Niseko Embarks on its Most Significant Infrastructure Development in Decades

Last Day of Operations for Center 4

snowboarder looking at quad lift on powder filled day in Niseko

Memories of Hirafu Center 4 Quad Lift

virtual image showing new hirafu gondola with yotei background


Excitement is building in the Niseko community as Grand Hirafu is on the verge of building a new gondola that promises to transform the skiing experience.

NISEKO, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN, May 15, 2024 / — It was back in October 2022 that Niseko Tokyu Grand Hirafu announced that Japan’s oldest quad lift, the iconic Hirafu Ace 2 Center 4, would be replaced by a new state of the art gondola for the 2024-25 ski season. Since then, the news has lain rather dormant and, outside the Niseko community who recently held a ceremony to say goodbye to the old Center 4, few are aware that Japan’s most visited ski resort is about to get a major facelift!

The new Hirafu gondola is designed to enhance comfort, speed, and overall efficiency, providing a much improved ride to the top of the slopes. The old quad, which departed from Hirafu .Base (location below), will be replaced by a new model 10-person gondola with a running speed of 6m per second, 1.5 times faster than the Center 4. It will be able to carry 2800 people per hour, a significant increase from 1800 people per hour.

Representing a major investment in the resort’s infrastructure, the new gondola will feature advanced technology and modern amenities aimed at improving visitor experience and relieving congestion at the foot of the mountain. Skiers and snowboarders can look forward to a much faster ascent from the popular Ace Family run area of Hirafu, where much of Niseko’s accommodation is based. Gondola cabins will be spacious and heated, ensuring a warm and comfortable ride, even on the coldest days.

“The gondola will be a fantastic addition to Niseko’s lift system” said Ben Thorpe, Managing Director of Japan Ski Experience and Niseko resident of 18 years. “We all have great memories riding on the Center 4, but with new accommodations being built every year, it is important that visitors can get up the mountain quickly and comfortably to maximise their time in the snow.”

In addition to its practical benefits, the gondola will provide stunning panoramic views of Mount Yotei and surrounding snow covered landscapes, making the journey up the mountain as memorable as the descent. Skiers can now look forward to a breathtaking start to their runs, with the beautiful scenery of Niseko ski resort unfolding around them.

The new gondola is scheduled to open during the season in 2024 and Japan Ski Experience looks forward to a series of events and festivities to celebrate the launch, inviting its guests to be among the first to experience this exciting new infrastructure. More details will be announced in the coming months!


Grand Hirafu is the largest and most popular resort in the Niseko United ski area, Japan’s most renowned ski destination, attracting visitors from around the world with its exceptional powder snow, varied terrain, and vibrant après-ski scene.

Committed to delivering high-quality service and unforgettable experiences since 2008, Japan Ski Experience offers bespoke holidays with expert local advice. They are a one-stop-shop for accommodation, airport transfers, lift passes, ski rentals, ski school and backcountry guiding.

Lindsay Colbert
Japan Ski Experience
[email protected]
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