The best cat skiing in Niseko?

Niseko has a few cat skiing options in the local area. From day trips to multi-day overnight stays. We break down the best Niskeo cat skiing operations and what each one offers.


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 CatsBest for advanced steeper, featured terrain (pillows etc) but also open gladed options (permitted land, 20 minutes from Niseko)
  • Niseko Weiss Powder CatsBest for learning to ride power (on side of Hanazono resort)
  • House of Powder – Chisenupuri – Best for intermediate terrain options (old ski resort, 20 minutes from Niseko)


Hokkaido cat skiing

There are two other options outside of Niseko

  • Iwani Resort – an old ski resort only open to cat skiing. About an hour drive from Niseko, west towards the ocean
  • Shimamaki Snow Cats – 2 night, 2-day package, about 4 hours out of Niseko


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 permitted land, North East of 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). One of he two tail-guides that will rotate on the day, is a professional photographer so you will also get a package of great photos from your day, all part of the price if you book through Niseko Photography and Guiding 


The reason why this is the best cat skiing in Niseko is because of the snow quality and terrain options. It is not recommended for beginners or people inexperienced in powder skiing. 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. Please mention Still Stoked when booking through their booking agent Niseko Photography and Guiding.

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


Book cat skiing at Big Wave Cats

  • ¥54,000 per person based on a max 5x per cat
  • 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! 

Get a 5% discount with World Nomads travel insurance with code STOKED5 only on this link.


Other Cat Skiing near Niseko


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 that 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). They run 2 cats and it is a free-for-all e.g. you get dropped off at the top of the run and all go down at the same time, whatever way you wish (in the boundary). Get tracked out quickly as you would expect with 28 people lapping an area.

  • ¥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 looking 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 Niseko.

Cat skiing at Iwanai Ski Resort is about an hour’s 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. Also, run as a free-for-all!


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!



Don’t forget to use code STILLSTOKED5 for catskiing or any backcountry tour booked through Niseko Photography and Guiding.

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

Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


    • Sounds awesome Eric. Iwani does indeed have some great terrain, like the open west bowl. That whole area gets hammered by the weather due to it’s proximity to the ocean. Iwani does not see as much snow as the interior either. I think on it’s day, it is definitely up there. I havent seen or heard of too many pillows, double drops and advance terrain options etc but yeah, open pow pow, for sure!


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