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Deep powder, great tree riding and zero crowds

If you’re looking for ‘Hokkaido-like’ dry powder, great tree riding and zero crowds, then put the Morioka Freeride Tour at the top of your hit list. You’ll get to spend the week road-tripping the little-known, stash-laden resorts just outside of a small regional city, with insider knowledge from Mint’s head Japanese guide and local legend, Kei Ishiuchi.

Morioka city is the capital of Iwate Prefecture which is categorised as a ‘Deep Snowfall Region’. It’s surprisingly home to over 15 ski areas that range from quirky, old-school ski hills to larger modern resorts and there’s even an active volcano that you can ride that bares a resemblance to Mt Fuji. To the northwest is Appi which is the most well-known ski area. It scores regular and heavy snowfall and has some of the best lift-accessed tree riding zones in the region. Geto Kogen to the south-west is a real gem that receives some of the highest snowfall in Japan. Between these two resorts are the true ‘secret spots’ of Iwate. We’ll leave these areas off the list until we see you on the tour.

This is a powder hunter tour with no set itinerary. Your guide will monitor weather and snowfall to find you the best conditions each day. Each day your guides will drive you out of the city and to a different ski area. Drive times can range from 30 – 70 minutes. You can expect to ride a range of resorts throughout the week, and your guides will ensure that you’re in the right place, at the right time, to score the best snow. Another bonus is that you’ll only ride on weekdays which means you’ll avoid the weekend day-trippers.

You’ll also get to see the ‘real’ Japan while staying in a lively regional city rather than a ski resort. After riding, there’s some incredible onsen to visit. Dinners are included and each night your guide will showcase the endless dining and drinking options in Morioka. 

Dates

5 January - 11 January
12 January - 18 January
19 January - 25 January
26 January - 1 February
2 February - 8 February
9 February - 15 February
16 February - 22 February
23 February - 1 March

Duration

All tours are 7 days / 6 nights and run from Sunday to Saturday. You'll ride Monday to Friday to skip the weekend crowds and maximise your time on-snow.

Price

USD 2,790 single room

Ability Level

Advanced - You’re confident riding off-piste, you’re comfortable in most conditions from deep pow to hard pack or in low visibility and can safely navigate in treed terrain.

Why Travel With Mint

It’s important to know that your travel provider is accredited, accountable and responsible. 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. Mint Tours is a registered travel agent and a member of AFTA and IATA and conduct business in accordance with the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct.

Highlights

No crowds = more pow

Get off the beaten path and explore Japan’s little-known, stash-laden resorts of Iwate prefecture.

Highlights

Powder hunting

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.

Highlights

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.

Highlights

Local knowledge

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.

Highlights

Private Single Accommodation

All guests stay in their own room which gives you plenty of space and privacy. Rooms are modern and have a comfortable bed, ensuite bathroom and enough room for all your gear. The 3-star hotel is in the centre of Morioka, surrounded by plenty of authentic restaurants and shopping.

Morioka Freeride Tour

Get in touch for a detailed tour itinerary and more info

MORIOKA CITY-STAY

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 30 - 70 minutes.

ONSEN & CULTURAL VISITS

The plan for each day differs due to a number of factors, but there's always time for a post-shred onsen (hot spring) visit. 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 soba restaurant.

SNOW & CONDITIONS

From early January to late February is the ideal time of year to ride in Iwate. What you can expect is light and dry 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. Iwate is one of the most consistent regions for snowfall in Japan so you never need to worry about lack of snow.

COMFORTABLE HOTEL ACCOMMODATION

Throughout the tour you'll stay in a modern, 3-star city hotel. You'll stay in a private single room (1 person per room) which gives you privacy and plenty of space for your equipment. Buffet breakfast is included throughout your tour, and each night dinner is included. Join your guide and explore the the surrounding area's local ramen shops, sushi and countless izakaya.

FLEXIBLE ITINERARY

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.

SMALL GROUPS

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 Ishiuchi

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

Chuck Morin

Whether he's finding you face shots in Japan or Canadian couloirs in the Revelstoke backcountry, Weston Athlete Chuck Morin aka 'Chuckosaurus' will make the most of every day on-snow with his guests. You'll enjoy some epic turns and contagious stoke from Chuck.

