Those with a basic knowledge of the Japanese language will have noticed that Niseko is written in katakana, the Japanese alphabet used to write foreign words. ‘Niseko’ was the name originally given to the area by the Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people, and means ‘a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains’. Meanwhile, Nupuri is a word commonly heard around these parts, namely because it’s the Ainu word for ‘mountain’. Put it all together and Mt Niseko Annupuri (the mountain that is home to the Niseko United resorts) means ‘a mountain which has sheer cliffs and a river below’. Other nearby mountains which have carried their Ainu name until today include Chisenupuri and Iwaonupuri. Another snippet for trivia buffs… Niseko was called Kaributo between 1901 and 1964 and it was tourism that demanded the name be changed back. The local station was called Kaributo Station, but tourism authorities thought it was strange that the gateway to Niseko had a different name. The town’s name was changed and soon after, so was the station’s.