Tohoku Powder Tour
10 NIGHTS | 8 DAYS SKIING/RIDING | ¥455,000
FULLY GUIDED & HOSTED RESORT & SIDE-COUNTRY POWDER TOUR
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DESIGNED FOR THOSE SEEKING SOMETHING UNIQUE WITH THAT PERFECT TWIST OF ADVENTURE. THIS 10 DAY POWDER ROAD TRIP WILL HAVE YOU ENJOYING A PART OF JAPAN THAT FEW GET TO SEE.
After selling out again last season, this year we’ve tweaked it slightly having you now start the tour amongst the amazing snow monsters in Zao Onsen!
From Tokyo, you’ll be whisked away at 300km/hr on a Shinkansen train up to the snow city of Yamagata. From there you will be met by your guide and driven to the beautiful Meitoya-So Ryokan for your first two nights nestled below one of the most beautiful resorts in the Tohoku region, Zao Onsen. Many skiers travel here seeking out its therapeutic onsens, or to see it’s famous snow monsters, we will also seek out its epic pow.
Here we will explore the resort and slack-country by day and wander the streets at night, dropping into a local brewery and sake bar. After your first days skiing, we will be taking you to Yamagata town where we you’ll be treated to amazing Kaiseki dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant, complete with a private Maiko performance.
The amazingly deep powder, delicious food and distinct lack of crowds makes this area of Japan very special
After your fill of snow monster powder, we’ll head up to Morioka city for 5 nights in the middle of a very cool city. At night you’ll get to check some cool bars and amazing restaurants and during the day we’ll be able to pick and choose the best conditions from a variety of resorts such as Geto Kogen, Appi Kogen, Hachimantai, Shizukuishi and Tazawako. Each resort offers loads of that famous Japanese powder you’ve come for with hardly any foreigners apart from yourselves.
For your last three nights, you’ll travel up to northern Tohoku where you enjoy Aomori Springs deserted powder or head to the famous Hakkoda to ascending to the peak and explore the limitless backcountry possibilities amongst the snow-monsters! With two guides, two vans and a road that rings the mountains that makeup Hakkoda Ski Resort, we have the option of going wide and blasting fresh deep pow down the 654 meters of vertical to the road before pressing repeat!
Expect to see very few foreigners, enjoy epic amounts of powder, relax in 1,900-year-old onsens, and be blown away by unique cultural experiences and of-course amazing food. This tour will not only take you to some awesome backcountry areas but will also leave you with a true Japanese experience that cannot be missed. See the video below from one of our private tours we took through the region and up to Hokkaido last year!
If you’d like to read about taking the train from Tokyo to the north island, check out our blog article on the journey from Tokyo to Hokkaido by Shinkansen Bullet train!
All dates: ¥455,000
12 – 22 Jan 2022 – 6 SPOTS LEFT
24 Jan – 3 Feb 2022 – SOLD OUT
5 – 15 Feb 2022 – SOLD OUT
Secure your spot with a ¥20,000 fully transferable and refundable deposit
6 to 1 Client to Guide ratio
6-12 people max per tour. 4 person minimum.
Skill Level: Advanced in powder
You must be able to ski the whole mountain with confidence and at a reasonable speed in powder, through trees and in variable conditions. You must have a good level of fitness. Snowboarders in this level are able to keep speed in flat sections by planning ahead as well as hold a solid traverse line and be able to hop up and manoeuvre in a way as to not slow down the group. Groups are split up into ski/board/ability levels and some groups we will be doing some hiking (traversing/bootpacking) to get to the goods. Skins or split-boards are not required but if the group has touring gear or wants to hire we will happily take you deeper into the backcountry.
We are a IATA registered travel agent with wholesale fares and can organise discounted flights from anywhere in Australia. Ask for our ski and fly packages.