ESSENTIAL INFO

Tour Inclusions

INCLUSIONS

 

✔ 6 nights accommodation in a Single Room with ensuite (1 person per room)
✔ 5 days of on-snow guiding in a small group of 6 people
✔ 5 day lift ticket
✔ 6 buffet breakfasts
✔ 6 group dinners
✔ Scheduled transfers from Morioka Station to hotel (arrival and departure day)
✔ 5 days of private transport in 4WD vehicles
✔ Fully-escorted tour, guide on hand throughout the tour
✔ Pre tour support from Japan Tour Manager


WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

 

✘ Flights to Japan
✘ Train to Morioka Station
✘ Travel insurance
✘ All lunches – expect to pay USD $6 – $15 per meal
✘ Onsen entry fee – expect to pay between USD $3 – $7 per visit
✘ Any meals, drinks, snacks not listed
✘ Guide gratuities

Dates and Price

 

WINTER 2025 DATES AND PRICE

 

All of Mint’s Japan Tours are 7 days and 6 nights and run from Sunday to Saturday. You’ll ride every resort during the week (Monday – Friday) to avoid the weekend day-trippers and maximise your time on-snow. If 6 nights isn’t enough, then book a multi-tour combo. Join the Morioka Freeride Tour, then start a new Mint tour in a different destination the following day.

 

WEEK 1 – 5 January – 11 January – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 2 – 12 January – 18 January – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 3 – 19 January – 25 January – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 4 – 26 January – 1 February – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 5 – 2 February – 8 February – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 6 – 9 February – 15 February – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 7 – 16 February – 22 February – USD $2,790 single room

WEEK 8 – 23 February – 1 March – USD $2,790 single room

 


CONDITIONS – WHAT TO EXPECT FOR YOUR TOUR

 

During the tour you will ride a lot of powder, glades and trees. Of course weather and conditions are impossible to predict so guests must be prepared to ride or ski anything. Here’s a guide of typical conditions:

January is ‘storm riding’ season. Expect cold temperatures and snowy or stormy conditions. Frequent storms mean that you will often spend back-to-back days riding in the trees.

February sees regular storms, however the weather is more settled which opens up more options for locations and terrain choices. Temperatures are typically below freezing and the snow stays in great condition, even days after a storm. February offers more options to travel further afield to some of the secret spots.

ITINERARY

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL DAY

 

Welcome to Japan. Make your way to the meeting point at Morioka Station where your guide will meet you and make the short drive to the hotel. After check in, you’ve got some free time to settle in to your room, unpack and set-up your equipment for the adventure ahead. In the evening, meet your guides for an info and welcome session. Your guides will explain what’s in store for the week, the current weather, run through equipment and answer any questions you have. Then join your guides for dinner at one of our local izakaya. It’s a great opportunity to get to know everyone on tour as most guests are travelling solo.


DAY 2 TO 6 – STORM CHASING

 

You’ll spend the next 5 days riding the surrounding resorts. We keep the tour itinerary flexible so you can ride at the best resort on the day. Your guide will monitor storm cycles to ensure you’re scoring the best conditions at each resort as weather and snowfall affect each resort differently. We have over half a dozen resorts that we can access. Drive times can range from 30 – 70 minutes and largely depend on weather, snowfall and the groups appetite for adventure. Each day will follow a similar format:

Mornings – Enjoy the breakfast buffet at your leisure. Your guide will advise the departure time the evening before which is typically around 7:45 am. Each morning your guide will explain the weather and snow conditions for the day and advise the group where we’ll be riding. We have plenty of resorts to choose from, so your guides will keep a sharp eye on the weather so we can find you the best snow daily. Load up the van and drive to the resort.

Throughout the day – Once at the resort the aim is to spend a full day on-mountain. Your guide will take the guess-work out of it and give you a locals perspective from day one. Be the first into the trees and hit the secret powder stashes. They also know the best places for a banging lunch and have all the photo spots for the ‘gram on lock.

Afternoons – After riding, your guide will make plans according to time, the groups interest and energy levels. You could find yourself at one of the many local onsen (hot springs), stopping off at a sushi train, a quick visit to the 7-Eleven or another local attraction like the sake brewery before returning to the hotel.

Evenings – On return to the hotel, your guide will be on-hand to answer any questions and offer any assistance. After your return, you’ve got some free time. Dinners are included throughout the week and your guide will plan group dinners each night and most of the restaurants are just a short walk from the hotel. Join the crew to share a few stories about the days’ turns over a bowl or ramen, a stack of sushi or at one of the many traditional izakaya, before turning in for the night.


DAY 7 – DEPARTURE DAY

 

Breakfast at the hotel, followed by check out. All good things must come to come to an end, and after a big week of riding deep, Japanese powder, your guide will drop you back to Morioka Station and say goodbye.

