Our Aizu Freeride Tour offers a unique locals perspective on one of Japan's last 'secret' spots
Join our Aizu Freeride Tour and you’ll explore a region known for its deep powder snow; unique traditions, food, culture; famed onsen and pristine wilderness.
Aizu is untapped and well worth visiting for its consistent snowfall, uncrowded resorts, no lift lines and very little western influence. If you’re looking to get away from the high profile resorts and explore somewhere more authentic, then put Aizu on the top of your list. Our team of local and international guides will show you why this region is one of our favourite places to ride in Japan.
The Aizu Freeride Tour is all about powder hunting which means our team monitor overnight snowfall to find you the best conditions that next morning. Incredibly, Aizu has over 12 ski resorts we can access within easy reach of our centrally located hotel including; Nekoma, Minowa, Gran Deco and Alts Bandai with terrain ranging from wide-open pistes, perfectly crafted terrain parks to deep untracked tree riding and skiing.
As Aizu is truly ‘off the beaten track’, you will also experience local cuisine, hospitality and knowledge from not only your Mint hosts, but also from the local community of Aizu. We’ll visit an award-winning sake brewery where you can sample the many different varieties of sake, we’ll visit a local soba restaurant that harvest their own buckwheat and hand-make their noodles, and no tour to Aizu is complete without a visit to the historic Tsuruga Castle, the last stronghold of the samurai. Put simply, the Aizu Freeride Tour is one of our most unique snowboard and ski programs offered in Japan.
WEEK 1 - 11 FEB - 17 FEB, 2024
WEEK 2 - 18 FEB - 24 FEB, 2024
WEEK 3 - 25 FEB - 2 MAR, 2024
Guest to Guide Ratio
6 guests : 1 guide
USD 1,795 per personCurrency Convertor
Freeride - Off-piste and in the trees
Why Travel With Mint
In a rapidly changing travel industry it’s important to know that your travel provider is accredited, accountable and responsible. We are a registered member of AFTA and IATA and conduct business in accordance with the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct. When you travel with Mint you can have peace of mind that you are booking with a qualified and established travel operator with over 20 years of expertise. And as a full-service travel agent, we are able to take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre or post tour arrangements.
This area is untapped and well worth visiting for its consistent snowfall, uncrowded resorts, no lift lines and very little western influence. Throughout the tour, our guides will show you why this region is one of our favourite places to go snowboarding & skiing in Japan.
Chase the snow
The Aizu Freeride Tour is all about powder hunting which means our team monitor overnight snowfall to find you the best conditions that next morning. Each day we load up the vans and drive to the best area to find powder.
Premium is the new Normal
We'll make sure your stay is premium in every way. Our lake-side hotel is a quick drive away from the resorts. You'll stay in a luxury hotel with all the mod-cons, plus the best onsen in the region. Breakfast and dinner is included and you’ve got access to the in-house bar which has icy cold beers on tap as well as a pool table, table-tennis, darts and golf to keep you entertained.
Our long-standing relationships with local guides, local legends, professional athletes, local businesses and resorts allow us special access to places and people. Travelling with us, you go behind the scenes to get a close-up view of each destination. You’re enriched by the knowledge of our experts and local guides.
Aizu has over 12 ski resorts we can access within easy reach of our centrally located hotel including; Nekoma, Minowa, Gran Deco and Alts Bandai with terrain ranging from wide-open pistes, perfectly crafted terrain parks to deep untracked tree riding and skiing.
Aizu Freeride Tour
Get in touch for a detailed tour itinerary and more info
Take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo, and in just over 3 hours you will be transported to Aizu, a region known for its deep powder snow; unique traditions; food; culture; famed onsen and pristine wilderness. The lack of crowds and very little western influence makes it one of our favourite places to ride in Japan. Our base for this tour is a small lakeside village where we can access the 12 surrounding ski resorts including; Nekoma, Minowa, Gran Deco and Alts Bandai.
We've included nearly everything to make this a stress-free trip. You'll stay at a lake-side onsen hotel close to the resorts, buffet breakfasts and dinners are included and prepared with local produce, a dedicated powder guide to monitor the storms and find you the best snow daily, private transport on-hand to take you to the best resorts each day, all lift tickets for the trip and we'll pick you up and drop you off from the train station on arrival and departure day.
SNOW & CONDITIONS
February through to early March is the best time of year to experience skiing and snowboarding in Aizu. Average temperatures ranging from -5 to -1 degrees celsius. Most days you can expect to ride new snow that’s anywhere from boot to knee deep. Even if we don’t get fresh snow overnight, our local knowledge will ensure you’ll ride the best snow conditions on that day.
Our hotel is centrally located to many of the ski areas we visit. 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.
POWDER HUNTER TOUR FORMAT
We’ll chase the snow and ride at different resorts each day. Our centrally located hotel in Aizu is the perfect base to explore the nearby resorts - Nekoma, Alts Bandai, Minowa, Grandeco and a couple of our secret spots. Mint guides have years of experience skiing & snowboarding this region and will monitor storm cycles daily to ensure you’re scoring these zones in the best conditions.
