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Japan - Powder Slaying Special
Please Contact Us to start planning your 2024 Japan adventure!
Price TBD (we are working to get prices finalized for the 2024 program and will add them here ASAP)
For the past ten seasons we have had the pleasure of spending January each year, skiing with Hiro San and his team in the forests of Hokkaido. We have been completely blown away by the completeness of the whole experience. Not only have we enjoyed the driest and deepest snow that we have ever encountered in all our years of skiing but we have also submerged ourselves in the culture of this incredible country with its rich traditions, fantastic food and amazing people. Hokkaido is without a doubt the most complete and exotic ski destination that I have ever visited – Jökull Bergmann
Example of Day to day Program:
Arrival in Sapporo/Chitose airport on Hokkaido Island where you will be picked up and transferred to a hotel in down town Sapporo. Enjoy the cultural shock and snowy streets of Hokkaido’s capital city that evening. This slower start to the trip also gives you a good opportunity to relax and wash off some travel fatigue and jet lag. Your Bergmenn guide will be present at the hotel that night to go through equipment and give you the details of the next days agenda. Dinner together with the group at the Hotel.
We depart early from Sapporo and head out towards the mountains of southern Hokkaido. On our way we will stop at one of the numerous great ski areas in the region where we go through the snow safety briefings and get our first great turns in the legendary Japanese cold smoke. After skiing we head to our Hotel, in the Niseko area where we enjoy our first Onsen session (natural hot springs) and relax after the long trip. Niseko is a lively skiers hub with numerous lift systems and good access to some great back country skiing.
We get our ski legs really going by exploring the off piste possibilities of the Niseko resort or we take on a little ski safari where we sample the best that the area has on offer. After our first big day of skiing we will feast on some local delicacies and take full advantage of the local baths.
Jet lag mostly out of the way we get going on our first big ski touring day where we climb the flanks of the great cone shaped volcano of Yotei-zan, often referred to as the Mt Fuji of Hokkaido. Here we will find some of the best ski touring possibilities Japan has to offer.
Today is a transfer day as we move our base camp across Hokkaido Island towards the more remote and less developed areas near Furano. Travel time depends entirely upon the weather and road conditions but we will expect to spend most of the day in transit, stopping for a delicious lunch along the way as we take in the snowy landscapes of Hokkaido. In Furano we will be staying at another traditional Ryokan lodge with its own hot springs of course. If roads are clear and the transfer goes quicker than expected there is a chance that we might be able to squeeze in a short ski in the afternoon.
The menu of the day is to visit Asahidake the highest peak on Hokkaido Island at 2290m. We will use the gondola to access into the alpine terrain and go powder skiing for the day. If the weather allows, we climb up to the highest point of Hokkaido island.
Sampling the goods at Furano-dake, one of the most famous spots in Japan for excellent touring options and great snow. This area is distinctly different from the softer landscapes of southern Hokkaido with sharp peaks and ridges dotted with areas of geothermal activity, steam vents and sulphurous mudpools.
Our last ski day is a shorter one since we need to make our way back to Sapporo, but not until we have carved out some good turns and dipped into the hot springs one last time. In Sapporo we will enjoy a local feast at one of the cities hidden gems, only known to locals, such as our good friend Hiro.
Transfer to Chitose airport in the AM, flight back to the main island and on to new adventures.
- Professional guidance of a fully certified Ski guide and assistant guide
- Accommodation including breakfast and dinners for 7 nights in double rooms
- All transportation during the week
- All lift tickets
Not included :
- Flights to and from Sapporo/Chitose
- Lunches (Every day we stop at convenience stores for resupplying)
- Personal expenses
Up to 8 skiers
The start of the trip is in the afternoon of the first day at the Chitose airport where you will be picked up along with the rest of the group and transferred to a hotel in Sapporo. We will be collecting all participants between 16:00 and 18:00 so please make sure your flights arrive within that time frame or join us directly at the hotel in Sapporo if traveling by train or if you are arriving earlier. At the hotel you will meet your Bergmenn guide for a pre-trip brief and dinner.
