Nayoro is a small city in northern Hokkaido about about three hours northeast of Sapporo. In terms of skiing, this area is the least frequented on the island. It’s little more than isolated small towns, dotting rolling hills at the edges of the Kitami Mountains. This relative isolation is good for those that like to ski alone and get fresh tracks at two in the afternoon. We’re those people and so we went skiing to Nayoro Piyashiri.
The town is okay; nothing exciting to really talk about. Like everywhere in Hokkaido, there are a few good onsens (including one at the base of the local Ski hill), ramen shops, katsudon places, and they are “known” for their Mochi. We ate at a great soba noodle shop twice – it was good. But the food highlight was a killer bakery (Bakery Ishida) that had proper baguettes and pastries! Who knows what else there is to do in town? We were there to ski, and so we did.
Skiing around this area is good for a couple of days with plenty of lift access sidecountry and some hike to’s. The main ski area, Piyashiri Snow Park, does maintain a closed gate policy. This makes the side-country a little trickier to access as the cat and mouse game has to be played. There are also some longer backcountry tours that might be worth an extra day or two. Access from town is straight forward with good parking and basic amenities at the base of the hill. As with Hokkaido generally, this area gets bombed with snow from December through early March. Piyashiri can also be bitterly cold as one can gather from its latitude. While good for snow conditions, cold feet were the norm.
Skiing Nayoro Piyashiri was a blast. With the exception of a few locals and some school teams, we had the place to ourselves. We rode the three main lifts to the top of the mountain and started riding the front side. With so few people, we had second tracks on almost everything.
After lapping the top lift a couple of times, we started probing the lines off skiers right. A quick travers led to runs on open glades of about 250 meters of vertical over and over… it was good.
We kept on riding further right, looking for fresh lines until the sun started going down. We skied down a cat track and ducked into some final trees. In all a great low angle day with nice snow.