Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Enjoy snow sports, brilliant white scenes and making your own snowboard.
Tranquil and scenic Yubari, in central Hokkaido, is a great place to get away from it all on a ski or snowboard break. It has slopes suitable for all abilities, delicious local cuisine and unique experiences on offer.
The city’s Mount Racey Ski Resort has 18 courses, with levels ranging from beginner to advanced. There is even a course 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) long! Both skiing and snowboarding are possible.
With lessons also available, the area is popular among families, groups and couples as well as passionate powder hunters.
As a mecca for fans of snow sports, Yubari has attracted artisans who make original wooden snowboards. One of the former local elementary schools is host to numerous small workshops where these skilled craftspeople work during the day. Visitors can watch or try to make a snowboard themselves.
This Shinto shrine dates from the establishment of the local coal mine and railway in 1902. It was built to pray for the safety of miners, who came to settle in the city in their thousands once coal was discovered. In Yubari’s heyday, the 1960s, the population had grown to more than 120,000, but declined following the closure of the mine and now numbers about 8,000.
In this rural part of Hokkaido, where Shintoism historically didn’t secure a strong foothold, shrines are rare. And this one’s vermillion colours are beautiful against the heavy snow.
Food & drink
In Japan, Yubari is synonymous with melon. Although this delicious fruit is out of season in winter, there is a vast range of melon-flavoured products to enjoy throughout the year, including jams and sweets.
Yubari’s cosy yatimura (village of food stalls) in front of Mount Racey Ski Resort is a great place to experience the local food and hospitality. The six small independent eateries offer dishes and drinks sourced from the area and welcome visitors with a smile.
The city’s melon, which is ranked in four categories (good, excellent, premium and super-premium), is famous not just in Hokkaido but throughout Japan. Visit Yubari in June and July for fresh melon and fresh melon-based produce.
September is also a great time to visit, as the city comes alive as host of the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival.
Designed to boost the quality of films globally by bringing together citizens, filmmakers and audiences, the event attracts thousands of visitors annually and facilitates cultural exchange. A wide range of striking film posters are displayed along the main street throughout the year.
How to get there
Yubari is 1 hour and 20 minutes by car from Sapporo.