Summer in Niseko

Niseko is known the world over as a powder paradise. Some think that once the lifts have closed in early May, it’s all over until the next ski season. Nothing can be further from the truth. It might have been the case years ago, but certainly not today. Summers in Niseko are chock-full of exciting activities.

While the famous Niseko powder is enough to attract visitors during the winter, a lot of effort has been made during the past decade to create attractive summer activities for all types of visitors.

There is a practical reason for this. While many hotels, pensions, shops, and restaurants simply used to close during the summer, this is no longer viable. The service industry in the Niseko area has reached such a level of quality and sophistication that it’s critical to keep trained staff on the payroll for the longer term. Hotels and various services have to stay open all year.

The result is good for us all. Niseko today offers an amazing range of summer activities. Also, many top restaurants stay open during the summer, especially from July to September.

For many, golf first comes to mind. The beautiful Hanazono golf course (www.hanazonogolf.com/en) is just a few hundred meters away from Setsu-in. But that is just the beginning. There are four different golf courses in the Niseko area, and as many as nine are a less-than-45-minute drive away from Setsu-in. Some of these golf courses also offer onsen (hot spring baths).

The list of activities, besides golf, is long: cycling (rentals available), nature tours with off-road-equipped Segways, trekking along mountain trails, horseback riding, and mountain biking – nearby Kutchan recently opened a flow trail. There are lots of water-related activities: rafting, canoeing, canyoneering in the creeks, paddleboarding, and sea kayaking. And don’t forget fly-fishing.

For those who prefer to be airborne, Niseko also offers paragliding and hot air ballooning, as well as – a bit closer to earth – tree trekking and Japan’s longest zip line. The beautiful Shakotan National Park, with its dramatic coastline and clear waters, is around 90 minutes away. Here, many marine activities are available, including scuba diving. Another famous scuba diving and snorkeling spot is Lake Shikotsu. Less than an hour’s drive from Setsu-in, Shikotsu is one of Japan’s most beautiful lakes, and famous among scuba divers for its crystal-clear water.

There are also cultural activities like farm visits, cooking classes, craft workshops, and music events. The historic city of Otaru is about an hour’s drive away, as is Yoichi, where you can find Japan’s oldest whisky distillery, Nikka (voted as the world’s best single malt whisky in 2008). Around Yoichi, you will also find vineyards that are open to the public.

And after an active, fun-filled day, what can be better than BBQ on Setsu-in's terrace?

Detailed printed information about activities and programs from different organizers is available at Setsu-in. One of the main organizers is Hanazono Resort, just minutes away on foot from Setsu-in (hanazononiseko.com/en/summer).