Southwest of Sapporo and southeast of Niseko, the Rusutsu ski area has 37 courses spread over 1,700 hectares totalling 47km that are served by 19 lifts accessing a maximum vertical descent of 590m. The Rusutsu ski area is considered by snowboarders to have the best dry powder and glades in Japan. Unfortunately, this family-friendly area is also known for it's beginner and intermediate terrain. But, luckily, it has an open off-piste and glade policy (make sure to check out the steep lines on Mt Isola in courses A, B and C).
The region is known for its average annual snowfall of 14m with good powder stashes to be found days after a storm. The Rusutsu Resort is usually uncrowded and there are rarely lift lines. But, and its a big but, the base area is consumed by a crazy amusement park complete with roller coasters.
To reach the snowboarding at Rusutsu by plane, fly into Sapporo New Chitose airport (CTS) on the southwest side of Hokkaido just southeast of Sapporo. There are numerous direct inter country flights from Tokyo. From the airport, there is a shuttle bus service provided by Hokkaido Resort Liner. It is about a 90 minute drive over 75km southwest from the airport to Rusutsu Resort. In addition to flying into Sapporo from Tokyo, there is also a train tunnel connecting Hokkaido Island with the main Honshu Island. The train route from Tokyo northbound passes through Aomori, and the total trip takes between 9 to 11 hours. While at the airport, make sure to use the ATM since ATM machines can be quite hard to find at the resorts (especially ones accepting international cards) and credit cards are rarely accepted.
Note - keep in mind that the ski areas on Hokkaido are not known to be particularly steep, but they are well known for big snow fall. They are also known for their ones, which are hot thermal spring-fed indoor or outdoor pools (be aware that they are usually naked pools).
When snowboarding and freeriding internationally, it is important to get a travel insurance policy that covers emergency rescue, medical expense and evacuation. There are many destinations that will not initiate rescue or medical treatment without prior payment or proof of insurance. In many cases, the rescue fees, medical fees or evacuation to a reputable hospital can total tens of thousands of dollars. Plans such as GEOS SAR100 or IMG Patriot Travel Medical Insurance are well worth the per-trip cost of $130 to $200 USD.
Overall, Rusutsu Resort is the 22nd most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 22 snowboarding resorts in Japan.