• Duration

    9 days, 8 nights
    January 17-25th, 2020

  • Location

    Niseko– Hokkaido, Japan

  • Maximum participants

    12

  • Price

    $ 500 (reservation deposit)
    $ 4150 (second payment)

 

Join Saveur the Journey for an ADVANCED/EXPERT POWDER Skiing/boarding trip to the ultimate powder stash, Niseko, Japan! Float effortlessly through some of the driest, deepest snow in the world, while experiencing the decadent delights of Japanese hot spring baths (onsen), the rich and delicious culinary traditions, and amazing hospitality.  

The snowflakes are softly building into a deep, light blanket, the yakitori is sizzling above the binchotan charcoal, fresh fish is being turned into sushi by a master with forty years’ experience, the onsen is sending clouds of steam into the snow-filled ski.

We are going to Japan, are you coming?

This trip is now SOLD OUT. Click “Wait-list” to be notified if any spots open up.

Photo credit:Juan Barros

Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island receives amazing amounts (45 feet on average!) of some of the driest snow on the planet. In the midst of this giant snow party is Niseko, perhaps Japan’s most famous ski area, featuring numerous resorts, fantastic terrain, fast lifts, and acres of powder. Skiing/boarding through knee, waist, and even neck deep powder is not uncommon (see video)! Japan is also famous for its excellent tree skiing/riding through beautifully spaced birch and alder forests.  
Apres ski, Japan has a strong culture of bathing in thermal hot springs (onsen) baths. Finishing a day on the mountain with a hot soak surrounded by snow is the Japanese way.  

Japan boasts one of the largest number of Michelin starred restaurants per capita – and has one of most enviable and refined cuisine in the world.  Hokkaido’s cold waters are renowned for the high quality and freshness of its seafood. The ramen in Hokkaido is unique with a miso based broth around Sapporo, salt broth (shio) from Hokadate, and finally soy (shoyu) from Asahikawa. We will even try the hearty and soon-to-be famous soup curry. If you are a ramen fan, you will be thrilled to try this special, under-the-radar specialty of the northern prefecture.

Jingisukan” (Genghis Khan) is a convivial dish from Hokkaido consisting of lamb and vegetables cooked on a dome shaped metal grill in the middle of the table. After cooking, the meat is dipped in a soy based sauce and eaten right off the grill. 

Japan has a huge culture of informal drinking and small plate restaurants called “Izakaya.” Here you can eat platefuls of gyoza (dumplings), Japanese fried chicken, yakitori (grilled skewers), noodles, soups, sashimi, sushi and wash it all down with cold Japanese beer, sake, or Japanese whiskey.

 

Photo credit: Kelly Rice

Every day after a hard day on the slopes, we’ll visit one of the many beautifully landscaped Japanese onsen. These natural hot springs are often found in natural settings, among mountains and rivers, and they are the perfect place for quiet soaking, relaxation, and contemplation. Winter, with its powdered snow landscapes is arguably the best time to bathe in a hot outdoor bath (Roten-buro). 

Located an hour and a half from Niseko, the romantic port town of Otaru is steeped in a rich history that dates back to its glory days as a major herring center. We will take a break from skiing/boarding for a day to wander the canal district and check out centuries-old glass blowing shops famous for blowing balls meant to hang squid nets. Otaru is known for the freshness and quality of its sushi. We will eat fresh seafood and even sample soft serve ice cream made from Hokkaido milk (including some odd flavors, e.g., uni, beer, potato).  Japan is famous for its rice wine (sake) but also for producing some of the best whiskeys in the world. We will have the option to visit, tour, and taste our way through the Tanaka Sake brewery or Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery (founded in 1934). 

Photo credit: Kelly Rice

For the ultimate JapPow (Japanese Powder) experience join us on an optional backcountry guided tour or a day of Cat Skiing/boarding. Whether you want human powered ascents to reach untouched powder fields, bowls, and glades or the thrill of riding a snow cat and lots of fresh powder runs we have something for you.

Nestled on the backside of Mt. Annupuri, Goshiki Onsen provides access to a whole range of backcountry zones. Low angle trees, steep pillow lines, wide open bowls and peaks to hike all wait at the end of Hwy 58. Choose to spend the day lapping the bowl right off the parking lot for quick, blower pow runs or adventure out to the high alpine world of Mt. Annupuri for extended untracked laps. Finish the day off with a soak in Goshiki Onsen, and experience one of the greatest combinations of culture and adventure Japan has to offer.

Once we get to Niseko, we will all stay together in a beautiful and comfortable chalet where we’ll have home cooked Japanese/Western breakfasts.  We will also share a few meals together at “home,” learning how things are made and helping you bring some cooking tips home with you.

