Sapporo Kokusai Snowboarding
The 9th most popular snowboarding destination in Japan.
Wednesday 19 October 2016 06:26 GMT
West of Sapporo, the Sapporo Kokusai has 7 courses served by 5 lifts accessing 460m of vertical drop. There are three beginner courses, two intermediate courses and one difficult course. While freeriding off-piste is prohibited, the policy is not enforced. There is a large amount of off-piste and backcountry terrain at Sapporo Kokusai though not officially permitted (the best is under both gondolas). There's usually tons of powder here (up to 16m annually), but its not particularly steep so freeriders tend to stay away. It can be quite busy on the weekend and may seem very crowded. This ski area is a popular day trip since there are no base facilities.
To reach the snowboarding at Sapporo Kokusai 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 are numerous shuttle bus options to the various Hokkaido ski resorts. 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. From the airport, there is a shuttle bus service provided by Hokkaido Resort Liner. The Sapporo Kokusai is located 46km west of Sapporo.
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.
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, Sapporo Kokusai is the 9th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 22 snowboarding resorts in Japan. Several of the better snowboarding resorts are nearby Sapporo Kokusai including Kiroro Snow World and Sapporo Teine.