A Premium Backcountry snowboard tour into Japan's Daisetsuzan National Park
Spend a week chasing the winter storms through the ‘roof of Central Hokkaido’ with our Asahikawa guides. The highlight of the week is a day splitboarding with expert local backcountry guide and Japanese pro snowboarder Shinya Nakagawa.
On this tour you’ll chase the snow and ride a variety of lift accessed backcountry, hike-to and resort terrain. Mint guides have years of experience snowboarding in this region and will monitor storm cycles so you’re scoring these zones in the best conditions.
Asahikawa is Hokkaido’s second-largest city. You’re probably thinking why stay in the city? It’s all about the access, terrain and snow quality. Asahikawa is THE most snow-sure part of Japan. It has the most days with snowfall and the coldest temperatures in all of Japan. Within a 30 minute to 1 hour drive, you’ve got dozens of places to ride – from quirky old-school resorts to lift-accessible backcountry zones filled with endless hits, pillows, banks and wind lips. Of course, no trip is complete without a day riding the steaming stratovolcano, Asahidake and a couple of roadside backcountry lines. There’s arguably no zone in Japan that’s littered with as many good spots to ride, with minimal tourists and insane snow quality.
You’ll also get to see the ‘real’ Japan while staying in a lively regional city, rather than a ski resort. Each day your guides will shuttle you out of the city to the resorts and backcountry zones. At night, Asahikawa is a buzzing city where you’ve got plenty of local ramen shops, izakaya and entertainment options on your doorstep to explore, all without the ski-resort price tag.
Join the wait list for
Winter 2025 dates
Guest to Guide Ratio
6 guests : 1 guide
2025 prices coming soon
Freeride - splitboard and lift-accessed backcountry
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.
Expert local guides
Our team of local guides are some of the most experienced professionals guiding in Hokkaido.
Daisetsuzan National Park
Home to the tallest and wildest peaks in Hokkaido. The terrain ranges from big mountain alpine lines to undulating tree riding, accessed by trams or from roadside locations.
Asahikawa City Stay
Surrounding our hotel in Asahikawa is over 2,000 shops and restaurants and bars. You'll enjoy the after-ski experiences only available in the city.
No Onsen, No Life
For years this tour was known as the Onsen Tour. At the end of each day we’ll be heading to one of the local onsen (hot springs) to soak in the mineral rich, geothermal waters.
Asahikawa Backcountry Tour
Get in touch for a detailed tour itinerary and more info
Located in Central Hokkaido around 2 hours drive north-east from Sapporo is the city of Asahikawa. The resorts and backcountry zones within the Daisetsuzan National Park are easily accessible from the city including; Asahidake, Kamui, Tokachidake and Kurodake. You'll have the convenience of staying in the city with countless food, beer, and entertainment options on your doorstep. It does get extremely cold here in mid-winter and the temperature can get down to a bone chilling -30 celsius, so layer up!
SNOW & CONDITIONS
From late January to late February is the ideal time of year to ski and snowboard in Central Hokkaido. What you can expect is light dry, deep snow, perfect for riding powder. Temps will be cold, with temperatures ranging from -10 to -30 degrees Celsius. Days will be short, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight per day. The actual snowfall statistics aren’t measured in this area, there is no need. This place scores some of the biggest storms in Japan so you never need to worry about lack of snow.
After a day of skiing and snowboard we often head to one of the local onsen (hot springs) to soak in the mineral rich, geothermal waters. For millennia the culture of onsen (hot springs) has been rooted in the Japanese way of life. Hot springs have been cherished not only as a way to gain relief from fatigue, but also as a place to cleanse the body, treat illness, or just to interact with other people.
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.
After you sign up for a tour, you will receive pre-trip emails with specific information about your tour, the arrival and departure day process, information about the destination, packing suggestions, and other relevant information to help you prepare for your trip. In addition to this, you have access to our customer care team who are just a phone-call away. And as a full-service travel agent, we are able to take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre or post tour arrangements.
Throughout the tour you'll stay in a modern, 4 star city hotel with great amenities including a wax room, hot spring, sauna, cafe and restaurant. You'll stay in a single room which gives you privacy and plenty of space for your equipment. Each morning a buffet breakfast is included at the hotel and in the evening your Mint hosts will make plans for an authentic dinner at an izakaya in the surrounding area.
Meet your expert team
EXPERT GUIDES & LOCAL 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 guides
Japanese pro snowboarder and JMGA backcountry guide, Shinya Nakagawa, grew up in the Asahikawa region and has a lifetime of experience touring the endless backcountry zones here. There's really nothing sweeter than watching Shinya's classic powder turn.
Meet your guides
Scott is our lead guide and coaching director who brings over 20 years industry experience to his role. He is a three-term AASI National Snowboard Team Member and the was the coach of American Association of Snowboard Instructors National snowboard team.
- 6 nights in a single ensuite room, 4* hotel (1 person per room)
- 4 days of resort & lift-access backcountry guiding
- 1 day of backcountry splitboarding with local guide Shinya Nakagawa
- All lift tickets
- 5 days of private transfers to and from resorts or backcountry areas
- 6 buffet breakfasts
- 1 group dinner (arrival night)
- Mint merch pack
- Airport transfers from Asahikawa Airport to hotel (1 departure time)
- Fully-escorted tour, guides on hand throughout the tour
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Travel insurance
- Avalanche safety equipment – pack, transceiver, shovel & probe
- Splitboard, touring ski’s or snowshoes
- All lunches – expect to pay USD $10 – $15 per meal
- 5 dinners – expect to pay USD $20 – $40 per meal
- Any meals, drinks, snacks not listed
This tour is suitable for advanced snowboarders and skiers. You should be comfortable on black diamond runs, frequently ride/ski off-piste at a resort or in the backcountry, can confidently navigate any alpine and treed terrain and maintain a continuous rhythm and pace, even through traverses and flat sections. Previous splitboarding experience is required.
