Kokusetsu Horotachi

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Kokusetsu Horotachi

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Kokusetsu Horotachi

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Kokusetsu Horotachi Ski Resort

Kokusetsu Horotachi is the locals ski area for the little town of Horokanai in northern Hokkaido. The town has a population of only 1,500 people which is somewhat indicative of the size of the ski area. Even though it’s within reasonable driving distance of the city of Asahikawa, competition from the locals for the dry powder snow is not fierce. It’s only a small, low elevation ski resort, but you shouldn’t always read a book by its cover.

Pros and Cons of Kokusetsu Horotachi

Pros 
  • The region is renowned for getting lots of snowfall and cold temperatures.
  • Lift passes are cheap and you can get a 4 hour ticket to make it even cheaper, although you don’t get a lot of infrastructure for your yen. Lunch is really inexpensive too.
  • Competition for the fresh Japow is usually low.
  • It has a nice local’s vibe.
Cons
  • Kokusetsu Horotachi is small and won’t keep the attention of experienced riders for very long.
  • The ski area is not very good for beginners because it’s too pitchy.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • It’s a low elevation ski area with a southeast facing aspect, so it’s not the spot to head if the temperatures have warmed up.

Horotachi Ski and Snowboard Terrain

It’s a case of “what you see is what you get” at Kokusetsu Horotachi. It has one lovely red double chair and a vertical drop of just 217 metres (150 – 367m). There are 4 courses, of which 2 are usually groomed. Whilst the trails are rated for differing abilities, even the Forest course is a bit too steep for beginners and the trails are appropriate for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders. One of the trails has a maximum gradient of 38 degrees.

Needless to say, don’t ride under the chair lift! The trail map of the ski area includes the phrase “no entry outside” in English, but it seems that people head off-piste and sidecountry anyhow. The tree skiing has some pitch and is easily navigated except for a couple of gullies/creeks that can be a problem in early season.

Horotachi Snow

“Kokusetsu” means “overcoming snow problems” or something like that (it also means "national"!), but don’t take this as gospel because our Japanese language skills are terrible! Either way, Koksetsu Horotachi gets plenty of cold dry Hokkaido powder. Horokanai is thought to get about 13 metres of snow on average annually. It also scores cold temperatures and the winter average is about -13°C (and Dec 31st 2020 saw a temperature of minus 32.6 °C), so despite being low elevation and having a sunny aspect, the snow quality is usually very good.

The Kokusetsu Horotachi ski season usually goes from mid December to late March, although opening days become more sporadic in the late season when the slopes become sun affected.

Where is Kokusetsu Horotachi?

The Horotachi Ski Resort is just 2km out of Horokanai town in the Kamikawa Subprefecture of Hokkaido. It is 46km northwest of the city of Asahikawa which equates to about a one hour drive. The telephone number for GPS navigation is 0165-35-3410 and you can park your car right near the lifts.

It is just southeast of Santo-zan, which is a peak that is utilised for backcountry touring.

You see the map of Hokkaido ski resorts above via the map icon.

Accommodation

Simple and inexpensive accommodation sits at the base of the ski hill. Horotachi Sanso has Japanese style rooms, bunk beds, and rooms with lofts, and you can get half board with your accommodation package.

As Kokusetsu Horotachi is usually just visited for a one day trip, most people stay in Asahikawa accommodation.

Facilities

Amenities are delightfully no frills so don’t be expecting ski lessons, childcare or sleigh rides. The cafeteria serves up curry rice and other classic Japanese ski resort fare at really affordable prices.
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