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Photo Credit Kosalabandara CC.BY.2.0

Top Eight Ski Resorts – Hokkaido

I was standing on top of a snowy mountain, digging my feet in the snow to avoid sliding down. My stomach was full of fluttering butterflies. I wasn’t afraid, I knew I would fall soon after I let go of my grip. Instead, I felt happy, the feeling of standing up to myself and thinking I can do it even though I knew I couldn’t. Maybe it was the adrenaline, or maybe it was the majestic view of the sprawling city painted white with snow. With these emotions I attempted my first Ski experience last winter with countless falls sprinkled with fleeting moments of success. I am glad, I live in Hokkaido, which becomes a big polar playground every winter, where you can come to bury you worries deep in the snow. If you are a skiing/snowboarding pro or a novice, there is something for everyone here. This is my list of the top eight ski resorts in Hokkaido where you can slide your way to white happiness.

    1. Kiroro Snow World
    2. Niseko United
    3. Rusutsu Ski Resort
    4. Snow Furano Ski Resort
    5. Tomamu Hoshino Ski Resort
    6. Teine Ski Resort
    7. Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort
    8. Sahoro Ski Resort

Kiroro Snow World ski resort:

Located in the Akaigawa village in Yoichi (where the Nikka Whisky Distillery is), Kiroro Ski resort is encircled by snow clad mountains. Along with the latest infrastructure, Kiroro has 21 wide courses open until April. When you are in Kiroro, you can stay in style at The Sheraton and The Kiroro a Tribute Portfolio hotel. If your skiing/ snowboarding skills are at beginner or intermediate level, then Kiroro is  a good place to practice further. It also has a kids play room and nursing room making it family friendly. Easy access for day trips to Niseko and Sapporo are also possible.

KiroroPhoto Credit webconcierge.jp

Kiroro Trail Map

English Ski Lessons: Private 34,000 JPY/day and Group 42,000 JPY/day.

Rentals: 7,800 JPY/day covers wears, except gloves, caps and glasses.

Lift rates:  Adults 5500 JPY/day. Free for kids under 6 years.

Other Winter Activities: Snow buggy, Snow mobile, Banana Boats, Snow Bubble Balls.

Click for directions and more information.

Niseko United ski resort:

Niseko United gets the majority of ski/snowboarding crowd in Hokkaido. It is made up of four resorts which are accessible by a single ski pass, Niseko Annapuri, Hanzano, Niseko Village and Grand Hirafu. In winter, the town gets deep cottony snow with beautiful volcanic Annapuri ranges and Mt. Yotei as a background. It’s luxurious hotels with Onsens, self-contained accommodations, ski schools, and shopping areas makes it a world popular ski resort. Along with the fun on the slopes, the buzzing night life of Niseko acts as cream on strawberries off the slopes. You can also head to nearby resorts, such as the Rusutsu and Kiroro resorts on day trips for a change of scenery.

NisekoPhoto Credit markkenworthy CC.BY.2.0

Niseko Trail Map

English Ski Lessons: Available at all resorts.

Rentals: Cheapest at Annapuri 5,000 JPY/day.

Lift rates: Adult 6900 JPY/day.

Other Winter Activities: Cat skiing, Reindeer sledding, Horseback riding, Cross country ski, ziplines, snow tubing and snow mobile.

 Click for directions and more information.

Rusutsu ski resort :

Rusutsu is a paradise for winter sports lovers. It has awesome natural trail, and scenery of deep blue non-freezing Lake Toya and Mt. Yotei dressed up in white like a beautiful bride. The resort offers plenty of activities for people of all ages and likings. For more adventurous souls, Heli skiing is another offer here. The resort is also kids friendly with a day care centre, Kids Park, and kids ski school. There are plenty of shopping and restaurants and good accommodation options. Rusutsu is one of the best resorts in Hokkaido for all the fun, which Niseko offers, minus the crowd. It also has an easy access to Niseko and Sapporo ski grounds.

heli skiing

Rusutsu

English Ski Lessons: Private lessons costs 17,300 JPY for 2 hours.

