Aizu Freeride Tour
7 Day Guided Tour
January 20, 2019 to January 26, 2019
AUD $1995 per person
Japan Snowboard Tours
- Chase the big winter storms with our ‘Powder Hunter’ tour format
- You’re guaranteed to ride the best snow every day with our flexible itinerary
- With access to over 12 resorts, ride deep, untracked snow every day
- Going catskiing/ boarding in the backcountry
- Riding in a small group keeps us moving fast on a powder day
- Get your iconic Japan powder shot with our photographer on hand
- Testing out the latest powder shapes from Nitro Snowboards
Join our Aizu Freeride Tour and you’ll get to experience an area that is blessed with lots of snowfall, no crowds and very little western influence. Throughout the tour, our guides will show you why this region is one of our favourite places to ride in Japan. Our base for this tour is Urabandai Lake Resort and from here we can easily access many of the surrounding resorts. The terrain out here ranges from big mountain lines to undulating tree riding. We keep the itinerary flexible so we can find the best conditions and terrain on the day. Being off the beaten track you will also experience real Japanese cuisine and hospitality.
What’s a ‘Powder Hunter’ Tour?
These are ‘Powder Hunter’ tours where we chase the big winter storms. We keep the itinerary flexible so we can find the best conditions and terrain on the day. We’ll have our local guide Japanese leading the way who has a lifetime of experience riding in these areas as well as reading the conditions and terrain. Each day your guide will assess the conditions and decide which is the best place to ride based on weather and snowfall. We have over 12 resorts within easy reach from our base. Each day we’ll load up the van’s and drive to our chosen area. With our small groups and 4WD vehicles, you’re guaranteed to find the best snow and conditions every day!
We keep our group size to a maximum of 6 people per guide. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the group small means less time waiting, and more time riding powder!
Snow & Conditions
Late January and February is the best time of year to experience skiing and snowboarding in Aizu. What you can expect is light, dry, snow, perfect for riding powder. Temps will be cold, with temperatures ranging from -1 to -10 degrees celsius. Most days you can expect to ride powder that’s anywhere from boot to waist deep. Even if we don’t get fresh snow overnight, the cold temperatures and our local knowledge will ensure you’ll ride light dry snow days after a storm.
Demo our Nitro Powder Boards
Throughout the tour you’ve got unlimited access to our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards. You’ll get to test ride the latest powder shapes which are perfect for riding deep Aizu powder.
Cat Ski Session
As part of the tour we include a cat ski session. All guests on tour get to experience cat-skiing/ cat-boarding in Japan. You don’t have to compete for fresh lines here, we have access to the cat-ski zone all to ourselves, with the exclusive use of snowcat’s to shuttle us to the top after each run. We have the cat ski operation at our disposal so we can access the amazing terrain in this area.
Photographer On Hand
Throughout the tour you’ve got our in-house professional photographer on hand, capturing all the action. At the end of the tour, you’ll get to download a photo package with all your shots from the trip. For our final night on tour we always run a photo session where you’ll get to see who scored the best turns, best drops and the biggest bails!
Throughout the tour you’ll stay at the Urabandai Lake Resort. The hotel has modern, western-style rooms, restaurants, bar, onsen and convenience store. Our comfortable rooms are equipped with 2 single beds, great heating, private ensuite bathroom, TV, and free WiFi. Each day you’ve got buffet breakfast and dinners to enjoy in the restaurant and each night you’ve got access to the in-house bar which has icy cold beers on tap as well as a pool table, darts and golf to keep you entertained.
THIS IS A POWDER HUNTER TOUR WE KEEP THE ITINERARY FLEXIBLE SO WE CAN RIDE AT THE BEST RESORT ON THE DAY. HERE IS A SAMPLE ITINERARY:
Sunday 20 January – Arrival Day
Welcome to Japan! Make your way to Koriyama Station where we’ll arrange your bus transfer to the resort. Once you arrive, your guides will be on hand to check you in to our hotel. After checking into your hotel, you’ll have the afternoon free to settle in, grab a beer, have an onsen and relax. That night we’ll host you in the hotel bar where you’ll meet our guides who will run you through the tour, weather, equipment and answer any questions you have. After our welcome session, join our guides for our first of many amazing buffet dinners at the hotel. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the guests and guides over a few beers or sake’s.
Monday 21 & Tuesday 22 January – Alts Bandai & Nekoma Resorts
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll aim to be on mountain by 9:00am. For our first two days on snow, we’re aiming to ride at Alts Bandai and Nekoma Resorts. These resorts have one of the biggest rideable areas in Southern Tohoku. These resorts are modern but definitely not westernised. The lack of westerners means that on weekdays the resorts are virtually empty, and when it snows, there is opportunity for freshies all day long. Alts also has one of the most progressive terrain parks in Asia, and was home to the Nippon Burton Open for many years so management understands snowboarding and still maintains one of the best terrain parks in Japan. Nekoma is rated as one of the best freeride resorts in the area with great tree riding. It also gets some serious snowfall thanks to it’s north facing aspect, so it’s the first place to head to on a powder day. Your guides will run a thorough safety briefing before we get on snow and are on hand to show you around the resort areas. We’ll spend a full day on mountain, ride the trees and hunt out some powder stashes. We will spend two full days guiding you through the trees and gullies. There are so many natural hits here and so few people which makes it one of our favourites. After riding hit the local onsen (natural hot springs) so you can rest the legs. After an awesome first day, we’ll catch up at our hotel bar for après and then have a buffet dinner at the hotel. For anyone wanting to relax after dinner, head to the bar for a drink and a game of pool.