Ability and Grouping

ABILITY

 

This tour is suitable for Advanced snowboarders and skiers. You’re confident riding off-piste, you’re comfortable in most conditions from deep pow to hard pack or in low visibility and can safely navigate in treed terrain. You can maintain a continuous and moderate pace, through trees, traverses and flat sections.

On this tour you will ride for 5 consecutive and full days. Guests need to be able to ride or ski multiple days in a row at a moderate pace. 

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 the Mint 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, you’ll be asked to self-evaluate what type of rider/skier you are. 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 the tour.


GROUPING

 

Each day you’ll travel, ride and ski together in a small group of six people with a dedicated guide leading the way. Each week typically has twelve guests which will always be led by two guides. This allows the group split into two smaller groups (6 people per group), to better manage any splits in ability or pace. You’ll regroup in the evening for dinners and to create a fun and social vibe.

Your guides will decide on which group you’ll ride/ski with based on a number of factors including safety, ability, fitness and pace. Know that your guides always have your best interest in mind when creating your group. As much as possible, we strive to place you in a group with other riders/skiers who have similar abilities and pace.

FAQ

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 assist with pre-or post tour arrangements.


WHAT IS A FREERIDE TOUR?

 

Mint’s 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. During the tour you will ride 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 are on the Ikon or Epic Pass.


BUDGETING FOR THE TOUR

 

An estimate of spending money for the week is around USD $200 – $300 to cover lunches, drink, snacks and onsen. Here’s an indication of what you can expect to pay for meals and activities:

  • Lunches – expect to pay USD $10 – $15 per meal
  • Onsen entry fee – expect to pay between USD $3 – $7 per visit
  • Sushi train visit – expect to pay USD $10 – $30

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO I NEED TO BOOK?

 

It’s hard to estimate when the tour will fill up. That being said, the Mint’s Japan tours do fill up quickly, so it’s best 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 TERRAIN LIKE?

 

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. Generally speaking, Japan doesn’t have steep terrain, but be prepared for deep snow. The tree riding zones are mostly lift-accessed, however there are times when a short boot pack is necessary (typically 10 minutes). All riding is in-bounds and snowshoes/split boards/touring skis are not required.


WHO WILL BE IN MY GROUP?

 

Your guides 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.


FITNESS

 

Whether you’re lifelong snowboarder or skier 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?

 

Arrival and departure days are off-snow. Once you’ve signed up for the tour you will receive a comprehensive guide with details about the tour including the arrival and departure day process, instructions on flights, where to meet, gear list, recommended arrival and departure times, visa requirements and transportation information.


WHAT IF I’M TRAVELLING SOLO?

 

The accommodation for this tour is 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?

 

Each day you will ride with a small group of 6 people.


WHICH RESORTS WILL WE VISIT?

 

The Morioka Freeride Tour has a flexible itinerary 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. The larger and well known locations are Appi and Geto Kogen and there’s the secret spots that you’ll visit throughout the week.


CAN I ARRIVE EARLY OR STAY ON AFTER THE TOUR?

 

Yes, pre or post tour accommodation can be arranged. 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. The guides in Morioka are Kei Ishiuchi and Chuck Morin. You will be assigned a guide at the start of your tour. On select departures we have guest pro riders Ingemar Backman and Abbe Hjellstrom.


ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED?

 

No, flights are not included, but Mint can provide you with a list of the best flights to book to match up with your tour and arrival or departure times.


DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?

 

Yes. All guests 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 you will receive 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. You will receive a Pre Departure Guide 30 days prior to departure.


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 managers. 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?

 

Once you’ve booked, you’ll be provided with a guide which contains all the info on how to get to Morioka by train. 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 tours are led by snowboard/splitboard guides.


CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?

 

Quality rental snowboarding or ski equipment is not available in Morioka. Please bring everything you need with you.


WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?

 

Morioka can be a very cold place in winter. It’s recommended that guests dress in layers of clothing specific for traveling in backcountry areas and have a good quality waterproof jacket and pants, insulated layer(s), merino base layers, merino gloves and waterproof gloves, goggles with low light and 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 strongly 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.


GRATUITIES

 

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.

HOW TO BOOK

HOW TO BOOK

 

To reserve your spot, email info@minttours.com with your preferred dates and one of our travel managers will send you a quote, availability and further information for the tour.


DEPOSITS AND PAYMENTS

 

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

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