Freshmen Allowed: A JAPOW Paradise for Skiers of all Ranges


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

Japan Powder, abbreviated to JAPOW, affords a few of the finest snowboarding alternatives. Asahikawa in Hokkaido is the place to be to expertise the last word JAPOW paradise. Maintain studying to search out out why, and the best way to get in on the motion.

Right here is an outline:

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

You may be stunned even earlier than you board the chairlift at considered one of Asahikawa’s ski resorts. Stunned principally by ridiculously low cost costs when evaluating them to the European and North American prices.

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 cross for one grownup and one little one incl. the Onsen go to, prices precisely the identical, and a Season Go at Pippu prices a mere 275€. For comparability, when you go ski in Vail or Aspen a one Day Ticket on the Weekend will value almost that a lot.

Evidently, going snowboarding in Japan may be very reasonably priced. When you go for a couple of days and even the entire season, you’ll not must take out a mortgage the identical method you may need to when you go snowboarding in Switzerland, Austria or the USA. 

Which way?! Sign at the Asahikawa’s ski resorts.
Which method?! Join 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 really like snowboarding, I really like Japan and being invited to go snowboarding within the residence 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 aircraft 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 a five-minute stroll to my resort.

After 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!) 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 resort, which was so enjoyable that I slept incredible.

The following morning I used to be able to discover Asahikawa on foot. I had spent a couple of days on this vibrant metropolis final fall (associated: Exploring Kamikawa: Adventures within the Middle of Hokkaido) so it was good to see the town in white with numerous snow.

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

It is a Jingisukan Restaurant, the place you grill your individual meals. It’s fairly common in Japan and undoubtedly one thing each traveler to Japan ought to attempt!

As we had a candy tooth, Jordan took us to her favourite café: Swap Taste. It is a should go to once you’re in Asahikawa as not solely is it distinctive with a stunning décor, additionally they make scrumptious muffins and desserts.

Associated learn: The Totally different Flavors of Japan: What Makes Japanese Delicacies so Particular

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

Pippu Ski Space: Straightforward Facet Nation with a Conventional Onsen End

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

We went to discover Pippu Ski Space right this moment and after a couple of heat up laps on the blue and crimson 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 one more sidecountry run!

Like several good ski resort, you’ve a couple of 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 that had me prepared for a protracted 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 straightforward slopes are this fashion!

I visited Pippu later this week alone 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 lined in numerous snow, and a serene panorama lined on this s great dry, fluffy snow which skiers and snowboarders journey to Japan for from throughout the globe.

These powder runs are simple, enjoyable, secure and you find yourself again on the slope after your forest run, from the place you may take a chair elevate again as much as head into the forest once more.

Funnily sufficient I met two Instagram mates from Finland that day at Pippu – picture our frequent shock after we realized that we meet 8.000 km from residence as a substitute of on 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 underside line is that Pippu Ski Space is incredible for each absolute inexperienced persons and extra superior skiers who need easy accessibility to the aspect nation.

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

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

The bus trip to Pippu prices 650 Yen and takes about an hour from Asahikawa, and naturally, one of the best factor about Pippu Ski Space – aside from the snowboarding – is that you would be able to go soaking within the Onsen subsequent to the ski resort, actually a 2-minute stroll from the principle chair elevate! I might go right here with the household in a coronary heart beat, or with mates who wish to ski simple 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 Hyperlinks is the most important ski resort round Asahikawa – however the day cross prices a mere 23€ and a few cents! This offers you entry to the Gondola, 5 double chair lifts, and 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 when you head to the Northern Slopes you may expertise it even inside bounds of the ski resort. This ski resort has a handful of ungroomed powder runs inbound, so you may entry them from the slopes and return to 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 – superb for individuals who wish to study powder snowboarding in secure circumstances.

Talking of studying: We had Ryoji Mizutani, one of many official Kamui ski guides, with us within the morning. He confirmed us one of the best runs of this little gem, and answered all our questions. I met Ryoji later within the week once I was ski-touring on Sanpou-San within the Tokachi Mountain Vary of the Daisetsuzan Nationwide Park – extra on that in a bit – and he’s a beautiful 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 “Residence of Fluffy Powder”!

There are a number of buses going from Asahikawa to Kamui each morning. The bus trip takes round an hour, and it’s 700 Yen one-way. Remember to be on time. Nevertheless, in case the bus is full, there might be a alternative bus some 10 minutes later.

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

Kamui ought 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, when you’re there alone, even shorter – as they’ve a line for singles who’re completely satisfied to affix a not absolutely 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 a protracted line and seeing Gondolas not using 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 good aspect nation and engaging pizzas on the High? A Fischer Rental Base that allows you to hire the most recent gear?

