Niseko (ニセコ町 Niseko-chō?) is a town located in Abuta District, Shiribeshi, Hokkaidō, Japan. To the Japanese people, Niseko principally refers to a mountain range and a municipal area. However, overseas the name has come to refer to a wider area of ski resorts encompassing Hokkaido's Mount Yōtei, often referred to as the "Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido", and Annupuri ranges. The name Niseko derives from the Ainu language and means "a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains". Its main industries are agriculture and tourism.
Niseko is composed of six ski areas, in order of size:
Niseko Higashiyama also known as Niseko Village
Of these six ski areas, the main four (Annupuri, Higashiyama, Hirafu, and Hanazono) are sequentially interconnected and may be skied on one ski pass. The lift systems are owned respectively by the Chuo Bus company, YTL Resorts (which purchased Niseko Village from Citigroup in 2010), Tokyu Corporation and Pacific Century Premium Developments. Together they form 2,191 acres (8.87 km2) skiable of what is known as the Niseko United. The lift system comprises 38 gondolas and lifts connecting 61 ski runs. Kutchan's sister city is St. Moritz, Switzerland in a relationship established in 1964. Niseko Moiwa, adjacent to Annupuri, can be skied to from Annupuri but is not currently connected by the lift system. Niseko Weiss has not operated its lifts for decades, but people can still ski in this area, being taken uphill by snow cats.
Niseko also has back-country ski-courses that are unofficially on the maps. To the furthest right of Annupuri lies Sannozaka, an area prone to avalanche but with high quality snow. To the far right of Hirafu lies Higashi One, also prone to avalanche but with a challenging back-country terrain. Near the lower half of Hanazono is a forest route called Strawberry Fields, which is perhaps the most famous run in Niseko. Climbing Mount Yōtei also provides back country skiing.
For the first time, in March 2008, Niseko was voted into the world's top 10 ski resorts. Coming in at #6 it was the highest ranked of the new entries in the poll.
Originally known primarily for winter sports, Niseko has gradually gained a reputation as a centre for a wide variety of summer activities, including golf, tennis, fishing, horseback riding, sea kayaking, white water rafting, trekking, and bicycling.