Overall Rating

Kiroro

Kiroro3.5/515
Kiroro3.5 out of 5 based on 15 reviews
  • Recommend
    73%
  • Would Revisit
    73%

Kiroro - Reviews

Kiroro - Reviews

What Has Happened to Kiroro?

POWDERHOUNDS.COM04/08/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February

What Has Happened to Kiroro?

POWDERHOUNDS.COM04/08/2018
The powder is Kiroro's forte
Freshies in lift accessed areas didn't last long
Short skins opened up plenty of fresh powder
It stopped snowing momentarily
More powder!
It’s rather annoying when skiers and snowboarders wax lyrical about what the Japanese ski resorts used to be like many years ago, before they became inundated with powder punters. So we’re going to be annoying because when we last visited in 2011, Kiroro was a phenomenal powder hound destination where the powder was chest (and neck) deep and there was no one to share it with (in part because off-piste skiing was prohibited). On this visit, Kiroro was a completely different beast and we know we’re partly to blame for letting the cat out of the bag on Kiroro.

One day it was absolutely dumping with snow (which it often does) and it felt like the Niseko based guiding groups were there in droves. The low-hanging-fruit powder disappeared incredibly quickly, and one of the limitations of some of the sidecountry was that the steep-ish terrain was only short lived before you end up on a long mellow track out. Here we witnessed a very undesirable culture from many Euros who were pushy and like rabid dogs. It felt very un-Japanese. There were also a lot of unsavvy skiers and snowboarders entering the sidecountry without avalanche safety gear and dropping in on top of us as we entered terrain traps. Unlike some Japanese ski resorts’ approach to backcountry access, having safety gear is not compulsory at Kiroro.

With just very short skins, it was very easy to get away from the hordes and get delightfully deep powder, the strength that Kiroro continues to be renowned for.

It continued to snow heavily all day (maybe dropping 60-70cm during the day) and in the early afternoon we set off multiple slides in the sidecountry. We reported this, and interestingly they don’t close the BC gates when the avalanche danger is extreme (because they say legally they can’t “control” the backcountry). Wonder if those unsavvy wallies continued to ride down a slope, 5 at a time?!

The two Kiroro hotels have received a make-over in recent years and the tariffs have risen accordingly (plus a bit more). Everything at Kiroro was expensive. For example, at the bar near the kids’ snow park I ordered a corn soup with bread for 850 yen. Out came half a tiny mug of soup (soup like you get in the vending machine for 100 yen) and one cracker. Rip off! But it appears that the many affluent Chinese that stay at Kiroro can afford it, so hats off to Kiroro for capturing this market. The outrageously expensive condos that they’re building should further cement Kiroro’s position as a luxury ski destination, but it remains to be seen if the reasonably small ski area will be able to support the number of on-mountain pillows.

We stayed at The Kiroro, and it’s a lovely hotel but we weren’t so overly impressed with the service. You can check out The Kiroro review here.

Kiroro has some amazing strengths: the family friendliness; the deluxe accommodation; and the copious Hokkaido snow; and if you’re prepared to work just a little, the powder skiing can be phenomenal. But if you’re looking for untracked slopes in lift accessed zones, you might be better off going to Tohoku.

Fantastic resort with great powder

Joe14/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    February

Fantastic resort with great powder

Joe14/02/2018
I had the good fortune to visit in the middle of a huge snow dump on a weekday, so had no crowds and immense amounts of fresh powder when I was there.

By Japanese standards, the prices are pretty steep here—5,800 yen for a day pass is quite high compared to what you can find elsewhere, especially on Honshu; though perhaps not too out of line for similarly large resorts.

But I was most surprised to find lots of in-bounds off-piste areas (despite the warning on Powderhound's main review stating the need to be discreet in trees). While there are of course no-go "danger" areas, there are quite a few really nice tree areas that are even marked with numbered signs as in-bounds off-piste areas. There are several side/backcountry gates, too, that don't seem too complicated to access.

I'd definitely recommend the resort for people looking to enjoy some in-resort off-piste riding.

loads of snow

ziggy29/01/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    January

loads of snow

ziggy29/01/2017
Had to get away from Niseko. Rented a car and took about 50 min. It was puking snow there. Rode the off shoot gates and had chest deep snow. Vert is pretty low and stay off the green runs they are flat. Really good place to ride. Pretty busy but you can find amazing tree runs.

Overrated but not entirely bad!

Dean Richards20/01/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    January

Overrated but not entirely bad!

Dean Richards20/01/2017
Me and a group of snowboarding friends headed over to Kiroro to try it out due to recommendation for 2 weeks!

