Escape the crowds in Rusutsu resort

Three mountains, two 2019 World Ski Awards and one skiable amusement park area – Rusutsu is a resort not to be missed.

Located just 45 minutes from Hirafu and holding Japan’s Best Ski Resort 2019 title, Rusutsu is the ideal destination for those wanting escape the crowds flooding the runs of Niseko. The resort reaches across three mountains: Mount Isola, East Mountain and West Mountain, which collectively offer 1,700 hectares of skiable areas. But perhaps the most intriguing feature of this area is the huge amusement park at the base of West Mountain; a visually striking scene which visitors are able to ski through.

After arriving at 8:45am to an empty resort, we followed the advice of our tour guide and started at the base of the east mountains. 70% of the entire Rusutsu resort is serviced by a combination of gondolas, quad and pair lifts, so it’s easy to navigate. We found the groomers to be in pristine condition, and enjoyed the wide cruisey runs down both East Mountain and Mount Isola. There were no queues to speak of all morning, so we covered both mountains before catching the connecting gondola across to the west side of the resort.

Amusement Park Rusutsu
A unique feature of Rusutsu: an on-piste amusement park!

Following a lunch break where we relaxed and ate inside of the Rusutsu Resort complex, we explored the West Mountain. Not only did we catch stunning views of Mount Yotei, we boarded through the colourful, hibernating amusement park at the base of the mountain. A surreal but cool experience, and one highly recommended for a unique skiing adventure.

If you are lucky enough to benefit from a bluebird day in Rusutsu, it is worth keeping to the West Mountain in the afternoon as the sun glances off the runs and keeps the area warm until the end of the day.

Top tip: Aim to cover the vast area of the east side in the morning when you have the most energy, then head over to the west side via the connecting gondola to check out lunch options. There’s a huge indoor complex offering both Japanese and western cuisine, with unmissable quirky features including a performing band of animatronic bears and a singing tree. Who knew!

Charlits Rusutsu Mount Yotei
Gorgeous views of Mount Yotei from Rusutsu
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