You may not have much time on your trip, but since you’ve come all the way to Hokkaido, why not enjoy the nature the prefecture is famous for, as well as the city of Sapporo? Here we introduce spots for travelers who want to have their cake and eat it too. One such spot is Niseko, an area that can be accessed from Sapporo in just two or three hours (one way), where the outdoor activities are particularly fulfilling. Well known as a popular area for skiing and snowboarding in winter, a wide variety of summer activities are on offer as well. In addition to rafting, in recent years SUP (stand-up paddle-boarding) tours have become popular, and there are also hot air balloon experiences that small children and the elderly can enjoy. If you’ve come all the way to this spectacular environment, even if your time is limited, why not do something special and make the most of your stay?
From spring to autumn, SUPniseko hosts tours through which you can enjoy the popular SUP experience in Niseko. Especially popular is the approximately one-and-a-half-hour course that follows River Shiribetsu, which flows from the foot of Mt. Yotei to the Sea of Japan. The reason for this course’s popularity is the changing scenery it offers, from gently flowing areas and narrow river sections, to views of Mt. Yotei. In addition, there are many SUP variations for you to try: a course that allows you to take your pet dog on the SUP board with you; a course that offers SUP surfing in the sea; and one in which several people can ride together on one large board called “SUPsquatch,” which, with a total length of seven meters and a width of two meters, is rare in Japan.
481-1 Niseko, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido
NOBORIBETSU GATEWAY CENTER
Noboritbetsu is known as one of the leading hot-spring resorts in Japan. There are many hot-spring inns around Jigokudani, the source of Noboribetsu and the area is said to be a “hot-spring department store” where you can enjoy various qualities of hot-spring water. Particularly recommended in Noboribetsu is the night-walking tour around Jigokudani, hosted by the Noboribetsu Gateway Center. This is a popular tour where you can learn about the dynamic mountains, terrain, and geology of Noboribetsu, which show a very different face during the night.
26 Noboribetsuonsen-cho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
Niseko Mukava offers private tours such as climbing Mt. Yotei or Mt. Niseko-Annupuri and nature walking. Especially popular among these tours is a winter snowshoe walk that anyone can easily join. You can enjoy the winter nature of Niseko to the fullest by walking in places that are not accessible in the summer, and by finding animal footprints along your journey. We also recommend the course that involves visiting an icefall and an ice stalagmite, as well as the course that takes you snowshoeing to Iwaonupuri, one of the Niseko mountains.
Rusutsu Resort is one of the largest resorts in Hokkaido. In winter, it is famous for its 37 courses—covering three different mountains—at which you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding, but in fact, there are also plenty of summer activities. There are 18 different types on offer, from rafting and canoeing to trekking and horseback riding. Among the most unusual are the fly fishing lectures that even beginners can enjoy, and the moored hot-air-balloon flight experience held in the early morning and evening. This is a recommended spot for those who want to experience activities that are a little on the unconventional side, or for those who want to enjoy their favorite activities as part of a family or group trip.
13 Izumikawa, Rusutsu, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido
Niseko Backcountry Lodge
Niseko Backcountry Lodge, located in front of Niseko Moiwa Ski Resort, is a winter-only inn offering accommodation at a reasonable price. From here, various slopes can be accessed, such as the nearby Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area, and, with skiers and snowboarders from all over the world gathering there, you can fully enjoy your stay whether alone or in a group. One of the main attractions of the lodge is the backcountry tours they organize. What is more, the lodge has an in-house izakaya-style restaurant called Matsuri, where it is fun to exchange information with skiers about the surrounding slopes and mountains. Be aware that the lodge will be closed until April 2021.
447−14 Niseko, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido