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2022 Niseko Population Statistics, Hokkaido

As part of our series of reports on real estate in Niseko, Hokkaido, we bring you some relevant Niseko population statistics. Below we’ll provide trends about the population of Niseko (and Kutchan town), and also show the relative size of Niseko, with local comparisons to the population of Sapporo or the population of Otaru. We also provide some light data on foreigners in Niseko (yes, Australians, and more).

Niseko City Population?

As we describe in our post on The Niseko Story (about Niseko’s peak season, real estate, and more), we explain that what people call Niseko is actually a combination of three small cities, and the greater area near the local resorts. For the purposes of these statistics, the numbers referenced are attributed to the town of Kutchan, which is the center of the local Niseko population.

YearTotal Population
Source: Recent population data for the town of Kutchan

Niseko Population vs Other Hokkaido Cities

For some perspective on this data, we can compare the population of Niseko to some other local Hokkaido cities:

The population of Sapporo is approximately 2,666,000 residents. Compared to 10 years ago, Sapporo’s population has increased about 2%. Sapporo’s population is about 180 times bigger than Niseko (saying that another way, Niseko has about 0.5% the population of Sapporo). The population of Otaru is 108,525. Compared to 10 years ago, Otaru’s population has decreased ~15%. Otaru’s population is about 7.5 times larger than Niseko’s population.

The size of Niseko is relevant, particularly for those that want to live in Niseko for longer than a short stay. Because Niseko is “the smallest big city in Japan, simple tasks like trying to rent an apartment in Niseko can be challenging. Niseko’s seasonality and relative lack of infrastructure make finding work or housing more difficult than other, more robust Hokkaido cities.

For more details, see our profile on Niseko.

Non-Japanese and Foreigners in Niseko

We provide more specific statistics in our separate report on the population of foreigners living in Niseko, but for a quick review:

The majority of people living in Niseko are, of course, the Japanese. Based on a small survey conducted by the local tourism bureau, the biggest foreign population in Niseko is made up of the Australians (33% of foreigners). The relationship of the Australians to Niseko is well established, and Aussie influence and Australian investment in Niseko has a lot to do with Niseko’s rise to international fame. After the Australians, the English are the second biggest population (13%), followed by the Taiwanese and the New Zealanders (both at 5%). The Chinese and Canadians are next (both at 4%). In a separate report, we provide more detail on foreigners in Niseko by country of origin.

Asian visitors and investors in Niseko, including people from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, while a small percentage of the population, have brought a lot of foreign money to the region in recent years. Japanese and international businesses run by the Australians (and others) have helped Asian visitors and buyers to buy property in Niseko and make other investments.

In a separate report we include data on foreigners living in Sapporo.

Niseko Population Trends

As you look at the data we present above, you can see that for the most recent population data from the Niseko area, the population is declining. What should we make of that?

To begin with, Japan has a low birth rate (below replacement levels), and that is generally true across Japan. That is worth considering, but is less relevant for an area as dynamic as Niseko.

There is also a trend across Japan (and around that world), that much of the population is moving from rural areas and smaller towns toward major cities. That trend is also true in Hokkaido, where the population of Sapporo is growing (modestly), while most other cities and towns are losing residents (because of the birth rate and emigration from small localities).

What does that mean for Niseko? While the global trends are worth some attention, Niseko has many unique characteristics that might make the recent downward trend misleading.

Niseko has a lot of regional attention, and there is a local (and somewhat international) effort to make Niseko a premier destination in Japan. One significant sign of that, is that Japan’s shinkansen system is being extended deeper into Hokkaido (it currently ends at the city of Hakodate, the southern boundary of the island), and will soon connect Niseko to Sapporo, which could bring a lot more visitors, and by extension, justify more of year-round commitment to Niseko from business and the local community.

It could also be that the pandemic of 2020 had a short-term effect on Niseko that will correct as time goes on. There were real travel restrictions in Japan in 2020 and 2021, both domestically and certainly with regard to visitors to Niseko from other countries. If Niseko relies on tourism (and it does), that could have contributed to financial troubles and instability for Niseko businesses, and for the people that might have been employed by both those types of businesses. If there were no customers, and no work, local people would have to move to other places to try to make a living. Time will tell if that trend reverses.

Niseko Real Estate

We make referrals for Niskeo real estate services.

While there are more jobs and services in nearby Sapporo, we frequently get requests from our clients for help with renting a Niseko apartment or houses for sale in Niseko. For help with real estate, contact us and we can make personalized introductions to real estate agents in Niseko that speak English and other languages.

Our service is free to you.

We work for you, not the real estate companies.

We provide person-to-person introductions to prescreened agents that help you sell, buy, lease, or rent property in Hokkaido. We search our custom database to connect you to real estate professionals that speak your language, address your needs and are available now to help you find what you want.

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For More Information:

— Some estimates for The Cost to Buy a House in Niseko
— Our report on the Average Rent for an Apartment in Niseko
— Some details on the Price of Land in Niseko compared to Sapporo
— Estimates of the Foreigners Living in Niseko, by Year
— Estimates of Foreigners Living in Niseko, by Country
— Detailed reporting on the Population of Sapporo
— Some specifics on the Number of Foreigners living in Sapporo
— The Population of Otaru
International Schools in Sapporo
— Find Lawyers in Hokkaido
— Our Taxes in Japan page
Buying Property in Hokkaido as a Foreigner

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