We offer one of the smallest client to guide ratio’s in the industry which ultimately leads to a better experience for everyone. Our small groups allow greater manoeuvrability and ease of access to the best areas a destination can offer. When we are on mountain, our guest to guide ratio is maximum 6 people per guide. This also makes for a more personal experience between our guests and guides.
Meet your expert team
LOCAL GUIDES & PARTNERSHIPS
Mint opens doors around the globe. Our long-standing relationships with local guides, local legends, professional athletes, local businesses and resorts allow us special access to places and people. Travelling with us, you go behind the scenes to get a close-up view of each destination. You’re enriched by the knowledge of our experts and local guides.
Meet your expert team
Not only an Aizu local, Kei is a snowboarding veteran with over 20+ years experience including stints as a test rider for Burton, editor of Japanese snowboarding magazines and head coach for multiple ski schools across Japan. Spend a day riding with Kei and you’ll see why our clients keep coming back to ride with him, season after season.
Meet your expert team
Richie is our Aizu specialist with years of experience guiding in the region. When he's not guiding in Japan, you'll find Richie managing his local resort Mt Hutt, in New Zealand's Canterbury region.
Meet your expert team
One of your guides for the tour is Ashlin Dean aka @groovyradical. When Ashlin isn't leading our groups through Japan, you'll find him in The Remarkables terrain park in New Zealand.
YOUR TOUR INCLUDES
- 6 nights accommodation in a twin share ensuite room at an onsen hotel (2 people per room)
- 5 days of resort guiding
- 5 day lift ticket
- 5 days of private transfers in 4WD vehicles to & from resorts
- Return arrival & departure day transfers from Koriyama Shinkansen Station
- 6 breakfasts
- 6 dinners
- Cultural excursions – sake brewery, castle etc.
- Fully-escorted tour, guides on hand throughout the tour
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Train ticket to/from Tokyo to Koriyama Station
- Travel insurance
- All lunches – expect to pay USD $10 – $15 per meal
- Any meals, drinks, snacks not listed
This tour is suitable for intermediate to advanced snowboarders and skiers. You should be comfortable on black diamond runs, be able to ride/ski off-piste at a resort, can confidently navigate alpine and treed terrain and maintain a continuous rhythm and pace, even through traverses and flat sections.
If you’re not quite up to the ability level for this tour, don’t dismiss the possibility of experiencing the best powder turns of your life! Talk with our team and they will be able to make recommendations for other suitable tours, or how to work towards joining this tour.
When you are ready to book, we’ll ask you to self-evaluate what type of rider/skier you are. This will help us book you on the right tour. The more accurately you’re able to self-assess your on-snow abilities, the more you (and others in your group) will be able to relax and enjoy your tour.
The only way to guarantee the speed and ability level of your group is to book a private tour so you can ride with like-minded friends. If you have a group of 5 people or more, you can book this as a private tour.
All our Japan Tours are 6 nights and run from Sunday to Saturday. You’ll ride every resort mid-week to avoid the weekend day-trippers and maximise your time on-snow. If 6 nights isn’t enough, then book one of our multi-tour combo’s. Join us in Aizu, then start a new tour in a different destination the following day. Ask us about tour combo ideas.
WEEK 1 – 11 FEB – 17 FEB, 2024
WEEK 2 – 18 FEB – 24 FEB, 2024
WEEK 3 – 25 FEB – 2 MAR, 2024
BOOK A PRIVATE TOUR
Book this as a private tour with your own guide and all the benefits of a Mint group tour – for any group, big or small. Booking a private tour so you can ride with like-minded friends is the best way to guarantee the speed and ability levels of your group.
WHY TRAVEL WITH MINT?
In a rapidly changing travel industry it’s important to know that your travel provider is accredited, accountable and responsible. Mint is a registered member of AFTA and IATA and conducts business in accordance with the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct. When you travel with Mint you can have peace of mind that you are booking with a qualified and established travel operator with over 20 years of expertise. And as a full-service travel agent, we can take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre-or post tour arrangements.
WHAT IS A POWDER HUNTER TOUR?
Our Powder Hunter Tours offer you the best chance to ride deep, Japan powder. You’ve got a flexible itinerary and private transport on-hand which opens up more options of where and when you can ride. Our experienced guides have an in-depth knowledge of the resorts we visit, which gives you the ultimate advantage when your chasing deep, un-tracked snow. On this tour you’ll ride a mix of in-bounds resort terrain. We’ll aim to snowboard and ski a lot of powder, glades and trees so please be prepared to ride and ski in the trees for 5 days straight. Of course weather and conditions are impossible to predict so guests must be prepared to ride or ski anything.
ARE LIFT TICKETS INCLUDED?
Yes, all lift tickets are included for this tour. Please note that none of the resorts that we visit on this tour are on the Ikon or Epic Pass.
BUDGETING FOR THE TOUR
An estimate of spending money for the week is around USD $150 – $250 to cover lunches, drinks and snacks. Here’s an indication of what you can expect to pay for meals and transport to Myoko:
- Lunches – expect to pay USD $5 – $12 per meal
- Drinks, beers and snacks – expect to pay USD $20 – $30 per day
- Train fare to/from Koriyama Station (approx. USD 70 one way from Tokyo Haneda Airport)
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO I NEED TO BOOK?
