A trip to an urban ski resort with hot springs on its doorstep

  • : 3 days
  • Route:
    Day one|New Chitose Airport → Jozankei Onsen
    Day two|Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort → Jozankei Onsen
    Day three|Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort → Sapporo Station
  • MAP

An urban center home to about two million people that gets five meters of snow each year, Sapporo boasts six ski resorts within its city limits. Sapporo Kokusai takes pride of place among them thanks to the exceptional quality of its powder. With Jozankei Onsen nearby, there’s also an abundance of ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and hotels in easy reach, letting you make the most of a full day on the slopes. Read on for more inspiration and to find out what makes this area the ideal base from which to enjoy winter sports in Sapporo to the fullest.

Arrival at New Chitose Airport

New Chitose Airport is one of the gateways to Hokkaido. After touching down, the JR Rapid Airport service can have you at Sapporo Station in as little as 37 minutes. From there, you can hop on a bus to Jozankei.

Day one
Jozankei Onsen

Useful Info

  • To get to Jozankei Onsen from Sapporo Station, you can take either a local bus (travel time about 1 hour and 20 minutes) or the direct Kappa Liner (about 1 hour).
  • Local buses accept payment with IC cards, including SAPICA, KITACA and SUICA.
  • The Kappa Liner is by reservation only (online or via the reservation hotline). Click here to make your booking through the website—you can also pay online (credit cards only).
  • If you plan to stay at a hotel or ryokan, they may offer a convenient shuttle bus service.

This hot spring resort has stolen the hearts of Sapporo locals for many years. Located within Sapporo’s city limits, Jozankei is about a 60-minute bus ride from the city center.

To the right is the red brick Hokuren Building
Bus Stop 27

A convenient option for getting to Jozankei is the direct Kappa Liner bus. The bus stop is located in front of the red brick Hokuren Building, which can be found by heading left after exiting from the east side of JR Sapporo Station’s South Exit. The Kappa Liner leaves from Bus Stop 27.

Click here for more details on Jotetsu Bus Guide

One of the best things about staying somewhere with a hot spring is taking a leisurely soak to warm up and recharge after a day out on the slopes. In winter, the snow surrounding the outdoor baths makes the scenery all the more enchanting.

It’s important to remember the rules about bathing in hot springs in Japan. Here, you bathe in the nude—you must wash your body thoroughly before entering the bath and be sure not to wear a towel in the bath. Most hot springs don’t allow people with tattoos to use their facilities, but there are some that allow you to enter if you cover your tattoos with tattoo concealing tape or a shirt. There are also private hot springs and guest rooms that come with their own hot spring bath. If you have tattoos, it’s best to check whether you can enter each hot spring before going or reserve a private hot spring or guest room with a hot spring bath included.

Many hot spring hotels provide a choice between buffet-style dining and meals served in your room. The types of cuisine on offer also run the gamut from Japanese, Western and Chinese styles to full-on multi-course kaiseki meals. Each type of dining has its own unique qualities, and you’re sure to find something that suits your palate and your wallet.

No matter what type of food you go for, Hokkaido seafood is not to be missed. Thanks to the blessings of the seas surrounding the island, you can enjoy fresh seasonal fish and shellfish, even in winter. The skiing and snowboarding action starts tomorrow, so be sure to eat well, enjoy a relaxing bath, then get a good night’s sleep to make sure you’re full of energy.

Click here for more details on Jozankei Onsen

Day two
Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort

Useful Info

  • Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort is open from about mid-November to early May.
  • Jozankei Onsen has an abundance of places to stay, and you can get a direct bus to Sapporo Kokusai from three stops in its hot spring area: near Jozankei Shrine, Jozankei Yunomachi and the Jozankei Daiichi Hotel. Click here for details.
  • In addition to regular lift tickets, Sapporo Kokusai offers value packs that include one-day tickets packaged together with round-trip bus tickets, lunch tickets and entry to hot springs.
  • Lift tickets, rental gear and restaurant tables can be reserved in advance through Webket.

To get to Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort from Jozankei Onsen, you can get a local bus from one of three stops. Look them up in advance to find the one nearest your accommodation.

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort has the highest elevation of the ski resorts in the Sapporo’s limits. Starting from an altitude of 630 m at the foot of the mountain, it reaches a peak of 1,100 m, and the slopes are some of the most expansive in the city.

At this lofty elevation, you can enjoy the powder snow familiar to visitors to other popular Hokkaido resorts, such as Niseko and Furano, and with quality that’s more than a match for anything you’ll find anywhere in the prefecture. Sapporo Kokusai is located in a prime position to get covered in deep powder. This is how they can spin their lifts for an enviably long season, running from late November to about May.

The vast slopes home to seven courses with a maximum distance of 3.6 km have something for everyone—from kids to hardcore winter sports afficionados. In addition to regular two-person lifts, the resort also has four-person lifts and an eight-person gondola, so you can get back amongst the action without having to wait it out in long lift lines.

Of course, food is another key consideration, and Sapporo Kokusai has six eateries serving everything from fast food to hearty meals.

There are innumerable tasty delights on offer, but you can’t go wrong with family restaurant RABIT’s trusty curry ramen. Topped with a deep-fried chicken cutlet, it’s a filling meal with spices that really hit the spot after a hard day’s riding. You’ll also find pizza, steak, and even a soft-serve ice cream stand at the summit. Enjoying an ice-cold treat on a snow-covered peak is a truly special experience.

Click here for more details on Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort

After you’ve had your fill for the day, you can catch the bus to Jozankei and soothe your tired muscles with a relaxing soak in the hot springs.

Day three
Shopping at Sapporo Station
( : 2 hours)

From the third day onward, staying at Jozankei Onsen and enjoying the slopes to your heart’s content as long as your schedule allows is highly recommended. On your final day, what better way to round off your trip than with some retail therapy at Sapporo Station? With various shopping centers connected directly to the station and an abundance of souvenirs from Sapporo and elsewhere in Hokkaido, you can enjoy shopping right up until your departure from the city.

Click here for more details on Sapporo Station