A locals perspective on one of Japan's last 'secret' spots to ski & snowboard

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 winter 2021.

Dates

31 January - 06 January, 2021
07 February - 13 February, 2021
14 February - 20 February, 2021
21 February - 27 February, 2021

Guest to Guide Ratio

6 guests : 1 guide

Price

AUD $2,550 per person

Currency Convertor

Tour Type

Freeride - Be prepared to ride and ski 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.

Highlights

No Crowds

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.

Highlights

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.

Highlights

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.

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. You’re enriched by the knowledge of our experts and local guides.

Highlights

Cat Ski Session

As part of the tour you'll get to spend a morning cat skiing in Aizu. You'll have exclusive access to an abandoned resort area that is only reachable by a snowcat. Spend your morning riding un-tracked snow.

Highlights

The Resorts

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

ABOUT AIZU

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.

CAT SKI SESSION

As part of the tour we include a half day cat ski session. All guests on tour get to experience cat-skiing/ cat-boarding in Japan. You don’t have to compete for fresh lines here, we have the cat-ski zone all to ourselves, with the exclusive use of snowcat’s to shuttle us to the top after each run. Depending on the groups pace, you can typically expect to get 3 - 5 runs, riding deep un-tracked snow.

SNOW & CONDITIONS

Late January to early March is the best time of year to experience skiing and snowboarding in Aizu. What you can expect is slightly heavier snow compared to Hokkaido with average temperatures ranging from -1 to -10 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.

ACCOMMODATION

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.

PRE-TOUR SUPPORT

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.

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 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

Kei Ishiuchi

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

Ingemar Backman

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 Aizu departures.

Meet your expert team

Arto Pitkainen

Hailing from Rovaniemi, Finland is our expert snowboard guide Arto. When he's not leading our groups through the resorts and backcountry areas in the Arctic Circle, you'll find him in Japan leading our backcountry and freeride focused tours. Aizu is a region that is close to Arto's heart as it was the first place he visited in Japan. Arto knows all the Aizu resorts in detail and is always keeping a sharp eye on the weather to find his guests the best snow.

Meet your expert team

Richie Owen

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

Aya Kaneko

Aya is one of our local guides in Aizu. She has years of experience riding the resorts in this region and has all the secret spots on lock. Whether you're freeriding in the trees, laying high speed carves on the groomers or spending the afternoon in the park, Aya has got you covered.

ESSENTIAL INFO

Tour Inclusions

YOUR TOUR INCLUDES

 

  • 6 nights twin share, ensuite accommodation
  • Daily on-snow guiding with professional Mint Tours guides
  • 5 day All Mountain lift ticket valid at 22 resorts
  • Guided Cat Ski session at Alts Bandai
  • Private transfers in 4WD vehicles to & from resorts
  • 6 breakfasts
  • 6 dinners
  • Arrival and departure day bus transfers from Koriyama Station to our hotel
  • Cultural excursions
  • Fully-escorted tour, guides on hand throughout the tour
Tour Dates

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 Aizu, then start a new tour in a different destination the following day. Ask us about tour combo ideas and multi-tour discounts.


WEEK 1    31 January – 06 January, 2021
WEEK 2    07 February – 13 February, 2021
WEEK 3    14 February – 20 February, 2021
WEEK 4    21 February – 27 February, 2021


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.

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 take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre-or post tour arrangements.


WHAT HAPPENS IF BORDERS ARE CLOSED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?
The global health crisis has impacted everyone enormously, so we want to make sure your future travel plans are safe and reassure you that we are committed to supporting our customers in the best way that we can. You can view our latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates HERE


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 ride 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?
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. If you are travelling solo, you will be paired with another guest to room with. The accommodation for this tour is twin share i.e. 2 beds per room. If you’d prefer your own room please request a single room at time of booking.


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.


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. Aizu terrain has lots of glades and trees – 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. Incredibly, Aizu has over 12 ski resorts we can access within easy reach of our centrally located hotel with terrain ranging from wide-open pistes, perfectly crafted terrain parks to deep untracked tree riding and skiing.


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. Most of our guides work for us season after season. If you have a preferred Mint guide, just let us know and we’ll be able to tell you which tours they are leading.


CAN YOU BOOK FLIGHTS?
Yes. Let us take the hassle out of selecting the right flights for the tour. 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. Prior to the tour commencing we will invite you to a group chat which is managed by your tour manager and guides.


CAN I BRING MY PARTNER WHO DOESN’T SKI OR SNOWBOARD?
Of course! 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 a guide with options 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 the majority of our tours are led by snowboard guides.


CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?
Yes! 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?
Japan can be a cold place in winter, with temperatures typically ranging from 0 to -10. We strongly recommend that guests dress in clothing specific for traveling in backcountry areas. We recommend that guests have a good quality waterproof jacket and pants, lightweight insulated layer, 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?
Yes. You’ll get a 5 day ‘All Mountain’ lift ticket that is valid to use at any of the 22 resorts we might visit on this tour.

Price and Payment

PRICE PER PERSON
The Aizu Freeride Tour is AUD $2,550 per person

Pricing is in Australian Dollars and based on twin share accommodation. Please contact us if you would like a quote in your local currency. We can accept payments in USD, AUD, NZD, GBP, CHF, EUR, JPY, CAD.


SINGLE SHARE SUPPLEMENTS
A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this tour. The single supplement applies to all nights on your tour and is subject to availability. Please speak to your tour specialist for further information.


RESERVATION AND DEPOSIT
To secure your spot on tour, a non-refundable 25% deposit is payable within 3 days of booking. The balance is due 90 days prior to tour departure. You can view our terms and conditions HERE and COVID-19 policy HERE

Enquiries and Bookings

If you would like some more information or a quote for the tour you can contact us by:

1. ONLINE
Enquire below. 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.

Enquire

2. OVER THE PHONE 
Call us and follow the prompts to speak to one of our Japan Tour specialists.

Within Australia (03) 8563 9437
International +61 (03) 8563 9437


3. EMAIL
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.

info@minttours.com

Enquire