Sapporo Kokusai Skiing Terrain

Sapporo Kokusai Skiing 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)
    630 – 1,100 (470)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?18  metres
  • Lifts (5)
    1 gondola
    2 quads
  • Ski Season
    mid Nov - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 7
    Longest run – 3.6 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Advanced - 20%

Sapporo Kokusai Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The small resort of Sapporo Kokusai sits below the tree line and has only 7 courses (if you’re liberal in defining what constitutes a “course”!).

The Sapporo Kokusai skiing and snowboarding fits largely into the category of deep not steep. The right hand side of the resort (lookers’ right) has wide mellow runs, whilst the left hand side of the ski area has one black run that hits a maximum gradient of 30 degrees only. The off-piste areas in between also have lots of mellow terrain as well as some steep pitches.


Sapporo Kokusai is serviced by 4 lifts. Nowadays there is only one gondola (Sky Cabin). The second gondola that ran parallel seemed superfluous but when you see the queues for the gondola you wish the second one was still there. Thankfully the gondola has a singles line so you can get through pretty quickly. The Sky Cabin has some good wind fences towards the top so it can operate in surprisingly windy conditions, unlike nearby Kiroro where the gondola is more inclined to go on wind hold.

A detachable hooded quad chair travels up most of the vertical to service the beginner terrain, there is a newish quad servicing the upper half, and a pair lift at the top for the terrain park. The second double chair lift has been decommissioned.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets come in a variety of configurations including all day passes, 4 hour passes, or single ride tickets for the gondolas or chair lift.

There are various good value combo specials such as bus + lift pass, lift ticket + lunch, and adult + child pack.

Sapporo Kokusai is one of the many ski resorts on the Hokkaido Ski Net season pass deal whereby you get discounted lift passes.

Sapporo Kokusai Snow

A major highlight of the Sapporo Kokusai skiing is the classically delightful Hokkaido snow that falls in large quantities.

Sapporo Kokusai has a microclimate that is somewhat unique, and it has the benefit of receiving powder from storms that roll in from a couple of directions. There are times when there’s a dry spell at Niseko yet it’s dumping at Kokusai. Of course there are also times when it’s puking at both Niseko and Kokusai!

Some claim that Sapporo Kokusai gets more snowfall than Niseko with an average of 17-19 metres per season, yet resort management don’t spruik about it and the statistic is not officially reported. So the legend of the unsubstantiated volume of snow at SK lives on!

Akin to its neighbours, the powder at Sapporo Kokusai tends to be rather dry as a result of the cold temps and good elevation. Aspects vary a lot for such a small ski resort, with predominantly an easterly aspect and the upper slopes and some of the off-piste are northeast facing.

Beginner Skiing Sapporo Kokusai

Options for beginner terrain are very limited so Sapporo Kokusai may be a bit boring for confident beginners. Novices probably won’t mind the narrow choice, and on the plus side, the mellow gradient of the green runs is well suited to beginners. On the downside, the potential congestion of the slopes may be harrowing for some learners.

For the best terrain, beginners would be better placed at Sapporo Teine (Olympia).

Intermediate Terrain

The intermediate trails are nice and wide, but they too are very limited in number. Confident intermediates could hit the groomed black run for a bit more of a challenge.

Advanced On-Piste Skiing at Sapporo Kokusai

The black piste run only hits a pitch of 30 degrees at its steepest point. It’s also partly groomed so it won’t challenge many advanced riders for long. Moguls quickly form down the side of the run, so head for these if you’ve still got youthful knees.

Sapporo Kokusai also has a “deep snow” course which is essentially a piste trail that hasn’t been groomed.

Terrain Park

Sapporo Kokusai is popular with freestylers. Beginners and intermediates are well catered for with a series of decent sized jumps as well as various rails and boxes. Like many other Japanese ski resorts Sapporo Kokusai has ditched its half pipe.

Sapporo Kokusai Off Piste Skiing and Boarding

Off piste riding is officially not permitted, however the patrollers turn a blind eye to riders venturing off-piste. Naturally, off-piste skiing has to be undertaken at the risk of the rider.

Most of the off-piste is under the quad chair and gondola where there is some great tree skiing and lots of gullies to explore, some that mimic half pipes. A band of cliffs can be easily scoped from the gondolas if you fancy some major cliff hucking! The area isn’t completely devoid of competition for freshies.

Sapporo Kokusai Sidecountry & Backcountry

Those with adequate know-how and avalanche safety gear can head outside the resort boundaries. Lines near the skiers’ right boundary need to be read well to avoid getting gullied or creeked out, especially when the tide is low.

A fraction further right are some reasonably obvious slack-country routes that offer superb mellow fall line riding. The open areas get trashed quickly by those without the skills to ride tighter trees. The trail out at the base is very flat so snowboarders may prefer to carry poles or wait for someone else to cut the trail first.

A short hike across from the gondola provides access to a plethora of ridges and some lines that are super steep albeit short. A little more skinning and the world is your oyster. A guide out here is very handy because there are lots of dead zones, and negotiating the creeks can be tricky unless they are absolutely covered. And if you pick the wrong ridge you might end up in Siberia! Guiding at Sapporo Kokusai can be day guiding, or the ski area is included on various multi-day tours.

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Season

Sapporo Kokusai enjoys a long season that usually starts in mid November to early December, and as outlined on the when to ski in Hokkaido page, Kokusai along with the other coastal Hokkaido ski resorts are renowned for bountiful early season snow.
Due to the massive snow volumes, the season often goes through to mid May.