Within the heart of Hokkaido we discover the likelihood for bottomless powder and nostalgic chairlifts that ship newbie & knowledgeable skiers and snowboarders to a panorama of fluffy powder and stunning views.

Right here is an summary:

The quintessential JAPOW experience in one image.
The quintessential JAPOW expertise in a single picture.

Earlier than you board the chairlift at one in every of Asahikawa’s ski resorts, you can be stunned. Shocked by the for European and North American ridiculously low cost costs:

For instance, at Pippu Ski Space a Day Ticket prices lower than 20€ – and that features a go to to the Onsen subsequent to it!

A Household move for one grownup and one little one incl. the Onsen go to prices precisely the identical, and a Season Cross at Pippu prices a mere 275€ – for comparability, should you go ski in Vail or Aspen a one Day Ticket on the Weekend will price practically that a lot. For sure, going snowboarding in Japan could be very inexpensive, should you go for just a few days and even the entire season, you’ll not have to take out a mortgage the identical approach you might need to should you go snowboarding in Switzerland, Austria or the USA. 

Which way?! Sign at the Asahikawa’s ski resorts.
Which approach?! Signal on the Asahikawa’s ski resorts.

Arriving in Asahikawa

On a wet day final autumn I obtained an E mail which invited me to go snowboarding within the Asahikawa space. I like snowboarding, I like Japan and being invited to go snowboarding within the dwelling of deep powder within the prime season is certainly a dream come true. I didn’t lose a second to answer, and on a sunny day in late January I boarded my airplane in Vaasa which might take me first to Helsinki, then onwards to Tokyo and Asahikawa.

In Asahikawa I caught the final Bus to the middle, from which it was 5 minute stroll to my Lodge.

Once I arrive in Japan my night routine is easy: Go eat Ramen, head to the Onsen after which off to mattress. 

Fortunately Ramen Santōka, one of the best Ramen Restaurant in Asahikawa, was nonetheless open and was not out of soup (which occurs, as I needed to expertise later that week!) and so I sat down with a scrumptious bowl of Ramen and was in culinary heaven. After that I made use of the Onsen on the Lodge, which was so enjoyable that I slept improbable.

The following morning I used to be able to discover Asahikawa on foot. I’ve spent just a few days on this vibrant metropolis final fall, which you’ll be able to read about here, so it was good to see town in white with numerous snow.

Within the afternoon I then met my companions for this journey: Bernard, Jordan, Chihiro, Yuki and Yohei. Collectively we went by this system of the following few days after which went to have dinner collectively on the native Craft Beer Brewery Taisetsu Ji Beer.

This can be a Jingisukan Restaurant, the place you grill your personal meals. It’s fairly fashionable in Japan and positively one thing each traveler to Japan ought to strive!

As we’ve a candy tooth, Jordan took us to her favourite Café: Swap Taste. This can be a should go to once you’re in Asahikawa as not solely is it utterly distinctive with a stunning décor, additionally they make scrumptious desserts and desserts.

Asahikawa on a snowy day.
Asahikawa on a snowy day.

Pippu Ski Space: Simple Aspect Nation with a conventional Onsen end

You already know it’s gonna be an excellent day when massive, fluffy snowflakes are pouring down from heaven.

We went to discover Pippu Ski Area right this moment and after just a few heat up laps on the blue and pink slopes our small group went into the aspect nation simply off the massive chair elevate. Even within the afternoon we nonetheless discovered some candy pockets of Japow (Japan Powder) and coming again onto the Strawberry slope everybody had massive smiles – time to go for an additional sidecountry run!

Like several good ski resort you have got just a few Lunch choices at Pippu, and I went for the native trout and rice bowl and a Miso soup. The trout for this dish was caught close by, and the rice was from Hokkaido – a scrumptious and wholesome dish which had me prepared for an extended afternoon of extra snowboarding!

Chairlift with a view at the Pippu Ski Area.
Chairlift with a view on the Pippu Ski Space.
Fun and easy slopes are this way!
Enjoyable and simple slopes are this manner!

I visited Pippu later this week by myself and placed on my skins to go off into the straightforward powder tree runs which begin only a 10 minute hike up the mountain.

The panorama right here was magical, like out of a Studio Ghibli film: Lovely timber coated in numerous snow, and a serene panorama coated on this great dry, fluffy snow which skiers and snowboarders travel to Japan for from throughout the globe.

