10 Beautiful Summer and Winter Spots in Niseko, Hokkaido
Niseko is renowned for its bountiful natural beauty. Because of its world-famous powder snow, it has built a reputation as a winter town, but there are plenty of ways and places to have fun during the summer as well! Here are 10 different sightseeing spots to enjoy Niseko's vast, blue sky, plentiful greenery, and charming natural beauty. Keep these destinations in mind when you're planning a trip to this famous Hokkaido town.
Aug 27 2019 (Apr 15 2020)
1. Mt. Yotei
Also known as Yezo Fuji, Mt. Yotei is a symbol of Hokkaido and is one of Japan's 100 most famous mountains. With its quintessential stratovolcano shape and approximately 2km elliptical crater at its peak, the beautiful mountain can be seen from everywhere in Niseko.
The climbing season for Mt. Yotei begins in late June, and from early July through early August, visitors can view the mountain's over 100 species of alpine plants in full bloom from over 1700m above sea level. In addition to mountain climbing, many visitors also enjoy observing nature and a variety of outdoor activities at this popular destination.
2. Kyogoku Fukidashi Park
Many of Fukudashi Park's visitors come to sample the fresh water from Mt. Yotei's bubbling springs, designated as one of the 100 most famous springs in Japan by the Ministry of the Environment. Meisui-no-Kyogoku, a roadside station, is located on the premises and has a store, playground, and barbeque area. The facility is perfect for visitors looking to buy souvenirs or just enjoy a relaxing stroll along one of its walking courses.
The spring itself is located just a 3-minute walk away from the parking lot and provides over 8 tons of fresh water per day for over 300,000 people who rely on it for everyday use. If you're there to get some water straight from the source, the water is a cool 6.5°C (43.7°F) all year long and can be drawn from any one of the park's filling stations. Take a moment to refresh yourself with the clean, delicious water and beautiful atmosphere.
3. Takahashi Farm Milk Kobo
This sweets shop located directly beside Niseko's Takahashi Farm takes advantage of its location by using fresh milk from next door to produce all of its tasty treats. A baumkuchen factory, yogurt factory, cheese factory, souvenir shop, cafe, and restaurant are also located on the expansive compound. This is simply one of Niseko's can't-miss destinations! Mt. Yotei, the symbol of Niseko, can also be seen in the panoramic views from the store's terrace or garden, making this place a picture-perfect spot. In the summer, visitors can take in views of the vast blue sky and the field of sunflowers below. Try tasting the shop's unbeatable soft serve ice cream while enjoying the natural scenery.
4. Arishima Memorial Hall
The Arishima Memorial Hall introduces visitors to the life and works of the influential Taisho era writer Takeo Arishima, whose most well-known works include Emerging Concerns, A Certain Woman, and Descendents of Cain. The museum itself was constructed on the remains of a farm that belonged to Takeo's father, with design elements unique to Hokkaido. Its collection features approximately 600 items!
A 110-year-old park is also located nearby, and its trails are perfect for visitors to take a stroll. The view from the museum's observation deck features Mt. Yotei, the symbol of Niseko, making the museum a great stop for relaxing and a little learning.
5. Hilton Niseko Village
Hilton Niseko Village is Niseko's premier mountain resort, winning the World Ski Award four years in a row and placing as Japan's top ski hotel in all four years. Complete with a shopping and dining area built in traditional architectural styles, even day-guests have plenty of reasons to visit. The hotel's spa facilities are also open to daytime visitors, so if you're here, you can enjoy a soothing dip in its hot spring baths with water drawn directly from the source, surrounded by Niseko's famous alpine forest.
Although the resort is known for its winter services, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the summer as well. Visitors can golf, go rafting in the Shiribetsu River, or visit Pure, the village's nature activity center which features mountain biking, carting, hiking and walking trails, tree trekking, and ziplining. The area is great for adults and children alike.
6. Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area
Situated on the southern slopes of Mt. Niseko-Annupuri, this ski area features a course layout that consists mainly of wide, gentle slopes, making it a popular option for families and beginners. Summer gondola service begins July 15th, and from the peak, visitors can take in panoramic views of Mt. Yotei and the far-off Lake Toya.
Beginning late June, visitors can also go mountain climbing, take off in hot air balloons, and even try the bungee trampoline. If you prefer more relaxed activities, there are open air baths surrounded by nature at the spa facility just a 5-minute walk away from the base. Travelers can also take advantage of the discounted round-trip gondola ticket and hot spring entry set for the best unwinding experience.
7. Niseko Grand Hirafu
Grand Hirafu consists of two ski areas: Hirafu and Hanazono, and their soft powder snow ranks them among the world's most popular winter sports destinations. Visitors can travel freely between the two areas using a shared ski pass, and the convenient bus route connecting the bases makes it easy to travel between the two Mt. Niseko-Annupuri slopes.
Beginning July 14th, visitors can ride the summer gondola 500m up the mountain for a panoramic view of the entirety of the Niseko area. Guided nature tours, a BBQ garden, and an authentic mountain biking trail are also open for the summer season, making this a great leisure spot for summer travelers.
8. Niseko Station Tourist Information Center
The photogenic Niseko Station building is known for its fairy tale-esque design, and during the Halloween season, the area in front of the station is filled with rows of giant pumpkins. It's really quite a sight! The station's waiting area doubles as an information center for visitors with a variety of pamphlets from local businesses. The friendly staff are also happy to help you find your way if you're not sure what to do next or if you get lost. The Kiranoyu Hot Spring located opposite Niseko Station is open to daytime visitors, and its popular outdoor bath is great for experiencing nature during your relaxing dip.
9. Niseko Adventure Center
This establishment was the first in Niseko to begin a recreational rafting service. Other outdoor experiences that make up the shop's extensive lineup include stand up paddleboarding, canyoning, kayaking, and trekking, among others. The Niseko Adventure Center is a renovated public gymnasium with a mountain climbing gear shop on the first floor and an open air terrace on the second floor complete with a stylish cafe.
The atrium of the building contains an 11-meter climbing wall and a bouldering area. For younger visitors, the shop offers a family rafting experience for children older than three years old. Indoor activities like caramel making and imo mochi (chewy potato cakes) workshops are open to guests above one-year-old. This is a great place to spend time for the whole family!
10. Lake Shinsen
Located within a plateau 750m above sea level, the lake's beautiful, shimmering surface surrounded by spruce trees and a variety of alpine plants makes it a popular spot for nature lovers. A number of walking trails and the boardwalk loop make it great for a summer hike. In the fall, the picturesque view of the reflection of deep red Japanese maple trees on the water has the lake buzzing with visitors.
Known as the most mystical lake of the Niseko Mountain Range, visitors are impressed by the lake's mysterious beauty throughout the seasons. Although the parking lot is somewhat separated from the lake itself, the path between is flat with no ups or downs along the trail, so there's no need to worry about visiting with small children or elderly people.
Get out There and Enjoy the Nature in Niseko!
Like any of the places we introduced in this article? Just remember, there are more ways to enjoy Hokkaido's bountiful natural beauty in Niseko than just skiing. There are plenty of activities to do in summer as well! The gentle summer breeze, wide open sky, and endless greenery can provide relaxation for even the buseist of people. No matter who you're traveling with, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Don't forget all the delicious foods to eat while you're there!
Header Image: MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr
Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
By the way, you can book a hotel through Relux (run by SPIRA) by clicking here!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.