PRESS RELEASE: publishes backcountry ski map for Niseko region

Posted on Jan 14, 2023
Posted on Jan 14, 2023
0 0
SAPPORO, JAPAN | Hokkaido adventure website has published Japan's first professional-grade English-language backcountry ski map, Niseko Backcountry. The map outlines over 50 backcountry ski routes, covering the Niseko Range, Mt. Yotei, and Mt. Shiribetsu in southwestern Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. has pledged to donate proceeds from map sales to mountain volunteer groups and non-profit initiatives in the greater Niseko region. They have already sold 600 copies of the map to local Niseko retailers, and on Saturday announced the listing of the map on (product link).

Haidee Thomson contributed images to this post

Last updated Mar 30, 2024

Overview on Saturday announced the listing of their large-format printed backcountry map Niseko Backcountry for sale on Already available online at Rhythm Japan and Hokkaido Ski Club, the waterproof, tear-resistant folded map is a first for winter activities in Japan. With placenames in English and Japanese, hopes the map will ease communication between local and visiting skiers, and aid in information sharing with a burgeoning inbound backcountry ski population in the greater Niseko area in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. 

The map retails for 2000yen (approx. US$15).


There is an ever-increasing interest in Hokkaido by experienced backcountry skiers from around the world. This has led to a need for effective ways to educate English-speaking visitors and residents alike about parking, etiquette, norms, safety, and backcountry zones in the greater Niseko area. Niseko Backcountry was developed to cater to that need – providing something of value (a backcountry map) paired with plenty of information on the map to ensure backcountry skiers are well informed.

Niseko Backcountry was developed by authors Rob Thomson and Chris J. T. Auld, making the most of’s award-winning utilization of the Japan government’s public topographic map data. Development of the map began in early 2021, with on-the-ground route documentation over the course of two winter seasons.

Local Consultation

Development of the draft map was followed by three months of in-depth consultation with local backcountry stakeholders in the greater Niseko region. hosted two public meetings about the map, liaised with a number of Hokkaido-based guide associations, and spoke with numerous winter mountain safety associations. Vigorous constructive criticism was taken on board, with the resulting map balancing well the various interests involved (see a full development report here: English | Japanese).


  • Printed in Japan on durable, pro-grade, waterproof, tearproof paper (made-in-Japan Yupo-paper)
  • Large-format: 66cm x 97cm / 26″ x 39″ (folded: 107mm x 220mm / 4.2″ x 8.7″)
  • Sold as a folded map (107.2mm x 220mm / 4.2″ x 8.7″)
  • 50+ backcountry ski routes, including ascent and descent routes
  • Place names in English and Japanese
  • Includes entire Niseko Range from Hirafu to the Sea of Japan, plus Mt. Yotei and Mt. Shiribetsu
  • Indicates popular lift-accessed backcountry areas at the eastern end of the Niseko Range
  • Features an easy-to-use 1km UTM grid for ease of planning and on-the-ground location communication using international-standard grid references
  • Niseko United shuttle bus route and bus stops
  • Scale rule in meters and feet
  • Includes detailed information about weather, safety, communications, etiquette, parking, and popular zones around the greater Niseko area.


We’ve prepared a full companion website to the printed map: Niseko Backcountry companion website

Non-Profit Initiative

Niseko Backcountry is a non-profit initiative. Proceeds from map sales are pledged to be donated to local Niseko mountain safety and access initiatives. Maps are also being supplied free of charge to local mountain safety, SAR teams, and emergency response organizations.

Product Gallery

ABOUT HOKKAIDOWILDS.ORG is a non-profit voluntary association that exists to inspire people to explore and enjoy Hokkaido and the surrounding areas’ extraordinary outdoors by ski, bicycle, foot and canoe in an informed, safe and responsible way. In addition to detailed written route guides with great photography, we also provide GPS route files, custom English-language GeoPDF topographical maps (using Japan government map data), and safety notes. is run by a Hokkaido-loving group of authors and contributors (see them all here). founder Rob Thomson is no stranger to adventure travel and expeditions. He previously cycled from Japan to Switzerland, and still holds the Guinness World Record for the Longest Journey by Skateboard (12,159km).

Rob Thomson (Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder,
TEL: +81 (0)80-4228-6132 (Japan mobile)
Instagram: @rob_tomo

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REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

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FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

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PRESS RELEASE: publishes backcountry ski map for Niseko region Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending















GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.