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Itinerary

The Western Hokkaido Tour

Otaru (Kokusai & Teine) - Niseko (Kiroro - Moiwa & Rusutsu) - Hakodate (Nanae Snow Park) - Tokyo
14 days
£4,775

RESORT & SIDE-COUNTRY  / GUIDED & HOSTED for 10 days

This small group tour takes you from the top to the bottom of Hokkaido's western region, taking in most of Japan's most famous ski resorts along the way - Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, and Moiwa are all included. And enjoyed, no doubt, both on and off the slopes. However, the itinerary also swerves to include lesser-known gems such as Teine and Kokusai - close to the northern coast - and then two infrequently-visited ski resorts close to the fascinating port city of Hakodate. Trust us...there will be no other foreigners on these slopes! Therefore, fresh tracks ahoy! And because this part of Hokkaido Island is so close to the western coastline, which is where the weather comes from, you get more snow here than you could possibly conceive.

This skiing (or riding) is largely resort-based, with the ski lifts largely getting you to where you need to be. However, your guide won't be taking you down the pistes - oh no - instead you will be heading in to the trees and deep in to the slack-country also. Some days may require just a little hiking to get to the good stuff...but the rewards are well worth it.

On Hokkaido Island you have three bases; first the seaside city of Otaru from which you’ll ski the backcountry of Kokusai as well as Teine, known for its steep terrain and amazing views across the water. If you need a rest or the weather doesn’t cooperate (this is stormy territory!) then you'll head to the Yoichi Whiskey Distillery or spend time soaking in a natural onsen. You then head down to world-famous Niseko - where you'll obviously head through the gates to access the legendary powder. Niseko will also be the base from which to ride in Rusutsu, Moiwa and Kiroro.

Finally, for the Hokkaido section, you head down the south-west peninsular to Hakodate. This off-the-beaten track and quirky city affords access to two great nearby ski resorts with amazing tree skiing, lovely dry powder snow and no other foreigners stealing your best lines. On your last night with the group, you eat sashimi straight from Hakodate’s fish markets - arguably the best in Japan.

Finally, the tour guide will drop you at Hakodate Shinkansen station and we've booked you on a bullet-train to take you all the way down to Tokyo, an epic four-and-a-half journey across the length of Honshu Island. After checking in to your hotel in Shinjuku - the entertainment district - you have a final two nights, one full day, in the capital by yourselves (or yourself) before flying home to the UK.

The Western Hokkaido Tour
 

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1
Depart - flying to Japan directly on British Airways from London Heathrow.
Day 2
Transfer through Tokyo Haneda Airport and fly north to Hokkaido Island. You then catch the train from Sapporo Chitose Station to the town of Otaru - an easy journey to negotiate and we'll provide detailed notes covering times, platforms, directions and practicalities. Once you've made your way to your central hotel in Otaru, then you'll then meet your guides and fellow travellers...no doubt in the bar. You'll run through the tour, discuss what the weather has been up to and they'll answer any questions you may have. Collapse and go to bed.
Day 3
Your first day on the slopes, as you head to KOKUSAI. And it's a great introduction to Japan, because here it's all about untracked powder coming straight from Siberia having picked up moisture from the Sea of Japan. In the evening you all head out to an izakaya in Otaru city, this being your official welcome party.
Day 4
Today you head to TEINE - the closest ski resort to Sapporo city and home to the downhill events at the 1972 Olympics. Here you will some steep and open bowls, and your guides will show you a few long powder chutes - terrain not ordinarily found on Hokkaido. Dinner is once again back in Otaru and we'd suggest you try the local speciality, snow crab. Wash it down with some fine Sapporo beer.
Day 5
Today you say goodbye to Otaru and the road trip begins! And the first stop is one of Japan's finest ski resorts - KIRORO - famous for it's average snow fall of 20-metres per annum (!) and amazing tree skiing. Your guide will take you through the new backcountry gates and, well....paradise awaits. After a full day on the slopes in Kiroro, you head then further south for an hour or two on the road to Niseko, where you establish base in the heart of the action in Hirafu Village. Let lively nights ensue, or go to bed with a good book. It's entirely up to you.
Day 6
A full day on the NISEKO mountain; four linked resorts, 11 backcountry gates, open bowls out back, trees up front and endless terrain. This is why skiers and snowboarders from all over the world come to Japan.
Day 7
An away day from Niseko, as you head to the other side of Mount Yotei to RUSUTSU resort. On-the-mountain, this is our favourite ski resort on Hokkaido Island. Endless Japanese birch forests and plenty of natural hits. And after you come off the slopes and before you head back to Niseko, there is time to experience Rusutsu off-the-mountain - a bizarre Disney-like resort with all the quirkiness of Japan on show.
Day 8
Niseko has a lesser-known little-sister resort - MOIWA. And it's a powder trap. There may be only three chairlifts, but the terrain they access is simply amazing and, fortuitously, the crowds tend to remain over in Niseko despite its proximity...so you have a good chance of fresh tracks. After you come off the slopes, Moiwa has several wonderful onsens nearby so there is time to take a relaxing soak before heading back to the bright lights of Hirafu Village.
Day 9
Your final day in the Niseko region and you'll likely end up on Niseko mountain again for just more of the same. But your guides are locals and have the knowledge, so they know the hidden powder stashes. It is likely you'll head for the back bowls, accessed via a short trek to the summit. Your final night in Hirafu Village requires some celebration.
Day 10
A rest day, as you travel south to the wonderful and quirky city of Hakodate on Hokkaido's southern tip. Famed for being the first port in Japan opened to foreign trade, you can spend the afternoon wandering around renovated old red brick fishing warehouses. You've left the 'ski-package tourists' behind in Niseko, and now you are once again immersed in real Japan...and it's great.
Day 11
You head to NANAE SNOW PARK - rarely visited, other than by locals. And this means empty slopes - the Japanese don't tend to head off-piste - and you spend the days doing laps from the gondola, finding fresh tracks wherever they may be. This ski resorts overlooks Lake Onuma and the Pacific Ocean, so the views on a bluebird day are amazing. In the evening it is back to Hakodate for your final night with the group - in a city famous for its seafood.
Day 12
You say goodbye to your guides and fellow travellers, and are dropped off at Hakodate Station. From here you have an epic bullet-train journey taking you off Hokkaido (via a tunnel) and then the length of the Tohoku Region in Japan. You cover the 550-miles in four-and-a-half hours - you do the maths. It's fast! Once you arrive in Tokyo, you transfer through to Shinjuku and we have booked you in to a central hotel for two final nights in the heart of the capital.
Day 13
A full day at leisure in Tokyo - the word's most exciting city! Different Snow have produced comprehensive, pragmatic and sometimes irreverent 'How To...' guides to help you explore - full of practical advice, recommendations, sightseeing notes and tips.
Day 14
Make your way out to Tokyo Haneda airport on the direct Airport Limousine coach and fly directly home to the UK, whereby you arrive home the same day in the mid-afternoon.

