2023-24 Winter Season Guide

Everything you need for the winter season

We’ve put everything you need for the 2023-2024 winter season in Niseko all in one place. Our comprehensive list includes important info like transport, maps, lifts, dining and more.

We know there’s a lot of information available, so we’ve made it easier than ever to navigate your journey through Niseko.

1. Transport

Getting to Niseko

There are a number of ways to get to Niseko, but the most popular and easiest way is to catch a bus from New Chitose Airport to Niseko. There are a number of bus companies operating this route including Chuo Bus, White Liner, and The Hokkaido Resort Liner. We strongly recommend booking in advance to ensure you have a seat on the right bus.

There is also a train service that goes to Kutchan Station, as well as private taxi services. More info about how to get to Niseko can be found on our getting here page.

Hokkaido Shinkansen

If you have a JR rail pass, you may be able to use it to ride the shinkansen all the way to Hokkaido. There is a shinkansen station open just north of Hakodate which is just two and a half hours away from Niseko by car or taxi. In the future, the shinkansen will have a station in Kutchan and connect all the way to Sapporo. Until then we recommend to use the Hakodate Taxi Company to get to Niseko. This service is available between 8:00am – 2:00pm, and uses jumbo taxis. This should be suitable for luggage, but space may be limited. The service operates only one-way from Hakodate to Niseko, and there will be an additional highway fee of ¥2,720 as well as the normal fare which is around ¥52,000 (approximate total fare of ¥54,720). If you have a JR rail pass and want to experience travelling by shinkansen to Hokkaido, then this is a great way to get to Niseko.

Local Transport

To get around Niseko, there are a number of shuttle buses available to guests. Taxi’s are also available, but are limited.

Hirafu Village Shuttle

A free shuttle will be running through the Hirafu Village taking transporting guests around the village and up to the Hirafu ski area. There will be three shuttle routes that will make continuous loops, with each loop taking approximately 20 and 30 minutes.


For this winter, the number of taxis has been significantly increased. The taxi app known as “GO” is helping to provide this service, and reservations can be made using the GO App.

Please note that in order for this service to run, a ¥900 surcharge applies when making a booking with the GO App.

Niseko United Shuttle Bus

Niseko United will also be operating a shuttle bus between each of the four resorts with a number of additional stops along the way. This bus is free for holders of an All Mountain Pass. Those without an All Mountain Pass will be charged local bus fees (approximately 300 – 400 yen depending on the distance). Full info can be found on the Niseko United website.

Hanazono Shuttle Bus

Hanazono resort also runs a free shuttle throughout the winter season, with departures approximately every 20 minutes. The shuttle runs between Hirafu and Hanazono and is free.

Niseko Village Shuttle Bus

Complimentary scheduled Niseko Village shuttle service between The Green Leaf Niseko Village and Hilton Niseko Village to Hirafu and Kutchan towns is available for both in-house guests and the general public.

Local Buses and Night Go Bus

To get to and from the local town of Kutchan, public buses and a special Night Go Bus will be operating this winter. Local buses go as far as Niseko Village, while the Night Go Bus goes to Hirafu (and a little further to “Kabayama”). The full timetable and routes can be found below. The timetable also includes train arrivals and departures.

2. Resort Map

The resort map is incredibly useful and is your guide to getting around Niseko. The resort village map includes most accommodations, shops, restaurants, facilities, and much more. Each building is shown on the map just as it looks in real life to make sure you’ll never get lost.

Maps can be downloaded online, or can be picked up at your accommodation provider. They can also be found at info centers around Niseko.

3. Trail Map

The Niseko trail map for the 2023-24 winter season can be downloaded directly from the Niseko United website here. If you’d like a paper version to take with you on the mountain, you can pick one up from each resort base, at their ticket offices, or from your accommodation.

4. Lift Pass

There are many different options for lift passes in Niseko. Firstly, an All Mountain Pass will give access to all four interconnected resorts. All mountain pass holders can also use the Niseko United shuttle for free.

A Grand Hirafu or Hanazono pass will provide access to both of these ski areas on the one pass. Niseko Village pass will provide access to Niseko Village lifts only, and an Annupuri pass provides access to Annupuri only.

Prices for all passes vary, depending on the days and period you’ll be using your pass.

Where to buy a lift pass?

Lift passes can be purchased at ticket windows at the base of each resort. All mountain lift passes can also be purchased online. Grand Hirafu and Hanazono passes can also be purchased online. Online lift passes allow you to skip lift pass counter queues and get on the slopes faster! You are able to collect your online lift pass from any of the four resorts!

