Asahikawa - home to the driest powder on earth
Known as the new ‘ski city’ of Japan, Asahikawa is Hokkaido’s second-largest city and boasts a reputation of having the most days with snowfall in all of Japan, as well as the record for the coldest temperature (-40°C) meaning conditions are consistently deep and cold all winter.
On our Asahikawa Freeride Tour you’ll chase the snow and ride at different resorts each day. Our centrally located Asahikawa hotel is the perfect base to not only explore the backcountry areas within the Daisetsuzan National Park, including the famous Asahidake, but you’ll also ride the lesser known ski areas – Kamui, Canmore, Kurodake, Pippu and a couple of our secret spots. Mint guides have years of experience snowboarding in this region and will monitor storm cycles daily to ensure you’re scoring these zones in the best conditions.
Throughout the week you’ll ride a variety of lift accessed backcountry and resort terrain – from alpine to undulating tree riding, and you should always expect some of the deepest, lightest and driest powder in the world. If you still have the energy, there’s even options to go night-riding at a nearby ski area which is only 15 mins from the city centre.
At night Asahikawa is a buzzing city with plenty of noodle shops and izakaya where you can try the local speciality of Asahikawa ramen and the ‘Japanese’ famous Otokoyama sake. After dinner there’s plenty of great karaoke bars and clubs to check out or simply walk back to the hotel and get ready for another big day in Central Hokkaido.
8 January - 14 January
15 January - 21 January
22 January - 28 January
29 January - 4 February
5 February - 11 February
12 February - 18 February
19 February - 25 February
Guest to Guide Ratio
6 guests : 1 guide
USD $1,990 per personCurrency Convertor
Freeride - Lift assisted / off-piste
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.
If weather permits, we'll visit Asahidake, the highest mountain in Hokkaido. You will be awed by this conical shaped volcano that billows steam from multiple vents.
Fewer crowds = more pow
Explore the lesser known ski areas surrounding Asahikawa including Kamui, Canmore and Pippu ski resorts.
Asahikawa City Stay
Surrounding our hotel in Asahikawa is over 2,000 shops and restaurants, full of local delicacies. You'll enjoy the after-ski experiences only available in the city.
Premium is the new Normal
We'll make sure you your off-snow experience is as good as the deep Asahikawa powder. Your stay will be premium in every way.
Asahikawa Freeride 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 in the surrounding region and within the Daisetsuzan National Park are easily accessible from the city including; Asahidake, Kamui, Kurodake and Furano. 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 mid 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 -20 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 on snow 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 the new 'Powder Freaks' bar, wax room, hot spring, sauna, cafe and restaurant. You'll stay in a private 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 expert team
Our lead guide in Asahikawa, 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
Professional snowboarder Chad Otterstrom’s career spans the better part of three decades. His accomplishments include: Transworld Snowboarding’s Rider of the Year (2005), Gravity Games (2005) and USASA National Champion (1995), and X Games competitor (1998-2007) and judge (current). Otterstrom has also coached athletes at Stratton Mountain School, Woodward Copper, and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. Chad will be guiding on select Asahikawa departures.
Meet your expert team
If you don’t know who this legend of snowboarding is, we encourage you to type his name into Google and see how much of an influence this man has been on the progression of snowboarding. He set the record for the worlds' highest air out of a quarter-pipe way back in ’96. After countless trips to Japan, Ingemar will be on board to share his many years of knowledge and experience. Ingemar will be guiding on select Asahikawa departures.
Meet your expert team
Our newest recruit Christina is a professional snowsports instructor, guide and athlete, resort manager, examiner, and outdoor enthusiast.
Meet your expert team
One of our most experienced guides, Charles moved to Revelstoke over 10 years ago from Canada's east coast and has been exploring the Revy backcountry ever since. Not only a sponsored rider, Chuck is a mountain guide both in Canada and Japan with Mint Tours. Nobody brings the hype quite like Chuck.
YOUR TOUR INCLUDES
- 6 nights accommodation in a single share ensuite room (1 person per room)
- 6 Buffet breakfast with Western & Japanese food
- 5 days of on-snow guiding with professional Mint Tours guides
- Private transfers in 4WD vehicles to & from resorts
- Scheduled arrival and departure day transfers from Asahikawa Airport to our hotel
- Cultural excursions
- Fully-escorted tour, guides on hand throughout the tour
- Discount codes from our partners
- Discounted avalanche safety equipment rental
All our Japan Tours are 6 nights and run from Sunday to Saturday. You’ll ride every resort mid-week to maximise your time on-snow and avoid the weekend day-trippers. 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.
