • A full-time on and off mountain guide

  • With 5-day Niseko United Lift Tickets

  • And one day of cat skiing

    • would cost a total of US$ 68,388

*based on a group of  8*

**Heli-skiing not included in this quote - (6 drops costs $1,800 per person)**