Snow: The snow was very light and VERY slightly wetter than more inland resorts. Over the 2 weeks we had around a metre of snowfall. 2016/17 season's January snowfall was 2 metres under average and it was still pretty good. It snowed every day however some days only very light for a few minutes and other days very heavy. Snow is pretty much a guarantee if you come between December and March and almost always has the most in Hokkaido!

Uncrowded: Almost no lift lines other than if the lift stops for a minute or in the morning after a dump. Some slopes can be a little crowded on weekends but considering places like New Zealand, Kiroro is pretty uncrowded. If you are a beginner, be weary of large armies of school kids hogging the entire beginner area.

Lifts: The lift system is decent at Kiroro. You can access any of the 4 main areas of Kiroro from the main base. The lifts were quite fast except the gondola (15 mins) and slow family lift (beginners). All main lifts were hooded. The Yoichi lift was awesome!

On-piste: Sadly, Kiroro does become very boring after a few days if you are only going on-piste. Asari peak was a waste of time for on-piste riding except for the central black run as all of the runs have very tedious flat sections which is a pain for snowboarders. Nagamine is probably your best bet with fast and consistently moderate steepness + no flat sections. The 2 main Yoichi and Centre Express runs are also decent but onpiste does become boring after a few days.

Off-piste: Not as good as Rusutsu or other resorts. Decent tree-skiing to be had through Nagamine and theres a nice tree run between Yoichi red and green runs to base however nothing spectacular. Kiroro is full of small trees with their branches poking out from under the snow and very tight trees. Going out of bounds (sidecountry) requires you to go through a tedious process of filling in a climbing plan before you go! Once you go out the top gates, the first 1 - 2 minutes of riding is amazing but after the fun comes the cat-track or traverse which lasts at least 10 - 15 minutes. The 2 creeks are never filled in so the gully is not an option which makes staying high or a horrible cattrack the only two options. Backcountry is an absolute waste of time, with a guide costing hundreds of dollars for little riding. Our journey was 6 hours walk through a hurricane of wind for 2 - 3 minutes of riding. All in all, even off-piste here is not fun unless you know where to look and even then it does become tedious.

Child-friendly: Was not here with a child so I didn't really pay much attention, however there is a pretty extensive games room in one of the hotels and a good ski academy.

Value: Kiroro was extremely expensive and always looks to rip anyone off! Lift tickets are pricey along with food. Kiroro introduced gates in order to access sidecountry to make you join the Mountain club or pay for a guide. The pool in the resort costs 1500 Yen to enter EVEN IF YOU ARE STAYING THERE!!!!

Nightlife: No real town at Kiroro, only Otaru 40 minutes drive.

Kiroro is the hidden gem.

Scott26/11/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    March

Kiroro is the hidden gem.

Scott26/11/2016
Over the years, we have skied just 11 resorts through Japan but found Kiroro the most satisfying. On Hokkaido, Niseko United and Rusutsu we consider are also very good but for some reason we keep heading back to Kiroro. In fact on the last trip to Japan, we paid good money to stay on snow at Grand Hirafu but ended up doing the daily 45min drive up to ski Kiroro for a week! Quality of snow is the clincher and lack of crowds allows skiing straight onto the very high quality and fast lift systems. You certainly get a lot of ride time here. Unlike other reviewers on Powderhound we have spent plenty of full days here and have not even seen a single patroller let alone get chipped by any. There was barely a foreigner not ducking the ropes to get at the untouched beside any run. Why they put ropes where they do remains a complete mystery as there was no avo, creek or cornice danger. This is not just a Kiroro thing, it is found across Japan IMO. In fact last Xmas at Nozawa and Happo One, it was the ski instructors who told us where to duck the ropes. Back to Kiroro and again unlike others reviewing, we found plenty of tree runs and steeps within the resort boundary. Yes a negative is the the run outs do flatten considerably but skiers should have no problems, but boarders will get annoyed. The hike out the back gate at the top of Asari is one of the easiest to skin up to off piste magic and if you strike it lucky, one of the skidoo adventurers may give you a tow half way across to the main ascent! Most skiers know that you don't do Japan for terrifying steeps or leg sapping vertical metres, its all the about the powder and at Kiroro, this is where you can find it and enjoy it.

Short powder-long run outs

John Rehfisch17/10/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Month Visited:
    February

Short powder-long run outs

John Rehfisch17/10/2016
Nice powder off piste but painful long run-outs. Pistes are probably ok for intermediates and beginners but end in long run-outs as well.
Best with a guide as lots of nips and tucks in the terrain that can drag you into creek drainages and then you are in trouble.
I agree uncrowded but gets tracked out quickly if there are any groups of westerners looking for powder. Patrol are a constant concern as they can be nasty according to the locals I skied with.
I gather if you want to walk for a few hours you can get some nice turns out of the resort, but most of us prefer short walks with lots of turns, not the reverse no matter how good the snow. I reckon there are lots of better options in Hokkaido for "powder pigs".