- 8 January – 14 January, 2023
- 15 January – 21 January, 2023 – with guest guide Chad Otterstrom
- 22 January – 28 January, 2023 – with guest guide Chad Otterstrom
- 29 January – 4 February, 2023
- 5 February – 11 February, 2023
- 12 February – 18 February, 2023
- 19 February – 25 February, 2023
PRO-TIP – GO PRIVATE!
Book this tour as a private departure – with your own guide and all the benefits of a Mint group tour – for any group, big or small (even just one traveller). Get in touch to discuss.
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.
CAN I TRAVEL TO JAPAN?
Travellers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and most European countries no longer need to apply for a visa or ERFS certification in advance. At this stage, travellers are still required to either:
- Be triple vaccinated and provide a vaccine certificate, OR
- Have a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours before departure.
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. 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.
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, flight options, Visa requirements and transportation information.
WHAT IF I’M TRAVELLING SOLO?
The accommodation for this tour is Single Share 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 snowsports and an eagerness to explore all that Japan has to offer.
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. We have a maximum of 6 guests per guide. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us.
IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR ME?
This tour is best suited to skiers and snowboarders who can link turns in powder snow, can make a variety of turn shapes and can traverse and hold speed. If you’re not sure, give us a call. Weather and ski conditions are impossible to predict so guests must be prepared to ride or ski anything. If you have never ridden in powder or shy away from it at your local resort, this is not the tour to learn. Please be prepared to ride and ski in the trees.
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 half a dozen resorts that we can access within easy reach of our centrally located hotel. Ask us for our tour itinerary for more information about where we’ll ride each day.
CAN I ARRIVE EARLY OR STAY ON AFTER THE TOUR?
For most tours you can arrive earlier or stay later. 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. Our guides for this tour are Kei Ishiuchi, Charles Morin, Brennen Metzler and on select departures we have guest pro riders Chad Otterstrom and Ingemar Backman.
CAN YOU BOOK FLIGHTS?
Yes. We can book you the best flight options for the tour, with no booking fees.
ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED?
No, flights are not included. If you need assistance booking flights, we can book you the best flight options for the tour, with no booking fees.
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. We offer all of our tour guests discounted snow specific 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 Ashaikawa. 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 the majority of our tours are led by snowboard/splitboard guides.
CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?
Yes. Avalanche safety equipment is available to rent. We can arrange rental equipment for most destinations, however we do recommend bringing your own equipment. We do recommend bringing powder boards or ski’s for all our Japan tours.
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?
Asahikawa can be a very cold place in winter, with temperatures typically ranging from -10 to -20 degrees Celsius. 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. We recommend that all guests bring their own ski or snowboarding equipment for the tour (board, boots, bindings & 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 snowsports and an eagerness to explore all that Japan has to offer.
ARE LIFT TICKETS INCLUDED?
We don’t include lift tickets for this tour. We want you to be riding the best snow each day which is why we have a flexible itinerary. There is no single lift ticket that covers all the resorts we ride, and we don’t want to lock you in to pre-purchasing lift tickets so you have to ride certain resorts. You can just purchase a lift ticket on the day, wherever we may end up. This means we can travel far and wide to score you the best snow; from the major resorts, to the smaller hidden gems. Lift tickets in Japan are inexpensive and typically range from USD $30 – $70 per day.
PRICE PER PERSON
The Asahikawa Freeride Tour is USD $1,990 per person
Pricing is based on single share accommodation (i.e. 1 person per room)
RESERVATION AND DEPOSIT
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.
If you would like some more information or a quote for the tour you can contact us by:
Click on ‘Enquire’ below and send us your details. Once we receive your request one of our Japan Tour Specialists will be in touch with a with a quote, availability and further details about the tour.
2. OVER THE PHONE
Call us and follow the prompts to speak to one of our Japan Tour specialists.
Within Australia (03) 5296 0314
Drop us an email and one of our Japan Tour Specialists will be in touch with a with a quote, availability and further details about the tour.