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  • Writer's pictureAllan Mori

Are you planning a ski trip to Japan? Which is better, Niseko or Furano?

Niseko and Furano ski resorts in Hokkaido, Japan, offer unique experiences and cater to different customers. Here's an overview of the differences, positives, and negatives of each resort, along with recommendations for the type of customer best suited for each destination:

Niseko or Furano ski resort

Niseko Ski Resort:

Differences:

  • Snowfall: Niseko receives an exceptional annual snowfall, averaging 15 meters (590 inches), making it famous for its legendary powder.

  • Terrain: Niseko offers four interconnected resorts, providing a vast and varied terrain for all skill levels. The resort has a mix of groomed slopes, off-piste areas, and challenging backcountry options.

  • International Ambiance: Niseko has gained popularity among international visitors, creating a lively and multicultural atmosphere. English is widely spoken, and numerous international dining options and amenities exist.

Positives:

  • Powder Snow: Niseko's consistent powder snow provides incredible skiing and snowboarding experiences, especially for powder enthusiasts. It snows a lot in Niseko, being next to the ocean.

  • Varied Terrain: With its interconnected resorts, Niseko offers a diverse range of slopes, appealing to beginners and advanced skiers.

  • Amenities and Nightlife: Niseko boasts a vibrant après-ski scene, with a wide selection of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options.

  • Easy to plan a holiday. As Niseko is well established, there are many travel agents and travel packages for those who don't have much time to plan.

Negatives:

  • Crowds: Niseko's popularity can result in crowded slopes, particularly during peak seasons, which may lead to longer lift lines and congested trails.

  • Higher Cost: Niseko's international appeal can result in higher accommodation and dining prices than other regional resorts.

  • Niseko has become quite Westernized and resort-focused, which may diminish some visitors' feeling of being in Japan.

Recommended for: Niseko is well-suited for skiers and snowboarders who enjoy a lively atmosphere, world-class powder snow, and a diverse range of terrain. It is an excellent choice for those seeking an international experience, socializing, and exploring various dining and entertainment options.

Furano Ski Resort:

Differences:

  • Snowfall: Furano receives an average of 9 meters (354 inches) of snowfall annually, offering excellent snow conditions for skiing and snowboarding.

  • Tree Skiing: Furano is renowned for its exceptional tree skiing opportunities, allowing adventurous skiers to explore off-piste areas and enjoy thrilling descents.

  • Quaint Town Atmosphere: Furano embodies a charming and traditional Japanese town atmosphere, providing a tranquil and authentic experience.

Positives:

  • Pristine Slopes: Furano's well-groomed slopes cater to skiers and snowboarders of all levels, with various runs to choose from.

  • Centrally located, it has better access to other ski resorts and backcountry options

  • Scenic Beauty: Furano's picturesque landscapes, including the stunning views of Mount Tokachi, create a beautiful backdrop for skiing.

  • Authentic Japanese Experience: The town of Furano offers a glimpse into rural Japanese culture, with local cuisine, hot springs, and warm hospitality.

Negatives:

  • Limited Nightlife: Compared to Niseko, Furano has a quieter nightlife scene, with fewer options for entertainment and bustling après-ski activities.

  • Less International Exposure: English may not be as widely spoken, and the resort may have fewer international dining and service options than Niseko.

  • A car is necessary to reach other ski areas around Furano. Consider hiring a guide.

Recommended for: Furano is ideal for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those seeking a more serene and authentic Japanese skiing experience. It is an excellent choice for skiers and snowboarders who appreciate tranquility, breathtaking scenery, and the allure of tree skiing.


In conclusion, the choice between Niseko and Furano ultimately depends on personal preferences and the type of experience you seek. Niseko is recommended for those who thrive on a bustling atmosphere, diverse terrain, and international amenities. Furano is an ideal destination for nature lovers, those who seek serenity, and those who wish to have an authentic Japanese skiing experience without the hustle and bustle of crowds.

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