My first visit in Japan was inspired by a marathon in Tokyo. It was 2012. After the marathon we went with my wife for a trip around all the japanese islands, from the South to the North. We ended up in Hokkaido in the middle of winter. During this trip I thought about working as a ski guide and exploring Hokkaido island. A year later I met a guide from New Zealand, who lived in Hokkaido. I worked for his local agency for the first five seasons. I was spending there 2-3 winter months working with skiers from Europe and the USA. I became a local guide, knowing the area with it’s secret spots, and being aware of mountain customs and conditions on the island. Now I offer personalized ski trips, combining local culture and cuisine.
In Hokkaido in winter time we have the best snow in the world for skiing. You won’t find snow that cold, light and untouched by wind in North America or Europe.
Powder snow in Japan is called “Japow” (Japan powder). There is much more snow in Hokkaido than in other parts of the world. It is unbelievably light, cold and falls almost everyday. Skiing off piste you can feel the snow falling over your head or making you feel unable to breath. Skiing in Japan is an unforgettable experience for every skier. It is worth trying it at least once in your life.
This is just a part of Hokkaido truth. Only local guides know that every season there is a week or two of a total thaw. The snow disappears, bamboos are exposed making it impossible to ski. Once in a dozen years it happens to be a season with low snow falls, last time it happened in 1984 and 2020. Lastly, Hokkaido became popular only a few years ago. When I started my adventure here I was one of the very few European or western guides.
Now Hokkaido is visited by many groups from western world. It became crowded in the most popular spots. Luckily, there are still unknown places on the island, and to reach them you need to choose ski touring and know the area. It’s not as easy as getting to Niseko and using lift to find powder. Those days are over.
Still you can find a different place or just go 30 minutes away from the lifts, to have a slope just for you. Japan is basically safe when it comes to avalanches. The key is to know the area, navigation and getting away from the crowds. I visit Japan in January. Then there are less people, plane tickets are cheaper and it’s easier to book a hotel. During my trips I try to visit a few spots and show you the island. If the trip is 5 days long, I choose a base in Furano or Otaru. If you have even more time, we will start the trip in Niseko, stay in Otaru and finish skisafari in Furano. On our way we visit 4-7 ski areas with the best snow and conditions.
When: 2nd and 3rd week of January
Number of participants: 2-5 people