Otaru City & Ski Areas

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Otaru Hokkaido
Otaru Hokkaido
The famous Otaru Canal
The famous Otaru Canal
Otaru Tenguyama Ski Area
Otaru Tenguyama Ski Area
There are lots of Otaru restaurants
There are lots of Otaru restaurants
Ramen alley
Ramen alley
Otaru is famous for its glass blowing
Otaru is famous for its glass blowing
Otaru Japan
Otaru Japan
Otaru is famous for its crab & other seafood
Otaru is famous for its crab & other seafood
Seafood market in Otaru
Seafood market in Otaru
Otaru is a port town/city in Hokkaido
Otaru is a port town/city in Hokkaido
The Nikka Whisky factory is close by
The Nikka Whisky factory is close by
Lots of glass shops in Otaru
Lots of glass shops in Otaru
Otaru has lots of historic buildings
Otaru has lots of historic buildings
Otaru Japan
Otaru Japan
Otaru makes a great base for a ski/snowboard trip
Otaru makes a great base for a ski/snowboard trip
Otaru in SW Hokkaido
Otaru in SW Hokkaido
Otaru is well geared towards tourism
Otaru is well geared towards tourism
Shopping street in Otaru
Shopping street in Otaru
Some of the lovely historic buildings
Some of the lovely historic buildings
Beer Warehouse Otaru
Beer Warehouse Otaru

Otaru City & Ski Areas

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OTARU Area

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Otaru Hokkaido

Otaru Japan is a seaside city and port on the southwest coast of Hokkaido. It’s a nice small city that has various Hokkaido ski areas within striking distance that are ideal for powder hounds and/or those looking for a quieter Japanese experience away from the destination ski resorts.

Pros and Cons of Otaru Hokkaido

Pros
  • The Otaru ski resorts are renowned for getting huge amounts of snow, and a couple of the ski areas are up there as receiving the most snow in Japan.
  • You get plenty of ski/snowboard terrain variety considering there are multiple ski areas near Otaru.
  • Otaru provides a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the real Japan, away from the curated “resortification” that you find at some of the Hokkaido destination ski resorts.
  • Otaru hotels provide very good value for money, especially compared to destination resorts such as nearby Kiroro and Niseko.
  • The seafood in Otaru is abundant and highly renowned.
  • There are lots of restaurants to explore in Otaru.
  • The city has lots of historical buildings which make the place somewhat picturesque.
Cons
  • If you stay in Otaru Japan, a daily commute is required to get to the nearby ski resorts.
  • The big snowstorms often arrive with fury and windy conditions that may close the lifts at some of the Otaru ski areas. You may need to stay a little flexible with your plans and hit the low elevation ski areas.

Otaru Ski Resorts

Ski Resorts Near Otaru - Stats
 Ski Area 
Aspect
Top
(m)
 
Base
(m) 
 Vertical
(m)
Runs Lifts  Max **
Pitch °
 
 Location
*
 Kiroro  NW to W  1,180  570  610  23  10  37  28km S
 Sapporo Kokusai  E  1,100  630  470  7  4  30  24km SE
 Sapporo Teine  N to NE  1,023  340  683  15  10  38  32km SE
 Otaru Tenguyama  NNE  532  122  410  6  3  42  3km S
 Asarigawa   NE  680  140  540  8  4  36  10km SW
 Onze  NE  308  100  208  9  2  30  15km SE
 Fu's  NNE  540  260  260  9  3  38  52km SE
 Sapporo Moiwayama  SE  448  173  275  10  5  38  46km SE
 Sapporo Bankei  N  483  200  283  17  6  33  37km SE
* distance relative to Otaru train station, ** max pitch is on-piste

You can click on the map icon above to see the locations of the Otaru ski resorts.

Kiroro Ski Resort is the highest profile ski resort near Otaru. It typically gets lots and lots of snow, has good piste terrain, popular sidecountry, and good touring options.

Sapporo Kokusai receives massive amounts of snow, and even though the slopes are crowded with lots of beginners, the sidecountry and backcountry areas tend to offer some fresh tracks.

Sapporo Teine is also good for beginners and it features some steep tree skiing.

The Otaru Tenguyama ski area on Tengu-yama sits above the city. It’s a small ski area that’s at reasonably low elevation, so even though the slopes are mostly northeast facing, the ski area is ideal for storm riding and thankfully competition for freshies is minimal.

