Hokkaido Uncovered - Rusutsu
Monday, 19 January 2015 06:21



Rusutsu is Hokkaido’s biggest ski resort and is a showcase of the Japanese boom that happened in the 1980s. Like other similar style purpose built resorts like Tomamu and Kiroro, Rusutsu is extravagant. The hotel lobby interior seems as if it was taken from Neverland and seeing an amusement park (closed in Winter) whilst skiing reminds you that this resort is different.

rusutsu west

Photo credit: Jeremy Eades


One of the most coveted aspects of Rusutsu is that it’s quieter than Niseko, and that the powder tree skiing are steeper and unique. We wanted to find out how Rusutsu compared and if it’s really worth the hype.


The terrain is spectacular for a Japanese resort in Southern Hokkaido, and all of it is very easily accessible by the lift. There are numerous steep pitches with numerous natural hits, and open tree skiing. This coupled with its high-speed infrastructure would make you think they have the perfect recipe for a one in a kind resort. Sadly, that’s not quite true.

rusutsu back

Benjamin Ey overlooks the surrounding terrain


Rusutsu has suffered under its own success in recent years. Recent exposure from film crews like Nimbus Independent and Salomon Freeski mean that this is no longer a ‘hidden gem’. The one thing that separated it from its nearby rival Niseko is that it was quiet. That is no longer the case. We went there on a day (early January) where there was more than 30cm of fresh snow and it was all completely tracked out within an hour. Something that we don’t even experience in Niseko or other backcountry meccas like St. Anton in Austria. We did speak to other day trippers who had gone around New Years and had heard tales of untracked goodies for the whole day. Were they lucky or we just unlucky?


Is Rusutsu worth the day trip from nearby areas for powderhounds? If you can guarantee it will be quiet, absolutely. Otherwise only go if you want to get one hour of powder skiing as the recent surge of backcountry outfits and guiding trips make it a race to the untracked.

rusutsu lake

Photo credit: tensaibuta



A sad example of how success can sometimes destroy the one thing that it had going for itself.