Prices are in Japanese Yen and include consumption tax. Correct as of 11th Dec 2020. LAND ONLY. (See our terms and conditions for full details)
- Fully guided & hosted
- Transfer from Yamagata station to Zao Onsen
- Transfer to Aomori train station or Aomori Airport
- 2 nights twin/triple share accommodation at Meitoya-So, Zao Onsen
- 5 nights twin/triple share accommodation at Hotel Grand Annex, Morioka
- 3 nights twin/triple share accommodation in Azumashiya, Kuroishi
- 8 days worth of lift passes and guiding in the Tohoku region
- 5 dinners showcasing the areas delicious food including a welcome Kaseki dinner party in Yamagata complete with Maiko performance
- Onsen (hot spring) tour
- Daily breakfast
- Whiteroom T-shirt
– Single share accommodation – ¥7500 per night
– Avalanche gear rental – ¥14,500 for 9 days
– Discounted flights with Qantas ex Australian capital cities
– Tokyo stopover
– Kyoto cultural side trip
NOTE: Avalanche safety gear is compulsory for all our tours. Please advise us upon booking if you have your own gear or will need to rent.
Day 1 (arrival check-in day 1st night)
Upon landing in Tokyo we recommend you take the Shinkansen for a true Japanese travel experience up to the snowy city of Yamagata. There you will be welcomed by your guides and driven Zao Onsen. Checking into the beautiful Meitoya-So Ryokan for your first two nights you’ll have time for a relaxing onsen before you get to know your fellow tourers over dinner and drinks. Your guide will also will run you through the tour, current conditions and prevailing weather and answer any questions you may have.
Day 2 (first day on snow)
Zao boasts some 881 meters of vertical and 305 hectares of terrain giving it plenty of scope for some leg burning skiing. With few foreigners around we won’t have much competition as we head off-piste and into Japan’s famous powder. Expect some short chutes, gladed tree runs, some fun powder laps and a look and ski through Zao’s famous snow monsters. Apres is at the local Sake bar and then we head down to Yamagata for a traditional Kaiseki dinner and Maiko performance.
Day 3 (second day on snow)
If it’s not dumping in Zao then we’ll hit the road to one of the snowiest resorts in Tohoku, Getto Kogen! As we drive up the road to Getto and see snow banks towering over the van you’ll know you are in for a great day. Whilst it is relatively a small resort there are endless lines off the top lifts with plenty of terrain on offer and just yourselves to enjoy it as the locals stay stoically on piste. After skiing we may enjoy a onsen then drive up to Morioka city and settle in to our home for the next 5 nights.
Day 4 – 7 (4 days on snow)
The beauty of staying in the city of Morioka is not only you will be able to enjoy the nightlife of a Japanese city but you will also be able to access multiple resorts, each affected by slightly different weather patterns. Every day your guide will be checking the forecast to see which resort has the best powder conditions. We will be able to choose from Appi Kogen, Hachimantai Shimokura, Tazawako, and Shizukushi. Each resort brings something different to your experience with wide-open bowls, chutes, gladded trees, pillows and all-around fun-filled days. There are some great cultural sites and onsens on the way back to Morioka which we may stop at to soak our muscles ready for the next days’ adventure. Each night your guides will take you out to sample the delicious local cuisine and hang at some cool bars.
Day 8 (Morioka to Hakkoda)
Transfer day – It’s time to say goodbye to the Morioka region and head north to Hakkoda. On our way we may detour to a fun ski area few know about, boasting epic tree lines and road drops off the back. Hakkoda is famous for the epic amounts of snow that blanket the mountain. The terrain is epic and one of our favourites in Japan. The powder is ridiculously deep and as it is further north is dryer too. For the next three nights we will be staying in the family run Hotel Azumashiya, a ryokan style guesthouse with lovely hosts, regenerative onsens, delicious food and the powder of Hakkoda and Aomori Springs a short drive away.
Day 9-10 (Hakkoda and Aomori Springs)
Hakkoda like many Japanese resorts is pretty simple. One double chair down low for the beginners and one Ropeway (Cable Car) taking you right to the top. It was mainly built for sightseeing and hiking in summer but stories of epic pow, snow-monsters and endless terrain made it a (quiet) mecca for powderhounds and backcountry skiers. Aomori Springs is little known about but has some fun powder filled terrain. The lifted terrain of the back lift is Japanese tree skiing at it’s finest. If you have skins the terrain above it extends the fun even further!
