Make an enquiry
Itinerary

Undiscovered Tohoku

Tokyo - Ani (Mount Moriyoshi) - Appi Kogen - Hakkoda
2 weeks

This is a trip for the intrepid ski adventurer only. Travelling deep in to the Tohoku region, north of Tokyo and Japan's final frontier for skiers, we base ourselves in three ski resorts where a holy alliance between deep untracked powder and perfectly spaces Japanese birch trees creates a compelling proposition.

Beyond the slopes, this is a journey in to rural Japan. You stay in a lodge owned by a decedent of the Matagi people, traditional winter hunters and you will spend a day hunting and foraging in the whitescape with Mr Oriyama and his family. This is an immersive, off-the grid experience learning the ancient ways of the indigenous Matagi people and experience their profound relationship with nature.

Basing yourself in a wonderful, remote lodge for three-nights, Oriyama-san will take you out trekking in the mountains and valleys for the day, where its natural bounty is revealed; wild, foraged vegetables and meat for the pot. Indeed, dining will be a cornerstone of your experience, be it surrounding a bonfire out in the wilderness or feasting on Matagi staples such as ‘Kiridampo-nabe’, or even bear-meat, back at the lodge. This is an experience for those seeking a spiritual connection with nature, learning from 13,000 years of Matagi life in this region, sharing their world in both gratitude and respect. Your classroom will be the great outdoors, in a remote corner of Japan to this day untroubled by foreign guests! 

Content & Map
 

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1
Depart from your home country, flying directly to Tokyo.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to your hotel in the Shinjuku district. Relax after the the long international journey.
Day 3
Full day at leisure in Tokyo, exploring at your own pace.
Day 4
Fly from Tokyo Haneda airport to Odate-Noshiro Airport, deep in the Tohoku region. From here you take a train to Ani-Meada Onsen station, where you are picked up by Oriyama-san (your local Matagi host) and driven to Guesthouse Oriyamake, your home for the next three nights. A welcome dinner of ‘Oyakodon’ with Hinai local chicken or bear meat, for the more adventurous. After dinner you will get to know your hosts and learn about Matagi culture, before heading out on a star-gazing walk in to the local wilds.
Days 5 & 6
Skiing in nearby Ani Resort, which is on Mount Moriyoshi. This hidden gem of a ski resort has a rare combination of lots of snow, good tree skiing, and absolutely no other people.
Day 7
A day off the slopes with Oriyama-san, as you learn about Martagi culture through the local flora and fauna. This is your opportunity to immerse yourself in a remote beautiful corner of Japan and ask any questions you have about the flora, fauna and Matagi culture. Before you head out, Orriyama-san will perform a ritual to purify oneself, traditional before the ‘hunt’ for wild animals. And for the Matagi, as well as foraging for vegetables and mushrooms, this was the purpose of such forays in to the wilderness. Learn how to track animals, discover the trees and vegetation they often used for medicinal purposes, and see how that made tools and ornaments from natures’ bounty. Lunch is on the mountain, sitting around a bonfire you’ve lit yourself using traditional fire-starting methods and using utensils fashioned (yourself) from the foliage. After lunch, building on your new bushcraft skills, you are shown the aromatic Akita cedar trees, which can be used to create a keepsake to take home with you. This wonderful trek comes leads you back to the lodge in the mid-afternoon. After a short rest, you may join or observe the sacred Matagi ritual for preparing poultry for the evening meal. While dinner is stewing on the pot and you head to a local onsen, for a relaxing bath in the private outdoor hot springs before dinner. Dinner is served in the evening, as the local and traditional Kiritanpo chicken feast is served over an Irori fireplace. After dinner you are free to relax and enjoy the Oriyama family hospitality in the tranquillity of remotest Japan.
Day 8
You are dropped back at the station and take the train north to Appi-Kogen, a pleasant journey on a tiny branch line with a couples of changes en route. Once in Appi Kogen you check in to a larger 'resort-style' hotel, with all the facilities and amenities for you to enjoy - swimming pool, onsens, a choice of several restaurants and bars.
Days 9 & 10
Two full days skiing in Appi-Kogen - a larger, more extensive resort with plenty of terrain both within the boundaries and beyond. This is some of Japan's best resort skiing, once again in a ski resort so off-the-beaten path that you only really have the locals to compete with.
Day 11
Private taxi (or Appi-Kogen shuttle, if operating) from the luxury of Appi to Hakkoda in the morning. Drop your bags in your ryokan-style accommodation and head straight to the ropeway. From the peak of 1,324m Mt Tamoyachidake you simply need to decide if you want to go left or right...and head all the way back down. No pistes. No nasty traps. Just powder snow. Regardless of your route, there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Day 12
A full day on Hakkoda. This is y our final day on the slopes, so make it count. And, in Hakkoda, there really is no such thing as a bad day (weather-permitting) and you can ski confident in the knowledge - 'Japan does not get any better than this'.
Day 13
Check out of your remote ryokan and take the morning coach / bus to Aomori. Here you connect up with the shinkansen (bullet-train) which takes you all the way south to Tokyo in one direct route. Buy a bento box and an Asahi Dry beer and watch the full length of the snow-draped Tohoku region rush by your window. One final night in Tokyo awaits.
Day 14
Make your way out to either Narita or Haneda Airport and fly back to your home country.

