FuJET- An Inside Look to the 2014 Hokkaido Trip, Part 9- Skiing&Snowboarding

Snow, snow, and more snow? What else is there to do with it besides make snowmen? Well, some folks long long ago decided to strap their feet to pieces of wood and slide down it. And so, we have skiing and snowboard. With its over-abundance of snow, there are several ski resorts to meet your snow-sliding needs. Today, we will be looking at the two main ski resorts with Sapporo as a base point– Teine Ski Resort and Niseko Ski resort.

Ski & Snowboard Resort, Sapporo Teine

The closer of our two ski resort is Mt. Teine. Teine is renowned for being one of the venues of the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. From Sapporo station, it takes 10 minutes to reach Teine station via express train or 15 minutes via local trains. Once at Teine station, you can bus or taxi to the ski resort. With a maximum incline of 38 degrees and a high point of 1,023m, Teine has a variety of slopes that will suit everyone from very beginners to slalom experts. The slopes break down to 35% beginner runs, 40% intermediate, and 25% expert. (On a side note for beginners out there, slopes are classified by colour in Japan. Green means a beginner run, red is intermediate, and black is expert.) Teine is broken up into two zones, the Olympia and the Highland zones.

The Highland zone sports Teine’s most difficult runs, the Hit Park (Teine’s ski and board park), and a remarkable view of Sapporo and the bay area. The Highland zone is open daily from 9.00 to 17.00.
The Olympia zone is open from 9.00 to 21.00 daily, with night skiing being available on two select runs (final lift boarding time is 20.15). While Olympia only has one expert run, it has other activities for you to enjoy including a kid’s park and beginner’s jump park.

Teine Sapporo's Ferris Wheel

Teine Sapporo’s Ferris Wheel

Oh– and there is also a ferris wheel in the Olympia zone, because– it’s Japan (Sorry guys, it’s closed in winter. You’ll just have to console yourself with the giant one in Sapporo city). Teine has 10 lifts, ski shops, rental facilities, a cafeteria, two cafés, lounges, and a restaurant. Teine also offers ski lessons (minimum 2 people for two hours, cost is 7,500 yen and includes ski equipment rental), and a two-hour snowshoeing hike (minimum 2 people, cost is 4,200 yen including the rental of snowshoes, boots, gloves, hat, and goggles).

Niseko United

Niseko Annupuri is 100km south of Sapporo and measures 1,308m in height. The Niseko area is famed for it’s fluffy powder and varied runs. The Niseko ski resort area is known as Niseko United, which encompasses 4 different resorts on the one mountain. The four parks are Niseko HANZONO Ski Resort, Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort, Niseko Village Ski Resort, and Niseko Annupuri Ski Area. Niseko is world famous for it’s powder and is arguably Hokkaido’s premier ski and snowboarding destination.

HANAZONO Trail Map

HANAZONO Trail Map

HANZONO‘s peak altitude is 1,308m with the steepest course having an incline of 30 degrees. HANZONO opens at 8.30, has 11 runs, and 3 lifts. HANAZONO also has a ski and snowboarding school, cafes, a restaurant, back country tours, and an Adventure Park where you can zipline (1,000 yen for 1 time or 1,500 yen for 30 minutes), snowtube (1,800 yen for 1 hour), and go winter river rafting(7,000 yen and reservations are required).

Niseko Grand Hirafu Map

Niseko Grand Hirafu Trail Map

Niseko Grand Hirafu has 15 lifts (4 of which operate until around 20.30 for night-skiing each night) with the first lifts starting to run at 8.15. Grand Hirafu also has restaurants, cafes, ski schools, rentals, and shops. There is also the Hotel Niseko Alpen which has beautiful onsen baths overlooking the slopes.

 

 

Niseko Village Trail Map

Niseko Village Trail Map

Niseko Village has 27 trails, the steepest one coming in at 32 degrees. The peak altitude is 1,170m and the longest trail is 5km long. 36% of the runs are beginner, 32% are intermediate, and 32% are expert for a nice even spread. There are 6 lifts, with two running until 20.00 for night skiing. Niseko Village offers the standard rental shops, cafes, restaurants, and ski schools but also has a few unique winter activities which include snow mobiling, cross country skiing, snow rafting, and reindeer sledding (unfortunately reindeer sledding season ends February 1st).

