Snowshoeing Mt. Teine-Neopara (838m, Sapporo City foothills, Hokkaido, Japan)


The peak to the east of Mt. Teine has no name on the map, but it is known as Neopara (ネオパラ), or the “2nd Teine”. On the flanks of Mt. Teine is the Paradise Hut, with its close by Paradise Ski Slope. From that name comes Neopara: the “new” “paradise” slopes. This is the closest, easily accessed backcountry ski route from central Sapporo. Even during the weekdays, it is a popular destination. (Translated from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide, 2015, p. 102.)

Route GPS File

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Essential details


7.6km
Distance


4 hrs
Time


660m
Ascent


838m
Highest point


5/10
Difficulty


Jan-Mar
Best season

Need-to-Know Details

  • Route markers: Very sporadic. Best to assume you’ll be navigating on your own. There is no official summer trail.
  • Transport: This route is accessible by public transport. Take one of the following JR buses headed for Nakasubashi (中州橋行), from either the Miya-no-zawa, Hassamu-minami, or Kotoni subway stations on the Tozai line. You’ll get off at the Nishino 8-jo 8-chome (西野8条8丁目) bus stop (here). From there, it is a 800m walk to the trailhead.
    • Miya43 (宮43)
    • Hatsu43 (発43)
    • Koto43 (琴43)
  • Paper topographical maps: For topographical maps, you can either print out what you want from the Geospacial Information Authority of Japan here (Mt. Neopara is in the cross-hairs), or buy the following 1/25000 paper topo map (for 350yen) from a bookstore in Sapporo (such as Kinokuniya next to Sapporo Station).
    • Teineyama (手稲山) – map no. NK-54-14-14-2
  • Snow and route safety
    • The main things to watch out for on this route is not to be tempted to ski down into the gullies to the north of the route nearer the summit, on the way down. Also watch out for cracks in the snow around the 650m mark later in the season. At around 420m in the gully, watch out for weak snow bridges over the stream.
    • Weather forecast (Google Translated): Tenkura pinpoint for Mt. Teine
  • Other resources
    • See the write-up (in Japanese) in the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047) from page 102-105.
  • Onsen neaby: There is a small super-local public bath near Kotoni Station here, or a larger public baths even nearer the station here.
  • Date visited:

See my Hokkaido Ski Touring Resources page for more trips and tips →
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Trip Report

In the route information above, I’ve noted that the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook suggests the best time to ski this route is from January to March. But in late November this year, we had a solid dumping of snow around the Sapporo area, and I was itching to get into the hills.

So I invited a few people to come along for a snowshoe hike up to the top of Neopara on a mid-week public holiday. Only one person was foolish enough to accept the invitation – Szilvia from Hungary. This would be her first snowshoe hike, and I’m glad that she enjoyed the experience – it was a definite thrown-in-the-deep-end experience!

The route starts near the beginning of a forestry road marked on most maps (here), in the Nishino area of the northwestern Sapporo suburbs.

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

From there the mostly unmarked route loosely runs parallel to an old unused forestry road before cutting directly up the Nanako-kawa stream (中の川) valley, across a couple of zig and zags in the forestry road.

Photo by Szilvia Nagy

This early on in the season, the snow condition was just deep enough to warrant the use of snowshoes down below, but almost shallow enough not to bother about snowshoes.

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

For the first 45 minutes or so, we trudged along under light showers of sleet and rain. Mercifully, this slowly turned to snow as we ascended. At the small clearing above, we both noticed a flurry of wings on the snow, and were treated to an owl hurriedly flying up into a tree. The beautiful creature gazed down at us with its deep black eyes – a master of its domain. Szilvia got a photo of it on her smartphone…can you see it?

Photo by Szilvia Nagy

As we ascended higher, the base-less snow got deeper, and the challenge was trying to find a route which avoided the sasa bamboo as much as possible. Later on in the season, the sasa would be completely covered, with a relatively sold base of snow under the soft top layer of snow. In the latter half of our trip this time, we spent a lot of time sinking up to our knees or deeper in snow and sasa.

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

At times, the clouds would lift just enough to remind us that we were in fact snowshoeing in glorious nature, right next to a city of almost 2 million people. Another reminder of why I love this place so much.

As we neared the nondescript, rather flat summit of Neopara, we spent a vigorous 20 minutes or so bush-bashing through twiggy brush, weaving a route on the final approach. I reminded Szilvia that this is not the typical way most people experience snowshoeing for the first time!

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

As I was doing some research about this route on the web, I had seen some mention of an abandoned restaurant at the summit, next to a defunct ski lift. Once part of Teine Ski field, there were conflicting reports as to whether the building was left unlocked during the winter months for hikers and skiers. I was quietly hopeful that it would be open, as it would be a nice place to get some shelter as we scoffed down some lunch. Soon after breaking our way through the brush near the summit of Neopara, we found the building.

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Mercifully, the doors were unlocked, and we were able to spend a precious 15 minutes or so eating our packed lunches. It goes without saying that this building is well and truly abandoned, with multiple windows missing.

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

In the route map above, and in the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide, the idea is to return the way you came up. However, due to the slow going on the way up, we’d already taken just over four hours to get to the summit. It was now 1:30pm, and I was wary about our prospects for a quick descent. Later in the season, a decent base of snow would allow for run snowshoe-running down the slope. Today, however, we’d be contending with sasa and brush that would happily snag our snowshoes with every lunge down the hillside.

So we decided to carry on over to the Teine Ski field and get a bus back down to the train station from the ski area buildings. The legality of doing so is probably a bit of a grey area, and I certainly felt conspicuous trudging down the ski runs on snowshoes. But it certainly saved us a lot of time.

So here is the actual route we took this time around.

Photo by Szilvia Nagy

Neopara snowshoe trip (Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan)

As it turned out, however, the grand plan to get a bus down from the ski area buildings was thwarted – it was still too early in the season for the regular buses to be running.

Hitch-hiking seemed the only reasonable alternative. No sooner had we stuck our thumbs out for a lift, however, we got picked up by an enthusiastic ski school mini-bus, full of wide-eyed school kids. Even better, it was a ski school located over the road from the very subway station we needed to go to.

A thoroughly satisfying end to an adventurous day out.

Photo by Szilvia Nagy

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