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Otaru Tenguyama (Hokkaido, Japan)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Otaru seems to be often mentioned on this forum as a good base for skiing in Hokkaido so I thought i'd put up a quick rundown of my trip to Otaru Tenguyama ski resort as there's not a huge amount of information online about it.

Otaru is within 45 minutes of some of the major Hokkaido ski resorts (Kiroro, Teine, Sapporo Kokusai to name three of them). If you're staying there you won't miss Tenguyama because it's on a hill just outside the town limit, about 3km from the train station - and can be clearly seen from parts of the town centre, especially at night when it's floodlit.

Official website:

http://tenguyama.ckk.chuo-bus.co.jp/en/

I went there on my own one morning because my friend was struck down by some nasty Japanese-style cold - much worse than normal manflu! There's a regular bus service from town but I drove the 5-10 minutes up to the resort parking area as we had a car.

I bought a 2-hour lift pass for approx. £15. Unfortunately the "dynamic" course was closed due to lack of snow, but the steep "New" course was open. Conditions were excellent on piste, and chalky bumps on the unpisted steep runs (The "New course" and the "Old course"). I found powder in the trees between the runs, but not particularly deep on the day I was there. Some of the tree areas are roped off, but I skied a fair bit in the trees without ducking any ropes - and didn't get into trouble. I was there on a weekday morning and it was pretty quiet - there were literally no other Westerners and most people were involved in some kind of elementary school competition happening on the flat family course at the top.

In terms of terrain, it was among the steepest I've skied in Hokkaido straight off the lift, but the steep pitch is pretty short.

I would say it's worth a couple of hours of your time, but not much more than that since it's so small (unless the conditions are great). The views are amazing and a lot of people go up there just for that. It would probably be really good fun at night when it's floodlit if it's dumping, and skiing with the city lights beneath you. Very convenient if you're staying in Otaru too. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go up there in the evening!

Full size versions of these images in this Imgur album:

http://imgur.com/a/VmRuh

Resort leaflet for 16/17 with all the pricing options, bus times etc:





View from the top of the Ropeway:



From the top of "New Course" which maxes out at 40 degrees:



The slow chairlift:



Typical Japanese ski resort warning about not exiting the resort boundaries:



Restaurant menu, not bad value:

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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Great write up.

Great little resort that's a must on a sunny spring day (when I visited); at night; or when it's dumping.

Two great little museums in the mountain top building - Sapporo Olympics and Tengu / Goblin mask.

Here's a short vid


http://youtube.com/v/csBSqd3cNw8
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Nice. Been doing a bit of research on smaller Hokkaido resorts in looking at a prospective itinerary if we get a trip up and must say I'm more attracted by the idea of spending time in Furano area and in Otaru than the staying and skiing at the big money Niseko Utd. Though I must say my keenness is tempered by the thought that these smaller places will be brill on a pow day but could be a bit tedious if it's mank or hardpack.
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There's always that risk, but in my experience the smaller the resort the less people skiing.

If you're looking for km and km of piste and long vertical then Hokkaido is the wrong choice, even in places like Niseko United, Rusutsu and Furano. They pale in comparison with European resorts.

But if you get in to the mindset of finding the ins and outs and changing your route down the sameish terrain then Hokkaido offers up some of the best lift accessed powder in the world. Certainly the most consistent powder experience I've had the pleasure to enjoy.

If the weather is in a holding pattern then the smaller resorts may offer unexpected stashes long since smashed at the 'big players'
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks Mike thats reassuring - I'm certainly happy with milking a line till its done.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
@Dave of the Marmottes, it was a few years since I went to Niseko but by simply traversing a bit more than most got us into fresh tracks on a regular basis!
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