Niseko A Trail Map

Niseko Annupuri Trail Map

Niseko Annupuri has 6 lifts (one available for night skiing), 13 runs, ski schools, rental equipment, shops, cafes, restaurants (including a BBQ one!) and an onsen. Annupuri is the most low key of the four resorts but still boasts the powder which is Niseko’s claim to fame.

Now– for the part that you’ve been waiting for…the deals! You can check out the lift pass prices for these various resorts on their respective websites. However, why not save yourself a decent chunk of change and instead look into getting a Skip Pass (スキップ sukippu, ski + trip )?

Skip Pass

Skip Pass Map

Skip Pass Map

What is a Skip Pass, you ask? It’s a discount ticket offered by JR Hokkaido, allowing you to enjoy Hokkaido’s various ski resorts. There are two flavours of Skip pass– normal and tebura(empty-handed). The normal Skip pass includes round trip train and bus tickets and a lift pass to one of the local ski resorts. The Tebura pass includes bus and train tickets, a lift pass, and gear rental for one of the local ski resorts. These tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of at any manned JR Station in Hokkaido.

Sample Time Schedule using the Niseko Skip Pass

Sample Time Schedule using the Niseko Skip Pass

KutchanNiseko Bus Time Table

KutchanNiseko Bus Time Table

With the Niseko Tebura Skip Pass, you receive a roundtrip JR train ticket for Sapporo Station to Kutchan Station, a roundtrip bus ticket from Kutchan Station to Niseko Grand Hirafu, an 8-hour lift ticket, and a ski or snowboard set rental. The Niseko Tebura Skip costs 6,500 yen and it also nets you a 300 yen discout on Hotel Niseko Alpen’s onsen.

 

 

 

Teine Sapporo Bus Schedule

Teine Sapporo Bus Schedule

There are two varieties of the Teine Tebura Skip ticket— a day and night version. The regular version includes a roundtrip JR train ticket from Sapporo to Teine station, a roundtrip bus ticket from southside Teine station to Teine Olympia/Teine Highland, a 4-hour lift pass,and a ski or snowboard set rental. This version of the ticket costs 6,200 yen. The night version is identical to the day version save that instead of a 4-hour lift ticket, you will receive a night skiing lift ticket. Night skiing hours at Olympia are from 16.00 to 21.00. With the Teine Skip tickets, it is possible to extend your lift ticket and your rental times. To extend your 4-hour lift pass to a 6-hour one, the surcharge is 400 yen. To extend your 4-hour ticket to a 1-day pass(which can be used for night skiing), the surcharge is 1,300 yen. Regardless of whether you are exchanging to a 6-hour or a 1-day pass, the extension surcharge for your rental gear is a flat 950yen.

Teine or Niseko, the choice is up to you. There are pros and cons to both ski resorts but the most marked may be the time difference it takes between the two. While it will take you between 30 to 40 minutes to be on the slopes at Teine from Sapporo station, it will take you closer to 3 hours until you are on the Niseko slopes. Either choice you make, you’re in for snow-sliding fun.

RESOURCES

Niseko United Shuttle Bus Schedule
JR Skip Pass 2013-2014 Season Guide (pdf, English)

SAPPORO TEINE -Kamori Kanko.co,.ltd-
172 Teine-kanayama Teine-ku Sapporo Hokkaido 006-0049 Japan
Telephone:+81-11-682-6000
Facsimile:+81-11-682-8942

Niseko Annupuri SKI Resort
485 Aza Niseko, niseko-cho, Abuta-gun,Hokkaido, 048-1511 Japan
TEL: +81-(0)136-58-2080

Niseko Village
Higashiyama-onsen, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun,Hokkaido, 048-1592 Japan
TEL: +81-(0)136-58-20801

Niseko Grand HIRAFU
Yamada 204, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun,Hokkaido, 044-0081 Japan
TEL: +81-(0)136-22-0109

Niseko HANAZONO Resort
328-1 Aza Iwaobetsu, Kutchan-cho,Abuta-gun, Hokkaido,044-0082 Japan
TEL: +81-(0)136-23-0103

Links
Part 1-Snow Festival
Part 2-Sapporo
Part 3-Dressing for the Cold
Part 4-Asahikawa
Part 5-Otaru
Part 6-I’m on a Boat
Part 7-Asano Hotel
Part 8– Getting Around Sapporo
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