Kiroro Ski Resort
Kiroro Snow World in Hokkaido Japan is a destination resort with modern facilities and infrastructure. Kiroro flies under the radar relative to some of the high profile Hokkaido ski resorts nearby, but the lack of crowds is an advantage for discerning powderhounds who make the most of the abundant snow and the tree skiing.
Kiroro Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Kiroro is a medium sized resort spread over two mountain peaks. The resort has 21 runs, or courses as the Japanese like to call them, with an equal spread of green, blue and black piste. Even though a third of the slopes are rated as black, the on-piste terrain is not particularly challenging and is mostly suited to beginners and intermediates. The exceptions are the couple of mogul courses where you can watch the locals having a whale of a time ruining their knees. Kiroro also has a basic terrain park for those with a desire to use their travel insurance.
Skiers and snowboarders who love cruising will enjoy the Grand Line, whilst “L plate” powderhounds will adore the Powder Line which is famed amongst the locals. Meanwhile the real powder skiing and riding can be found in the trees, and thankfully the patrollers turn a bit of a blind eye to going off-piste and out of bounds. Combined with an average of 13 metres of snowfall per season and a base of 3-4 metres, Kiroro is a destination that will please most powder-holics.
Hokkaido is often chilly which keeps the snow in pristine condition, yet you may not need to wear your thermals at Kiroro (unless you go night skiing!). Thankfully the Kiroro lift infrastructure is incredibly well developed. Of the nine lifts, one is a toasty gondola, whilst five are detachable fast chairs with cosy hoods.
Where is Kiroro Snow World?
The Kiroro ski resort and the associated Akaigawa Village is located 43km west of Sapporo Hokkaido, and 28km from the seaside town of Otaru.
From the Sapporo New Chitose Airport, Kiroro is a 2 hour bus ride. Alternatively it’s a 70 minute express train ride to Otaru, followed by a 30-50 minute trip by taxi or bus to Kiroro.
Kiroro is only 60 minutes from Niseko
, so if you’ve got some wheels, you can get away from the Niseko crowds and take a day trip to Kiroro.
Kiroro is a resort in the truest sense because there is no village or real town. Kiroro has a couple of resort complexes centred around the two Kiroro hotels
. Both hotels provide a high standard of accommodation and a range of facilities. The Mountain Hotel
is conveniently located at the base of the ski area. A ten minute walk (or a shuttle bus ride) down the hill is the larger Hotel Piano.
The facilities and services at Kiroro resort are well set up and include a few shops, a ski and snowboard rental shop, ski school, and kids’ day care. It’s also de rigueur for kids to go to the French inspired “Annie’s Kids Academy”, the child specific ski school.
Kiroro has several restaurants offering a variety of cuisine, and as to be expected for a Japanese ski resort, the nightlife is incredibly sedate.
Besides the skiing and snowboarding, Kiroro has various winter activities on offer. Kiroro has a few onsens with both indoor and open air hot springs, as well as a swimming pool and day spa to maximise on relaxation. Other activities include snowcat sightseeing tours, snow shoe tours, sledding, and snow tubing. Otherwise you can hang out in the games arcade, play billiards or get into the Japanese culture with some pachinko.
Why Ski or Snowboard at Kiroro?
Those who like to stay on the corduroy will enjoy the absence of the hordes, and families will like Kiroro because the needs of the whipper-snappers are well catered for.
The views at Kiroro are amazing and you can largely enjoy the serenity without the annoying loudspeaker announcements that Japanese ski resorts are famous for. Of course if you love noise and blaring music, you can get a great fix in the karaoke room.
Kiroro is blessed with lots of yuki and because the ski resort is uncrowded and very few riders go off-piste, there’s a very high chance of scoring freshies. Subsequently Kiroro scores 5 out of 5 from us as a destination for powderhounds. Now that the Powderhounds have sniffed out the powder at Kiroro, the cat is completely out of the bag so you’d better get to Kiroro before anyone else discovers the joys of this little treasure.
Summary of Pros and Cons
- As with many of the other Hokkaido ski resorts, the quality and quantity of the powder is fabulous.
- The off-piste areas are uncrowded and the sidecountry is almost devoid of other riders. Off-riding isn’t officially allowed but the patrollers don’t tend to police it. This is a great destination for powder hounds for a few days or as a day trip from Niseko.
- Fantastic lift infrastructure.
- Ski-in ski-out hotel at the base of the ski resort.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- Kiroro is only a medium sized ski resort (by Japanese standards) so there might not adequate piste terrain for stays of more than 4-5 days.
- Hotel accommodation is the only style of lodging available, and there is nothing for those travelling on a budget.
- Quiet nightlife (as with most Japanese ski resorts).
- Very family oriented with lots of kids’ activities, although they don’t offer group ski lessons in English (only private lessons) and the child care staff don’t speak English.
- Kiroro is a very well established resort with all the required facilities and services. There’s no village at Kiroro and it offers a modern Japanese cultural experience.