{Japan: Explore} Up, Up, Up to the Top of Sapporo’s Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium

main picture of okurayama ski jump

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, Sapporo, Hokkaido
  • When: October 7, 2013
  • *Notes: Website (English), the 90 meter ski jump competitions were held here during the 1972 Winter Olympics, 500 Yen for a round-trip chairlift ride that takes you to the observatory at the top of the ski jump, from JR Sapporo Station take the Sapporo Stroller’s Bus (May to October only, 400 Yen round-trip)

Full Report:

On the last full day of our time in Sapporo, M and I were faced with a dilemma.  Should we spend the morning at the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium or at Moerenuma Park?  Although our itinerary had initially included visits to both attractions, somehow we hadn’t managed our time as well as we should have and now we only had time for one.

I was leaning towards Moerenuma Park because it was designed by the famous sculptor Isamu Noguchi and it looked gorgeous in pictures.  M wanted to go to the ski jump stadium because he loves winter sports (he is big into skiing and snowboarding) and is a big fan of the Winter Olympics.  In the end we both agreed on the ski jump stadium.  After all there were numerous parks in Japan we could visit, but probably only two Olympic ski jump stadiums (if the one in Nagano still exists).

From the JR Sapporo Station, we caught the Sapporo Stroller Bus which stops at a number of popular attractions throughout the city.  One particularly popular stop was the city zoo, at least half the bus’s passengers exited here.  Since many of them had been small children, the bus ride was very quiet for the duration of our bus trip.  As we drove further and further away from downtown Sapporo, the scenery turned increasingly green and lush as we entered a mountainous area.   We continued to climb for a while more before the bus turned into a parking lot and the driver announced that we were at Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium.

Sapporo Stroller's Bus

Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium sign

Okurayama ski jump

prices for okurayama chair lift

Okurayama chair lifts

Although I had been excited at the idea of going to the Ski Jump Observatory all through the bus ride, upon seeing the Ski Jump in person I was having second thoughts.  It was much, much higher in person than it had looked in pictures and the only way to get to the observatory was to take the chairlift.  Since I’m not a fan of heights or chairlifts, I was now filled with heebie jeebies.  But as M was quite excited to get to the top, there was no turning back.

It was a pretty slow day at the Ski Jump Stadium and there was no line to get on to the chairlift.  We were ushered onto a chair by a worker and before I knew it, we were moving up, up, up towards the top of the Ski Jump Stadium!  At first, I was fairly nervous and had my eyes trained on the chair in front of us.  But as we climbed up the mountain, I started to relax and look around a bit (although I didn’t dare look back down the mountain!).  It was interesting to see the markers on the side of the ski jump indicating how far the athlete was able to jump.  As the chair climbed further up still, the ride became less scary because our feet were so close to the slope of the hill.  Still, I couldn’t wait to get to the top and be standing on my own two feet again.

Okurayama chair lifts 2

markers on the side of the ski jump

almost at the top of Okurayama

As we reached the top, a worker helped us out of the chair and we climbed a short flight of stairs to the observatory.   The first thing we did was to look down at the ski jump.  Just thinking about actually going down that thing and flying in to the air made my stomach churn.  On the other hand, the views of the city were truly spectacular.  We were glad that we had come on such a nice, clear day when we could see the city in all its glory.  Then, in the distance, M noticed the Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium.  It had also been used in the 1972 Winter Olympics —- for the Normal Hill Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined.

After taking in the views, we made our way down one floor to the lounge area.  It was quite comfy and you could purchase Sapporo beer (what else?!) and soft serve ice cream cones (supposedly the most delicious in all of Sapporo!).    I normally don’t turn down ice cream, but we’d already had so much during the trip that I decided to take a pass.  Instead, I sat at the window, where there was a very good view of the starting point to the ski jump.

okurayama observatory

top of the chair lifts

views from okurayama 2

views from okurayama 5

views from okurayama observatory

Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium

The Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium, off in the distance.

sitting area at okurayama

The lounge area, one floor below the observatory.

cafe at okurayama

looking down the ski jump

A more close-up view of the top of the ski jump.

Then it was time to get going.  We still wanted to take a quick look around the Sapporo Winter Sports Museum at the bottom of the ski jump, as well as make it to Otaru while it was still light.  This time I wasn’t as nervous to go on the chairlift since I’d gotten used to looking down the hill while we were at the observatory.  The ride down was uneventful and as soon as we disembarked, we dashed over to the museum.  As it turned out, much of the museum was devoted to simulation games where you could experience the most popular winter Olympic sports.  And, of course, one of them was the Okurayama ski jump.  Even though we didn’t get a chance to do it, we watched as another museum visitor tried it out and his score was good enough to “medal”!

down the okurayama 1

okurayama chair lifts 3

down the okurayama 2

bottom of okurayama

virtual okurayama ski jump

virtual okurayama ski jump 2