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How to Get to the Hokkaido Ski Resorts: Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Furano & Tomamu

How to Get to the Hokkaido Ski Resorts: Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Furano & Tomamu

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The ski resorts of Hokkaido offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Asia while also boasting some the world’s best powder. Each winter, the five most popular resorts of Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Furano and Tomamu attract visitors from all over the world. Spread across a wide area, it’s worth doing a little planning before you book your winter to getaway to make sure you get the most out of your time in Hokkaido and can move easily to and from the resorts. On this page you will find the following information:

1 / Getting to Niseko Ski Resort

2 / Getting to Rusutsu Ski Resort

3 / Getting to Kiroro Ski Resort

4 / Getting to Furano Ski Resort

5 / Getting to Tomamu Ski Resort

6 / Moving Between the Resorts

7 / Renting a Car in Japan

8 / Where to Stay When Visiting the Resorts

9 / Hokkaido Ski Resorts: The Stats & Facts

10 / Japan Ski Resorts: Everything You Need to Know

One thing to note when planning your winter visit to Hokkaido is that the resorts are spaced-out over a large area, taking time to move from one to the other. As the table below shows, the resorts of Niseko, Rusutsu and Kiroro are located in relatively close proximity with Furano and Tomamu also nearby each other but at some distance from the other three.

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It is also worth noting that New Chitose Airport is Hokkaido’s largest and busiest airport, and for most international visitors, it will be the most convenient point of entry and departure. Using the smaller Asahikawa Airport only makes sense if you want to head directly to Furano Ski Resort, given that it is notably closer than New Chitose – 50km opposed to 130km. Express buses operate from New Chitose Airport and Sapporo to each of the resorts, while shuttle buses also connect some to the resorts to each other. For visitors intending to head to more than one resort, you might want to consider the option of renting your own vehicle. Rental cars are available at New Chitose Airport, Asahikawa Airport and other locations, allowing you greater flexibility with your itinerary. For more information, see ‘Renting a Car in Hokkaido’ below.

1 / GETTING TO NISEKO SKI RESORT


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The combined resorts making-up ‘Niseko United’ are the most popular and largest ski fields in Hokkaido, meaning that you’ll have no trouble getting there. Niseko is located around 115km / 2.5 to 3 hours – by road – to the east of New Chitose Airport. Rusutsu Ski Resort and Kiroro Ski Resort are located relatively nearby by, at a distance of 30km and 50km respectively, from Niseko.

Express Bus from New Chitose Airport

Most people heading to Niseko – or any of the Hokkaido resorts – will do so via New Chitose Airport. Multiple bus companies cover the route including Hokkaido Resort Liner and White Liner Ski Bus. The Hokkaido Resort Liner operates five services a day during winter – departing the airport at 09:45, 11:45, 13:45, 16:00 and 18:15 – and first stopping at Rusutsu Ski Resort before heading onto Niseko with multiple stops including in Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri. The journey takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours (depending on which area in Niseko you want to disembark and costs JPY4500 for adults (12+) and JPY3500 (3-11) for children, one-way. Children aged under 3 can ride for free but will not be allocated a seat. Advanced bookings are required.

The White Liner Ski Bus offers a slightly faster service to Niseko – without stopping at Rusutsu – with services departing the airport at 09:45, 10:45 and 11:30 daily. The journey takes 2.5 to 3 hours (depending on where you choose to disembark) with stops in Niseko Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri. A one0way journey costs: adults JPY4500 and adults and children JPY3150. Advance bookings are required.

For guests staying in Niseko Hanazono, there is no direct express bus from the airport, meaning that you might need to take one of the express buses above to Niseko Hirafu, and then switch to a resort shuttle bus to reach Hanazono. Shuttle buses operate every 30 minutes in winter and can be caught from the upper area of Hirafu Village. Alternatively, for guests staying at the Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono, the hotel offers a shuttle service from and to the airport during winter. See the hotel website for details.

Express Bus from Sapporo

For visitors heading to Niseko from Sapporo, the Hokkaido Resort Liner operates a couple of services in the morning targeted at day-tripper –departing between 07:35 to 08:30 depending on your selected embarkation point in Sapporo – and arriving in Niseko between 11:00 and 12:00 depending on your preferred disembarkation point. A one-way adult ticket costs JPY4500 or JPY3500 for children.

