Ok, so we’re actually at Hoshino Tomamu resort, but autocorrect struck and gave me an awesome blog post headline to boot!
As loyal readers may recall, early last ski season we headed to the famous slopes of Hakuba, home of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. What we didn’t realize until it was too late is that Hakuba doesn’t usually have reliable snow until some time in January. Hence our need to ride the gondola high enough up the mountain to find snow, followed by a gondola ride back down at the end of the day.
This year I knew better. We will still return to Hakuba in February for a long weekend, but this early in the season I now know to head north. Way, way north.
I started asking around for suggested destinations within Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. My friend Hiro suggested Hoshino Tomamu Resort. He explained that it was built in the early 80s right before the Japanese real estate bubble burst. I have since learned that no new ski resorts were built in Japan since then, and frankly that explains a lot about the outdated infrastructure that we have seen at pretty much every Japanese ski resort.
Tomamu bills itself as a family resort with lots of amenities to interest non-skiers as well. At most ski resorts in Japan this means a discounted lift ticket that lets non-skiers ride the lifts up to meet their skiing loved ones for lunch at the mountaintop cafe, but not much more. Tomamu does that and more–such as ski coasters, which are basically tricked out sleds that look really cool in theory but pretty ridiculous on the slopes. We’ve also enjoyed the pool (“Japan’s largest wave pool!”) and onsen outdoor bath. The Ice Village sounded twee but ended up so spectacular that it will get its own post.
The skiing is pretty good too, though admittedly nothing like the Olympic caliber of Hakuba and similar areas.
The downside of the resort setting is that, well, it’s a resort. We’re a captive audience to whatever dining choices and activities the resort chooses to present. The food is pretty good but not great, and expensive. But we’re enjoying it for our visit, even if we’re not likely to return.