Japan is a mountainous land from its tail to its head, and the island of Hokkaido is perfectly crafted for skiers the world over to enjoy, given how sparse, spacious, mountainous, and cold the island is. With even the low-lying towns of Hokkaido seeing up to three feet of snowfall in the depths of winter, it’s easy to see why its mountains double up as some of the best ski resorts in the world. From newbies to professionals, skiers from every corner of the map travel to test their mettle against its variety of slopes, and here are six of the very best ski resorts in all of Hokkaido.
Running from December to April every year, Niseko Village Ski Resort is not only Hokkaido’s best-known ski resorts, but one of the most celebrated resorts in Japan. The resort has made a name for itself thanks to the sheer quality of snowfall in the area. Skiers and snowboarders are rapt year after year by the fantastic power they get to enjoy at Niseko and the exciting sidecountry riding.
Hirafu village is also a fantastic place to take a day off and relax from skiing, with myriad dining and shopping options. While it can get busy, the vibe and aesthetics are fantastic, just as the slopes are. Because of how popular Niseko Village Ski Resort has become, it caters very well to English speakers, and this is what makes it one of the most appealing ski resorts in Hokkaido, especially for skiers coming from overseas.
When it comes to mountaintop views, it’s very hard to beat Sapporo Teine Ski Resort. On a clear blue-sky day, visitors can easily get sweeping views of Sapporo City, Ishikari Bay, the Mashike Mountains, and even Daisetsuzan National Park.
Because of these fantastic views, slopes are designed in part with this in mind. There is even an intermediate ski slope called the City View Panorama in the Highland Zone. Teine Ski Resort also offers lessons for beginners.
Rusutsu Resort is a well-rounded ski resort that offers skiers a wide range of slopes for all levels, from beginner to pro. There are also lessons and plenty of equipment rental options available, so you don’t need to feel like you must come fully prepared.
The food at Rusutsu Resort is particularly impressive, catering to a wide range of international tastes, as well as a fantastic representation of the local cuisine. Beyond skiing and dining, guests can also enjoy a range of activities from relaxing at onsen to snow rafting and testing out a snowmobile.
The city of Furano is one of Hokkaido’s most charming towns. Located at the very center of the island, it has adopted the nickname "Hokkaido’s Belly Button." This name has spawned a festival and drawn more visitors to see its lavender fields in the summer and its legendary ski resort in the winter months.
Covering twin peaks, Furano Ski Resort is home to hot springs, slopes for both skiing and snowboarding, and even unique festival activities. What makes Furano Ski Resort so unique, however, is the fact that it offers dog-sledding across its slopes, hot air balloon rides over the peaks, and the Furano Ski Festival, which takes place on the first two days of February.
Tomamu Ski Resort is one of the lesser-known yet more extravagant ski resorts in Hokkaido. With fewer skiers flocking here from overseas, you’ll find it to be quieter but also chock full of varied activities beyond just skiing the slopes. Located close to Hidaka National Park, Tomamu Ski Resort is easily recognizable thanks to its enormous hotel towers.
As skiing itself goes, Tomamu offers an impressively varied landscape of terrain which is ideal for all skill levels, which means there’s plenty to keep you busy and challenged during your time at the resort. This is also one of the most family-friendly resorts in Hokkaido, with a ski school, beginner slopes, and plenty of activities for children.
While many Hokkaido ski resorts offer a range of activities and dining options, Sahoro Ski Resort is a purely minimalist skiing experience. People come here to ski, to enjoy some of the finest powdery snow in Hokkaido, and enjoy unparalleled views of the Tokachi Plains.
Sahoro Ski Resort offers a balanced mix of beginner, intermediate, and expert slopes for visitors to get stuck into. And while the resort is tilted towards skiers, there are plenty of slopes accessible to those who prefer snowboarding. The local food on offer here is also outstanding, and those who come unprepared are able to rent whatever they need to get them out on the slopes.