Otaru’s Onze becomes first Hokkaido ski area to open   

While many ski resorts in Hokkaido are postponing opening due to a lack of snow, Snow Cruise Onze, a ski area in Haruka-cho, Otaru, was the first to open for business as scheduled on November 20. Temperatures this year were higher than usual but the artificial snow-making machine, which is rare in Hokkaido, proved to be very effective. The ski area was able to respond to the expectations of skiers despite “not knowing when the slopes would open if we just waited for the snow to fall naturally”.

This year, the artificial snow-making machine – which crushes ice into small pieces and spreads them on the slopes – has been in operation 24 hours a day since the beginning of October. Unlike traditional artificial snow guns, which make snow by sprinkling water into the air when the temperature is below freezing, snow-making machines are capable of making snow even when the temperature is above freezing point. The average temperature in the city of Otaru in early November was 10 degrees Celsius, 2.3 degrees higher than normal for that time of year, and the ski area was worried about whether or not the work would be finished in time. The snow was covered with sheets to protect it from light and wind, and eventually the 400 m-long, 5-10 m-wide course was completed.

Due to the temperature, the depth of the snow was only 30 centimeters, over 20 centimeters less than usual, but many skiers and snowboarders flocked to the slope on the morning of the opening. “I wanted to ski early. The quality of the snow was better than I expected and I enjoyed it,” said one of the visitors with a smile.

According to the ski area, “We think people have been waiting for this, so we’re glad they are happy.” To maintain the depth of snow, in November, the slope will only be open on weekends and public holidays.

An artificial snow-making machine has enabled Snow Cruise Onze to open for the season. Skiers flocked to the slope from the first day of opening. 10:15 a.m. on November 20.


Snow Cruise Onze