In the twilight the snowflakes fall thick and fast.  Steam rises from the hot water of the onsen, reaching up to mingle with the falling snow.  Muscles relax, powder exploits are shared, and appetites build.  In a restaurant nearby the bounty of Hokkaido is transformed into loving and exacting dishes, layered with color, texture, flavor, and umami.  After Sake and Sapporo it is time to rest, tomorrow will bring staggering quantities of snow, new dishes, new friends, and memories that will remain as fresh as the powder.

Photo credit: Aaron Schorsch

Sample Itinerary- subject to change

Day 0 – Thursday January 16th
This day is optional and is on your own.
Arrive at New Chitose Airport in Sapporo, Japan.
Take airport shuttle to Ana Crowne Plaza Chitose hotel.
Check into hotel, rest and relax or explore Chitose or Sapporo on your own.
Dinner on your own.
(Alternatively please plan to arrive at the Ana Crowne Plaza Chitose Hotel by 9 am on Friday, January 17th.)

Day 1 -Friday January 17

Breakfast at Hotel
We will pick you up at the Crown Plaza Ana Chitose Hotel at 9am
Take Japanese train to Sapporo
Welcome introductions
Lunch at Ramen Alley (included)
Sapporo fish market tour
Sapporo Brewery Tour
Welcome dinner – All you can eat/drink Gengis Kahn (included)
Return by train to Hotel Crown Plaza Ana Chitose
Prep to leave in the AM

Day 2 - Saturday January 18

Breakfast at Hotel
Leave 9am by van for Niseko
Check in and hit the slopes or rentals
Lunch on your own at resort
Onsen together (included)
Dinner at izakaya restaurant (included)
Covered (breakfast, Niseko ski, onsen, dinner)

Day 3 - Sunday January 19

Japanese/Western Breakfast at Chalet at 7:30am
Travel by van to Rusutsu (not included)
Lunch at restaurant on the slopes (included)
Visit one of the nice onsens nearby
Dinner out in small groups (not included)
Travel back to chalet in Niseko
Covered (breakfast, Rusutsu ski, lunch, onsen, )

Day 4 - Monday January 20

Breakfast at 7:30
Ski Niseko resorts (8:30am-5pm)
Slopeside lunch (not included)
Visit one of the nice onsens nearby
Dinner at chalet (included)
Covered (breakfast, Niseko ski, onsen, dinner)

Day 5 - Tuesday January 21

Otaru day trip
Visit glass making factories
Fish market for lunch (included)
Ice cream
Tanaka Sake brewery or Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery tour
Dinner at nice restaurant (not included)
OR Free time
OR ski niseko (not included)
Covered (breakfast, lunch, tours)

Day 6 - Wednesday January 22

If the weather looks good, travel to Kiroro ski areas
Lunch at Kiroro (not included)
Visit one of the nice onsens nearby
Dinner at chalet
Covered (breakfast, Kiroro ski, onsen, dinner chalet)

Day 7 - Thursday January 23

Breakfast at chalet
Cat Skiing/Boarding or Backcountry tour (not included)
Or ski Niseko (not included)
Dinner out (included)
Covered (breakfast, packed lunch, dinner out)

Day 8 - Friday, January 24

Ski Niseko
Visit one of the nice onsens nearby
Farewell dinner out (included)
Covered (breakfast, Niseko ski, onsen, dinner out)

Day 9 - Saturday, January 25

Breakfast at chalet
Pack up
Transportation by van to Sapporo and airport

TRIP PACKAGE INCLUDES

  • All accommodations (double occupancy)
  • 6 Days of Lift Tickets (4 at Niseko, Rusustu, Kiroro)
  • Most Meals (8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Onsen (thermal bath) soak after Skiing/Boarding
  • All transportation by van or train during trip
  • All tours and tastings
  • English speaking guides

NOT INCLUDED

FAQ Japan Ski Trip

Do you have to be an experienced skier/snowboarder to go on this trip?

You must be an ADVANCED/EXPERT skier/snowboarder with extensive experience in deep POWDER. You must be in good physical shape, be able to and have skied in all conditions (including whiteout, wind, very cold). You must be able to ski/ride in control on all types of terrain and should be very comfortable on black and double black slopes. Ideally you should have some avalanche safety training and should be familiar with using an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. You should have (or plan to rent) suitable all mountain (105+mm underfoot) or powder skis (115mm underfoot or wider) or powder specific snowboard.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

No!  Speaking Japanese is definitely an asset but not at all required.  Many Japanese people don’t speak English but our Japanese speaking guides will provide translation, organize logistics, get us to the interesting spots, and help you enjoy your experience.

What if I don’t like Sushi?

Sushi is only one part of the amazing Japanese cuisine.  If you don’t like raw fish never fear!  Japan is known for delicious and varied cuisine including yakitori (meat grilled on skewers), Tempura, yakisoba (stir-fried buckwheat noodles), seared fish, regional ramens, grilled and roasted meats, simmered vegetables, and much more.

What will the weather be like?

Niseko has some of the lightest, driest, snow on the planet which means that it stays cold.  Temperatures in January are generally in the high teens and low 20’s Fahrenheit but can be colder.  Dressing with layers is important to stay warm.  To get so much snow there has to be storms so expect stormy days with lots of snow falling!