Now that you understand, I’m positive 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’ve all of the house you want!
The Northern Slopes are for experts and have a lot of powder runs.
The Northern Slopes are for specialists and have loads of powder runs.

Using 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 that operates each 20 minutes in winter, and it could actually get VERY busy on powder days – so that you wish 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 prime station. I had all my ski-touring gear with me, so Suzuki-San and I went down the Intermediate course to the underside station of the ropeway. Alongside the best way we headed into the secure aspect nation, and JAPOW was loved with massive smiles!

A JApanese POWder Dream.
A JApanese POWder Dream.

Asahidake has groomed runs from the Sugatami prime 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.

Nevertheless, it’s best to solely head right here into the powder aspect nation when you’ve a beacon, shovel, probe and ideally even an Avalanche Airbag with you, and know the best way 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! This was on the backside, so on the prime station it was considerably colder – and loads 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 correct gear!

JAPOW - Beginners Allowed: A JAPOW Paradise for Skiers of all Levels
A Huge 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 circumstances can change in a brief period of time and elevation: Whereas it was white-out circumstances with excessive winds on the prime, a couple of hundred meters down the mountain there was sunshine and nice views.

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

Between the resort and the Ropeway Station is the Asahidake Customer Centre, a stupendous Museum – and free, too! I realized loads in it, and bought 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 loads of snow and few guests: The Asahidake Customer Centre in winter.

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

I explored with Hattie, from Dohoku Native, the river aspect in Biei on snowshoes, which was a very simple 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 trip 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’ve an incredible view over this little city of barely 10.000 inhabitants. To spherical issues out, I additionally had a scrumptious soft-serve ice cream earlier than returning to Asahikawa!

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

A Ski Touring Go to to Daisetsuzan Nationwide Park

On my final day in Japan I used to be in for a deal with: A protracted 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 also be a really proficient photographer.

Our day began very early in Asahikawa, from the place we drove for round an hour to the beginning of our ski tour 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 Strategy 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 type of day you dream about once you plan and picture a visit. We had many first powder strains this present day, put our skins on and off half a dozen instances, and saying that it was a terrific 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 a couple of different teams all through the day, however the truth that we made the primary powder activates each descent provides you an concept that it is a massive mountain with loads of house for everybody.

Convey your avalanche package, meals and drinks for a protracted time out – and revel in. This was concerning the finest ski touring you may 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 completely satisfied 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. It really works a deal with and means that you can use Google Maps, Translate and every little thing else.

Flying to Japan is super-easy, and you can too fly on to Asahikawa, which has one of many most-reliable Airports in Japan. You’ll find one of the best connections from your own home airport through Expedia.

Professional-Tip: Add a couple of days in Tokyo on the best way residence – see our Tokyo Ideas right here!

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

Use Agoda to search out the right resort to your keep in Asahikawa and e book it instantly.

I extremely advocate the Resort WBF Grande Asahikawa, which has spacious rooms for all of your ski gear, a incredible Onsen and a really tasty breakfast buffet.

The AMANEK Asahikawa is the most recent resort in Asahikawa and is true off the Principal Avenue and a 2 minutes stroll to the railway station.

The OMO7 Asahikawa is a correct ski resort on the town and has it’s shuttle service, and can also be very child-friendly. It’s the perfect alternative when you go along with the household to ski in Japan!

When you’re going to Asahidake and wish to keep shut, then you may’t get nearer than Bear Monte. It’s a 3 minute stroll to the Ropeway Station and I completely adored the massive library which was very inviting, with many attention-grabbing books and cozy chairs and sofas. 

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

When you don’t have a beacon, shovel and probe, then purchase all three in a set and lower your expenses!

To discover ways to use them, go to a course domestically or exit into the mountains with one of many superb guides I used to be snowboarding with: 

Tracy Lenard from Niseko Mountain Guides, affords week lengthy excursions and can guarantee that you’ve a incredible powder vacation.

Happy guides and happy me!
Comfortable guides and completely satisfied me!

If you wish to discover Biei, then achieve this with Hattie from Dohoku Native.

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

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 interested by them!

If you wish to splurge on dinner and have a conventional Japanese expertise, then it’s a must to go to HATAGO. Have a Japanese pal provide help to make a reservation because it’s extremely popular, after which make certain to attempt the Sashimi, which had been godly.

Lastly, Swap Taste is a Café providing the tastiest treats, from Parfaits to cheese cake. This place is beautiful and superb for {couples} wanting 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 all over the world, which he paperwork together with his digicam and pen.



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