The Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium is famous for having been used as the main ski jump venues during the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. It’s also used today as a venue of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and is one of the best ski jumping facilities in the world, with state of the art equipment that allows events to be held at any time of the day or night. The jump is used regularly by athletes from World Cup participants to local high school students. It’s open year-round, and when not used for ski jumping competitions the chair lift is available for sightseeing. At 300 meters the views of Sapporo city from the top are some of the best in the area.
The ski jump has a long history, having originally been constructed in 1931 by Kishichiro Okura. The stadium was renovated in 1970 in preparation of the 1972 Winter Olympics, which were the first Olympic Games held outside Europe or the USA. During these games ski jumping won a particularly important place in the hearts of Japanese winter sports fans, as Japan won three medals in the Normal Hill event, though this was not here at Okurayama but at the nearby Miyanomori Ski Jump. Nevertheless, the Okurayama stadium played a major role in 2007 when Sapporo hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championship, which was also the first time for the event to be held in Asia. In addition to the jump itself the area houses the Winter Sports Museum, the Okurayama Crystal House, and the Okurayama Observation Platform.
The stadium has an area of 8.2 hectares and a maximum capacity of 50,000 people. The jump is one of only a few 90 meter class jumping hills in the world. The maximum inclination of the Approach Slope is 35 degrees, and the Landing Slope 37 degrees. The total height of the jump hill from top to bottom is 133 meters, and the distance to the K-spot (critical point) is 120 meters. The current record held on the ski jump (Bakken Record) is 145.0 meters, which was achieved by ski jumper Yusuke Kaneko on March 25, 2005. The cost of the lift is 500 yen, and the lift usually opens at 8:30am, closing in the late afternoon or early evening depending on the season.
Visitors can take the ski lift to the peak, where there is a viewing lounge at an elevation of 300 meters that provides panoramic views of Sapporo, the Ishikari Plain, and Ishikari Bay. It is also an ideal location to view the start line of the ski jump right before your eyes – looking directly down at the steep slope of the approach will certainly give you an idea of how the skiers feel when they begin their jumps! The small kiosk in the observatory also sells some of the best ice cream in Hokkaido.
Okurayama is accessible by car via about a 20 minute drive from downtown Sapporo. Free parking is available (regular vehicles: 113 spaces, large vehicles: 15 spaces) but may not be available on competition days. To get there via public transport you’ll have to take a bus. The easiest is the Burari Sapporo Kanko Bus which operates between the JR Sapporo Station Bus Terminal and Okurayama stop. It runs from late April until early November. In winter you’ll have to take the Sapporo Subway Tozai line (orange line) from Odori Station and get off at Maruyama Koen Station. This takes about 10 minutes and costs ¥240 yen. From there go to Exit 2 and you’ll find the Maruyama Bus Terminal. From there take the JR Bus number Maru 14 on the Araiyama Line and get off at the Okurayama Kyogijo Iriguchi stop. It takes about 15 minutes and costs ¥200 yen. The Okurayama Jump Stadium is about ten minutes by foot from the bus stop.
Okurayama is recommended for the beautiful views of Sapporo city alone and the Winter Sports Museum and its participation in the 1972 Winter Olympics are an added bonus. Make sure to dress warm when visiting though, as it can get very cold at the top.
This post is also available in: Japanese