After an epic start to our Japan program in 2016, we are back with an improved tour for 2017. Hokkaido is an amazing place. If you want to experience some of the best powder in the world, then this is the trip for you. Throw in a healthy dose of Japanese culture, then you have an epic trip in the making. What does that look like, then read on…
We will be exploring 2 distinctive zones in Hokkaido that are renowned for their abundant powder. Our first zone is around Otaru, an old town and port on the west coast of Hokkaido, is an old port on Ishikari Bay. There are several resorts in close proximity to Otaru that get a ton of snow and are relatively unheard of. If you want deep, untouched powder, then this is the place to look. Our final zone is further north in middle of the Hokkaido powder triangle. Furano is one of the largest ski areas in Hokkaido, but it is still relatively quiet and gets plenty of snow which is even lighter than the snow found at the resorts near the coast. Furano has great skiing, with some great hike-to terrain, but makes a great base to explore other resorts close by. We have our own private transportation and so we can choose the best resort to ride at each day. That gives us the flexibility to ride only the best snow on offer. This is a unique opportunity! You get to explore up to 9 resorts during the trip and expect immerse yourself in the amazing local Japanese culture. This will be a trip like no other!
Read on for more detailed information.
Click on the icon to book your Japan Powder Sessions adventure!
Session 1: Friday 13th January to Tuesday 24th January 2017 (max 18 guests).
Session 2: Wednesday 25th January to Sunday 5th February 2017 (max 18 guests).
Session 3: Monday 6th February to Friday 17th February 2017 (max 18 guests).
Prices are based on the number of people in the group. The more people in the group, the lower the price.
$3,250 USD per person – based on 6 people in the group.
$3,350 USD per person – based on 5 people in the group.
$3,510 USD per person – based on 4 people in the group.
Single Room Supplement:
Add on $500 USD to have your own room, pending availability. Single room upgrades are extremely limited due to the limited accommodation available this winter.
Early Bird Discount:
Take $400 off the above prices, if you are able to book before the Early Bird Discount expires on July 15th, 2016. You must complete the booking form and submit your $500 deposit before the deadline to qualify for the discount.
$500 USD non-refundable deposit is required per person.
The main goal is to explore the island of Hokkaido for 12 days, trying to ride as many resorts as we can and riding as much deep powder as possible. We will also be immersing ourselves in local Japanese culture and enjoying the many culinary delights Japanese cuisine has to offer.
Education is the other vital component of our program. Our focus is on avalanche safety and education and we will constantly reinforce these principles out on the mountain. Our program starts with a mandatory, comprehensive avalanche safety training session which includes (but is not limited to): theory; single/multiple burial training; probing; strategic shoveling and snowpack testing and analysis.
Any skiers looking to improve their freeride technique can be given regular feedback on the mountain and we can get out the video camera for some video analysis sessions (weather permitting). All in all, our program is very detailed and potentially rewarding on many different levels. You’ll have fun, see a lot of Hokkaido and will hopefully learn a lot too.
There is a maximum of 6 guests per group, led by 1 guide from The Adventure Project. We can have a maximum of 3 groups per session. It is strongly encouraged to book early, if you want to go on one of our Japan Powder Sessions trips. We face a lot of competition for accommodation and the good hotels get booked up early. The Japanese schools send their kids on an annual ski trip to Hokkaido and they book a year in advance. Already (this article went to press May 15th, 2016), several hotels are already booked and there are blackout dates in already effect. Hokkaido will also be hosting the Asian Winter Games this winter, so we will also see an increase in visitor numbers during February. If you try and book after the Early Bird Special period is over (July 15th), then you may be too late. It is never too early book your accommodation in Hokkaido!
Minimum Ability Level:
Advanced to expert skiers and boarders. You should be comfortable riding in tighter trees and in deep powder (the powder is nice and light though, with an average water content of only 8%). You should be comfortable riding double diamond terrain in variable snow conditions.
How does this Program Compare to our other Programs?