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.
This tour has a maximum of six guests. Each day you’ll travel, ride and ski together in a small group of six people with a dedicated guide leading the way.
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 Asahikawa, then start a new tour in a different destination the following day. Ask us about tour combo ideas and multi-tour discount.
Join the waitlist for Winter 2025 dates.
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 stopovers and pre-or post tour arrangements.
WHAT IS A FREERIDE TOUR?
Our Freeride Tours offer you the best chance to ride deep, Japan powder. 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 we will ride a mix of in-bounds resort terrain as well as lift-accessed and hike-to backcountry zones. 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 $250 – $350 to cover lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks. Here’s an indication of what you can expect to pay for meals and activities:
- Lunches – expect to pay USD $10 – $15 per meal
- Dinners – expect to pay USD $20 – $40 per meal
- Onsen entry fee – expect to pay between USD $5 – $10 per visit
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO I NEED TO BOOK?
It’s hard to estimate when the tour will fill up. That being said, Asahikawa is our most popular Japan tour destination, 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?
You’ll arrive on a Sunday and depart on a Saturday. You’ll ride every resort mid-week to avoid the weekend day-trippers and maximise your time on-snow.
You’ll spend 5 full days riding the surrounding Asahikawa resorts and backcountry zones. Throughout the week we keep the tour itinerary flexible so you can ride at the best location on the day. Your guide will monitor storm cycles to ensure you’re scoring the best conditions at each location, as weather and snowfall affect each resort differently. Drive times can range from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Day 1 – Arrival day in Asahikawa
- Day 2 – Kamui resort / side-country
- Day 3 – Lift-access backcountry / resort terrain
- Day 4 – Guided splitboarding day with Shinya Nakagawa
- Day 5 – Lift-access backcountry / resort terrain
- Day 6 – Lift-access backcountry / resort terrain
- Day 7 – Departure day from Asahikawa
WHAT TYPE OF TERRAIN WILL WE RIDE/SKI?
On this tour you will ride a mix of terrain from resort, lift-accessed backcountry and hike-to backcountry. There’s a range of terrain to access from alpine, playful or challenging tree runs, some with features such as pillows and drops. Expect deep snow, soft landings and lots of fun features.
WHO WILL BE IN MY GROUP?
We decide the group you’ll ride or ski with based on a complex handful of factors — it’s part math, part safety, and part ability and fitness. Know that we always have your best interests in mind when creating the group. As much as possible, we strive to place you in a group with other riders/skiers who have similar on-snow abilities and pace. If you are travelling with friends or family who are different abilities, please let us know when you book the trip.
If you have concerns about your group while you’re on tour, please discuss with your guide at the earliest opportunity. If we’re able to adjust we will try to do so, and if we’re not, we’d love the opportunity to explain why. We want you to have the best tour possible.
Whether you’re a snowboarding veteran or have just booked your first tour, 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.
WHAT IF I’M TRAVELLING SOLO?
The accommodation for this tour is in Single rooms i.e. you have your own private room for the tour. About 99% of our guests are travelling solo, so you’ll be in good company. Our groups generally mix well due to a shared interest in snowboarding and an eagerness to explore all that Japan has to offer.
HOW MANY PEOPLE IN MY GROUP?
There is a maximum of 6 guests on this tour. We know that by offering one of the smallest client to guide ratio in the industry allows you to ride at your preferred pace, and ultimately leads to a better experience for everyone. Our guest to guide ratio is 6 : 1. On the guided splitboard day, the guest to guide ratio is 3 : 1.
WHERE WILL WE RIDE?
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 and backcountry zones that we can access. The driving time to each destination varies and can range from 30 minutes to 1 hour from our base.
CAN I ARRIVE EARLY OR STAY ON AFTER THE TOUR?
Yes, we can arrange pre or post tout accommodation. We can tailor the trip to suit your travel plans. Speak with one of our tour specialists when you are booking and they will be more than happy to assist.
WHO ARE THE GUIDES?
All of our tours are guided by friendly, knowledgeable and expertly trained guides who are passionate about the mountains. Your guide for this tour are Scott Anfang and your splitboard guide is Shinya Nakagawa.
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 ASAHIKAWA?
We’ll provide you with instructions to get to Asahikawa. 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 all our tours are led by snowboard/ splitboard guides.
CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?
There is no rental equipment available in Asahikawa. Please bring everything you need with you.
- 25L – 30L pack suitable for touring
- Splitboard, snowshoes or touring skis, suitable for backcountry touring in deep snow
- Collapsible / telescopic poles
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?
Asahikawa can be a very cold place in winter, with temperatures typically ranging from -10 to -30°C / 14 to -22°F. We strongly recommend that guests dress in layers of clothing specific for traveling in backcountry areas. We recommend that guests have a good quality waterproof jacket and pants, insulated layer(s), merino base layers, merino gloves and waterproof gloves, goggles with low light & high light lenses, sunglasses, balaclava, beanie, and helmet. Guests will need to bring their own ski or snowboarding equipment plus avalanche safety equipment for the tour. Powder specific splitboards and touring skis 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.
Winter 2025 pricing coming soon. Join the waitlist for Winter 2025 tours.
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