Hokkaido is renowned as the best ski kingdom in all of Japan. The biting Siberian cold air mass brings dry and loose "powder snow" into this region. You can enjoy skiing here for a rather long period, from November to April. Here are five of the most recommended ski and mountain resorts in Hokkaido where you can enjoy this kind of snow.
1. Rusutsu Resort
Located on Mt. Isola, Rusutsu Resort was recently renovated and then reopened in 2015. Go up to the summit of the mountain and you will get a full view of Lake Toya and Mt. Yotei. This resort has three zones, the Isola, East and West zones, with a total of 37 courses for mogul skiing for all levels of skiers from beginners up to advanced skiers. Rusutsu Resort is really full of charm, thanks to its its long courses that descend downhill from the peak of Mt. Isola and its trails that will let you enjoy non-pressed snow, among many other features. From December through March, this resort is covered in nearly 3 meters of snow, so you can enjoy powder snow. Its free shuttle buses that run in winter depart from and arrive in front of Sapporo Station. You can also ride on the courtesy bus from New Chitose Airport.
2. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is a ski resort where you can enjoy extra-fine powder snow. Blessed with the grand nature of Mt. Tomamu, this resort is famous for skiing as well as snow hiking. It has 29 different courses where beginners up to experts can have great fun. It has also attracted a lot of attention for its trails that have a maximum course distance of 4,200m and maximum slope of 35 degrees, its six gondola and lifts, and experts-only powder area where advanced skiers can enjoy skiing outside of the usual courses. The 1,088m elevation Terrace for Frost Trees and Snow Church all made from ice are also main attractions. Go the Ice Village, a town of ice that is only open in winter, and marvel at the magical scenery of Tomamu in -20℃ temperature. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is a ski resort the whole family can enjoy.
3. Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area
Hokkaido's largest amount of powder snow is Niseko United at Niseko Annupuri, an area of four ski resorts at the foot of Mt. Niseko. Niseko Annupri International Ski Area takes pride in having the best powder snow and grooming barn on wide trails. It currently has five lifts, including gondola and quad lifts, and 13 ski courses. Niseko adopts the Niseko Free Passport system that integrates the four ski resorts in the area. With that system, you can use common lift tickets on all the resorts in Niseko, as well as ride on courtesy buses that link these resorts. There are also many hot springs around the area, so it's recommended to soak in an open-air bath while enjoying a beautiful snowy scene.
3. Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area
4. Kiroro Snow World
Kiroro Snow World is a famous ski resort for having some of the world’s best powder snow. It is covered in at least 3m of snow between late November and early May, with the best quality of snow seen until around early April. It's one of the biggest resorts in Hokkaido, with outstanding amenities such as 3,300m-long gondolas and 21 ski courses. The ski lessons for children are taken by more than 10,000 guests annually, so you will see families having the time of their lives skiing. It is about 60 minutes by bus from Sapporo and around 90 minutes by bus from New Chitose Airport. Kiroro Snow World is a full-fledged ski resort that is most convenient and is closest to Sapporo.
5. Prince Snow Resorts in Furano
Operated by Prince Hotels & Resorts, this resort is a prestigious ski resort that hosted the Alpine Skiing World Cup and the Snowboard World Cup. If you come here, you are guaranteed to see a full view of the Furano Basin and Mt. Tokachi range, and be able to ski on fine snow. A growing number of tourists from overseas have been going to this resort lately. Furano Ski Resort is divided into two zones, the Kitanomine and Furano zones, with the longest course spanning a distance of 4,000m! It is also fully equipped with rope-ways, gondolas, and lifts. There is a Prince Hotel in both zones and they are open from late November until early May. Starting late March, you can enjoy spring skiing on some of the courses in the Furano zone.
The list only features Japan’s leading ski resorts that will give you a feel of Hokkaido’s very own powder snow. These mountain resorts are all equipped with the necessary facilities and equipment for skiing. So even if you go to these resorts empty handed directly from the airport, you can still get to skiing, snowboarding, and various other fun snow activities right away.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.