Skiers and snowboarders love the powdery snow in Hokkaido. Hailed as one of the best winter destinations in the world, you’ll also find many of the great ski resorts here. There are truly many amazing ones to choose from, and more often than not staff here can speak English. Some can even speak Mandarin and Korean! Without further ado, here are some of the best ski resorts in Hokkaido.
1. Niseko United
Niseko is widely considered to be the powder capital of the world. It draws in not only locals, but travellers from all over the world. Niseko United is made up of four interlinked ski resorts – Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, Hanazono, Annupuri. All of them are some of the best ski resorts in Hokkaido! Niseko is famous for its long season, consistency and quality of powder snow throughout the winter. Averaging around 15 meters of snow each season, there are wide open powder bowls, tree runs, and stunning views of Mt. Yotei. With 30 lifts, you have complete access to all ski zones. The terrain is almost evenly divided between beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Niseko also offers heli-skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, hot spring baths, and cat skiing!
2. Rusutsu Resort
Rusutsu Resort is not just one of the best ski resorts in Hokkaido, it is also the largest one. With four gondolas and 14 lifts servicing three peaks, the ski field is home to 37 runs that range from gentle, wide slopes where everyone can safely learn to ski and snowboard, right up to challenging runs that would satisfy advanced skiers and snowboarders. Besides skiing, you can also enjoy snow rafting, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and hot spring baths. It’s easy to spend a week or two here just enjoying what the winter has to offer! Additionally, the area is accessible to many other places of interest in Hokkaido such as Sapporo, Otaru, Lake Toya and more.
3. Furano Ski Resort
If you’re travelling as a family, Furano Ski Resort is a bit quieter and more family-friendly than many of the other ski resorts in Hokkaido. The trails skew more towards beginners and intermediates as compared to advanced levels. Still, it’s not without its own challenges. There are ungroomed powder runs and steep cruisers used for FIS world cup races in the past! Even though Furano Ski Resort might be smaller compared to the other ski resorts in Hokkaido, the region has the lightest and driest powder in Japan. The weather is also much more mild and moderate with less winds and snowstorms. Also, the outstanding views of Furano and the Daisetsu mountain range are just some things you can’t get anywhere else!
4. Kiroro Ski Resort
Kiroro Ski Resort used to fly under the radar relative to the other high profile ski resorts in Hokkaido, but it’s becoming much more popular as powder hounds seek out fresh tracks. With an average snowfall of 21 metres, Kiroro is blessed with an abundance of ski-ready powder. A medium sized resort spread over two mountain peaks, the resort has eight lifts and 23 runs with an equal range of beginner, intermediate, and expert. Besides the skiing and snowboarding, other winter activities include outdoor and indoor onsen, snowcat sightseeing tours, snow shoe tours, sledding, and snow tubing. In addition to being a destination resort, Kiroro also makes a great day trip from Niseko, Otaru or Sapporo.
5. Sapporo Teine Ski Resort
Sapporo Teine is a great little ski resort located close to Sapporo. It is frequented by beginners yet it also makes for a great day trip spot, especially if you want powder lines that are steep, deep and cheap. The ski area is made up of two sections – Olympia and Highland. Olympia was built in 1972 for the Sapporo Winter Olympics. Further up the mountain is Sapporo Teine Highland. At 1,000 metres above sea level, this area offers spectacular views of Sapporo and the ocean. The area also features some of the steepest in-bounds terrain in Japan! If you have young kids, Sapporo Teine is very well set up. There is childcare available for kids from one to six years old, and there is also a kids’ park where they can go tubing or sledding.
6. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
With its skyscraper hotel towers, you might think that Tomamu is an area to avoid. In reality, its bells and whistles make it incredibly family and child friendly. Also, there are less people here to share the Hokkaido powder with! There are five lifts at this resort with a variety of terrain including great beginner areas, a handful for intermediates, and a few advanced mogul runs. Tomamu’s snow is very light and dry and it is often in good condition thanks to low temperatures and high elevation. However, since many of the slopes are south facing, the sun can make it a bit crusty. If you’re staying at Furano instead, Tomamu is great for a day trip.