These powder runs are straightforward, enjoyable, protected and you find yourself again on the slope after your forest run, from the place you’ll be able to take a chair elevate again as much as head into the forest once more.

Funnily sufficient I met two Instagram associates from Finland that day at Pippu – picture our widespread shock once we realized that we meet 8.000 km from dwelling as an alternative of a Finnish ski slope!

Happiness is a skin track in a snowy forest.
Happiness is a pores and skin monitor in a snowy forest.

The Bottomline is that Pippu Ski Space is improbable for each absolute newcomers and extra superior skiers who need easy accessibility to the aspect nation.

Pippu has a Ski College and through my visits the native college students had been snowboarding with their colleges right here, and I completely liked their laughter of pleasure once they had been snowboarding down the slopes.

The climate can change rapidly all through the day, from snowing closely to sunshine and much views in minutes.

The Bus experience to Pippu prices 650 Yen and takes about an hour from Asahikawa, and naturally one of the best factor about Pippu Ski Space – other than the snowboarding – is that you may go soaking within the Onsen subsequent to the ski resort, actually a 2-minute stroll from the primary chair elevate! I’d go right here with the household in a coronary heart beat, or with associates who need to ski straightforward powder runs with out skinning up the mountain.

Pippu Ski Area is a small gem that's always worth a visit.
Pippu Ski Space is a small gem that’s all the time price a go to.

Kamui Ski Links is the most important ski resort round Asahikawa – however the day move prices a mere 23€ and a few cents! This will get you entry to the Gondola and 5 double chair lifts, in addition to their 25 groomed, super-wide slopes.

There’s a number of issues which Kamui is renown for – their fluffy, dry powder snow is one, of which they get on common 8 meters per yr. A lot powder means there’s superb aspect nation runs at Kamui, and should you head to the Northern Slopes you’ll be able to expertise it even inside bounds of the ski resort. This ski resort has a handful of ungroomed powder runs inbound, which implies you’ll be able to entry them from the slopes and are available out again on the Gondola.

I attempted a few of their extra superior black runs by the timber, and so they had been tremendous enjoyable and never too laborious – supreme for individuals who need to be taught powder snowboarding in protected situations.

Talking of studying: We had Ryoji Mizutani with us within the morning, one of many official Kamui ski guides. He confirmed us one of the best runs of this little gem, and answered all our questions. I met Ryoji later within the week after I was skitouring on Sanpou-San within the Tokachi Mountain Vary of the Daisetsuzan Nationwide Park – extra on that in a bit – and he’s an exquisite information, who in the summertime is engaged on his personal Lavender Farm!

Kamui is the largest Ski Resort in the area and the "Home of Fluffy Powder"!
Kamui is the biggest Ski Resort within the space and the “House of Fluffy Powder”!

There’s a number of busses going from Asahikawa to Kamui each morning, the bus experience takes round an hour and it’s 700 Yen one-way. Make sure to be on time – although in case the bus is full, there’ll arrive a alternative bus some 10 minutes later.

The bus leaves from Kamui within the afternoon beginning at 14 o’clock and takes once more an hour and prices the identical. If you happen to go by bus you must have 700 Yen in cash with you, or a 1.000 Yen invoice – that’s the most important invoice which is accepted, and also you don’t wanna be the foreigner with a ten.000 Yen invoice who can’t pay his bus experience. 😁

Kamui needs to be in your must-visit checklist once you head to Japan to ski.

It’s has a mere 92.000 guests per yr, which implies even on a busy Sunday you gained’t keep in line to the Gondola longer than 5 minutes. Or should you’re there by your self, even shorter – as they’ve a line for singles who’re joyful to hitch a not totally occupied Gondola. That is one thing I want European ski resorts additionally would provide, as a result of nothing is extra annoying than standing in an extended line and seeing Gondolas not driving at capability!

Did I point out the superb snow and the super-wide slopes, which imply that even on a busy Sunday it feels such as you’re there on a Monday morning? The nice aspect nation and attractive Pizzas on the High? A Fischer Rental Base which helps you to lease the most recent gear?

Good – now you’ll go to Kamui Ski Hyperlinks in your subsequent journey to Japan!

Super-wide slopes and even on a busy day you have all the space you need!
Tremendous-wide slopes and even on a busy day you have got all of the area you want!
The Northern Slopes are for experts and have a lot of powder runs.
The Northern Slopes are for specialists and have lots of powder runs.