Best snow

Blair16/04/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    February

Best snow

Blair16/04/2016
The purest JAPOW snow that I ever experience. It never stopped snow the lightest driest snow the entire time.

Definitely the snow that made japan famous.

Not very steep and has long flats though. More of a beginner or novice level.

Worth the drive from Niseko. Beautiful onsen at the Sheraton Hotel near by.

Bland when the powder is gone

Ewan16/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    March

Bland when the powder is gone

Ewan16/03/2016
I went to kiroro early-mid march so i cant comment on what it is at it's supposed best.

When I went the place still had plenty of snow and only 10cm of fresh powder on the first day. Once the powder is gone, there is nothing interesting or challenging within the resort.

To start with all of the tree runs are roped off and "forbidden" leaving only groomed runs or out of resort back country.

The back country hase some descent stuff but you do need to take your skis off (or put some skins on ) to get to tthe best of it. That is ofcourse only accessible from the two peaks. On the second day (a perfect bluebird mind you) they thought that they would shut the lifts that go to the top. Meaning the flat groomed runs are the only place you can ski.

The groomed runs are great for beginners but offer nothing to anyone with some experience.

Bored of the groomed runs? Try the terrain park. Nope sorry this is again only constructed for beginners.

The long and short of it is that they have made this place so safe and controlled that it is almost impossible for an experienced skier to have fun without going outside of the resort (or unless it is dumping powder which in my case it wasn't ).

If you are planning a trip here a couple of days should do it.

OK terrain, infuriating ticketing and overzealous ski patrol

Matt04/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February

OK terrain, infuriating ticketing and overzealous ski patrol

Matt04/03/2016
Went to Kiroro for a day in February 2016. Snow was fantastic and it snowed another 30cm during the day.

Having spent the prior 2 weeks skiing small Japanese hills I was a bit taken back by the big corporate flavour of Kiroro. To get a ticket I had to first fill out a form and then join a queue of about 10 people. This took about 30 minutes as the foreigner employed asked everyone if they were sure they didn't need gloves or a hat, and took photos of people for their passes. This wasted time made me choose a 5 hour ticket over a 7 hour ticket.

Considering how well Japan does vending machines you would they would have this sorted. Never experienced more than a 30 second delay buying a ticket anywhere else even though I don't speak Japanese.

Walking out onto the slopes I was greeted by hundreds of kilometres of fences and massive warning signs about going out of bounds. It seemed like the most over the top control that I have ever experienced. There are some allocated 'powder skiing' places however they are tracked out immediately. If you want to leave the resort you need to submit a climbing plan with some panel, get approval and then present it at the gate as you walk out. Never saw this requirement elsewhere in Japan. Not sure if they are just covering themselves from a liability perspective but it makes sneaking under a fence feel like you are going to go to jail.

Giving off-piste one star as in all practicality it is not available, despite looking pretty good from a distance.

Lifts are good quality but poorly positioned.

It is uncrowded but you are made to queue for no reason.

No idea if it is child friendly or if there is any night life.

If you still want a big ski hill, there are better, cheaper options such as Teine or Kokusai nearby with more of a Japanese flavour. Better still, go and experience the charm of a small local hill.

Kiroro Observations

Colin07/01/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50

Kiroro Observations

Colin07/01/2015
Seems that nature works in extremes. Floods or drought, scorching heat or freezing cold, a thin smear of ice that 10,000 people are trying to ski or snowboard on at a token resort in Australia with 40 minute lift queues or endless dry fluffy snow, steep deep and long runs where you may only see a handful of people and never queue at anytime for a lift or gondola.

The groomers at Kiroro fight a loosing battle each day. Snowfall here is measured in centimetres per minute and freshies are found each time you reach the top of a run with your last tracks likely covered. Powder a foot deep covers groomed runs around the resort and anything to the edges, un-groomed or off piste requires a powder board to remain afloat.

Kiroro could never become boring, an entire season of incredible powder, no lift queues, empty runs and an amazing onsen awaits anyone who can live without fresh fruit and extremely dry air.

The abundance of powder creates problems that you could never dream of back in Australia. On access trails and towards the end of a run YOU TRY AND AVOID THE DEEPEST POWDER and follow previous tracks before they fill in otherwise you are walking to the next chair.
The kids and us had a fantastic time, their skills advanced greatly. Kid class numbers are small, one day our son had an instructor to himself all day (who has snowboarded in the Japanese team at world championships) as he was the only one at his level and our daughter had a class of three.

This was our second time to Kiroro and we will be back again.
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