Since I arrived in Japan I've mostly been hanging out in central Hokkaido. The ski hills are quiet, the weather is calm (although it snows very gently pretty much all the time), the towns are a bit smaller and the locals are friendly. But there's great skiing all over Hokkaido, so last week I loaded up the bus and headed towards the bright lights and busy streets of Sapporo to ski at Teine (right on the edge of town) and Kokusai (just on the other side of Otaru, a short drive away).
I first got to Teine on a Monday, but it happened to be a public holiday so the hill was pretty busy with locals coming up from town. This makes for a lot of cars in the car park and the occasional one-minute wait in the lift queue, but most of the locals stick to the groomed runs or the Olympia Zone lower on the mountain so there was still plenty of untracked snow to be found. I ended up riding with Andy and the Ezo Pow crew who were kind enough to show me a few sneaky lines on their home mountain.
The next day everyone had gone back to school and work, and with another 15-20cm of snow overnight the whole mountain had reset. Teine really turns it on mid-week. No crowds, steep terrain, and heaps of off-piste skiing. There are options for everyone: Mellow trees, steep open gullies, groomers, little jumps and some serious cliffs. I found a neat natural hit line and was getting faceshots at 3:40 in the afternoon!
I put together a video summarising the experience. It's doesn't exactly stack up with the latest edit from Candide Thovex, but it does capture all the ingredients for a great day on the hill: Trees, pow, faceshots, empty lift lines and escalators. Sorry about the quality - I'm working with some seriously limited internet...