Asahidake ropeway is only an hour or so from Hokkaido’s second biggest city, but it feels a very long way from anywhere. As you drive up, the mountains fold in around you and the ever-rising snowbanks on the roadside make it clear that this place gets serious snow. The ski area is sheltered and calm, collecting deep, dry powder while up above the big winter storms buffet the peak of Mt Asahidake, the tallest mountain in Hokkaido.
Asahidake has one cable car, and like Kurodake, this was set up for hikers and tourists visiting the hot springs in summer. But over a long winter, Asahidake gets hammered by metres of the driest snow in Hokkaido. This area is for those who love riding through trees and enjoy a little exploring in search of the perfect run. Around the base of the gondola are a handful of hotels and ryokans that mostly cater to summer tourists. In winter they’re quiet, welcoming the few guests they receive with warm hospitality, amazing traditional Japanese meals and outdoor hot springs on the edge of the forest.