Dates, Cost & Inclusions

 

DATES

27 Dec 2020 – 9 Jan 2021

17 – 30 Jan 2021

22 Jan – 4 Feb 2021

14 – 27 Feb 2021

COST

£4,775 per person* / single supplement = £695

Note: an early booking discount is in place until 30th September - save £250 per person

*note that this cost may vary and this is usually down to the costs of the international flights. This is more likely over Christmas / New Year dates. We will confirm the price if you call us (or email) to check availability.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

International flights on British Airways.

Japan domestic flight on Japan Airlines.

Fully guided & hosted whilst on Hokkaido Island (10 days).

3 nights twin share in the Grand Park Hotel in Otaru. Breakfast is included.

5 nights twin share at the Full Note Pension in Central Hirafu Village, Niseko. Breakfast is included.

2 nights twin share at Emi Hotel in Hakodate. Breakfast is included.

2 nights in the Gracery Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Breakfast is included.

8 day worth of lift passes and guiding.

Daily transport.

Transfer to Shin-Hakodate train station on the final day.

Welcome dinner in Otaru.

Farewell dinner in Hakodate - a sashimi feast.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Avalanche gear rental.

Accommodation & Ability Requirements

 

ACCOMMODATION

Grand Park Hotel in Otaru.

Full Note Pension, Hirafu Village, Niseko.

Emi Hotel in Hakodate.

Gracery Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo. 

All the hotels used in this itinerary are of a decent, mid-range standard. They are all trusted, comfortable, well-located and the buffet breakfasts they serve are hearty. We could upgrade you hotel selections in both Niseko and Tokyo (only) if you feel deserving of a bit more luxury -  just let us know and we'll give you options.

SKI / SNOWBOARD ABILITY REQUIREMENTS

6:1 Client to Guide ratio (i.e. two guides will accompany the group, if full).

12 people max per tour (four person minimum).

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 may do some hiking (traversing / bootpacking) to get to the goods. However, skins or split-boards are not required...but if the group has touring gear or wants to hire then they will happily take you deeper into the backcountry.

What our customers say

4.5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

I can’t rate Different Snow highly enough...

Different Snow put together a well thought out and carefully researched tailored three week trip. Their recommendations for hotels, sightseeing, entertainment and dining were spot on.

David  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

Very happy honeymooners...

Wonderful experience from start to finish. The binder they send you is like your Bible when you are out there. It has everything in you will need, from hotel addresses to train times, to advice about what to do whilst you're there. Trust the binder! Definitely will be using them for my next Japan trip.

Ashleigh  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

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