Best Cat Skiing in Niseko - Where to go for backcountry snowcat in Niseko?

Where is the best cat skiing in Niseko?


I’m going to help you find the best cat skiing in Niseko. Cat skiing, in general, is a pretty special thing to do but in Japan, it’s EPIC! Especially if you have been blessed with recent snowy weather. Going on a backcountry cat skiing trip, it will be just you and your friends riding untracked, sometimes tits-deep pow! That’s what Niseko is famous for. Plus memories that will last a lifetime!


Read: 13 things to do in Niseko: Bars, onsen, restaurants and ice cream!


Niseko cat skiing – 3 local operations

Niseko has three local cat skiing operations to choose from.

They are:

  • Big Wave Cats
  • Niseko Weiss Powder Cats
  • House of Powder – Chisenupuri


Cat skiing Niseko

Meet ‘Red Rocket’ – one of the Big Wave Cat fleet.
Photo by lead guide Alexa Hohenberg for Niseko Photography & Guiding


The most advanced cat skiing in Niseko is with Big Wave Cats.

Big Wave Cats cat skiing is a 15-minute drive from Hirafu, on a private mountain, North East on the famous Mt. Yotei.  They run two cats each day, with 5 clients in each, plus a qualified lead and tail guide (7 people in total plus a driver). The tail guide is a professional photographer so you will also get a package of great photos from your day, all part of the price – thanks to the guys at Niseko Photography and Guiding.


The reason why this is the best cat skiing in Niseko is because of the snow quality and terrain options. There is something for everyone (intermediate, advanced and expert riders). From the steep West facing runs called The Stacks which boast some amazing pillows, gulleys and steep trees, to the open North faces where you can find the coldest powder and open tree sections. They aim for 8 runs a day and runs vary from 200 – 250m. Not the longest ski runs but this is Japan not Alaska… For what you lose in vertical descent, you gain in snow quality! J.A.P.O.W.


If you are looking for challenging terrain and a true Japan backcountry experience – this is the operation to go with.

Not ideal for people learning to ski powder – see additional options below.


Book with Big Wave Cats

Contact the guys at Niseko Photography & Guiding / email They provide the guides on the day (I work as a lead guide).

Please mention Still Stoked when you book with Niseko Photography & Guiding. They may hook you up with a discount :-)

  • ¥54,000 per person based on a max 5x per cat
  • ¥270,000 for a private cat (you can squeeze 6 in if you want!)
  • Lunch included (soup, cakes, sandwich – you eat on the mountain)
  • 2x professional guides
  • Professional photographer and photo package included (sent to you via email within a week)
  • Avalanche beacon provided
  • Transport to and from your hotel included – pick up 8am
  • 8 runs


Here are some photos from the Big Wave Cat skiing terrain and the cats.

The cats are from 1980 and cool AF!

Cat skiing in Niseko

“It’s deep. We’ll come pick you up”
Photo by guide Alexa Hohenberg for Niseko Photography & Guiding

Niseko Photography

Photo by Elsie Neilsen at Niseko Photography & Guiding

Best cat skiing Niseko

A client getting amongst it on a deep day!
Photo by guide Alexa Hohenberg for Niseko Photography & Guiding

best Cat skiing in Niseko

Deep pow and spaced out trees of the North faces.
Photo by tail guide Ben Howells from Niseko Photography & Guiding

Cat skiing Niseko

Did someone say pillows?

Best cat skiing Niseko

Guide Alexa seeing if the pillows ‘go’. They do.
Photo by tail guide Brandon Hartwig for Niseko Photography & Guiding

Mt Yotei in Niseko from the cat skiing zone

It’s not a bad view up there either.
Photo by guide Alexa Hohenberg for Niseko Photography & Guiding

Ski powder in Niseko and go cat skiing

Pow surfing on the south faces.
Photo of guide Alexa by tail guide Ben Howells for Niseko Photography and Guiding



Don’t forget travel insurance for backcountry skiing! I recommend World Nomads as you can book and upgrade your options whilst on your trip.



Other Cat Skiing near Niskeo


The other two cat skiing operations are run on the side of the Niseko ski resort by Hanazono (Niseko Weiss Powder Cats), and on an old disused ski resort called Chisenupuri about 45 minutes of town (House of Powder).


The Niseko Weiss Powder Cats run a more modern cat which holds up to 12 guests. The terrain is nicely spaced and open but it is not steep. So this is a good option if you are just learning to ride powder and are looking for a guided introduction to backcountry skiing (although it is on the side of the ski resort on old dis-used ski runs).

  • ¥39,000 per person based on 4-12 guests
  • ¥390,000 for a private cat of up to 12 people
  • Lunch included (you eat in the Niseko Weiss Hotel)
  • Transport to and from your hotel included – pick up 8.30am
  • Avalanche beacon included
  • 6-7 runs


House of Powder at Chisenupuri have slightly better terrain options and being a 45minute drive from Hirafu, you will feel like you are getting more of a backcountry experience. Their terrain is also suited to a more intermediate skier, or those learning to ride powder (they also offer a learn to ride JAPOW product).

  • ¥35,000 per person  – up to 28 people/passes per day
  • Lunch included – at the Yuki Chichibu Lodge
  • Transport to and from your hotel included
  • Avalanche beacon included
  • They do not specify the number of runs on their website


Cat skiing in Niseko with a view of Mt. Yotei

Stopping for a spot of lunch, over ooking Mt. Yotei, at the top of the cat ski zone with Big Wave Cats.
Photo of lead guide Alexa by Niseko Photography & Guiding


Other options for Cat skiing near Niseko?

There are a few other cat skiing options outside of Niskeo.

Cat skiing at Iwanai Ski Resort is about an hour drive towards the ocean from Niseko. At Iwanai you are right by the ocean so not only are the views incredible (if it’s not puking with snow), but you are also very exposed to the icy, wet winds.  Their terrain is an old ski resort but long runs. It looks pretty cool.


Shimamaki Snow Cats offers cat skiing in the Shimamaki range. This is a two night, two-day package and a four night, four-day package departing on Sunday, Tues and Thursday. This looks pretty cool if you want to mix up a stay into your cat skiing experience. I have heard great things about their terrain – can’t wait to one day ride there!



Have you been cat skiing in Niseko? Let me know in the comments below. Hopefully see you out there this winter!


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