Suggestions & Variations

With no set departures or fixed dates this itinerary can be extended, or even curtailed, to suit your available dates or match your budget.

It is obviously possible to adapt this itinerary to include more skiing, or more adventure, or both!

We have you staying in Tokyo at the outset, to help mitigate the effects of jet-lag and also because the onward travel arrangements to these very remote corners of Japan don't work as well without a layover. However, you could potentially move straight on to Akita Prefecture on Day 3 and then spend your time relaxing and sightseeing in Tokyo at the end of the holiday.

How much would this holidays cost?

Obviously, cost depends on which accommodation you choose, how many excursions and activities you want to book, whether you wish to include ski hire and local backcountry guides, etc. An indicative lead-in price for this two-week itinerary would depend on how many ski guided days you would like to include and, leading on from this, how many people these costs are shared between.

An indicative costs would be north of £3,800 per person, based on a decent standard of accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes, two ski guiding days in Hakkoda, a day trip with your Matagi guide in Akita Prefecture (including some meals) and economy class flights from the U.K.

If you were to move the dates to January (but still avoiding Christmas & New Year / Chinese New Year), this would then rise by approximately a couple of hundred pounds per person. 

Solo travellers should also be aware that costs increase, as you carry the burden of the accommodation cost alone.

We don't have to include international flights. However, by keeping it all within one package, your arrangements are protected by ATOL.

Different Snow strive to offer the most competitive prices in all instances. However, we pride ourselves first and foremost on quality - we are an independent specialist tour operator and, therefore, are not beholden to any supplier. We make our decisions based only on who's best in each and every instance.

What our customers say

4.5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

I would highly recommend Different Snow

They put together a Christmas holiday for 7 of us at fairly short notice. The holiday was well organised, the suggestions were excellent and everything worked like a dream. We had a great holiday and were extremely grateful.

E.M.  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

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)

Please visit our TrustPilot page to read the full reviews.

Begin your journey
How to book

It's pretty straight forward. You simply need to take the first step by getting in contact with us...

Contact

Give us a call, or fill in the enquiry form, or send us an email. We’ll listen, give advice and make suggestions.

Itinerary

We create a tailor-made itinerary proposal and email this to you. Together, we then refine it until it is just as you want.

Deposit

A 20% deposit secures the booking. The balance payment is not due until 10 weeks before departure.

Travel Pack

We post out your comprehensive travel pack, which also includes all our local contacts and our invaluable ‘How To…’ guides.