The Niseko area lies across two small towns, Kutchan Town and Niseko Town. There are four main ski areas: Hanazono, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri, located around the dormant volcano Mt. Annupuri. These four areas comprise the Niseko United and the majority of the skiing area in Niseko.
There are two smaller ski areas in Niseko: Niseko Moiwa and Niseko Weiss, lying to the south, west, and north of the Niseko United respectively. There are several other ski resorts a short drive away including Rusutsu and Kiroro. This is a brief guide to the different pieces of the Niseko area.
This area guide is designed to assist you in making an informed investment decision.
Hirafu is the heart of the Niseko area, it contains most of the area’s accommodation and restaurants. The village comprises of a narrow stretch of land coming down from the ski hill in three main areas easily distinguishable by their names: Upper, Middle and Lower Village. Just outside of the main village are several other areas: St. Moritz, and Izumikyo.
The majority of apartments and hotels are in the Upper Village, the middle and lower village are low rise residential. Land prices have risen higher in Hirafu than in any other part of Niseko and land in this area is in short supply.
Kabayama is the area directly south of Hirafu Village towards Higashiyama, along route 343. This area is grown rapidly over the last few years. Most notable is the addition of several restaurants, hotels and homes in areas flanking either side of the main road. Soga is the area that leads you to the Higashiyama area.
On the northern edge of Kabayama and closest to Hirafu lies the largest residential area, St. Moritz. This is a quiet, leafy division with many smaller houses and a handful of lodges. The proximity to Hirafu and peaceful settings makes this a popular and more reasonable location for those looking outside of Hirafu.
Many of the plots in these areas provide spectacular views to Mt. Yotei and the ski hills. Prices in these areas are lower than Hirafu.
The Niseko Village area is dominated by the Hilton Hotel and the adjacent golf course and other associated hotels and apartments. But there is more to this area than just a hotel, new apartments, lodges and residential apartments are opening up and the area is starting to blossom as summer and winter destination.
The area is popular in summer and there are plenty of activities such as golf and horse riding for visitors to enjoy. There is also the nearby Milk Factory (Milku Koubou) which often has crowds swarming for fresh ice cream, cream pastries, trinkets and the fantastic views of Mt. Youtei over the farms.
Annupuri is the furthest south west of the four linked resorts in Niseko (the Niseko United) and many visitors claim it offers the best terrain of all the resorts due its extensive off-piste woodland areas and less crowded slopes.
The Annupuri area offers a handful of restaurants, bars, lodges and hotels below the ski hill. It is perfect for the visitor keen on getting as many fresh lines as possible in peaceful settings. In summer, Annupuri is popular with domestic visitors and, as with the other resort areas, is a good base for undertaking summer activities.
Freehold land in close proximity to the hill is limited and all of the land directly below the lifts in owned by Chuo Bus, the ski hill operator, and is leased to the building owners. The prices have remained steady in Annupuri and the most popular areas have been along the access road leading to Higashiyama and pockets of larger land within a few minutes’ drive.
Hanazono is in the midst of a groundbreaking change with the completion of the new Park Hyatt hotel. This quiet residential area is about to change with 100 residential apartments and 100 hotel rooms. Additional hotels are currently being finished and they have substantial plans for more residences. This area will continue to grow with new subdivisions planned. PCPD, the owners of the Hanazono have purchased the Weiss ski area and are planning to rebuild the Weiss ski resort and connect a Gondola to the area. Hanazono have also planned substantial lift and facilities upgrades.
Moiwa is a small, boutique ski hill located just 2 km to the west of Annupuri and The Niseko United area. Moiwa has large plans to build new lifts and Aman are currently developing accommodation. This area has potential particularly if it joins the Niseko United area. Moiwa is surrounded by onsens, parks and undisturbed nature. It is just a short drive to Annupuri to link up to the Niseko United and there are free buses transporting people to Hirafu several times a day.
Rusutsu ski resort is a part of the Niseko ski experience. An easy 40-minute drive from Hirafu, this resort has experienced strong growth in the last 5 years as Niseko has become more and more popular. Nisade have teamed with Kamori Kanko, the owners of Rusutsu to build a new 100 Unit development. Rusutsu has also been in discussion with the Japanese government for one of the Japan casino licenses. This area has an amusement park, 4 golf courses and extensive family skiing facilities. The area is relatively undeveloped and has tremendous opportunities to expand the ski and the resort facilities.
The Kiroro resort is located near the Japanese town of Otaru and is an easy hour’s drive from Niseko. The Kiroro ski resort was purchased by Thai real estate company Perfect property in 2012. Since that time, they have embarked on a redevelopment of the ski resort. They have refurbished the hotel and are currently building a new apartment complex. There is very little land for sale in or near the resort however it is now considered part of the Niseko greater area.