By Train or Drive Yourself

It is also possible to reach Niseko from Sapporo Station and New Chitose Airport using the train. Two stations – Kutchan Station and Niseko Station – lie within 15 minutes of Niseko Grand Hirafu, with Kutchan Station being the more convenient when coming from Sapporo or the airport. However, that journey takes around 140 minutes / JPY2100, while the journey from the airport takes 165 minutes / JPY3400. Once at Kutchan Station, you’ll then also head to take a bus or taxi onto the resort meaning that unless you have a strong reason to use the train, we recommend using an express bus or driving yourself – see ‘7 / Renting a Car in Hokkaido’ below for more details.

2 / GETTING TO RUSUTSU SKI RESORT


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Rusutsu Ski Resort sits around 90km / 2 hours – by road – to the east of New Chitose Airport and 30km / <1 hour from the ski fields of Niseko. Kiroro Ski Resort is around 70km from Rusutsu, allowing visitors to incorporate all three resorts in their Hokkaido winter getaway.

Express Bus from New Chitose Airport

Multiple bus companies cover the route from New Chitose Airport including the Hokkaido Resort Liner which operates five times a day in winter – departing the airport at 09:45, 11:45, 13:45, 16:00 and 18:15. The journey takes 2 hours – with stops at Rusutsu Resort Hotel & Convention and The Westin Hotel, and costs JPY4000 for adults (12+) and JPY3000 (3-11) for children, one-way. Children aged under 3 can ride for free but will not be allocated a seat. Advanced bookings are required.

Express Bus from Sapporo

The Hokkaido Resort Liner also operates services from Sapporo to Rusutsu – targeted at day-tripper. There is only one service each day – departing between 07:35 to 08:30 depending on your selected embarkation point in Sapporo – and arriving in Rusutsu around 10:15. A one-way adult ticket costs JPY4000 or JPY3000 for children.

Drive Yourself

There are no stations nearby Rusutsu, meaning that getting there by train isn’t an option. Renting a car and driving yourself is however always a good option – see ‘Renting a Car in Hokkaido’ below for more details.

3 / GETTING TO KIRORO SKI RESORT


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Kiroro Ski Resort, also known as ‘Kiroro Snow World’, is the nearest major resort to Sapporo, located around 60km / 1.5 hours – by road – and 50km / 1 hour from the ski fields of Niseko, that lie to the southwest. While bus services connect Sapporo to Kiroro, most international visitors heading to the resort will do so from New Chitose Airport.

Express Bus from New Chitose Airport

Kiroro sits 110km / 2 hours – by road – to the northwest of New Chitose Airport. The Hokkaido Resort Liner departs the airport three times a day – 10:00, 12:20 and 15:30 – and costs JPY4500 for adults and JPY3500 for children, for the 2-hour journey to the resort with multiple drop-off points including Kiroro Tribute Hotel, Yu Kiroro, Kiroro Mountain Center and The Sheraton.

Express Bus from Sapporo

The Hokkaido Resort Liner also operates a daily service from Sapporo to Kiroro, targeted at day-trippers. It departs between 07:45 to 08:40 (depending on your chosen pickup point in the city) and arrives in Kiroro between 10:10 to 10:20, with drop-off available at the Kiroro Tribute Hotel, Yu Kiroro, Kiroro Mountain Center. It costs JPY4000 for adults and JPY300 for children, one-way. The Chuo Bus company also operates a faster and cheaper service twice daily from Sapporo – at 10:45 and 17:45 – from the Chuo Bus Station Terminal. It costs JPY1540 for adults and JPY770 for children.

Drive Yourself

There are no stations nearby Kiroro, meaning that getting there by train isn’t an option. Renting a car and driving yourself is however always a good option – see ‘Renting a Car in Hokkaido’ below for more details.

4 / GETTING TO FURANO SKI RESORT


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Furano Ski Resort is located further inland than the resorts of Niseko, Rusutsu and Kiroro, meaning it takes longer to get to but there are a number ways to get there. Furano sits around 130km / 2.5 hours – by road – to the northeast of New Chitose Airport, while the smaller Asashikawa Airport lies only 50km / 1 hour – by road – to the north of the resort. For visitors heading to Furano from Sapporo, you might want to consider using the train or driving, as explained below.

