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Snow riders, rejoice! As many of you who have come across this article will already know, Japan is famous for its snow, especially in the northernmost region of Hokkaido. While there are plenty of places available for those visiting the ever-popular city of Tokyo, you might want to consider heading to one of these resorts to experience some of the best quality snow imaginable. . The snow is so heavy and abundant here (16 meters on average!) that they have the world famous Sapporo Snow Festival, with snow sculptures as tall as buildings. Even if you’re not into snow sports, it’s worth checking out. But today, we’re here to talk about riding in the snow, not just to see it! So, let’s take a look at the best places to go for big slopes in Hokkaido!
1. Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort
Niseko Grand Hirafu is the largest and most well-known ski area of Niseko United’s 4 ski resorts, which combined is the largest resort in Hokkaido. Among the snow sports lovers in the world, this specific place is world famous and a must visit destination for many. The always abundant powder snow is a main reason to travel here. Another reason is the town of Hirafu; its variety of shops, restaurants, bars and nightlife in general is more abundant and robust than that of other ski resorts. The village perfectly complements the wide variety of courses for all levels, family areas, rental and course versatility, and well-maintained facilities. This area is definitely the place to go to make lasting memories and give yourself a reason to explore more.
You can access the ski resort by car, JR train or plane.
Website: Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort
2. Rusutsu Complex
If you’re more experienced and want to trade frivolities for challenges, then this might be a place to check it out. If you’re a beginner, it’s always a good option, offering a variety of well-maintained and varied courses for beginners and intermediates. Rusutsu is well known for its abundance of trees and the standard quality of its powder in Hokkaido. There might be a quieter nightlife here than in the Hirafu area, but you’ll be too tired from all the great rides you enjoy during the day to have the energy to stay up late anyway!
You can access Rusutsu Resort by car, shuttle, or even by helicopter!
Website: Rusutsu Resort
3. Niseko Village Ski Resort
Another area of Niseko United Station, Niseko Village is kind of a newbie-friendly area of the four of them. Sure, it offers intermediate and advanced courses, but they are a bit short. Either way, the area will not disappoint a diverse ability group! The nightlife here can be compared to Rusutsu. Despite being a beginner-friendly area, it certainly doesn’t deviate from Niseko United’s snowy reputation. You will certainly enjoy beautiful snow no matter how fast you drive!
You can access Niseko Village by car, transportation, and train.
Website: Niseko Village Ski Resort
4. Sapporo Teine Ski Resort
Another beginner-friendly area, Sapporo Teine Ski Resort is a great option for those who want to practice on the best quality slopes. An attraction of this region is the plateau at 1000 meters above sea level, where you can have an incredible view of the ocean. Although it’s relatively beginner-focused, there’s actually some pretty intense racing going on as well. Those looking for steep and dusty trails will not be disappointed. The only thing missing in Sapporo is the intermediate tracks, unfortunately!
You can access the Sapporo Teine Ski Area by car, train or bus.
Website: Sapporo Teine Ski Resort
5. Furano Ski Resort
Furano is very well balanced and is ideal for all riders. It is also known to have a slightly higher number of blue sky days than other places in the region. Remember: heavy snowfall means powder snow, but also poor visibility and cold temperatures! Blue sky days are undoubtedly an exceptional way to enjoy the slopes. Another highlight of Furano is the long groomed tracks where you can enjoy high speeds for a long time if that’s your style! There’s also a decent range of low-cost hosting, but not a wide selection of high-end hosting.
Furano is accessible by car, train and bus.
Website: Furano Ski Resort
6. Kiroro Resort
Another relatively comprehensive option like Furano, Kiroro offers a wide range of tracks for all skill levels. Although it was mentioned that some of the trails labeled for advanced skill levels are actually a bit easier, making the resort quite suitable for intermediate runners in particular. Some positive aspects of the complex are the child-friendliness, the quality of the elevator infrastructure, and the number of luxury options. On that last note, this resort offers these luxury offerings because it’s somewhat optimized for those who can afford it. This place is quite nice, but to get the most out of it, it can be a bit more expensive than other places.
You can access Kiroro Resort by bus, train (JR line) and car.
Website: Kiroro Resort
7. Tomamu Ski Resort
Tomamu, a neighbor of Furano, is somewhat comparable to Kiroro in that it’s pretty upscale (if not more) and good for kids and families in general. There are tons of amazing restaurants, accommodations, and other activities. While this area may not seem like it’s suitable for advanced cyclists, there are actually a significant number of challenging courses that aren’t overcrowded. It has even been claimed to be one of the best resorts for incoming powder races! Also, if you are looking for a place not visited by western tourists, it is also a good option for this reason.
You can access Tomamu by JR line, bus and car.
Website: Tomamu Ski Resort
Tomamu’s other neighbor, Sahoro, is another wonderful family option. Confirmed riders beware, this area is not optimized for you; There are limited elevators for advanced courses that don’t always work! But let’s focus on the family aspect, because it is undoubtedly Sahoro’s strong point. It has been ranked as one of the best family resorts in Japan! Club med accommodation makes it easy for families to stay and is simply a wonderful stay. Club Med locations can also be found in other places, such as Kiriro and Tomamu.
You can access Sahoro by car, shuttle and JR line
Website: Sahoro Ski Resort
9. Niseko Hanazono Complex
Another of Niseko United’s neighborhoods, Hanazono is somewhat comparable to Niseko Village or Kiroro; it is quite suitable for intermediate riders and certainly for beginners as well. But similar to Sahoro, not so much for advanced riders. However, it does have a terrain park like Grand Hirafu, so if you are an advanced cyclist, you can have fun with jumps and rails. Accommodation here is somewhat limited, but as part of a larger trip to Niseko, it’s best to enjoy all four of Niseko United’s courses together by getting the pass for all four. This region has relatively better snow quality than its neighbors due to its northeast-facing slopes.
You can access Niseko Hanazono by bus, car, and train.
Website: Niseko Hanazono Resort
10. Kokusai Ski Resort
This place has a hidden capacity: sometimes there is even more snow than the already staggering average of 16 meters of Niseko’s most famous resorts! Some of those who stay at Niseko United or Rurutsu sometimes head to Kokusai when conditions are not what they expected. It is relatively close and the weather can change more than you think. However, it’s a pretty scenic spot without a ton of tracks like its neighbors; it’s a great day trip option!
You can access Kokusai Ski Resort by car, shuttle and JR line.
Website: Kokusai Ski Resort
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