On the last day we will be heading to Chitose airport in the AM so please try and book a flight in the early afternoon for your departure. If you are traveling as a complete group with the same arrival times we can certainly make changes to the above.
Language: Now if you do not know any Japanese and can not read kanji or hiragana you will enjoy the extreme pleasure of being completely deaf, dumb and blind probably for the first time since you were a wee little babe. As horrifying as it sounds it's actually a fantastic feeling of exploration and adventure that you should relish in to its fullest. Most people in Japan do not speak English so you should definitively try and pick up a few phrases before arriving and than try your best ones there and you will find that the Japanese will love you for it.
Money: Amazingly enough, Japan is all about cash and you will find many bigger places not accepting cards of any sort. It is therefore a good idea when you arrive at the airport in Chitose or Tokyo to get some cash out of a mini bank. Most convenience stores do have mini banks so no worries.
Internet and cell phones: You will find that your cell phone works in most places but it will obviously cost you. Wireless Internet is available in most places that we stay at.
Weather: In my experience its always snowing in Hokkaido and that is a good thing. You can expect cold temperatures, down to -20 on the summits on a windy day but in general it will be a comfy -5 to -15. There will be wind and it might be strong above treeline but in general we are staying below treeline and out of the wind. Sun is something I have not seen much of in my 9 weeks there, and that is a great thing as well, since it means its always snowing.
Snow conditions: Deep and super light powder is what makes skiing in Hokkaido worth the long trip and jet lag for sure. In my 9 weeks skiing there in the last three years, we have been consistently skiing knee to waist deep cold smoke blower Pow....... From what I hear that is the norm but you do have to take into account the fact that just like Iceland, Hokkaido is an island and the sea is always near, meaning you might get warm temps and rain even in the coldest months of the year.
Food: Famous for its Sushi and other great dishes Japan is also very different in terms of food. A good example is breakfast, where you can expect a face to face meet with a Herring, bowl of rice and an assortment of all sorts of things you could never even imagine consuming in your wildest dreams. In short its a very different place in terms of food and you will most likely love it but there is also a chance that you will have a hard time if you are a picky eater.
So if you are a picky eater you should definitively consider bringing some snacks from home and an adventurous spirit. On our tour we make sure to expose you to all the local specialties such as Furano beef and Pork as well as the Sushi that Hokkaido is so famous for, and since we are working with the local specialists we will definitively get the best of the best.
Accommodation: One of the great advantages of this trip over the classic tours you will see other western companies sell and operate is that we work with local specialists that know every little secret corner of the island, from hidden powder stashes to the great little places we stay at. We will stay in a mix of hotels and guesthouses.
The Bus: We will be using a 4x4 Toyota Min Van with a giant roof rack for all our stuff. Its not the biggest vehicle in the world but suits us fine and is great on the snowy roads.
Electricity: Japan uses the funky 100 volt system with a two pronged US like plug, see this link http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2225.html
Jetlag: Now this you will experience in all its might, as you will most likely be traveling through several time zones and at least half if not a full day off in terms of time. Sleeping pills do help with the balancing of time but the best is obviously to have a few days in Japan before the start of your trip so that your body can adjust. Bringing eye shades and earplugs is definitively a good idea as you will most likely be sharing a room with someone in the same situation. Other methods that have been scientifically proven to work well on jet lag include copious amounts of Sake followed by excessive Onsen'ing :-) Melatonin is also great and for some folks a better option than the prescription drugs.
