Sapporo Kokusai 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)
    630 – 1,100 (470)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?18  metres
  • Lifts (5)
    2 gondolas
    1 quad
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 5:00pm
    mid Nov - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 7
    Longest run – 3.6 km
    Advanced - 20%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Beginner - 30%
  • Lift Prices (Day 18/19)
    Adult - 4,500 yen
    Child - 1,000 yen
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 ski resort 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 are generally also fairly mellow (but lots of fun!), although the nearby backcountry offers some short but steepish pitches.

Sapporo Kokusai Off Piste Skiing and Boarding Off piste riding is officially not permitted. Most of the off-piste areas are roped off and have those scary signs with the skull and cross-bones on them. However the patrollers turn a blind eye to riders venturing off-piste and the signs just seem to indicate an ideal spot to duck the rope! Naturally off-piste skiing has to be undertaken at the risk of the rider.

Most of the off-piste is under the two gondolas 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! Whilst most of the punters at Sapporo Kokusai hang out in the terrain park or on the piste runs, there aren’t many naughty rope-duckers in the off-piste zones. The area isn’t completely devoid of competition for freshies, but a couple of days after a dump you’re still likely to find some fresh lines.

Backcountry Those with adequate know-how and avalanche safety gear can head outside the resort boundaries. These are roped off and have the same warning signs as the off-piste areas. Just to the skiers’ right of the resort are some reasonably obvious slack-country routes that offer superb fall line riding. 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 top gondola provides access to a plethora of ridges and some lines that are super steep albeit short. 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!

Kokusai is included on various multi-day tours.

Lifts The small ski area is well serviced by lifts. The main lifts are two modern gondolas that travel next to each other. One of them seems superfluous but considering the hordes on the piste runs, the additional gondola (or sky cabin as SK calls it) is required for uphill capacity.

A detachable hooded quad chair travels up most of the vertical to service the beginner terrain, and there are two super slow double chairs that cover the rest of the vertical.

Lift Tickets Lift tickets come in a variety of configurations including all day passes, 5 hour passes, or single ride tickets for the gondolas or chair lift.

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

Sapporo Kokusai has a microclimate that is somewhat unique to its neighbouring resorts, 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.

Beginner Terrain 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 (unlike many other Japanese ski resorts). On the downside, the potential congestion on the slopes may be harrowing for some learners.

Intermediate Terrain The intermediate trails are nice and wide, but they too are very limited. Confident intermediates can probably 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.

For the Family and Kids There is a small fenced-off area out the front of the day lodges for kids to learn. It doesn’t have a magic carpet so the kids have to walk up the little slope - a great way to tire the kids out!