Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 400 metres

Top elevation: 994 metres

Number of lifts: 18

Number of runs: 37

Access: Fly to Sapporo Chitose Airport, direct from Hong Kong or via Tokyo or Osaka for everyone else. From the airport it's only a 90 minute coach transfer to Rusutsu. We can also organise private transfers.

Swoop over Mount Yotei from Niseko, Hokkaido’s favourite ski resort, and you’ll find an entirely different world. Just as snowy but far less crowded, Rusutsu serves as an excellent alternative – or contrast – if you’re in it for the skiing rather than the Après, and you can tolerate a little Japanese kitsch in favour of untracked powder.

Rusutsu very much centres around the slopes, with just a handful of lodgings cocooned in a sea of white. Powder hounds will be in heaven, but it’s great for families, too: close to the airport, with a good ski school, miles of beginners’ terrain, and family fun in the form of snow activities aplenty.

Even if it’s just for a day or two, why not leave the hordes over the hill, we say, and revel in the endless perfect powder that characterises a better kept secret?

Skiing in Rusutsu

When the worst complaint you’ll hear is ‘too much snow’, you know you’re in for a good time. The mountains of Hokkaido are blessed with predictably snowy conditions; and in quiet little Rusutsu that means fresh tracks galore. The ski zone spans three mountains - a large area with around 40 runs, large, open expanses ideal for venturing off-piste, the best tree skiing in Japan, and enough gladed skiing to protect you from downfalls. A satisfyingly efficient lift system includes gondolas and hooded chairs. The runs are almost equally divided for beginners, intermediates and advanced – though the challenging skiing is more in the form of off-piste than innumerable blacks and double blacks. We love the wide, undulating pistes bordered by fir trees. There’s also a terrain park, and night skiing on West Mountain.

Recently Rusutsu teamed up with Salomon to create a new 'Side Country Park'. You can easily access this off-piste park area from the West Tiger Pair Lift. Built entirely with wood, the giant log rides, bonks, jibs and ride-ons are a playground for pros and everyday shredders.

Rusutsu’s docile terrain is ideal if you’re on the greener side, and it’s refreshingly quiet – a big advantage when you’re starting out. West Mountain is generally considered the beginner’s area. The new Ski School Lesson Area was set up especially, with a magic carpet to assist tired legs. Private lessons are also available.

Well groomed, winding trails and consistent fall lines are the order of the day. East Mountain presents lovely views of Mount Yotei, but the better intermediate skiing is on Mount Isola. Don’t be afraid to go for it – we found the run ratings were definitely on the cautious side. In Rusutsu you’ll acclimatise to powder quickly, and if you feel ready for the deep stuff you need only slide a little way off the runs.

If you like your powder, you’ll love Rusutsu – you just can’t keep up with it! For that reason even the less challenging runs can be exhilarating. There are a handful of short blacks and double blacks, as well as world-class tree skiing and great backcountry adventures to keep you occupied for days.

It’s worth mentioning that technically off-piste is prohibited in Rusutsu; but the authorities are pretty relaxed, so as long as you know what you’re doing there’s hours of fun; and heading off piste is made easier by a lift system which minimises the need for traversing and hiking. Mount Isola has large gladed areas and some of the best tree skiing we’ve experienced anywhere. If you want to get further away, head into the backcountry with a guide or try heli-skiing. Remember it’s quiet and unprotected, though, so it’s imperative that you take the right gear and don’t go into the unpatrolled zone over the summit.

Head to Mount Isola for wide sweepers cutting through the forest, as well as exhilarating tree runs. Across the valley on West Mountain you can challenge yourself at Freedom Park, get your heart pumping on steep runs such as ‘Giant’ and ‘Elite’, or try ungroomed pistes such as ‘Tiger’ and ‘Natural’.

Easy to get to, with snowy slopes on the doorstep of comfortable accommodation, and a good ski school, Rusutsu holds lots of appeal for families. When you – or they – are tired of skiing, there’s snowmobiling, tubing and dog sledding to name a few of the outdoor activities on offer, as well as inside entertainment in the form of cartoon characters, a singing tree, a merry-go-round and a wave pool. The varied dining options are sure to please even the most discerning of little palates; and given the quiet nightlife, you’ll probably find yourselves making your own fun in the evenings.

