The Hakkoda Ropeway (their great English website, powderhounds review) is just a big cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain to ski down or ride down after checking out the juhyo or snow monsters (this is another place beside Zao onsen where they form.).
There were bus loads of tourists coming through to check them out. Reaching the top station for the first time, the local news was there and pulled Rob aside for an interview on camera about why we were visiting Hakkoda. From what I’ve read/heard, Japanese love to put gaijin on TV, so I think he got a authentic gaijin in Japan experience. When we’re asked where we’re from, there’s a bit of confusion when we say we’re there to ski. We think it makes sense to Japanese skiers why the Aussies come to ski here, but when we say we’re from America, it seems like there’s a bit of “you have good skiing, why travel to Japan to ski.”
When Rob’s spotlight time completed, we took an easy lap down then through the trees then rode back up. The visibility had improved so we had a nice photo op with the monster field.
For the second lap, we summited a ridge and dropped of the backside. We had some great turns down the the backside bowl, but the snow was a bit wind effected. Skinning back up, we negotiated huge wind drifts and large conifers to finally make it to better snow and skiing.
After skiing, we bathed in the famous Sukayu onsen. It features has a 200 person-sized pool with mixed bathing, although the pools have gender segregated sides. We also didn’t realize that there’s no place to actually bathe in this onsen. You must choose the separated bathing areas for that, which is a different ticket. I just went ahead and bathed near the rinse off pool in the mixed one, not realizing until after the fact when I found a sheet in a tourist brochure case with English onsen info that no soap is allowed in the onsen.