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A Guide to Niseko’s Heritage Sites
A Guide to Niseko’s Heritage Sites
August 1, 2022

Aside from lush natural landscapes and majestic views, Niseko is home to a number of remarkable, historical sites. Come and experience the region’s illustrious culture by exploring these historic landmarks, which date all the way back to the Jomon Era and are so rich in history.

Here are a few of the most sacred places you must visit:

Shiraoi’s National Museum and Park Upopoy to learn about Ainu Tribes

⁠As the only recognized indigenous group in Japan, Ainu people have interesting origins and history that remains largely unknown. ⁣

What we do know about them is that they settled in Hokkaido sometime during the Jomon Period (14,500 BC – 300 AD) where life as hunters and gatherers were key to survival. ⁣

As animists, Ainu people believe that all things are inhabited by spirits. While many gods exist in their beliefs, one of the most important is known as Kim-un Kamuy, or the god of bears and the mountains. It is believed that the bear is the head of gods and is therefore known as kamuy, or “God.” ⁣

With plenty to discover about their culture, the National Museum and Park Upopoy in Shiraoi is a great place to begin your journey to getting to know the Ainu heritage. Open all year, visitors will have a chance to discover the unique crafts, music and cuisine of the Ainu people. ⁣

With as little as 25,000 to 200,000 Ainu people left in the world, we invite you to visit this museum and learn more about them if you happen to be in Hokkaido. ⁣

The 4000-year-old Soga Hokuei Stone Circle

(photo by @hilogram)

Tucked away in the Higashiyama ski area is a beautiful historic site known as the Soga Hokuei Stone Circle. ⁠

This stone circle, which was built about 4,000 years ago in the latter part of the Jomon period, proof that Niseko has been populated for thousands of years. Since the stone circle is entirely covered with snow throughout winter, this season is the best time for you to witness this historical artefact.⁠

Kitakogane, one of Japan’s World Cultural Heritage Sites

(photo by @piyotamanaminon49)

Take a trip to the famous Kitakogane Site in Lake Toya to discover the ancient Jomon civilization. ⁠

What was once a settlement of the people is now a historical park, designated as one of Japan’s World Cultural Heritage Sites. At the park, you’ll be able to learn about the Jomon people and how this site was a dwelling place rich in natural resources.⁠

If you are keen on being enriched with Hokkaido’s ancient history, pay a visit to the Kitakogane Site.

Beyond its reputation as the world’s best powder snow, Niseko is also known for its rich cultural scene. You are welcome to learn more about our traditions by including these heritage sites into your itinerary. For more trip recommendations and travel ideas, follow us @miruniseko!

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