What is chalet like, what are the rooms like?

The beautiful chalet is made from massive local Karamatsu logs and is located in a secluded spot, yet still close to Annupuri and Niseko Village Ski resort. The chalet has 5 bedrooms including a Japanese style tatami room and a loft. There are two bedrooms with two double beds in each, plus a master bedroom with a king bed, attached bathroom, and room for two futons.  There is lots of open communal space, a piano, a traditional hinoki bath, a large oak table, and an enclosed Finnish masonry fireplace.

Can I share a room at the chalet? Is it possible to have my own room?

Yes it is possible to share a room at the chalet, either with someone you already know (please let us know) or with someone else on the trip who is willing to share. For this chalet there is not an option to have your own room.

Should I bring my own gear or are there rentals available?

We recommend that you bring your own gear, providing that you have suitable powder snowboard or skis (all mountain skis in the 105-110mm width or powder skis 115mm or wider). There are high quality rentals available for powder specific skis and boards. Check out https://www.rhythmjapan.com/locations/rhythm-niseko (they also have backcountry gear available).  Bringing your own boots and renting powder skis or snowboard is probably a safe bet. Avalanche safety equipment is required for backcountry riding and rentals are available as well.

I have dietary restrictions, can you accommodate me?

Please contact us to let us know about your dietary restrictions to see if you can be accommodated.

I don’t know how to use chopsticks and I am worried I will injure myself if I try to learn. Will I still be able to eat?

While chopsticks are used for much of the eating we will do in Japan, forks will be available, so no one will go hungry.  We will happily help train you in the ways of chopsticks if you so desire!

How much does the optional Backcountry Skiing/Snowboarding day cost, and what does it include?

Please add $150 for the guided backcountry ski/snowboard touring day which includes transportation to the mountain, guides, packed lunch and lessons on backcountry safety and travel. Avalanche safety gear required but not provided.

Please add $150 per day for a guided sidecountry adventure. Professional guides will show you the best lift accessed lines and stashes. Some small hikes may be required. Avalanche safety gear required but not provided. Depending on group and abilities touring bindings and skins (or splitboard with skins or snowshoes) may be used to access certain lines.

Please add $750 for a day of cat skiing/boarding which includes avalanche safety gear, lunch, transportation to mountain and guides.

What if I need to cancel my trip?

If you need to cancel a trip that you have already booked and it is at least 90 days before the start of the trip your deposit is half refundable.  Final payment for the trip is due 60 days before the start of the trip.  Cancellations between 30 and 59 days before the of start of trip that cannot be filled are 50% refundable, if your spot is filled then it is 25% refundable.  Cancellations less than 30 days are non-refundable (100% of booking cost).  For this reason, we recommend you consider purchasing travelers insurance, (try World Nomads) which will cover the cost of your trip in extenuating circumstances.

Our team

Aaron Schorsch

Owner- Saveur the Journey

Aaron Schorsch is the owner of Saveur the Journey where he combines his passions of food, travel, outdoor adventures, and culture. He grew up in rural New Hampshire and has lived and traveled extensively in the US and abroad. Aaron learned to snowboard while teaching English in the French Alps but later took up Telemark Skiing. While he still likes to drop a knee on occasion you are more likely to find him with fixed heels shredding the backcountry or resort in a style he likes to call “joyful abandon.” Aaron is a student of food who has worked throughout the food system from growing seed and farming of vegetables, fruits, and livestock to cooking in high end restaurants and managing farmer’s markets. He loves to talk about, think about, dream about and especially, cook and eat food. He is a member of Slow Food international and has been a US delegate at Terra Madre in Turin, Italy.

Victoria Sacks

Logistics coordinator

Having spent two years as the only foreigner in a small Japanese town, Victoria has plenty of experience figuring out how things work in the far east. Victoria studied Chemistry and Japanese at NYU and took off after graduation to teach English abroad. It was her Japanese countryside “inaka” education that gave Victoria a real flavor of Japan and she is still famous for her Taiko playing skills down south. Victoria especially loves eating and bathing in Japan and has extensive experience traveling around to try new things. Victoria is very excited to show Saveur the Journey “her” Japan and introduce everyone to the quirks that make Japan so special.

Victor McNeil

AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Victor McNeil is a native of the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Northeast Oregon with his wife and two golden retrievers. You will find Victor working and recreating in the mountains year around, from guiding three week expeditions on Denali to ski guiding in his home mountain range the Wallowas. Victor has a passion for travel and exploration and has skied around the world. In 2016 he became the third certified Splitboard Mountaineering Guide through the American Mountain Guides Association in the country. Victor now “splits” his time between split boarding and skiing. When not ski guiding, he also runs a non-profit avalanche forecasting center in the Wallowas. Victor loves sliding on snow and can’t wait to share some turns with you.

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