On the southwest of Hokkaido Island, in the shadow of dormant volcano Mount Yotei, lies the town of Niseko. The mountains that surround the town are dotted with natural hot springs, and famed for their lavender meadows in the warmer months. It is the winter though that draws the crowds to the greater Niseko area. Thanks to its geographical location, Niseko experiences winter weather conditions blown across from Siberia - namely exceptional quality, deep powder. As a result, the skiing and snowboarding here are considered some of the best in Japan, if not the world. A great range of runs for all abilities, and fluffy backcountry pistes, draw international crowds throughout the high season - which stretches from late November until early May. With the arrival of spring comes numerous opportunities for outward-bound activities - including hiking, rafting and golf - against a backdrop of soaring peaks.
The Niseko area comprises four main ski routes: Annupuri, Grand Hirafu, Hanazono and Niseko Village. All of them are linked at the top of the mountain, so that it is possible to ski freely from one to the other. What's more, a single ski pass allows access to all four. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the mountain, the resorts are about 10 minutes apart by car.