Of similar ilk is the Asari Ski Resort at Asarigawa Onsen. Like Otaru Tenguyama, Asari ski resort is good for a day trip to ski the solitary off-piste and sidecountry areas. Asari is also at low elevation so it’s good for really windy days when some of the lifts at Kiroro are closed.

 You can see how we rate these ski areas on our Hokkaido ski resort ratings.

Fu’s, Bankei and Moiwayama are little locals’ ski areas that are closer to Sapporo and probably more easily visited from there.

If you've found this information helpful and would like to thank us, you could consider booking your Otaru accommodation via us.

Where is Otaru?

Otaru is just 38km northwest of Sapporo and 89km from the New Chitose Airport. The small city sits on the coast in southwestern Hokkaido.

If you don’t have your own wheels or you’re not on a multi-resort tour, it’s easy enough to catch a train from the New Chitose Airport or Sapporo City to Otaru. See the Otaru travel page for tips on getting there and to the nearby ski resorts.

Otaru Hotels

Otaru accommodation provides very good value for money. The Otaru hotels include large western style hotels and a handful of upscale Japanese ryokans, and there are a few backpacker hostels if you want to save even more yen.

OMO5 Otaru is a lovely boutique 4 star hotel. It offers daily shuttles to Kiroro, Asarigawa Ski Resort and Snow Cruise Onze, and the bus stop to Otaru Tenguyama is a one minute walk away. The hotel is well located and just a few minutes walk to the Otaru canal and the main shopping street.

Otaru Hotels Listings

Activities

It’s novel to see snow at sea level in Otaru, but it’s also nice to look at the historic canals and wander along the old Sakaimachi Street to check out the glass crafts. You can head to the beer brewery and the seafood market where you can feast on crab and lots of other local specialities.

The Snow Light Path Festival is incredibly popular. The city is very pretty in the evenings, all illuminated with candles, and the canal is particularly picturesque with the many floating lights. The festival is held in mid February and if the Lunar New Year period coincides with it, then Otaru can become crazy busy.

Facilities

Considering that Otaru is growing in its popularity as a base for skiing and snowboarding, it’s surprising that the city doesn’t have much in the way of ski and snowboard rentals. You can rent basic equipment at the nearby ski areas, or Kitashiri Ski and Adventure Center can organise standard ski and snowboard rentals to be delivered to various hotels in Otari. Sports Alpen is a sports shop about 2km southeast of the CBD that sells lots of piste skis, snowboards, boots and basic clothing.
Tours That May Include Otaru

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Hokkaido Storm Chaser
GUIDED STORM CHASING SAFARI
7 Days | 6 Nights | 6 Ski Areas
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Chase the storms and access the deepest and best quality snow conditions on the day in the Otaru area and Central Hokkaido's world famous deep dry powder. Share
Price p/p Displayed price may cary slightly due to exchange rates fluctuations
Base/invoice currency is JPY
Price includes 13% tax.
Base/invoice currency is JPY
Price includes 13% tax.
USD 3,075
View Details
 Book by Aug 31 & take 6.5% (30,000 yen) off displayed prices
Hokkaido Backcountry
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
7 Nights | 8 Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Jump on the Hokkaido Backcountry Powder Quest tour & experience the magical powder wonderland Hokkaido is famous for along with its rich culture & incredible cuisine. Join as a solo, couple or small group; max 6 guests per tour & guaranteed departures.
Price p/p Price per person, based on 2025 group tour
USD 4,499
View Details
 
Hokkaido Safari
GUIDED POWDER PROGRESSION ROAD TRIP
12 Days | Up to 11 Days Guided Skiing/Riding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Explore multiple Hokkaido ski areas on this amazing powder progression adventure for advanced to expert skiers & boarders. Locations include the Otaru/Sapporo & Furano ski areas. Groups of up to 4 guests are guided by 1 guide. From price is based on twin share in deluxe western-style room.
Price p/p From price based on double-share room staying at La Vista Furano Hotel & Dormy Inn Premium Otaru; 4 on tour for 2024 season.
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 4,335
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit OTARU Area here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Otaru Freeride Tour
GUIDED POWDER CHASING TOUR
7 Days | 6 Nights | 5 Days Riding
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Chase Hokkaido's biggest storms from the seaside city of Otaru where you'll get a unique cultural perspective being based in a regional city. By night explore the lively food culture and by day head to lift-accessed areas of nearby ski resorts that are renowned for getting some of the most snow in Japan.
Price p/p
USD 2,650
View Details
 
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit OTARU Area here
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