Japan – Snow
Ski travel to Japan
The name Japan means ‘origin of the sun’. And just as the sun casts endless shadows, Japan has so many different contrasts. Centuries-old culture and traditions effortlessly intertwine with ultramodern innovations. You will find bustling cities, luxury hotels and delicious food, but also mystical temples, picturesque villages and untouched nature. According to the age-old culture, Japan is now also known for the large amount of dry powder snow that falls every year. There is plenty to discover.
In winter we offer off-piste, freeride and freetour trips to Japan. Japan catches an average of 25 meters of snow per winter! Then practically everything is off-piste. You can descend between the snow-covered bamboo and birch trees. From Niseko you can easily reach several ski areas and descents. If conditions are right, we’ll take a challenging tour to the top of Mount Yötei volcano, or a short hike from the ski area to access more undiscovered terrain. After a day of impressive descent it is wonderful to relax in a traditional ‘onsen’. Come along and be amazed.
What does an Epique trip to Japan look like?
We start a ‘meet & greet’ at our office in Utrecht. You can meet your travel companions and we will discuss the programme, the trip and the material.
Before departure we gather at Schiphol. Once at our destination we pick up our vans, drive to our accommodation and check in. After checking in, we head out for the first Japanese dinner. From here everything depends on the conditions, everything for as many powder runs and special experiences as possible. The guide checks the weather reports every evening and in consultation with the group it is decided where we will go the next day. Whether we go freeriding, freetouring or climbing a volcano depends on the snow conditions and the wishes of the group. After an intensive day, we can relax in one of the onsens. The guide knows the best restaurant in the area and provides a culinary surprise every evening. After a week in Niseko, we conclude with a colorful evening in the metropolis of Sapporo.
Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island, is ideally located in the path of consistent weather systems that carry cold air from Siberia across the Sea of Japan. As a result, many of the Hokkaido ski areas are covered with dry powder snow. Some of the ski areas receive an astonishing average of 14-20 meters of snowfall annually. There are several ski areas on the island. We spend the night near Niseko United, four merged areas on Mount Annapuri. In addition, we are in 30 to 60 minutes in Moiwa, Rusutsu or Kiroro. The last day we drive back to Sapproro and finish in Sapporo Teine. The 1972 Winter Olympics area.
Honshu is the main island of Japan and has plenty of options for a freeride trip. The most famous of these is Hakuba, a valley in the Japanese Alps. The valley has 12 ski areas. Each area in itself offers few freeride opportunities. The combination and variety of all areas together is what makes Hakuba a great freeride destination. Unlike Hokkaido, the terrain is more like the Alps. A rugged mountain range that reaches up to 3000 meters.
What is the best period for Japan?
The winter season in Japan is similar to the Alps. The first snow usually falls in November. In December it starts to snow heavily and there is a good base. The month of January is known for lots and lots of snow. In Niseko it sometimes seems that it does not stop snowing. From February, the winter slowly decreases, snowfall is more often interspersed with clear blue skies. As a freerider in Japan you have one goal, skiing or boarding a lot of dry powder snow. So January is the month.
Freeriding, freetouring or touring?
Freeriding is becoming more and more popular all over the world, including in Japan. From the ski areas there are great freeride possibilities, directly from the lift, or after a short hike. If a pack of fresh powder is added daily, there is little reason to go ski touring or split boarding. But, if the snow falls one day, this is the way to enjoy undisturbed descents for the entire journey. In addition, climbing the dormant volcano, Mount Yotei, is for many the highlight of a trip to Japan. Literally and figuratively.
Why will I go so far away for my winter sports?
Freeriders all over the world are jealous of the impressive Alps. High, rough, steep, endless ski areas and freeride possibilities. However, the deep powder snow most freeriders look for is becoming rarer. A last minute trip is the best solution to ensure good snow. Japan does not have the impressive high mountains. A constant supply of fresh snow. Here you can book well before departure and be (almost) sure of great snow. In addition, the country itself, the culture, the lovely people, the food and descending from a volcano make Japan an unforgettable experience.
So much snow, what about avalanche danger?
The stable low temperature ensures a stable snow cover and most freeriders stay within the gates of the area. Here the site is controlled and safe. If you want more adventure and further into the backcountry, take a guide with you. There are avalanche reports, but they are very sketchy. Knowledge and experience in the field is therefore necessary.call me back