MORIOKA FREERIDE TOUR
The Morioka Freeride Tour is all about exploring the little-known, stash-laden resorts just outside of the city, with insider knowledge from our local Japanese guiding team. Surprisingly, Morioka was just rated by The New York Times as the Number 2 destination to visit on their ‘Places to Go’ list. So you need to visit now before the secret is out!
This region is covered in deep snow during winter and is surprisingly home to over 15 ski resorts. To the northwest, Appi Kogen is the most well-known ski area due to its Hokkaido-like dry powder and great tree riding. Geto Kogen in the west, is a real gem that scores some seriously heavy snowfall, and has a relaxed off-piste riding policy and fewer crowds compared to the rest of Honshu. Then in between, there’s the true ‘secret spots’ of Tohoku that we’ll leave off the list until we see you on the tour.
This tour is all about powder hunting. Your guides will monitor overnight snowfall to find you the best conditions that next morning. You can expect to ride a range of resorts throughout the week, and your guides will ensure that they are in the right place at the right time. There is no set itinerary, your guides will select the resort daily based on weather and snowfall. You will be visiting all the resorts mid-week, which means you’ll virtually have the place to yourself.
Basing the tour in Morioka also offers a unique cultural experience as we get to explore the city after dark. Staying in a small regional city, you’ve got a ton of authentic restaurant’s, bars and Izakaya surrounding the hotel, all at considerably lower prices than eating and drinking within a ski-resort.
WEEK 1: 28 JAN - 3 FEB, 2024
WEEK 2: 4 FEB - 10 FEB, 2024
Guest to Guide Ratio
6 guests : 1 guide
USD 2,150 per person
Freeride - off-piste and 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.
Fewer crowds = more pow
Get off the beaten path as we ski and snowboard Japan’s little-known, stash-laden resorts of the Northwest Tohoku region.
The tastes of Iwate - from wagyu through to fresh seafood and the world famous wanko-soba.
We have our 4WD vans ready to chase the storms and shuttle you to the best resort each day. Storm chasing means we keep the itinerary flexible to find you the best snow.
Morioka City Stay
You'll enjoy the after-ski experiences only available in the city. Surrounding our hotel in Morioka is hundreds of izakaya, bars, shops, and karaoke.
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.
Morioka Freeride Tour
Get in touch for a detailed tour itinerary and more info
The tour is based in Morioka which is the capital city of Iwate prefecture. From Tokyo Station it is around two hours on the Shinkansen. On this tour you'll get a unique cultural perspective being based in a lively regional city. By night, you'll have countless food, beer, and entertainment options on your doorstep. By day, your guides will shuttle you to and from the resorts. There's plenty of variety in resorts to choose from. Where you'll ride largely depends on the snowfall and conditions as well as the groups appetite for adventure. The driving times can range from a 20 minutes to 1 hour.
ONSEN & CULTURAL VISITS
The plan for each day differs due to a number of factors, but we'll always make time for an onsen visit or two throughout the trip. There's no better way to recover than to soak in the mineral rich, geothermal waters. Some of the other local activities that are popular are a visit the sake brewery for a tasting, dining at a traditional 'wanko-soba' restaurant, or visit to the
SNOW & CONDITIONS
From late January to early February is the ideal time of year to ride in Tohoku. What you can expect is light dry, deep snow, perfect for riding powder. Temps will be cold, with temperatures ranging from -5 to -15°C / 23 to 5°F. Days will be short, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight per day. Tohoku is one of the most consistent regions for snowfall in Japan so you never need to worry about lack of snow.
Throughout the tour you'll stay in a modern, 3 star city hotel. You'll stay in a private single room which gives you privacy and space for your equipment. Buffet breakfast is included throughout your tour, and each night you can explore the the surrounding area's local ramen shops, sushi and countless izakaya.
This is a powder hunter tour where you’ll get to chase the big winter storms in Japan. We keep the itinerary flexible so your guide can hunt down the best conditions all day, every day. Each day your guide will assess the conditions and decide which is the best place to ride based on weather and snowfall. This flexibility ensures that we will find you the best snow and conditions all day, every day.
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 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
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.
- 6 nights in a single ensuite room, 3* hotel (1 person per room)
- 5 days of on-snow guiding
- 5 day lift ticket
- 5 days of private transfers to and from resorts
- 6 buffet breakfasts
- 1 group dinner (arrival night)
- Arrival and departure day transfers from Morioka Station (1 departure time)
- Fully-escorted tour, Japanese guide on hand throughout the tour
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Travel insurance
- All lunches – expect to pay USD $10 – $15 per meal
- 5 dinners – expect to pay USD $20 – $40 per meal
- Onsen entry fee – expect to pay between USD $5 – $10 per visit
- Any meals, drinks, snacks not listed
This tour is suitable for strong 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.
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.
- Week 1 28 JAN – 3 FEB, 2024
- Week 2 4 FEB – 10 FEB, 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 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 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. There may be times when a short boot pack is necessary (typically up to 5 minutes). 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, 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 from at a number of different ski resorts. There’s a range of terrain to access from playful or challenging tree runs, some with features such as pillows and drops. Expect deep snow, soft landings and lots of fun features. Snowshoes/split boards/touring skis are not required.
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 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 snowboarding and an eagerness to explore all that Japan has to offer.
HOW MANY PEOPLE IN MY GROUP?
Each tour is different, but 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 typical guest to guide ratio for this tour is 6 guests per guide (6 : 1).
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 and backcountry zones that we can access. The driving time to each destination varies and can range from 20 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 is Kei Ishiuchi and assisting him is Yutaka Oikawa. They have spent a life-time guiding and snowboarding in Japan.
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 MORIOKA?
We’ll provide you with instructions to get to Morioka. 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 most of our tours are led by snowboard/splitboard guides.
CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?
There is no quality rental snowboarding or ski equipment available in Morioka. Please bring everything you need with you.
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?
Morioka can be a very cold place in winter, with temperatures typically ranging from -5 to -20°C / 23 to -4°F. Days will be short, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight per day. This region scores some of the biggest storms in Japan so you never need to worry about lack of snow. 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 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 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 2,150 per person
Ask about the multi-tour booking discount.
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