If your'e planning a trip to Niseko this winter, be it your first trip or returning, you will want to fit a day in at Kiroro. Kiroro Resort is in the mountains between Niseko and Otaru and because of its position it picks up snow from the west as Niseko does and also because on the north side is the Ishikare Bay it gets storms from the north too. Meaning more snow than Niseko, making it the snowiest place in Hokkaido.
Pack up your car early and hit the road to get to this winter wonderland. Drive out through Kutchan and get on the 393 or maple route and after 40 minutes to an hour you'll almost be on one of the gondolas or chairs.
Kiroro consists of 2 main peaks, you want to make it to one of these peaks and then circuit a chair once there as running all the way out to the base again will be a long and fairly easy run, not so fun for the advanced skier or snowboarder. So just remember the key to Kiroro is circuit the top lifts to find short but challenging runs in the trees. The journey back to the base however is fun and if you work it out you will find a nice wide open aspect under the gondola or a park run if you go the other way.
At the end of the day you can relax in the Kiroro Onsen Shinrin-No-Yu in Kiroro town adjacent to the hotels to freshen up and then head to Otaru. The drive to Otaru is about another 30 minutes and makes for a nice end of day.
In Otaru there are many great seafood BBQ restaurants or sushi shops, head to the canel and have a look around. You can also get a beer at the famous Otaru brewery and if seafood isn't your thing the brewery has a menu or the BBQ restaurants also serve meat. The drive home is about 60km's and will take about an hour on route 5, instead of back through the mountains.
Otaru is a great little town and has a lot on offer, check back soon for more info on trips and what else you can do in Otaru.
Doing this trip is easy at Shiki & Koyuki as each place comes with a 4WD Toyota van.