With the Gondola up Asahidake

Mount Asahi (旭岳, Asahi-dake) is a mountain positioned close to the city of Higashikawa and the tallest mountain on Hokkaido with an elevation of two.291 m.

There’s a Gondola which operates each 20 minutes in winter, and it may possibly get VERY busy on powder days – so that you need to be there early to keep away from the strains. I visited the mountain with Jordan and our Information Suzuki Yoshihiro.

Suzuki-San took us to the fumaroles, then we had a tea break on the Asahidake Refuge (旭岳石室) after which skied again to the Sugatami high station. I had all my skitouring gear with me, so Suzuki-San and me went down the Intermediate course to the underside station of the ropeway. Clearly alongside the best way we headed into the protected aspect nation, and JAPOW was loved with massive smiles!

A JApanese POWder Dream.
A JApanese POWder Dream.

Asahidake has groomed runs from the Sugatami high station again all the way down to the Ropeway, and the simply accessible aspect nation is what attracts heaps of skiers from throughout the globe and Japan right here.

Nonetheless, you must solely head right here into the powder aspect nation when you have got a beacon, shovel, probe and ideally even an Avalanche Airbag with you, and know methods to use them.

The highest of Asahidake can rise up to 13 m of snow per yr, and it’s a critical mountain – the day I visited it was -15°C, and with windchill it felt like -26°C – and this was on the backside, so on the high station it was considerably colder – and lots windier, too! Moreover due to the straightforward entry and the heaps of snow there’s typically a excessive avalanche hazard, so don’t go alone and by no means with out the fitting gear!

JAPOW - Beginners Allowed: A JAPOW Paradise for Skiers of all Levels
A Massive Mountain Day on Asahidake

As we had each the gear and time we went up as soon as extra, and once more it’s superb how situations can change in a brief period of time and elevation: Whereas it had been white-out situations with excessive winds on the high, just a few hundred meters down the mountain there was sunshine and nice views.

I completely liked this little tour to Asahidake, additionally as we stayed within the Bear Monte Lodge proper subsequent to the Ropeway Station, which had large rooms and a super-tasty Buffet.

Between the Lodge and the Ropeway Station is the Asahidake Customer Centre which is a fantastic Museum – and free, too! I realized lots in it, and received impressed about future journeys to the area – plan in a go to once you head to Asahidake.

Sees a lot of snow and few visitors: The Asahidake Visitor Centre in winter.
Sees lots of snow and few guests: The Asahidake Customer Centre in winter.

On my relaxation day I went to go to the stunning city of Biei, which is well-known for the Shirogane Blue Pond, the Shirahige waterfall, Seven Stars Tree and naturally the Zerubu-no-Oka flower fields – which now within the winter had been merely very stunning rolling hills coated in snow.

I explored along with Hattie, from Dohoku Native, the river aspect in Biei on snowshoes, which was an easy and enjoyable journey. The snowshoeing alongside the shore of the river was tremendous gratifying, and Hattie was very educated concerning the flora, fauna and historical past of the realm.

As I needed to catch my experience again to Asahikawa we walked with our snowshoes in hand again to city, with a brief cease on the Shiki-no-tou Tower from which you have got a tremendous view over this little city of barely 10.000 inhabitants. To spherical issues out, I additionally had a scrumptious comfortable serve ice cream earlier than heading again to Asahikawa!

Seeing the best of Biei with Hattie.
Seeing one of the best of Biei with Hattie.

A skitouring go to to Daisetsuzan Nationwide Park

On my final day in Japan I used to be in for a deal with: An extended skitouring day on Sanpou-San within the Tokachi Mountain Vary of the Daisetsuzan Nationwide Park, along with Yukinori Otsuka and Yosuke Noto – each are ski and mountain guides, and Yukinori can be a really gifted photographer.

Our day began very early in Asahikawa, from the place we drove for round an hour to the beginning of our skitour on the Tokachidake Onsen

It does not get better than this: Skitouring in Japan
It doesn’t get higher than this: Skitouring in Japan

Skitouring right here requires the correct gear and also you shouldn’t head out on this mountain with out a beacon, probe and shovel. The Method is round 30 m down a virtually 75° slope, after which we put the skins on and hiked for an hour.

The sky was blue, the solar was shining, it was a freezing -26°C however all three of us had massive grins because it was completely good, the form of day you dream about once you plan and picture a visit. We had many first powder strains today, put our skins on and off half a dozen instances, and saying that it was an excellent day can be an understatement.