Rentals: 10,500/day includes gears, wears and other accessories.

Lift rates: Adult 5,500 JPY/day.

Other Winter Activities: Horseback riding, snow mobile, snow tubing, snow rafting.

 Click for directions and more information.

Furano ski resort:

Known as the flower valley of Hokkaido especially for zillion of lavenders that grow here, Furano is a must visit destination for Hokkaidians in summer. In winter, this beautiful town turns into an exciting location for family snow outings. Though, Furano is less snowy than Niseko and Rustusu, the town sees more clear and beautiful blue skies than the other resorts in Hokkaido. The entire ski area in Furano is in two zone which are served by shuttle buses, Kitanominame (3 minutes from Furano town) and Furano (6 minutes from Furano town). Both the zones are accessible by a single pass. The slopes at these sites are suitable for people at all levels of skiing/snowboarding. Furano also has an array of restaurants, shops and accommodations with onsens making it a hot spot among skiers in Japan. For a summer trip to Furano click here. The resort has an easy access to Tomamu and Asahidake ski resort as well.

Snow mobile furanoPhoto Credit differentsnow.com

Furano Ski area trail map

English Ski Lessons: Available at Furano snow school and Furano International snow sports school .

Rentals: You can compare the prices and rent from Furano snow school, Prince Hotels and Resorts, Niseko Hokkaido Rentals and North Country Inn.

Lift rates:  Adult 5,200 JPY/day. Kids aged 12 years and under have free access to the lifts.

Other Winter Activities: Snow mobile, hot air balloon, snow rafting, banana boat, snow tubing, cross country skiing.

 Click for directions and more information.

Tomamu Hoshino ski resort:

Hidden in Shimukappu village in the heart of Hokkaido, Hoshino Tomamu resort has a good selection of trails for beginners to expert skiers/ snowboarders. Enjoy skiing away from the crowds at 28 well groomed trails and try your hands on Heli and Snowcat skiing. They also cater to young ones with an indoor day care centre, kids snow mobile, snow rafting, snow playground and snowboat rides. While you are at Tomamu, visit the Ice village in the evening for a relaxing time off the slopes. Sahoro Ski resort and Furano ski slopes are easily accessible from here.

Tomamu Ice VillagePhoto Credit blog.gutabi.jp

Tomamu Trail Map

English Ski Lessons: Available on request for private lessons.

Rentals: 11,700 JPY/day includes ski/boards, boots, wears and accessories.

Lift rates:  Adult 5,400 JPY/day, free for preschool kids.

Other Winter Activities: Smelt Ice fishing, Para skiing, dog sledding, cross country skiing.

Click for directions and more information.

Teine ski resort:

Teine is one of the most popular ski resorts in Sapporo. The resort caters to people at all skill levels with two of their zones Olympia and Highland. It is quite busy on weekends. Night ski at Teine will give you a fantastic view of Sapporo city. With childcare facilities and kids park for tubing and sledding, it caters to parents as well. Click to know all about my first skiing experience at Teine.

TeinePhoto Credit snow.gnavi.co.jp

Teine trail map

English Ski Lessons: Available on reservation costs 9000 JPY for 1.5 hrs (includes ski rentals and accessories)

Rentals: Adult 5,100 JPY/day (Includes ski/boards, boots,poles)

Lift rates: 4,900 JPY/day Adult .

Other Winter Activities: Snow tubing , Sledding , Summit trekking.

 Click for directions and more information.

Sapporo Kokusai ski resort:

Sapporo Kokusai is just 25 minutes away from the little Onsen town of Jozankei. The resort is popular among Sapporians and people from Otaru for a day trip. There are no accommodations at Kokusai, so you will need to settle in at Sapporo or other nearby places. Kokusai also has exclusive slopes tubing and sledding.

Sapporo KokusaiPhoto Credit lifetour.jp

Sapporo Kokusai trail

English Ski Lessons: Available on reservation.

Rentals: Adult 5,100 JPY/day (Includes ski/boards, boots,poles)

Lift rates: Adult 4,900 JPY/day.

