Kiroro is one of the lesser known resorts in Hokkaido compared to Niseko, Furano and Rusutsu. However, recent upgrades and fewer crowds, combined huge powder, make Kiroro a good choice for seasonal workers looking for a quieter season on gentler terrain.
The ski season lasts six months from December all the way through to May which is equal longest in Hokkaido with Furano (150 days).
Kiroro is located approximately 60 minutes from Niseko and two hours from New Chitose Airport at Sapporo – the biggest city on the north island of Hokkaido. It is 57km west of Sapporo and 27km south from the port town of Otaru.
The Hokkaido Resort Liner Buses depart New Chitose Airport as well as central Sapporo approximately every 1-2 hours. Buses also travel to and from Niseko. The bus costs around 4,000 yen one way from New Chitose Airport.
It is also possible to use the train system to get to Kiroro. From New Chitose Airport Station you take the JR Rapid Airport to Otaru Chikko Station. From there, the Kiroro resort free shuttle bus service takes you to Kiroro.
Kiroro is a very family-oriented resort with just a few restaurants and bars. Once the sun sets, the resort becomes extremely quiet and the streets are mostly empty. There is no real resort village or town, just a couple of resort complexes built near the few hotels at the base.
Of course, there is still a karaoke room at Kiroro - this is Japan after all!
Enough English is spoken around Kiroro to let you get around, but this is still a very Japanese resort which allows you to really experience Japanese mountain life if you work a season.
With a higher elevation than Rusutsu and Niseko, Kiroro receives more snow than both these resorts, claiming an incredible average of around 20 metres of snow each season.
The snow is exceptional at Kiroro which also makes for a very long season opening early December without the need for snow-making.
However, big powder is certainly Kiroro’s main draw. The terrain is overall much more oriented to beginner-intermediate riders and is not nearly as challenging on-piste as Rusutsu, Furano or Niseko.
Kiroro is also quite a small resort, spread over two peaks, with just 21 runs on the mountain, all of which are below the tree-line. Although 38% of the resort is claimed as advanced, these on-piste runs aren’t particularly difficult at all, and advanced seasonal workers will either want to go into the back country or check out other resorts during the season for a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately, Kiroro recently adopted a gates system where you can access the side country in search of new powder stashes. These areas are still quite uncrowded allowing you to find untracked lines easily after a fresh dump.
The tree skiing is excellent at Kiroro, in particular to the right of the gondola where you can find amazingly deep powder up to your waist or even neck!
The lift infrastructure is excellent and moves you quickly around the hill. One of the lifts is a gondola and another has a hood to keep you out of the elements on windy days. As for crowds, there are very few at Kiroro which is great for finding fresh lines even in-bounds, even if the pitches aren't particularly steep.
You will find a very small terrain park at Kiroro with just a couple of small features such as a rail, boxes and some kickers, but the terrain park is really nothing more than an afterthought at Kiroro. In addition, there is a mogul course nearby to test your knees.
Night skiing is available on a small patch of beginner terrain for a few extra runs after work.
Virtually all jobs at Kiroro are working for the resort but you will need a decent level of Japanese to find a job, in particular because the website and application will need to be done in Japanese. Nonetheless, Kiroro is employing more and more foreigners each season.
Jobs in ski and snowboard instructing are the best and easiest ones for foreigners to get at Kiroro along with guest services roles.
You could expect to earn around 1,000 yen per hour (~USD 9) for guest services roles while instructors might get a little more depending on qualification level and experience.
You can make your applications at Kiroro Careers.
Kiroro offers its own staff accommodation located approximately 5-10 minutes from the mountain base. There are free staff shuttles to the resort to get you to and from work and to the mountain on your days off. Don't bother looking for your own place if you're working for the season - it will be impossible unless you can navigate complex Japanese tenancy rules and you want to pay much more than in staff accommodation.
Nightlife in Kiroro is very limited with only a few restaurants and bars. The restaurants and bars are mostly tailored to holiday-makers and families.
Kiroro is located only 40 minutes from the port city of Otaru & and 75 minutes from Sapporo and many seasonal workers head to these places on weekends and days off for a bit of vibrancy.