Wednesday 23 January – Minowa
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll load up the vans and aim to be on mountain by 9:00am. We have many resort options to choose from and if the conditions are right we’ll head to a little know resort, Minowa. This small resort is definitely off the radar for western visitors and will definitely leave a big impression on you. Today you will get to ride some of the best lift accessed in-bounds and side-country terrain in the area. The real fun here is in the trees, and there are loads of spots to choose from and barely any competition for the fresh powder. Follow your guides for a big day hunting down fresh lines. After riding, head back to the hotel for a few hard earned beers and an onsen before dinner. We’ll have a buffet dinner at the hotel followed by a few drinks in the bar.
Thursday 24 January – Grandeco
Enjoy the breakfast buffet at the hotel and then get ready to depart for your next destination, Grandeco Resort. We’ll load up the vans and aim to be on mountain by 9:00am. Once we arrive, follow your guides to the top where the best terrain is found. We’ll then spend the day exploring the resort. Grandeco is renowned for its snow quality, with abundant light-dry, powder snow thanks to its high elevation. You’ll enjoy your time at Grandeco, with a good range of runs, including some nice mellow tree runs. The lift infrastructure is modern with 4 hooded quad chair lifts and a gondola which are nice and toasty for the frequent cold and snowy days. In the afternoon we’ll head back to the hotel. Relax in the onsen and then enjoy the buffet dinner in the restaurant.
Friday 25 January – Cat Ski Day / Alts Bandai
After you have enjoyed a hearty breakfast, we’ll load up the vans and depart for your cat ski day. On arrival at the area, our guides will brief us about our resort and location, provide us with safety info about the area and safe operation of the snowcat’s so we’re ready for the day. For anyone wanting to get a few warm up runs, in-resort, there will be plenty of opportunity to do so. We’ll make our approach to the cat ski zone with snowmobile & snowcat. We’ll then divide into smaller groups and spend the morning riding powder with our guides. Your guides are on-hand to provide advice and instruction. After each descent, we’ll load back into the cat and ride back up to the drop off zone. When it’s lunch time, it’s time to get out of the elements and escape the cold. We’ll make our descent from the cat ski zone, back through the resort and in to the mountain cafe at the resort base. Tuck into some hearty and delicious local foods. In the afternoon we’ll head out for another guided session in-resort and explore plenty more lines. After our cat ski session, our traditional Japan experience keeps on going. We’ll finish the day in the outdoor onsen and then have an amazing traditional Japanese dinner with local delicacies, washed down with a few more ice-cold Asahi’s and a local sampler of sake’s. For our final evening, we’ll meet in the bar. Join your guides and photographer for a photo session to re-cap on the week that was. You’ll wget to see the weeks biggest pow turns and best sprays on the big screen. It’s the perfect ender to a week riding pow in Aizu.
Saturday 26 January – Departure Day
All good things must come to come to an end, and after an epic week riding deep, Japanese powder we will transfer you back to Koriyama Station and say goodbye.
- Daily on-snow guiding with professional Mint Tours guides
- All lift tickets valid at 22 resorts
- Guided Cat Ski session at Alts Bandai
- Private transfers in 4WD vehicles to & from resorts
- Professional snowboard photographer on hand throughout the tour
- Photo package at end of tour available for download
- Access to our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards
- 6 nights twin share ensuite accommodation
- 6 Buffet breakfast with Western & Japanese food
- 6 Buffet dinners with Western & Japanese food
- Arrival and departure day bus transfers from Koriyama Station to our hotel
- Mint Tours guides on hand throughout the tour
Mint Tours Guides
Your professional guides have an in-depth knowledge of the local area, terrain and conditions. You can be assured we will always find you the best snow conditions available. Our goal is to get everybody on tour enjoying themselves and pushing your riding in a relaxed and fun environment.
Small Group Numbers
Our guest to guide ratio is 6 : 1. We like to keep our group sizes small so you can get the most out of your time with us.
Unlimited Access to Powder Boards
All Mint Tours guests get exclusive access to our demo fleet of powder boards from the Nitro Snowboards range.
If you’re travelling solo you won’t be alone. In fact our tour is perfect for solo travellers, we just match you up with someone to room with for the entire time. Not only are our guides with you on-mountain during the day, they keep the stoke going well into the night, so you’ll always have people to socialise with and places to go.
If you’re chasing deep powder and consistent storms, late January and February is the best time to visit Aizu. We’ve scheduled our tours at this time of the season for this reason. Choose your departure date below:
Tour 1 – Sunday 20 January to Saturday 26 January
Tour 2 – Sunday 27 January to Saturday 2 February
Tour 3 – Sunday 3 February to Saturday 9 February
Tour 4 – Monday 18 February to Sunday 24 Februar
Ready to Book
Contact one of our consultants to check availability. Once we have confirmed that there is space available on the tour, we will send you a booking confirmation which contains payment details. To secure your spot on the tour we take an AUD $500 deposit. The final balance is due 90 days prior to departure.