Skiing and snowboarding in Hokkaido
Many powder hunters flock to the northern island of Hokkaido in search of often spectacular deep powder, off-piste and tree runs. Hokkaido is the coldest and most northerly Japanese island and arguably gets the most consistent snow.
The main resorts are to the west and east of the main city of Sapporo. With the resorts in Niseko, Rusutsu and Furano amongst others, there's a lot to choose from. There are also countless tiny ski hills dotted throughout most parts of Hokkaido, making Hokkaido the region with the most ski-jo in total. Take a look at them all on a map here.
Niseko is especially popular for it's excellent snow conditions, lots of terrain to explore, backcountry powder runs and lots of tree runs. Niseko is actually made up of a number of resorts – Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Hanazono, Niseko Village Ski Resort and Niseko Annupuri Kokusai - that are connected and they cover areas of Kutchan Town and Niseko Town. They are collectively known as 'Niseko United'. A few other nearby ski hills make up what people know as Niseko. There are many places to stay and also an increasingly lively nightlife, particularly in the Hirafu area.
Rusutsu is a modern resort and is also known for excellent snow conditions and some fine tree runs. Rusutsu is a popular place for families as there are many of things to do for the whole family and those that aren’t interested in strapping on a pair of skis.
Furano is becoming increasingly popular with the foreign skier and boarder. This picturesque area is always one of the first ski resorts Japanese people think of when they think about winter sports in Hokkaido. Located further inland to the east of Sapporo, it may not get as much snow as the above resorts, but it is known for it’s light powder.
Kiroro Snow World is another popular resort and often one of the first to open each season. The view from the top of the gondola is breathtaking, with the Japan Sea on one side and the white snow-covered peaks on the other.
The New Chitose International airport near Sapporo is a 90-minute flight from Tokyo and there are frequent flights and package deals available.