Express Bus from New Chitose Airport

Visitors heading to Furano via New Chitose Airport can use the Hokkaido Resort Liner, an express bus service that takes around 3 hours / JPY4500 one-way. There are three services each day – departing the airport at 10:00, 12:20 and 15:30 – with multiple stops to choose from at the resort including both Prince Hotels and other accommodation. Bookings must be made at least 9 days in advance.

Express Bus from Asahikawa Airport

For visitors arriving at Asahikawa Airport, the Hokkaido Resort Liner also runs from there to Furano with two services each day – departing at 10:00 and 13:35 – taking around 70 minutes / JPY3000 one-way with stops at several hotels around the resort.

By Train or Drive Yourself

Furano is located only 7km / 15 minutes drive from Furano Station, making it accessible by train. From Sapporo Station, the journey takes around 2.5 hours / JPY4000-JPY6000 (depending on which service you choose). Alternatively, renting a car and driving yourself is always a good option – see ‘Renting a Car in Hokkaido’ below for more details.

5 / GETTING TO TOMAMU SKI RESORT


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The properly named ‘Hoshino Resorts Tomamu’ sits around 110km / 2 hours drive to the northeast of New Chitose Airport and a similar distance / time to the north of Asahikawa Airport. Most international visitors heading to Tomamu fly into New Chitose Airport so let’s start there:

Express Bus from New Chitose Airport

The Hokkaido Resort Liner operates three services from New Chitose Airport each day in winter – departing at 10:00, 12:20 and 15:30 – and taking 2 hours to reach Tomamu, stopping at both tower hotels. A one-way adult ticket costs JPY4500 while children cost JPY3500.

Express Bus from Sapporo

The Hokkaido Resort Liner operates one service a day in winter, departing Sapporo between 07:25 and 07:45 depending on your chosen pick-up point – which includes the option of Hoshino Resorts OMO3 in Suskino, Sapporo – and drop-off at either hotel or the Tomamu Resort Center. The journey takes around 3 hours and costs JPY5500 for adults and JPY4500 for children.

Express Bus from Asahikawa Airport

Express bus services also operate once a day from Asahikawa Airport, departing at 15:20 and arriving at Tomamu at 17:30. A one-way ticket costs JPY4600 for adults and JPY3600 for children. There is no big advantage to flying into Asahikawa when headed to Tomamu, and with fewer bus services a day than from New Chitose, we recommend flying in and out of the larger New Chitose Airport.

By Train or Drive Yourself

Tomamu is actually quite easy to reach by train from New Chitose Airport and Sapporo Station. From the airport, head to Minami-Chitose Station – a journey of less than 5-minutes – and then switch to the Limited Express ‘Ozora’ bound for Tomamu Station. The total journey takes around 80-minutes and costs JPY3590. The Limited Express ‘Ozora’ also connects JR Sapporo Station to Tomamu Station – taking just under 2 hours / JPY5020 one-way. Once at Tomamu Station, an free resort shuttle bus will be waiting – timed for the arrival of every limited express service – to transport you the short distance to the ski resort. Alternatively, renting a car and driving yourself is always a good option – see ‘Renting a Car in Hokkaido’ below for more details.

6 / MOVING BETWEEN THE RESORTS


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One of the big attractions of skiing and snowboarding in Hokkaido is the quality of snow across its resorts and a big incentive to try more than one resort while there. Some resorts offer shuttle buses between each other, allowing you to move from one to the other including:

Niseko ⇄ Rusutsu: as detailed above, the Hokkaido Resort Liner service that runs to and from New Chitose Airports stops at both Niseko and Rusutsu, allowing you to jump onto that service to move between the resorts. There are five services a day and advance booking is required.

Niseko ⇄ Kiroro: is covered by a round-trip service offered by Niseko Ground Service. The bus departs Niseko at 08:00 and returns from Kiroro at 16:00 and costs JPY4500 for adults and JPY3000 for children.