Day 11 (Homeward bound)
All good things must come to an end. It’s time to check out and say goodbye to your new friends. After one last onsen you will check out by 10am and be transferred to either Shin-Aomori Station for your Shinkansen back Tokyo or to Aomori Airport for your flight home. Sayonara! Hope to see you again soon!
NOTE: This itinerary is an example. Each day we will consider the weather and fit the tour around where the best conditions are. This is the beauty of such a tour.
Loved the tour. Firstly the group got on well and secondly the places we stayed at and the welcome and farewell meals were superb. Having a Japanese experience as well as ski was a highlight.
By far the most outstanding aspect of the tour was our guide Gareth. He was professional, fun but most of all, always had our safety as his number one priority. He planned our ski days around best options with snow conditions and made sure all of us got the most out of the day’s guiding. He boosted our confidence when we (especially me) needed it and he genuinely wanted everyone to have a good time. His sense of humour was legendary and both on and off the snow he went that extra distance to ensure our comfort. As the last tour and at the end of the season to maintain the enthusiasm for our group as if it was the first one of the season made our holiday fantastic. Please pass on thanks.
I’d like to also mention Graeme (consultant) who helped arrange the tour and whom we met (again he made the effort) and who was delightful. Also my experience with Whiteroom in Niseko (I stayed at the M Hotel for 5 days on their recommendation) and met some of the team there. Thanks Whiteroom. Hopefully will join another tour one day.
– Hilary Fine 2019
Absolutely awesome. The team was amazing. (i left my wallet on the train, they called up the next station, got my wallet back!) The culture tour was great. All of the spots they took us to on the mountains were incredible. Our guide took us to a ton of great local nightlife spots, a snowboard shop when we needed some gear, and over all just could not be any more accommodating. And ofcourse, the guiding on the mountain was amazing. Not just all of the fresh powder, but the education about riding in the conditions, what to look out for, tips and tricks, and the wide diverse experience of all different terrain/snow. It was the best trip of my snowboarding career and i will be back!
– Lev Katsouba 2019
I’ve been on a handful of different Japan tours with Whiteroom over the years, and this one had to be very close to the best – we were immersed in authentic Japanese culture the whole time, and were 100% welcomed everywhere we went. We rode a range of hidden gem resorts with minimal queues, minimal crowding, maximum snow quality, maximum terrain and great, untouched lines. The guides were awesome blokes, as were the crew that came along. Would have no hesitation recommending this trip!
David Coulton – 2018
The Tohoku region of japan truly does still offer the road less travelled from foreigners. The snow never let up while we were there and the crowds were non existent. Traveling with the Whiteroom crew gave us the flexibility to go where the snow was best each day and took the hassle out of having to organize anything. All I had to worry about was riding pow, eating great food and kicking back drinking beers with the crew at the end of the day.
They make it all too easy
– Carl Drechsler 2018
Loved the authentic accommodation at both ends of the trip. Fantastic locations with access to some really awesome terrain & no crowds. The snow quantity & quality were the best I have experienced during my quest for pow. The photos taken by both guides are priceless & offer a truly memorable holiday. Both guides provided invaluable experience & knowledge of the terrain & changing weather conditions
-Gregg Cambourne – 2018
Just wanted to say a big thanks for the awesome time we had in the Tohoku region in February. As always the guides were very experienced and went out of their way to ensure we had fun and stayed save. Another great trip with heaps of memories that will last forever.
Gibbo – 2018
Well known to the local Japanese powder hunters, Hakkoda is a mecca for lift accessed backcountry skiing and riding. Hidden away in Northern Tohoku don’t expect any frills form this area, run as a hiking destination in summer they keep the ropeway turing for skiers and riders to enjoy the absolute abundance of yearly snowfall it receives.
From open chutes higher on the mountain to long tree runs all the way to base Hakkoda offers an amazing locals feel. The weather can be temperamental to say the least as the large snow covered trees at the top of the ropeway testify to. If you have some skins and a splitboards Hakkoda offers great experiences to get deep into the backcountry if the weather allows.