Rusutsu is very much a resort, purpose built for fantastic access to the slopes. It lacks the soul of Niseko and Nozawa Onsen, and isn’t the place to go if you like to make new discoveries each evening. That said, Rusutsu was designed with leisure in mind, so the large central hotel complex has onsens, wave pools, fitness facilities, children’s entertainment, shops, and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. If you can go with a sense of humour – think random music acts, a singing tree, rollercoasters, and a general healthy dose of kitsch - then you’ll enjoy bundles of fresh powder waiting each morning and no crowds.

Rusutsu’s docile terrain is ideal if you’re on the greener side, and it’s refreshingly quiet – a big advantage when you’re starting out. West Mountain is generally considered the beginner’s area. The new Ski School Lesson Area was set up especially, with a magic carpet to assist tired legs. Private lessons are also available.

Well groomed, winding trails and consistent fall lines are the order of the day. East Mountain presents lovely views of Mount Yotei, but the better intermediate skiing is on Mount Isola. Don’t be afraid to go for it – we found the run ratings were definitely on the cautious side. In Rusutsu you’ll acclimatise to powder quickly, and if you feel ready for the deep stuff you need only slide a little way off the runs.

If you like your powder, you’ll love Rusutsu – you just can’t keep up with it! For that reason even the less challenging runs can be exhilarating. There are a handful of short blacks and double blacks, as well as world-class tree skiing and great backcountry adventures to keep you occupied for days.

It’s worth mentioning that technically off-piste is prohibited in Rusutsu; but the authorities are pretty relaxed, so as long as you know what you’re doing there’s hours of fun; and heading off piste is made easier by a lift system which minimises the need for traversing and hiking. Mount Isola has large gladed areas and some of the best tree skiing we’ve experienced anywhere. If you want to get further away, head into the backcountry with a guide or try heli-skiing. Remember it’s quiet and unprotected, though, so it’s imperative that you take the right gear and don’t go into the unpatrolled zone over the summit.

Head to Mount Isola for wide sweepers cutting through the forest, as well as exhilarating tree runs. Across the valley on West Mountain you can challenge yourself at Freedom Park, get your heart pumping on steep runs such as ‘Giant’ and ‘Elite’, or try ungroomed pistes such as ‘Tiger’ and ‘Natural’.

Easy to get to, with snowy slopes on the doorstep of comfortable accommodation, and a good ski school, Rusutsu holds lots of appeal for families. When you – or they – are tired of skiing, there’s snowmobiling, tubing and dog sledding to name a few of the outdoor activities on offer, as well as inside entertainment in the form of cartoon characters, a singing tree, a merry-go-round and a wave pool. The varied dining options are sure to please even the most discerning of little palates; and given the quiet nightlife, you’ll probably find yourselves making your own fun in the evenings.

Rusutsu is very much a resort, purpose built for fantastic access to the slopes. It lacks the soul of Niseko and Nozawa Onsen, and isn’t the place to go if you like to make new discoveries each evening. That said, Rusutsu was designed with leisure in mind, so the large central hotel complex has onsens, wave pools, fitness facilities, children’s entertainment, shops, and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. If you can go with a sense of humour – think random music acts, a singing tree, rollercoasters, and a general healthy dose of kitsch - then you’ll enjoy bundles of fresh powder waiting each morning and no crowds.

Getting There

You can fly direct to Sapporo New Chitose from Hong Kong or South Korea, but for everyone else you will need to come in via Tokyo or Osaka. From Sapporo, there are several good bus shuttles which will transport you to Rusutsu inside two hours, so it isn’t really worth hiring a car. The 'Hokkaido Resort Liner' is a good value option, along with 'Big Runs' - we'll do the necessary and buy the tickets. We can also organise private transfers if you wish.

If you’re coming from Niseko, the journey will take 30-40 minutes by road. Buses leave quite regularly from Hirafu Welcome Centre, but they do get booked up so we recommend booking in advance.

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 400 metres

Top elevation: 994 metres

Number of lifts: 18

Number of runs: 37

Access: Fly to Sapporo Chitose Airport, direct from Hong Kong or via Tokyo or Osaka for everyone else. From the airport it's only a 90 minute coach transfer to Rusutsu. We can also organise private transfers.