Niseko & Rusutsu ⇄ Furano: the Hokkaido Resort Liner connects the resorts of Rusutsu and Niseko to Furano, with two daily services in each direction. The service connects via New Chitose Airport and takes between 4 to 7.5 hours depending on your chosen starting and end points with a standard fare of JPY6000 for adults and JPY5000 for children.

Niseko & Rusutsu ⇄ Tomamu: the Hokkaido Resort Liner also connects the resorts of Rusutsu and Niseko to Tomamu, with two daily services in each direction. The service connects via New Chitose Airport and takes between 5 to 7.5 hours depending on your chosen starting and end points with a standard fare of JPY6000 for adults and JPY5000 for children.

Furano ⇄ Tomamu: are easy to move between, with a 1 hour transfer service operating multiple times each day. Tickets can be booked at tourist information in both resorts.

If your intention is to move between the resorts often, especially if you want to visit the resorts located at distance from each other, then it’s worth considering the option of renting a car. Renting in Japan is easy and not too expensive. Roads will be affect by snow and ice however rental cars from any reputable outlet will be 4WD or AWD and be fitted with winter tyres. Read on for more information…

7 / RENTING A CAR IN JAPAN


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As noted above, the most popular Hokkaido resorts are spaced over an expansive region and often at distance from each other. Should you only be heading to one resort while in Hokkaido, we recommend using an express bus service to and from your resort of choice. However if you are one of the many visitors wanting to visit two or more resorts, you might want to consider renting your own car. New Chitose Airport has multiple car rental companies including Budget Rent-A-Car, Nippon Rent-A-Car, Nissan Rent-A-Car, Time Car Rental and Toyota Rent-A-Car. Vehicle types and prices vary by company but prices are competitive.

The process of renting a car in Japan is easy. We recommend booking online prior to arriving in Japan and arranging a vehicle and unless you have decent spoken Japanese, making sure to request a vehicle with English or other foreign language navigation system. To rent a car in Japan, you must:

— be 18 years of age or older,

— and have a valid Japanese drivers license, or

— have a valid drivers license in your home country and a valid international drivers license*

It is important to note that if you do not have a Japanese drivers license, you cannot drive in Japan unless you are also carrying a valid international license – even if you have a valid license in your home country. To obtain one, you will need to apply and have it issued before traveling to Japan. The process and cost varies by country so check with your local/national automotive association for further details. For more information about driving in Japan, see our ‘Moving Around Japan: Using Trains, Buses, Planes or Drive Yourself’ page.

*Nationals of Belgium, Estonia France, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland and Taiwan are not eligible for an international drivers license. Agreement between those countries and Japan means that those nationals can drive in Japan on the drivers license issued in their home country as long as they are also carrying an official Japanese translation of it.

8 / WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING THE RESORTS


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Each resort offers world-class skiing and snowboarding with the combined resorts of Niseko, offering the most accommodation and best setup for international visitors. Rusutsu and Tomamu also feature high-end accommodation while Kiroro and Furano offer large hotels targeted at the Japanese market. Our ‘Where to Stay in Hokkaido: Niseko & Other Ski Resorts’ page includes information about the best areas to stay at each resort and links to accommodation listings.

9 / HOKKAIDO SKI RESORTS: THE STATS & FACTS


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Blessed with the longest seasons in Japan and huge annual snowfall, the ski resorts of Hokkaido rank among the best in Asia and enjoy some of the best powder in the world. The combined resorts of Niseko United are the largest and most popular ski fields in Hokkaido, while nearby Rusutsu and Kiroro attract plenty of fans in their own right. Rounding things-out, Furano and Tomamu lie further inland and receive slightly less snow but that bit of extra distance from the coast only means the powder is even drier, with some people claiming these resorts enjoy the best powder in the world. Our ‘Hokkaido Ski Resorts’ page has you covered for everything you need to know about each – a great place to start when planning your next winter adventure in Hokkaido.

10 / JAPAN SKI RESORTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW


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Did you know that the resorts of Hokkaido are just some of the hundreds spread throughout Japan? Needless to say, when you choose Nagano for your winter getaway you are spoiled for choice! Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know to start planning your ski and snowboard adventure including: LATEST NEWS & DEALS, THE BEST RESORTS IN NAGANO & JAPAN, FAQs and of course OUR SKI PACKAGES, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT & TOURS.