While most of Niseko’s slopes have been operational and enjoyable since 23 November, it seems that not all Hokkaido ski areas share winter’s bounty to anywhere near the same extent.
In fact at least one slope – the Bankei Ski Area in Sapporo city – has been forced to truck in massive quantities of unwanted snow from other areas to provide a basic cover and permit delayed season’s openings.
According to a recent report in the Hokkaido Shimbun – Hokkaido’s leading daily newspaper – in an overnight exercise of military precision on 12 December, 415 ten-ton truckloads of snow scooped from the streets of Kutchan and Iwamizawa were delivered to Bankei and spread across the slopes to supplement three snow-making machines and create the bare minimum 40 centimetres of cover needed.
It worked, and the lifts duly began turning on 14 December, a full week later than scheduled. But better late than never.
The same report noted that the famed Teine Olympic Ski Course remained closed awaiting more snow falls, and that despite constant snow blowing at several other slopes in the Sapporo area prospects for an opening before year’s end remain bleak.