Flights: Japan is serviced by most major airlines from both Europe and North America. In my experience the easiest and cheapest way to get to Japan from Northern Europe has been with SAS which offers direct service from Copenhagen to Tokyo Narita. Domestic flights from Tokyo up to Chitose are pretty cheap and numerous. The best tickets I have found so far, are with Jetstar and Skymark. Here is a list of all other domestic carriers to check out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines_of_Japan
Trains: Train travel in Japan is a great experience well worth while if you have the time and the money....yes its quite expensive but if you are planning on using trains at all you should look into buying a Japan rail pass before arriving in Japan as those are very cheap compared to the individual fares but you do need to buy them before arriving in the country. Here you have all the good info on train tickets etc. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html
Onsen etiquette: At an onsen guests are expected to wash their bodies and rinse themselves thoroughly before entering the hot water. The indoor baths have faucets with removable shower heads and little stools to sit on, for showering and shampooing.
Many traditional onsen out in the countryside have rules forbidding wearing swimsuits into the bath, saying that these make it harder to clean. Some modern onsen have mixed baths and the use of swimsuits is okay.
Onsen guests generally bring a small towel with them to use as a washcloth. The towel can also provide a modicum of modesty when walking between the washing area and the baths. Some onsen allow one to wear the towel into the baths, while others have posted signs prohibiting this, saying that it makes it harder to clean the bath. In this latter case, people normally set their towels off to the side of the water when enjoying the baths. However, some people place their folded towels on top of their heads. Ask your guide if you have any questions about onsen etiquette.
Further reading and viewing: When preparing for your trip to Nippon you should definitively take the time to do some reading. Japan is quite likely one of the most culturally rich places you will ever set your foot upon but also probably the most culturally different place you will ever visit, so read up and enjoy master pieces such as Norwegian Wood by Murakami or Yoshimoto's, Kitchen and make sure to bring a book for the long drives.
Luggage Service: Japan has this awesome system where you can send luggage from any hotel or guesthouse, anywhere in the country to the airport that you will depart from. So if your plan is to do some sightseeing at the end of your trip you can simply send your luggage from the last hotel during the ski trip and travel light for the tourism part of your journey. The best part is that this is just about the only thing in Japan which is very cheap.
Gear Rental: Japan is a long ways away and you might want to consider renting your skis there. Our friend Hiro works with Dynafit and has some pairs of Dynafit skis for rent. If you choose to not bring your own skis, please let us know well in advance so we can try and hook you up with some rentals.
After your ski adventure: Most people will not be traveling to Japan many times in their lives so we really recommend that you take a few days or a week on either end of your trip to sample the goods and rich culture of the country. The options are endless but no one will go wrong with a few days in and around Tokyo and a visit to the temples and city of Kyoto.
Equipment List for Ski Touring in Japan
☐ Waterproof Jacket - lightweight + breathable
☐ Waterproof pants - lightweight + breathable
☐ Down or fiber jacket for those cold lift rides and lunch in the field.
☐ Backpack 25 - 35l with ski attachments and enough space for all your gear
☐ Base layer (wool or synthetic)
☐ Fleece mid layer or equivalent.
☐ Ski pants
☐ Thin Inner Gloves
☐ Warm Ski Gloves
☐ Warm Hat
☐ Neck gaitor, Buff and or Facemask for all the faceshots
☐ Water Container + Thermos (It gets pretty cold so camelbacks have been known to freeze)
☐ Personal medications + blister kit
☐ Ski Goggles
☐ Sun Glasses
☐ Sun + lip cream
☐ Ski touring or Telemark Boots
☐ Skis with Touring or Telemark Bindings / Split board (No snowshoeing)
☐ Ski Poles
☐ Shovel + Probe + Avalanche Transceiver
☐ Winter Boots (Sorrels or similar for deep snow and cold, great for after skiing, easy to put on and take off and warm)
☐ Passport, cash money in JPY,
☐ Earplugs, eyeshades and some sleeping pills or Melantonin
☐ Swimsuits (most onsens have separate areas for men and women and no bathing suits are worn, however there may be occasions where men and women are together and you may prefer to wear a swimsuit)
☐ Towel for Onsens
Please have your ski boots and avalanche transceiver in carry on baggage during your flights in case luggage gets lost. If you have any questions regarding gear please contact us and we will try our best to help you out.