You might only know of Kiroro as “that place, kind of, near Niseko”, but the ski resort deserves a whole lot more love. It’s not the place you go to just because Niseko is already booked out for the holidays (which it is – sorry, to be the bearer of bad news). Kiroro is where you go because it’s got the terrain you love and none of the crowds you’re hoping to avoid – this is one Japanese ski resort where you won’t have to constantly worry about dodging your boss and your best friend’s next-door neighbour. Do I have your attention? Great, keep going for all the reasons we love Kiroro over the holidays.
Christmas snow depths are insane
Kiroro gets some of the most snow of any resort in the world. The resort averages a recorded snowfall of 21 metres each year with an average monthly snowfall of about 450 centimetres!
Last Christmas Eve, Kiroro recorded a snow depth of 175cms. By the time New Year’s Eve came around, the depth had grown to 230cms.
You’re in the clear to go off-piste!
Unlike many Japanese resorts where going off-piste could mean your lift ticket getting revoked, Kiroro is all for you heading off and into the trees. Some of these off-piste runs are mapped and have names, making it easier to stay within the resort.
If you want to enter the side country, you can do that too; you just have to register your intent at the Mountain Centre, so they know you’re out there!
It’s great for families!
The good people at Kiroro have done all they can to make the resort one that is as family-friendly as could be considered possible. And, let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of activities kids (and adults) will adore.
If they’re not outside to ski, kids can get rid of all that energy at the snow park. Over the holidays, they can go sledging, snowmobiling and tubing, and learn how to use a snow strider (similar to a bicycle on skis). There are also winter takes on summer activities like snow rafting and snow banana boat riding.
When it’s a little too cold outside, Kiroro Resort has a kids centre, Game Park Granship. The facility has tons of different activities for the little ones like a mini-kart race track, slides, a rock wall, a ball pit and a toy room. They can also take part in music box adorning, gel candle making, and glass and ceramic decorating.
Oh, and then there’s the karaoke lounge – because it wouldn’t really be a Japanese holiday without one.
Kiroro is easy to get to!
The way to get to Kiroro is a whole lot like getting to Niseko, but the drive takes about 30 minutes less. And depending on how long you’ve been travelling, those 30 extra minutes of leg-stretching are going to feel absolutely glorious.
To easily get into Kiroro from New Chitose Airport, you can rent a car with Nippon Rent-a-Car. If driving in snow isn’t your thing, then Sky Express and Mark One provide private door-to-door transfers, while you can catch a bus with Hokkaido Resort Liner.
It’s relatively unknown to foreigners
Although foreigners in the know have been coming to Kiroro for years, this is one place where you’re not going to be spending all your time surrounded by [other] Chinese and Australian tourists. This is still a haven for locals and, well, you’ll get to feel like you’re actually in Japan.
It’s close to Niseko (if you miss foreigners)
Here’s the scenario: Your boss is in Niseko. S/he finds out you’re in similar places at overlapping times, so you HAVE TO meet up even though you’re going to see each other in the office next Monday. Well, Niseko isn’t too far off, it’s only a 50 minute drive away, so you can pop over, ski a few runs and put in some face time with the boss lady/man and then disappear before they try and drag you out for just one round of drinks (that inevitably turns into an all-night ordeal) because it’s a “long drive” and you have to get back!
Ok. Ok. That might just be me… Another way to think of it is, if you want to switch up the terrain a wee bit, you can pop over to Niseko for a day and then go back to Kiroro with no fuss!