Otaru Tenguyama Lifts & Terrain


Otaru Tenguyama Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    122 – 532 (410)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (3)
    1 cable car
    1 double lift
  • Ski Season
    early Dec - late Mar
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 6
    Longest run – 1.7 km
    Beginner - 50%
    Intermediate - 20%
    Advanced - 30% 
The ski resort at the Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway is rather small and piste-bound skiers and snowboarders may get bored pretty quickly. The real strengths of the Otaru Tenguyama Ski Resort lie in the steep off-piste skiing and the lack of competition for the fresh powder.

Tenguyama is somewhat different to most Japan ski areas in that the mellow beginner terrain is at the top, whilst the middle to lower section is rather steep.


The 30-person Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway is rather retro looking, but it runs at an OK clip and takes 4 minutes to travel to the upper station. From there, a slow chair lift continues up to the top of the ski resort, whilst a pair lift travels the full vertical of the ski resort.

Night skiing at Otaru Tenguyama operates on all but the black runs and provides an opportunity to take in the magical evening views.

During January there are some days that the ropeway operations commence at 7am instead of 9am, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to get out for first tracks – not that you’ll miss much powder if you head out at 10am!

Lift Tickets

Day lift tickets are really inexpensive but if you just want to go for a short ski or snowboard, you can buy point passes, 2 hour or 4 hour tickets.

Otaru Tenguyama Snow & Weather

Like other ski resorts in southwest Hokkaido, the Otaru Ski Resort gets plenty of snowfall. The slopes are mostly northeast facing, but the elevation is rather low and the snow doesn’t get any more “coastal”, so the snow quality isn’t as good as at nearby Kiroro. The snow is usually OK in the height of winter, but if the temps rise a little, you may need a rain coat in the lower sections.

With onshore winds, the Otaru Tenguyama Ski Resort can get rather blustery.

Beginner Skiing Otaru

The best novice slopes are above the Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway, so long as the amazing views don’t distract beginners from working on their turns.

There is also a long meandering green run from top to bottom, although this is a little steeper.

For the Intermediate

There is very little intermediate terrain at Tenguyama, and one small part of the F trail rolls over with a 38 degree gradient, which will scare the pants of most intermediates so it further reduces the amount of tenable terrain.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste

The steepness of the two black runs is rather unique for a Japanese ski resort (maximum gradients of 40 and 42 degrees) and one of the runs may even have mushrooms to launch off. However not unique for a Japanese ski resort, the black runs may not be open. It seems rather common in Japan that rather than the patrollers actively managing a slope for avalanche risk, they let glide cracks develop and then just close the run which is rather frustrating (unless you can be sneakily invisible).

Off Piste Skiing and Sidecountry

Advanced tree skiing with pitches of approximately 20 to 30 degrees can be found on the skiers’ left hand side of the resort inside the winding beginner run. You can also drop below the green trail and get back to the lift via a traverse. The skiers’ right side under the cable car is steeper and further right it gets rather pitchy, so keep your P&Qs with you regarding glide cracks and avalanche risk. If you head too far right you won’t be able to traverse easily back to the ropeway and you’ll potentially be walking out from a mom and pop’s yard.

Whilst the terrain is far from huge, the tree skiing is rather amazing due to the variation in pitch, the different tree species, and the variety in tree spacing.

One can only imagine that off-piste skiing is officially prohibited at Otaru Tenguyama. In practice, we found that the ski patrollers kept a watchful eye but weren’t aggressive or whistle blowing if you looked like you knew what you were doing.