Other Winter Activities: Snow tubing , Sledding , Summit trekking.

Click for directions and more information.

Sahoro ski resort:

Sahoro is slightly on an off beaten track in Hokkaido. If you are looking for a quiet wintry holiday away from the hustle bustle of the popular ski resorts, then Sahoro is the place for you. Sahoro resort and Club med offers good accommodation options with Onsens. For intermediates to expert skiers, Sahoro offers plenty of tree skiing, back country skiing and empty snow trails overlooking fiery Mt. Tokachi, an active volcano. While staying at Sahoro, head to the wild and have an up, close and personal rendezvous with Hokkaido brown bears  (of-course under supervision) at the Bear mountain.

SahoroPhoto Credit obikan.jp

Sahoro Resort

English Ski Lessons: Available on reservation costs 9000 JPY for 1.5 hrs (includes ski rentals and accessories)

Rentals: Adult 4,830 JPY/day (Includes ski/boards, boots,poles)

Lift rates: Adult 4,830 JPY/day ( you can also get a number of good deals) .

Other Winter Activities: Snow cat rides, smelt fishing, Bear mountain forest tours, snow mobile etc

 Click for directions and more information.

Tip:

  1.  K-winter pass, Hokkaido Ski Season Net and JR day trip ski pack are great ways to get some discounts on  your ski trip to Hokkaido.
  2. Skiing season in Hokkaido starts after Christmas and lasts up until April. However, January and February are the best months to have a perfect skiing experience.

What are your favourite winter/ski destinations in the world? Let me know by commenting below

As always, thank you for reading.

7 thoughts on “Top Eight Ski Resorts – Hokkaido

  1. Hi, we are family of 2 adults and 2 children (7 & 9 years old). We going to Hokkaido from 11/27/2017- 12/6/2017. Since skiing for four of us is out of our budget, I’m thinking to have a day trip from Sapporo to one of the ski resort. Not skiing but to let my children to enjoy sledding and snow tubing. Which ski area has the best kid park? Not much info I can find about kid park in Hokkaido ski area. Hope to hear from you. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ivy,
      As per your trip dates and considering your budget, I think Teine Ski resort or Sapporo Kokusai is probably the best option available. I would have highly recommended Takino Suzuran Hillside, but the snow world of Takino Suzuran usually opens around Christmas time.

      Cheers,

      1. True. I’m so disappointed to find out Takino Suzuran Hillside not yet open during my travel period. Thank you so much for your suggestion. I’ll look into it 😉

  2. Hi Ivy,

    My family of 4 (2 Adults and 2 kids – 8 and 12 years old) going to japan Sapporo on 06-dec. We are thinking of making a day trip to Kiroro Snow Park for kids to play the snow – it’s our first time there. None of us know how to ski hence thinking to just experience around.

    Any idea if kids of need to rent Winter Wear + Gear Set if they are going to Kiroro Snow Park and or other activities? It’s a little confusing because some of the activities indicated that Snow shoes and ski poles are included and I don’t want to double paid for the gear (as it’s not cheap either). If they stated that the period is starting from Mid-Dec, meaning that it is not in operation?

    Lastly, any idea on the best and time-saving route from Sapporo to Kiroro Snow Park?

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Thanks,
    Bel

  3. Hi,
    I am going to hokkaido on 9 Mar to 12 Mar. Tried to book rusutsu but not available. This is a last minute plan and seek your help to advise if I should go with Tomamu or Kiroro. I am going with my 7 years old kid. Our intention is to let her enjoy snow activities and not much on skiing. Do they have snow slide, tubing in any of the resort and which is the best for family.? Please help me with your suggestion.

    1. Hi Mel,

      Most of the resorts usually have kids park with all the fun activities such as tubing and sledding. I think Kiroro is a better option as its closer to Sapporo and only an hour drive or two hours by public transport. People from Sapporo, prefer Kiroro over Tomamu. Have you had a look at Teine Ski resort in Sapporo? They too have a kids zone.

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