Thinking about skiing in Japan? There are four great Japanese resorts that you’ve probably never heard of…
No. 1. Tomamu
The towers of Tomamu Alpha resort rise out of the central Hokkaido mountains like space ships. The area is well known for dry cold conditions. Here you will find superb powder snow that stays in good condition under blue bird skies making for some great off piste skiing.
One of the best features of Tomamu is the very skier friendly off-piste policy. Register with the ski patrol and sign a waiver and you receive a bib to wear to signify you are able to ski off piste. The inbound tree runs also offer some superb skiing.
Backcountry access is excellent and the back bowls can be used for a unique mountain traverse to the rarely skied valleys and peaks of the Ochiai area.
No. 2. Kamui Ski Links
Kamui is about 30 minutes from the city of Asahikawa on Route 12, heading west towards Sapporo. The culture of Kamui is very laid back. There is excellent access to off piste and back country powder.
Although not at great altitude, with the summit only at 751 metres, the ski runs of this resort face west northwest and get very little direct sun. They are also open to the moisture laden winds which dump Hokkaido’s best snow. The slope angles are consistently steeper than most other resorts in Hokkaido, with acres of tree glades inbound and some superb back of mountain runs.
No. 3. Asahi Dake
Asahi Dake is an adventure skier’s paradise. Asahi Dake village is at the base of Hokkaido’s highest mountain, Mt. Asahi (2290 M). This area is famous for its access to the huge Daisetsusan National Park, its hot spring baths, extreme skiing and a powder snow season that can last three to four months.
The area is serviced by a gondola that gives lift serviced access to un-roped, untouched powder bowls that stretch as far as the eye can see. The terrain varies from steep and fast to gentle and drifting through the Silver Birch and Hokkaido Red Pine forests.
The Tokachi mountains are quite simply back country paradise.
Everything that applies to Asahi Dake and Daisetsusan National Park in general also applies here. However, there are two marked differences between the two locations.
Whereas Asahi Dake has a majority of more open rolling terrain with above the tree line skiing, Tokachi has steeper fingers of powder reaching down deep into the forest. Tokachi faces the cold north, helping to maintain quality powder deep in the afforested valleys long after the snow has stopped falling.
Add to that classic mountain lodges whose views will take your breath away and you have all the ingredients for the trip of a lifetime. The skiing is all done with climbing skins and either telemark equipment or alpine touring equipment. These mountains are for adventure skiers only, where you earn your turns in the classic mould of the world’s great skiing destinations. Ski runs are accessed after typically 2-3 hour climbs.
We would like to thank our partners in Japan, Alpine Backcountry Guides for the original content of this post.