Few things are better than first turns in deep powder.
Few issues are higher than first turns in deep powder.

We noticed just a few different teams all through the day, however the truth that we made first powder activates each descent provides you an concept that this can be a massive mountain with loads of area for everybody.

Deliver your avalanche equipment, meals and drinks for an extended time out – and luxuriate in, this was about one of the best skitouring you’ll be able to have in Japan!

Happiness is first tracks!
Happiness is first tracks!
Yukinori-San just as happy as me and Noto-San!
Yukinori-San simply as joyful as me and Noto-San!

Practicalities: The place to Sleep, Eat and Ski

If you wish to be on-line together with your cellphone whereas in Japan, get an eSim from Airalo. It really works a deal with and lets you use Google Maps, Translate and the whole lot else for as little as 3$/ GB. I like to recommend their 5 GB Package deal should you keep lower than two weeks, after which merely top-up your account as wanted. Use the Code HENDRI0415 to obtain 3$ to get you began!

Flying to Japan is super-easy and it’s also possible to fly on to Asahikawa, which has one of many most-reliable Airports in Japan. You’ll find one of the best connections from your property airport by way of Trip.com.

Professional-Tip: Add in a few days in Tokyo on the best way dwelling – see our Tokyo Tips here!

Flying into Tokyo at night is always an exciting moment.
Flying into Tokyo at evening is all the time an thrilling second.

Use Booking.com to search out the right Lodge on your keep in Asahikawa and ebook it instantly.

I can extremely suggest the Hotel WBF Grande Asahikawa which has spacious rooms for all of your ski gear, a improbable Onsen and a really tasty breakfast buffet.

The AMANEK Asahikawa is the latest Lodge in Asahikawa and is true off the Important Road and a 2 Minutes stroll to the railway station.

The OMO7 Asahikawa (https://booking.tp.st/PxlVjSZl) is a correct ski lodge on the town and has it’s personal shuttle service, and can be very child-friendly – the perfect alternative should you go along with the household to ski in Japan!

If you happen to’re going to Asahidake and need to keep shut, then you’ll be able to’t get nearer than the Bear Monte (https://booking.tp.st/68lJNssb). It’s a 3 minute stroll to the Ropeway Station and I completely adored the massive library which was very inviting, with many fascinating books and cozy chairs and sofas. 

The library at the Bear Monte Hotel is worth a visit.
The library on the Bear Monte Lodge is price a go to.

If you happen to don’t have a beacon, shovel and probe then purchase all three in a set (https://www.bergfreunde.eu/avalanche-beacon-sets/?pid=10239) and protected cash!

To learn to use them go to a course regionally or exit into the mountains with one of many superb guides I used to be snowboarding with: 

Yukinori Otsuka http://yukinori.net

Yosuke Noto https://www.wildoor.jp

Ryoji Mizutani https://nakafu-mb.com

Suzuki Yoshihiro https://www.instagram.com/survival_nature_guide/

Tracy Lenard from Niseko Mountain Guides, https://www.nisekomtnguides.com/ provides week lengthy excursions and can guarantee that you’ve a improbable powder vacation.

Happy guides and happy me!
Completely happy guides and joyful me!

If you wish to discover Biei then accomplish that with Hattie from Dohoku Native: https://www.dohoku-local.com

There are such a lot of super-tasty Eating places in Asahikawa that I solely checklist my three favourites:

Ramen Santōka is the Greatest Ramen Store on the town. I completely LOVE their Ramen – they’re so tasty that my mouth is watering proper now, simply eager about them!

If you wish to splurge on Dinner and need a conventional Japanese expertise then you must go to HATAGO. Have a Japanese good friend provide help to make a reservation because it’s very fashionable, after which be certain that to strive the Sashimi which had been godly.

Lastly, Swap Taste is a Café which provides probably the most tastiest treats, from Parfaits to cheese cake and extra. This place is completely attractive and supreme for {couples} who need a romantic Café!

Mouth-watering food!
Mouth-watering meals!

  • Hendrik Morkel

    Presenter and Videographer – Born in Germany Hendrik moved to Finland over 20 years in the past, the place he hikes, skis and climbs. He likes sustainable journey and likes to go on by-fair-means adventures around the globe, which he paperwork along with his digicam and pen.


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