At Annupuri, there is a lift ticket sales window directly under the Annupuri Gondola building. Similarly, lift passes at Niseko Village can be purchased under their gondola building as well. In Grand Hirafu, lift passes can be purchased at the Grand Hirafu Mountain Center next to their gondola, as well as at .Base (dot base) and the bottom of the Family Run.

Please note that you won’t be able buy All Mountain Season Pass online. You can purchase the All Mountain Season Pass at the counter at the each resort. Make sure to bring an ID when purchasing season passes. Passes cannot be purchased without an ID. For Niseko United season pass info, click HERE.

See each website for full lift pass prices.

© Ikon Pass, Inc.

Ikon Pass

When it comes to the Ikon Pass, each of Niseko resorts can issue your official Niseko United Lift passes that you are eligible for with your Ikon Pass. Typically, you can visit the lift ticket counters at any of the resorts to facilitate this process. If you’re visiting Annupuri for this purpose, you should head to the office rather than the ticket counter itself which is just behind the ticket counter. To complete the process, make sure to bring your passport and the Ikon pass confirmation, which includes your pass number. The Ikon pass confirmation can be displayed directly on your phone’s screen for added convenience.

5. Lift Schedule

Ski Area Operational Dates

Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area December 2, 2023 – May 6, 2024
Niseko Village Ski Resort December 1, 2023 – April 7, 2024
Niseko Tokyu Grand HIRAFU December 2, 2023 – May 6, 2024
Niseko Hanazono Resort December 2, 2023 – April 7, 2024

*Opening days and hours are subject to change.

Night Ski December 16, 2023 – March 20, 2024

6. Wine & Dine

The Wine & Dine is the BEST place to see every restaurant, shop and activity available in Niseko. This incredible resource makes it easier than ever to plan your dining experiences, as well as activities throughout your trip. Both publications are available online and in print. Printed versions can be found at your accommodation provider as well as info centers.

The Wine & Dine section lists all the best restaurants in an easy to understand way with prices, location, style, popular dishes and much more. The Wine & Dine is absolutely the best way to find the best restaurants, and to make the most of your trip.

The Area Guide has all the best activities, shops and more to complete your trip. If you’re looking for that wow-factor this trip, don’t miss our Area Guide.

7. Parking

Niseko Hirafu Village

If you’re using a hire car when visiting Niseko, it’s essential to understand the local parking regulations in and around the area. In Niseko there is zero ‘street’ parking. Parking on the street outside of designated parking lots is likely to result in a parking fine, your car being towed, or being completely buried in snow (which will destroy it). Before hiring a car there are a number of things to consider.

  1. Before hiring a car, we recommend confirming with your accommodation that there is adequate parking space available.
  2. Make sure you have some previous experience or training for driving on snow and ice. Driving on snow and ice without experience is incredibly dangerous. We recommend taking driver training in your home country before hiring a car in Niseko.
  3. Only park in designated parking lots at your accommodation, at each ski resort, as well as when visiting Kutchan Town or Niseko Town.
  4. Only hire a car from a reputable company. Reputable businesses will make sure the car has proper safety features such as good condition snow tires. Check out our rent-a-car directory for good places to rent a car.

Also note that the alcohol limit for driving in Japan is zero for all drivers.

Each of the four resorts has large parking lots, but as there are often many guests arriving by car, parking lots are known to become completely full. When parking at each resort, make sure to follow directions from parking attendants.

The welcome center in Hirafu is a busy parking area, and is also a drop off and pick up point for buses and accommodation operators. Please make sure to only park in the parking bays, and avoid the busy bus and shuttle bus lanes. Check out the diagram below for more info. If you’d like to see more detail, download the detailed PDF HERE.

Starting from this winter season, parking at the welcome center parking lot will incur a parking fee.

In Hirafu, parking is also available next to the gondola, as well as opposite the Aya hotel (next to the building known as Sun Sports Land).

  • There are 42 spaces which can be reserved online in advance with payment.
  • Reservations must be made at least 1 day in advance, and can be made up to 2 weeks in advance.
  • This system will be in place from 16 December 2023 – 29 February 2024.
  • Enter from 8am – exit by 3pm. Re-entry during this period is permitted.
  • Price: ¥3,000 usual price – ¥5,000 between December 23 – January 8.
  • Reservations can be made using smartphone by scanning the below QR code

More info can be found on the official website HERE.

8. Ski Bag Shipping & Lockers

Image Courtesy of Yamato Transport

If you’re visiting other areas of Japan during your trip, one of the best things you can do is to ship your ski bags to your hotel or to the ski resort. This allows your make your domestic travel much easier and simpler. Japanese skiers have been doing this for many years, and its why you don’t often see Japanese people lugging heavy bags or suitcases when they travel domestically.