It’s hard to estimate when the tour will fill up. That being said, Aizu is one of our budget-friendly tours and fills up fast, so our advice is to book as soon as you’ve made the decision to travel. That way you can secure your preferred travel dates and you won’t be disappointed. Bookings close 90 days before a trip departs, however most tours typically fill up well before this.
WHAT IS THE ITINERARY?
For further information, including a tour itinerary send us an enquiry.
WHAT TYPE OF TERRAIN WILL WE RIDE/SKI?
On this tour we will ride a mix of terrain in the resort. There’s a range of terrain to access from alpine, playful or challenging tree runs, some with features such as pillows and drops, even a lap or two through the park. Alts Bandai is home to one of the best terrain parks in Asia.
The best thing you can do to get the most out of your Mint experience is to start a pre-trip fitness regime. We’re not looking for you to be an Olympic athlete, but you do need some fitness endurance. You’ll spend five, full and consecutive days on-snow, so you should be physically fit enough to comfortably ski/ride for five consecutive days. Your muscles should be up to this task, and your cardio fitness means you can sustain a consistent pace.
WHAT HAPPENS ON ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE DAY?
Once you’ve signed up for the tour we will send you through a comprehensive guide with details about the tour including the arrival and departure day process, a map of where we meet, recommended arrival and departure times, visa requirements and transportation information.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON THIS TOUR?
Each tour is different, but we know that by offering one of the smallest client to guide ratio in the industry allows you to ski or snowboard at your preferred pace, and ultimately leads to a better experience for everyone. When we are on mountain, we have a maximum of 6 people per guide. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time waiting and more time riding powder.
WHICH RESORTS WILL WE VISIT?
We keep the tour itinerary flexible so you can ride at the best resort on the day. Each day your guide will make the decision on which resort to ride based on a number of factors including weather, snowfall, group ability and interest. We have many resorts that we can access. Our centrally located hotel in Aizu is the perfect base to explore Nekoma, Alts Bandai, Minowa, Grandeco, Inawashiro and a couple of our secret spots. Mint guides have years of experience skiing and snowboarding this region and will monitor storm cycles daily to ensure you’re scoring these zones in the best conditions. The driving time to each destination varies and can range from 5 to 30 minutes from our base.
WHO ARE THE GUIDES?
All of our tours are guided by friendly, knowledgeable guides who are passionate about the mountains. Your guides for this tour are Kei Ishiuchi, Richie Owen and Ashlin Dean.
ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED?
No, flights are not included.
DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes. All guests on tour need to be covered by comprehensive travel insurance. Once you have booked on the tour, we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE I’VE BOOKED?
Once you’ve booked your spot on tour, we will send you through a booking confirmation and provide updates about the tour including the arrival and departure day process, a map of where we meet, recommended arrival and departure times, flight options, visa requirements and transportation information. We will send out a Pre Departure Guide 30 days prior to departure.
CAN I BRING MY PARTNER WHO DOESN’T SKI OR SNOWBOARD?
We can tailor the tour to suit your non-skiing or snowboarding partner. Speak with one of our tour specialists when you are booking and they will be more than happy to assist.
HOW DO I CHECK MY ABILITY LEVEL?
The best way to check if a tour is suited to your ability is by speaking with one of our tour specialists. They will be able to determine if the tour you have selected is a good fit for your ability, as well as suggesting other tour options.
HOW DO I GET TO AIZU?
We’ll provide you with instructions to get to Aizu. If it’s your fist time to Japan or if you’re unsure about travel arrangements, often we can link you up with other tour guests to travel with.
HOW DO I CHECK AVAILABILITY?
Speak with one of our tour specialists. As this is a small group tour with limited availability, it’s best to get in touch early to avoid disappointment.
DO YOU TAKE SKIERS & SNOWBOARDERS?
Yes. We are ski and snowboard friendly. Please note that this tour is led by a snowboard guides.
CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?
No, please bring all your snowboarding / ski equipment with you as the rental selection is very limited and outdated.
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?
We will provide you with a packing list, but it’s good to know that Aizu can be a cold place in winter, with temperatures typically ranging from +3 to -10°C / 37 to 14°F. Days will be short, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight per day. We strongly recommend that guests dress in layers of clothing specific for traveling in backcountry areas. Guests will need to bring their own ski or snowboarding equipment for the tour (board, boots, bindings and outerwear). Powder boards and ski’s are recommended.
WHO WILL BE ON MY TOUR?
Your group will be made up of travellers from diverse backgrounds and will be varied in age. Our groups generally mix well due to a shared interest in snowboarding and an eagerness to explore all that Japan has to offer.
The Mint team is committed to ensuring that you enjoy the trip of a lifetime. While gratuities are not included in your tour cost – nor are they mandatory – they are gratefully accepted. Gratuities are divided among the guides and team who will take care of you throughout your tour.
USD 1,795 per person
DEPOSITS AND PAYMENTS
To secure your spot on tour a 50% deposit is payable to secure your booking. The balance is due 90 days prior to tour departure.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
View our terms and conditions HERE