Niseko has some of the best powder snow in the world. According to many, the best. Some days, skiing in the Niseko backcountry can be an almost unreal experience with light powder up over your head. But don’t just take our word for it. Here is one of many reports from enthusiastic visitors:
What is called "Niseko United" is actually four different resorts, Annupuri, Higashiyama (also called Niseko Village), Hirafu and Hanazono, all connected through one lift system around the Annupuri mountain. Hirafu is the central resort, where you find most of the shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Hirafu is around 15 minutes away by car from Hanazono and SETSU-IN.
Hanazono offers fantastic nature, tranquillity and easy access to mountain, ski pistes and powder. But until recently there were almost no shops and just a few restaurants (albeit one Michelin-starred) in this part of the United Niseko area.
That all changed with the newly opened Park Hyatt Niseko hotel, just a few minutes walk from SETSU-IN. Furthermore, in time for the 2019/2020 season the brand new ski-in-ski-out Hanazono Edge with slopeside restaurant, café and bar was also ready. Also new, next to Hanazono Edge, is Galaxy of Kidz, said to be Asia’s biggest activity center for kids.
That’s a lot of new activities in tranquil Hanazono. But don’t worry. Although only a few hundred meters away, it’s totally out of sight from SETSU-IN. What you will see from the house is still only trees and the beautiful mountains.
And living in Hanazono still requires access to a car, and SETSU-IN comes with a car for six adults with skis or snowboards.
Hirafu, the uniquely (for Japan) cosmopolitan resort town, with its busy nightlife, is 15 to 20 minutes away by car depending on the snow situation. Please remember that you have to bring an international driving license to be able to drive in Japan.
Kutchan, with around 15,000 inhabitants, is the main town in the area. Here you’ll find shops, supermarkets, restaurants, cafés, etc. And also a well-equipped hospital with English language service during the winter season.
Kutchan is one of very few rural areas in Japan today that is growing both economically and demographically, due to the explosive development during the past decade. While many rural parts of Japan are facing a sometimes severe depopulation, young people, both Japanese and non-Japanese, are moving into Kutchan and the Niseko area creating a uniquely vibrant environment.
During October 2019 Kutchan was host to the G20 tourism Ministers' Meeting and produced this promotional video: