Even though I’ve been snowboarding here in Japan for over four years, it’s always nice to try a new resort out, which is what we managed over the last weekend (14/15/16 Feb.) at the resort of Kiroro Snow World in Hokkaido. Built at the end of the Bubble in 1991, it’s a small, but well designed resort, 2 hours by bus from the main Shin Chitose airport. The resort is owned by Yamaha and has 2 main hotels: Mountain and The Piano. The former is next to the slopes, with the latter about 10 minutes walk away. Though the Piano is more expensive, it has a lot more facilities. We stayed at the Mountain though and thought that for a snow resort hotel, the rooms were excellent.
It has only a few chairlifts and a single gondola as it really isn’t that big a resort, but where Kiroro scores is on the amazing quality of it’s powder, and the variety of it’s courses. The powder is awesome – very smooth and light; on the steeper runs, it flows like a liquid down the mountain like a mini-avalanche. Amazing. The course design takes advantage of this. About half the courses are wide (35m+), but at the sides, they have a ledge which has a lot of powder and usually some trees, primarily for those off-piste type of people (like me), and then beyond this ledge is the real out-of-bounds. A good idea as a lot of us had a good time ramping off the ledges into powder and doing tree runs. At the top of the main mountain, there are a couple of great runs, where you plough through deep powder between trees for a about 150 meters before reaching a very steep slope which is great for ploughing down, sending powder flying, and having to make blind turns – not for the weak of heart, but great fun though!
Also, if you’re short of money, go to the Mountain Hotel Cafe for lunch and pay 500yen for a small bowl and help yourself to the 1-visit salad bar. I managed to balance about 3 bowls worth of salad on the plate…a bargain for the price!
I’ll definitely be back at Kiroro next year!