Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido, is the gateway to the best skiing and snowboarding in Japan. Over 10 ski resorts are accessible from this one city, with many of the larger ones open for night skiing. Sapporo’s white powdery snow is the best quality for skiing and snowboarding and the extensive, richly varied ski slopes attract visitors from all over the world.
For example, Niseko Hirafu ski passes cover three interconnecting resorts with 38 lifts and 17 mountain restaurants. It offers an extensive array of runs and facilities as well as a great village with an abundance of hotels and activities. Niseko is renowned for its night skiing – it boasts the largest lit area for skiing and boarding in Japan.
At Rusutsu, the ski terrain covers three mountains and 37 runs, including a 3,500 m leg–burner. Rusutsu is renowned for its long and challenging runs combined with panoramic scenery. Plenty of other activities can be enjoyed such as dogsledding, snowmobiling, snowrafting and tubing.
If you need to rest your weary muscles after a long day on the slopes, soak in the many onsen, or natural hot springs, where you can relax outside in the warm water and watch the snow flakes fall around you. Exhilarating!
Between mid–November and January, is the time for ‘White Illumination’. Sapporo’s main street and central Odori Park are transformed into a kaleidoscope of light, as trees are decorated with millions of tiny light bulbs and light sculptures are erected alongside the park.
February features the internationally renowned Snow Festival, in which huge replicas of world famous architecture, beautiful snow statues and delicately crafted ice sculptures can be seen.
Sapporo is also an excellent place for shopping, and you can spend your Yen at traditional markets, curiously stocked specialist shops, spacious shopping malls, modern boutiques and department stores. It’s also a great place to buy your ski equipment, though rentals are available from all resorts.
It is easy to get to Sapporo. And since it’s only 2 hours ahead of Sydney, you won’t have to worry about jetlag when you hit the slopes.