Uncrowded and wide open describes Aomori Springs terrain. Spend your day perfecting your turns down these expertly maintained groomed slopes that will have you building confidence in no time. As soon as you are comfortable we can hit up any one of the tree islands for some cruisey powder laps on the edge of the resort. So you can get a taste of what japan is famous for. With a clear view of the Sea of Japan when the weather allows, Aomori is blessed with great snow conditions for you to enjoy.
Geto continues to open new terrain to allow anyone looking for easy backcountry access to get their fill. Operating a well defined gate system allowing you to use Geto Kogen’s lift system to make the most of your time at the resort is easy.
You can expect steep tree runs that lead easily back to the base of the lift so you can maximise your laps in a day. The new Extreme zone has added a large section of steep trees to enjoy this coming season.
One of the most expensive resorts we go to in Northern Honshu you will definitely feel the leg burn after tackling one of Appi’s long and wide groomers. After jumping off the main gondola an over 5 km run down Yamabato will have you dying for more.
Although slightly busier during weekends the well maintained lift system allows access to all levels of skiing and riding terrain. Mid weeks can be a dream with fresh snow and few people around. If you want to test yourself any one of the main tress islands open out to challenging long runs that you can easily jump in and out off.
Often the beaten track definitely jumps into your head when you roll into Tazawako. Expect to get a few curious looks from people wondering how you have managed to end up at this local resort.
The result of being home to a core group of ski racers is plenty of untracked powder away from their courses for the rest of us to enjoy. Although smaller than some of the other areas in the region the lack of people in the trees means there are plenty of good turns to be had. If you have made the most of the snow Tazawako is also a short drive to one of Japan’s most famous onsens – Tsuru no Yu
As you stare across to the impressive Mt Iwate in the distance you will quickly realise you are far from where any Westerners ever roam at Shizukuishi. Located West of Morioka city Shiz is another gem of an area that will make you feel like you have the place to yourself.
Long groomed runs that are punctuated by tree islands for you to get your powder fix Shizukushi has plenty to get the legs burning. Although it’s starting to look a little tired from its heyday of the Japanese bubble, if you are feeling up to it you can make a short hike to ski to an abandoned lift line at the top of the mountain or try out some inexpensive cat skiing at the weekends in a repurposed part of the resort.
Split over two different resorts connected by a 10 minute shuttle bus Hachimatai’s Panorama and Shimokura ski areas regularly have great snow conditions as they are slightly more protected from the winds that the bigger and better known nearby Appi Gogen receives.
Like many of the smaller ski areas in the area expect an awesome Japanese welcome and it won’t hurt to have a few easy phrases as Hachimantai does not see many Westerners with its off the beaten track location. Although a true locals area the resort has been opening up tree runs so you can get off the groomers and into the deeper snow. Some great turns can be had up high in some steep terrain that allows for easy access back the lifts.
Whilst not getting as much snow as the other resorts in the Tohoku area what it lacks in snow it makes up for it in the lack of people riding what’s there. Zao’s snow monsters are certainly a sight to behold and skiing amongst them, quite an experience. These things coupled with its rejuvenating onsens and quaint Japanese ski town vibe (albeit slightly dilapidated) we find Zao a special Japanese cultural ski experience.
MEITOYA SO RYOKAN
This is a tastefully renovated Ryokan with large Japanese and Japanese/Western rooms. Situated in the centre of Zao Onsen this traditional Ryokan is a highlight of the trip. The onsens along make it special as well as the delicious local food and inviting communal spaces. This is a lovely way to spend your last 3 nights on tour.
HOTEL GRAND ANNEX MORIOKA
Located right in the centre of town 10 minutes walk from the train station. This hotel is the perfect base in which to explore the city of Morioka as well as having easy access to the surrounding ski areas. You’ll love being in the centre of town with all the great restaurants and bars within walking distance. Each room is comfortably appointed with twin beds and all that you’d expect from a 4 star hotel.
A lovely accommodation run by a friendly and welcoming family. You’ll feel right at home at this hotel overlooking the river and onsen town of Kuroishi. We have chosen this spot for not only the great food and lovely hosts but also it’s perfect location between Hakkoda and Aomori Springs ski resorts. It boasts a large outdoor onsen relaxing lounge space and large Japanese ensuited rooms with optional western bedding.