If you are unsure of whether you want to go to Japan or India, then please read the following information. Both trips feature amazing local culture, you will get a similar experience on both trips, in that regard. The food is great in both places too, so you should probably choose where you go based more on the ski or snowboard experience you are after. The skiing in Hokkaido in general, is mellower than in India. Think of skiing in Hokkaido as being somewhat similar to New England for example, with plenty of trees and rolling terrain, but unlike New England, they get copious amounts of powder. It is really quite impressive how much snow they get in Hokkaido. The snow quality in Japan is exceptional; the powder is light and dry and they get a lot of it. The runs are much shorter than in India and the potential avalanche exposure is less too. The snowfalls are more consistent in Hokkaido; it sees to snow most days but the trade-off is you won’t see the sun too much. Japan gets good snow in January, it’s one of the best times to be there, so we consider that an early start to the season.
Go to India if you want to experience more, big mountain style skiing and riding. The terrain is much bigger in Gulmarg and the potential avalanche danger is higher therefore. They get nearly as much snow in Gulmarg as they do in Hokkaido, but the manner of the snowfalls are different. In Japan, the snow falls pretty consistently, you get snow most days in January and February. In Gulmarg, then you will get a big storm that comes through and it could dump a couple of meters of snow in a few days. Typically after that, a high pressure system will come through and you will have a period of fine weather for a week or so. That means that you could be skiing lower down in the trees during the storm and then gradually move up higher, as the stability improves. Then we can get back into the alpine zone and ski some of those long, open pitches that Gulmarg is famous for. So hopefully that gives you a decent idea of the difference of skiing and riding in Japan, compared to Gulmarg, India.
Guests must have an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe (plus pack) and uphill capability (skis with touring bindings/skins or a splitboard/skins/collapsible touring poles or powder board with snowshoes/collapsible poles). If you’ve not used any of this gear before, then no problem, you will be given comprehensive training in their use.
How to get there:
Your ultimate destination is to get to Sapporo for the start of each session. Your international carrier will fly you to either Tokyo Haneda (HND) or Tokyo Narita (NRT). From there, you will take a flight to Sapporo, New Chitose Airport (CTS).
Now, here are a couple of important points to consider when organizing your flights. Be careful when booking your domestic flight. Please be aware that Haneda and Narita airports are not close to each other, they are more than an hour apart, on different sides of the city. So, if your international flight arrives in Haneda, but your flight to Sapporo flies out of Narita, then allow yourself plenty of time to get across the city. It is recommended to find a flight that departs for Sapporo in the same place that it arrives from overseas, unless you are planning on staying overnight in Tokyo.
Relatively few international carriers outside of Asia fly direct to Sapporo. Please check with your travel agent if you have any questions on this. Transfer from Otaru or Furano to Sapporo New Chitose Airport will be in our own private transportation. Guests will need to coordinate their flight times with us, so that they arrive or depart at a similar time to their rest of their group members.
Also know that the Sapporo airport (CTS) is not actually in Sapporo, it’s in a town called Chitose, 55 minutes outside of Sapporo. Anyone not able to make it to our suggested pick up time at the start of the trip or at end of the trip, will need to make their own way to or from the New Chitose Airport (not included in the trip price).
Hokkaido in Japan. We will be exploring the powder capital of Japan for 12 days, using our own private transportation to explore 2 distinct zones in Hokkaido: the Otaru/Sapporo area for 5 nights and the Furano area for 5 nights. We will use these locations as our bases to explore the surrounding ski areas. There are up to 9 different resorts close to our accommodation that we can explore. We try to keep it flexible, if you are enjoying the riding at a particular resort, then we can definitely session it for multiple days, or we can keep moving forward, it’s up to the guests ultimately. We need to keep the resorts that we are going to somewhat secret though….. Mysterious I know! When you sign up for the trip, you will be given the full itinerary with all of the potential locations listed.
