Rusutsu is located on the other side of Mount Yotei and takes about 40 mins to get to from Hirafu where we are based. It is somewhere I have wanted to ski since seeing an article a few years ago about some locals who have built a side country park in the forest. It is built solely from fallen wood and was built in the summer season before the snow came in the winter. It has created a truly unique ski environment which fuses both elements of park and the backcountry. With all this in mind I was stoked to be on the bus heading towards Rusutsu.
When you arrive in Rusutsu it is a bizarre winter wonderland, the resort consists of just one large hotel and that is situated next to a huge closed theme park. It makes for an amazing scene with ferris wheels and roller coasters coated in deep pillows of snow with a serene almost eery ambiance created by the lack of people in the area. It is the biggest ski area in Hokkaido with three separate mountains but few people stay here and the only visitors seem to be the people day tripping on the bus. This makes for one of the most incredible resorts I have ever been to. We arrived to waste deep fresh powder and were doing lap after lap without seeing anyone.
The terrain is the best I have seen in Japan yet, with longer vertical and a really fun spacing in the trees making for an epic day. We found some good pillows early in the day just under the chairlift and spent the morning sessioning them, before moving over to the side country park.
The side country park is an incredible feat allowing you to ski features you could only dream of in back country terrain accessed by a chairlift. There are rainbow trees, tree gaps and man made pillows made from scaffolded platforms. I had a couple of hours checking out the features and can’t wait to return on a big powder day as there are endless options for progressing your skiing. By the end of the day it was hard to think of a better day skiing. We had ridden empty powder for the best part of eight hours without seeing anyone in some of the most playful terrain you could think of. I will no doubt be calling Rusutsu my second home now!