When Chitose City in Hokkaido, Japan, finally gets enough snow (around the beginning of January), the local ski field grinds into action. The tow-rope lift is a brutal contraption, but once you’re used to it, the 60yen per ride (or a whopping 500yen for a day-pass) feels like the bargain of the century. The ski run itself is long enough for precisely 4.5 sweeping turns.
- Location: https://goo.gl/maps/nNsxhBD4zY92
- Lift pass price: 60yen for one run, 500yen for a daylight-hours pass, 500yen for a nighter pass, 5,000yen for a season pass.
- Hours of operation: 9am till 5pm (Dec 17th till Jan 1st, Feb 19th till Mar 5th), 9am till 9pm (Jan 1st till Feb 18th).
- Season open/close: Dec 17th/Mar 5th (depends on snow base)
- Restaurant: There’s a basic cafeteria in the main building, offering ramen and soba etc for around 600yen.
- Other resources: Official Chitose City council page (here), independent information site (here, outdated).
- Getting there and away: By bus, get off at the Shimin-sukii-jou-iriguchi (市民スキー場入り口) bus stop (here), on one of the following buses from Chitose JR Station. Catch one of the same buses from the bus stop on the opposite side of the road to get back to the station.
- No. 10 – Izumizawa-kouyoudaisen (泉沢向陽台線10)
- No. 11 – Izumizawa-kouyoudaisen (泉沢向陽台線11) – most frequent with around 30 buses per day.
- No. 12 – Izumizawa-kouyoudaisen (泉沢向陽台線12)
- Onsen neaby: On the way back to the station, get off at the Mamachi (真々地) bus stop (here), and take a soak in the excellent Chitose onsen ‘En’ (open from 10am till 11pm year-round). 420yen for adults, 140yen for children12yrs and under.
- Date visited: Dec 27th 2016
We’d lived in Chitose for two years by the time we finally visited the diminutive little municipal ski field. It was on our way home from a few days in Niseko, so we decided to drop in to take a look.
As we were sitting in the heated (and deserted) cafeteria, enjoying a warm cocoa drink from one of the vending machines, an elderly employee of the field approached us. He had an apologetic air about him. “You know, we are just a simple ski area, with lots of locals,” he said, almost wringing his hands together. I think he thought we were expectant international visitors, who would be dismayed at the ski field’s lack of powdery runs. We assured him that we were looking forward to trying Chitose City’s only ski field out.
We decided that we’d probably get at least 10 runs in, so we forked out 500yen each for a day-pass (passes are sold at the small shed at the bottom of the hand-tow). The hand-tow lift seemed to be set to its highest speed, which was great for getting up the hill quickly…not so great for grabbing onto the handles. It was Haidee’s first attempt at using a hand-tow lift, and on her first attempt she got her leg too close to a swinging handle. This bowled her over, knocking her to the ground. Her next few attempts were better though, and she soon got the hang of it.
While it was no bustling international ski resort, Chitose’s little ski field was a fun stop. It was more or less deserted when we were there on a weekday, and gave us a glimpse of the more down-to-earth side of snowsports in this land of the beautiful winter.