We have selected some of the best hotels and lodges in our 2 zones, based on price, quality and location. Otaru is a very Japanese experience, culturally speaking. It’s not a ski town, it’s a port. We love the old canal district area in particular, with it’s old converted warehouses that are now awesome restaurants and shops. Our favorite spot is the Otaru Brewery, their beer is amazing! Furano is a nice blend of Japanese and Western cultural experience, so we think you get a nice and varied cultural experience here. It is a ski town that still has plenty of charm and hasn’t been overun by Western visitors. Here is a quick rundown of some of the properties we have chosen.
Otaru is a beautiful port city in the west of Hokkaido on Ishikari Bay. It is famous for it’s canal that runs through the center of the city, lined by many shops, restaurants and converted warehouses. It is the ideal location for exploring the ski areas closer to Sapporo and getting a really traditional Japanese experience. It is an easy drive to the ski areas that we will be visiting in the area (20 minutes to 1 hour).
We will be staying at the Otaru Grand Park Hotel which is right on the bay. You have ocean views in front and mountain views behind. Our guests will enjoy spacious twin-share rooms, with free wi-fi. The hotel has 296 rooms and suites and has several restaurants including the all day dining Terrace Brasserie, the Bay Lounge and the Marina Bar and Restaurant. The buffet breakfast is a sight to behold!
Furano is the ideal base for our exploration of northern Hokkaido and is considered to be the capital of the Hokkaido Powder Belt. Furano has amazing skiing and it’s worth spending several days exploring the resort. Furano boasts long runs with decent vertical (959m 0r 3,146ft) and has some great terrain. There’s plenty of fun tree skiing and secret stashes in the resort but our favorite area has to be the “Premium Zone”, an awesome area of open bowls and trees accessed by a quick 25 minute hike. The powder stays fresh in this zone for days and we’ve had some epic turns in this area in the past (see video above). Furano is a nice blend of traditional Japanese culture and a Western ski resort feel. We also have great skiing nearby at the resorts of Kamui Ski Links, Tomamu, not to mention some other under the radar resorts that we know of…… Our hotel of choice in Furano is the New Furano Prince Hotel.
The New Furano Prince Hotel is close to the bottom of the Furano Ropeway in the Furano Zone and features ski in and ski out access. The hotel is well-appointed with 4 restaurants, 2 bars, 3 cafes and a bakery. There is a hot spring complex in the hotel that includes an indoor bath, outdoor bath and a sauna. You can get a massage and use the relaxation lounge. We are excited about working with the New Furano Prince Hotel for the first time in 2017.
Day 1 – Arrive Sapporo, New Chitose Airport (CTS). Pickup by The Adventure Project. Drive to Furano (125 km – 1 hr 55 min drive) Stay 6 nights @ New Prince Furano Hotel. Twin-share rooms, with breakfast included.
Day 2 – Furano – AM Avalanche safety training and then PM skiing.
Day 3 – Furano area skiing.
Day 4 – Furano area skiing.
Day 5 – Furano area skiing.
Day 6 – Furano area skiing.
Day 7 – Transfer to Otaru (150 km – 2hr 33 min drive). Potential to ski a resort on the way to Otaru. 4 nights @ Grand Park Hotel Otaru. Double share rooms, with breakfast included.
Day 8 – Otaru area skiing.
Day 9 – Otaru area skiing.
Day 10 – Otaru area skiing.
Day 11 – Potential 1/2 day skiing. Transfer to Sapporo for final night (35 km – 37 min). Suggested Sapporo hotel – Sapporo Ekimae Nest Hotel @ approximately $40 per person per night, twin-share.
Day 12 – Transfer (58 km – 51 min) to New Chitose Airport (CTS) for return home.
* This schedule is subject to change and revision and you will be sent a specific itinerary for your trip, before departure. There are many different resorts that we can ski during the trip. We will choose the best resort for the conditions of the day, based on the motivations of the group and the conditions of the day. Having our own transportation will allow us to be as flexible as possible.