We highly recommend using Yamato Transport (also known as Black Cat or TA-Q-BIN). There are Yamato Transport counters at all major airports in Japan, which means as soon as you land in Japan, you can send your ski bag straight to your hotel in Niseko. If you’ll be arriving before you can check in, you can also send your ski bags to the ski resort, and store your luggage in lockers. Importantly, when using TA-Q-BIN services, you can specify the date and approximate time for delivery. Yamato Transport will securely store your luggage and then deliver it at the specified time. If you’re sending your luggage from Tokyo or other city, allow a few days for delivery. Usually 3 days is plenty of time, but during winter snowstorms may slow delivery to Hokkaido and Niseko, so make sure to give yourself enough time.

How to Use Luggage Shipping (TA-Q-BIN)

  1. Find a Yamato Transport counter or office. These are often well signposted in airports and are usually called “Baggage Delivery”. Many hotels, convenience stores, and other stores often have drop-off points as well.
  2. Fill out the “waybill” with the destination and your contact information. Don’t worry, you don’t need to write the address in Japanese – clearly written English is fine. The staff will check the address with you to make sure it is okay. Make sure to write a detailed description of the contents of each bag you are sending.
  3. Pay the fee and send your luggage! The fee for shipping luggage depends on the size and weight of each piece. For reference you can expect to pay around ¥3,000 JPY for a full ski bag.
  4. Pick up your bag. If you’ve sent the bag to your hotel, it will be waiting for you when you check in. If you’re sending it to a resort, visit the address and counter that you have sent it to at the right time and date. If you’re going to be late picking it up, we recommend calling the resort to let them know.


Annupuri has several coin operated lockers in the gondola building as well as in the Nook building. The lockers here come in various sizes with the largest being 90cm x 53cm.

Niseko Village has coin operated lockers located under the gondola building opposite the Hilton. They come in various sizes and cost between ¥300 – ¥500 per day.

Niseko Grand Hirafu has locker storage at the Mountain Center Annex building, right near the Hirafu Gondola.

Hanazono has locker storage in it’s main 308 building. These key-card operated lockers are ¥1,000 per day and can be opened and closed as many times as you want throughout the day.

9. Events

There are tonnes of events happening this winter! Make sure to check out everything that’s happening this winter on our events page so you don’t miss any of the excitement!

10. Family & Kids Activities

There are many family friendly activities in Niseko. If you want to spend quality time with your kids, or are looking for something that can keep young ones entertained, then check out our list below. For all the winter activities in Niseko, check out our full winter page HERE.

Enjoy a day playing in Hokkaido’s amazing snow while learning some valuable survival skills.

Imagine Japan

Hanazono has many family friendly activities including snow rafting, tubing, indoor climbing and activity centre called “Galaxy Kids”.

Niseko Hanazono Resort

EdVenture promises a truly unique snow experience for children in Niseko, Hokkaido that guarantees fun both on and off the ski hill.

Edventure Winter Camps

Niseko Village has exciting activities such as snow rafting, kids club adventures, pony-sleigh rides and much more.

Niseko Village

NAC Adventure Park

The NAC Adventure Park is an exciting high ropes course suitable for different skill levels. This is one of the biggest tree trekking courses in Japan, and is located right next to the family run in Hirafu. A truly unique experience not to be missed.

NAC Adventure Park

This program is ideal for kids of all skill levels, from complete beginners to advanced skiers. Children are grouped based on their age and ability level so they can learn at their own pace with other who share their skill level.

Hokkaido Ski Club - Kids Club

Niseko Kids Club is your trusted source for all your childcare needs in Niseko. Whether you are looking for a quality daycare center, an experienced babysitter, or baby equipment rentals we are here to help. We have been an integral part of creating happy holiday memories for families visiting Niseko since 2012.

Niseko Kids Club

WIN D’OL Baby Sitter & Child care Service will make sure your child has the time of their life. Please let us look after your child, so you can enjoy skiing, dining, and spa treatment.

WIN D'OL Baby Sitter & Child care Service

11. Enter to Win - Survey

Have your say and be in the running for a chance to win great prizes from Niseko!

Your feedback on our survey helps to shape the future of Niseko, and incredibly useful for making Niseko the worlds best resort destination! Help us to make a better Niseko by filling out our survey. The best part? YOU will be in the running for the incredible prize of a 2 day All Mountain Pass for Niseko United! Prize will be drawn every month with the final draw on 30 April 2024.

A big thanks to Niseko United for sponsoring our survey and providing the amazing prizes!