Lifts & Terrain
Kiroro Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Kiroro Snow World has a small to medium sized ski area with 21 courses and a statistic of 120 hectares of skiable terrain. Keep in mind that the Japanese only count the piste in this statistic (Niseko possibly an exception), so if you include the off-piste zones, Kiroro
is quite a sizeable area.
Kiroro is well suited to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Unfortunately there is very little on-piste to keep advanced riders happy, but advanced and expert riders who go off-piste will be absolutely ecstatic. Kiroro is a good ski resort for powder hounds for the following reasons: a variety of off-piste terrain (if you can access it - see below); very few punters go off-piste; on a powder day freshies last well into the afternoon; and Kiroro receives lots of snow each season. Awesome!
The whole ski resort sits below the tree line. The lower half of the mountain is very mellow and fairly typical of that found in most Japanese ski resorts. The top half has slopes of varying pitches, but counteracting some of the steeps are very flat areas in the Asari area. Luckily the course is supposedly “panoramic” because snowboarders in particular may get very annoyed with the lack of pitch.
Kiroro scores 5 out of 5 from us for the lift infrastructure. Niseko ski resort
could learn a thing or ten from Kiroro! Of the nine lifts, only three are slow double clunkers and these sit in the beginners' areas (and it could be argued that beginners need the rest!). One lift is a fast gondola and they have four detachable hooded quad chairs, as well as a fast double hooded chair. Ahh the joys of being protected from the weather and having lots of fast lifts where you don’t have to take your skis or snowboard off.
Kiroro has night skiing for beginners, with the closing time varying a little between weekdays, weekends and holidays.
Kiroro Lift Tickets
Kiroro lift ticket prices are up there as some of the most expensive in Japan, but you get plenty of value for money considering the infrastructure on offer.
Configurations include 1 day tickets (which includes night skiing), 7 hour, 5 hour, and 3 hour passes. It’s also possible to purchase single ride gondola tickets or night skiing tickets. Lift tickets are discounted for consecutive multi-day purchases.
Kiroro Snow and Weather
Kiroro receives lots of snowfall but who really knows how much! Back in about 2011 the snowfall statistic was 13 metres on average per season, yet somehow or another the resort is now citing it as 21 metres! I’m not sure how the average can soar up by 8 metres over several years! In the 2015-16 season Kiroro received 18.7 metres, which is impressive considering it was an El Nino (ie bad) season, and 2014-15 it was 12.5 metres, so I think someone at Kiroro has a bung calculator!
Kiroro is renowned for the great snow, with both quality and quantity covered. Kiroro is close to Niseko
, so the snow is very similar. Due to their proximity to the coast they receive ridiculous amounts of snow, yet the powder isn’t quite as dry as more inland Hokkaido resorts. Nevertheless the snow is commonly silky and dry and much better quality than typical Honshu powder.
Many of the slopes on the Asari side are northwest facing and tend to have slightly better snow than the mostly west facing slopes on the Nagamine side.
Kiroro commonly receives a lot of snow early in the season so it tends to fully open much earlier than other Japanese ski resorts, and they don’t need snow making to top up the cover.
It’s often windy at Kiroro, but the lifts are less inclined to close than at many other ski resorts, in part due to the presence of wind fences for the lifts.
For the Beginner
First timers can start on the two person lift at the base area which services a short and very mellow course. There are various progressions from here, but some of the green runs have painful flat spots, so beginners will need to quickly learn how to skate or pole.
The new Premier Cruise in the Nagamine area is a nice long groomed run that includes tunnels, waves and banks.
Kiroro Intermediate Skiing & Boarding
Intermediates that love to cruise the groomers should be kept entertained for numerous days, although Kiroro doesn’t have the quantity of intermediate runs that you’d find at many North American resorts.
The Powder Line seems to have a bit of local hype as the course for powder enthusiasts. After a storm they leave it ungroomed in the morning for a couple of hours, and then get the big rake out so it’s groomed for the afternoon. Powder on top of corduroy can be lots of fun, but this red course is probably more suited to first time powder riders than true powder hounds.
The black runs at Nagamine and Yoichi are very easy, so these could be good spots for intermediates to learn to tackle small moguls.
Kids Ski Areas
The best area for little kids is the aptly named Family Course, which is located at the base area. Kids will also love the Children’s Park at the Nagamine area which has a couple of banks and waves. The wave course on the home trail is also lots of fun (for the big kids too!).
Kiroro has a couple of children specific ski areas that are used by “Annie’s Kids Academy”, the kids ski school. See the Kiroro facilities
page for more information on this and other services for children.
Parks & Pipes
Shaun White won’t be visiting Kiroro anytime soon. Whilst the summer grooming of the half pipe remains, Kiroro has followed suit of many other Japanese ski resorts and closed the half pipe. Other than the kids’ terrain park, Kiroro just has one small park with a handful of hits: boxes; small to medium sized kickers; and a rail or two.
Advanced Skiing at Kiroro
On-piste options are very limited. Test your mettle on the 37 degree slopes of the two Asari courses, but that’s about it for black runs. The other couple of black runs are almost laughable that they’re rated black.
Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain
There are no super steep slopes on-piste at Kiroro. In some of the tree areas, Kiroro has some very steep scary pitches (e.g. skiers’ left of the Asari #2 chair), but these tend to be short.
In an attempt to cater for powder hounds, Kiroro introduced the new Powder Zone in 2011, a tiny off-piste type area for freeriding that’s open from mid January to mid March. It’s probably not even worth the bother of finding it!
Otherwise off-piste riding is officially not allowed, yet many of the areas are not roped off and the patrollers only sometimes police it. That also means they don’t control it, so if you go off-piste it’s at your own risk, and you should don an avalanche transceiver and other appropriate backcountry gear.
Kiroro can provide a lot
of joy for powder hounds and the tree skiing is superb – we’ve scored the tree skiing as 5/5! The Asari #2 lift (the detachable hooded double chair) in itself can provide a huge amount of fun. There are oodles of off-piste lines to the skiers’ left of the chair that are bordered by a creek that doesn’t tend to fill in (so stay high). To the skiers’ right of the chair, more merriment can be found amongst the many steep lines (also accessible off the Asari Dynamic Course from the gondola).
Left of the Nagamine area is more delightful tree skiing, with egress being somewhat dependent on the creek being filled in.
The real nirvana of Kiroro can be found in the large areas to the skiers’ right of the gondola. Oh my God! Typically mountains of windblown powder land in this area (now known as Nirvana!) so you may need to pack your snorkel and an oxygen cylinder. The photo of Top Dog in neck deep powder was taken in this area – hopefully a picture tells a thousand words!
This backcountry area requires registration and access via a gate. Associated with the registration comes some very “Japanese” rules that seem to change from week to week. At one stage you weren’t allowed past the gate before 10am unless you were with a guide, and for a little while they didn’t want you going in there at all without a guide. You’ll need to have a guide or be prepared to go with the flow!
The terrain in “Nirvana” is suitable for advanced riders, but commonly the long track out and the snow bridges are really gnarly and only suitable for experts. And if the creek’s not filled in it’s really hairy to get out. Considering the frequent deep snow in here, snowboarders are well advised to stay out until they’re sure that some nice skiers have set a track out.
Above the ski resort is some spectacular alpine terrain. Experienced and well equipped backcountry riders who are happy to earn their turns with 2 hour hikes will be well rewarded.