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Itinerary

The Tohoku Adventurer

Tokyo - Hakkoda - Appi-Kogen - Akita (Tazawako & Ani) - Tokyo
16 days

This tour focuses on the Tohoku region of Japan - the vast tract of land north of Tokyo on Honshu Island. This is Japan's least-visited region and also, bizarrely, it's snowiest! There are so many undiscovered ski resorts up here, off the radar of the international skiers and largely dependant on local trade, meaning fresh track opportunities are plentiful. This is Japan's new frontier and this suggested itinerary gets you to several of our favourite powder-blessed resorts - Appi-Kogen, Hakkoda, Ani & Tazawako.

The only Western skiers and snowboarders who will find reason and make the effort to visit the ski resorts in the Tohoku region will be the passionate, experienced, expert backcountry skiers, motivated to seek untouched snow away from the mainstream skiers. It’s all about finding fresh tracks in amongst the trees or in the open Alpine bowls…and this is what Tohoku can deliver. These resorts may be smaller than many in Japan in terms of recognized runs, but this is of no consequence to ski ‘pioneers, prepared to travel more extensively, and put some effort in to ‘earn their turns’.

There are three bases in this sample itinerary - firstly in Hakkoda, perhaps Japan's best free ride mountain? Then you head down to Appi Kogen, a more 'conventional' ski resort in many respects, though off-the-radar for most international powder-hungry guests, and then finally you head to Akita Prefecture...Japan's hidden, powder secret.

Content & Map
 

Timeline

DAY 1
Depart from your home country, flying directly to Japan.
DAY 2
Arrive in Tokyo and make your way to your hotel in the Shinjuku district. Afternoon and evening at leisure, relaxing after the international flight(s).
DAY 3
A full day at leisure in Tokyo, free to explore at your own pace.
DAY 4
A hugely enjoyable shinkansen (bullet-train) journey in to remote, northern Japan. Catch the train in Tokyo and travel to the very north of Honshu Island, deep in the Tokhoku Region of Japan. From Aomori Station you then have a bus / coach journey on to Hakkoda Mountain, where you check in to your modest, though traditional Japanese-style, accommodation. Enjoy the onsens (hot springs), Japanese evening meal and a beer out of the vending machines.
DAYS 5 & 6
Two full days skiing on Hakkoda Mountain. There is one gondola, and only two pisted runs...but these are not why you are here. You are here for the whole mountain range and you can ski the entire backcountry terrain with access from that one singular ropeway. This terrain is wild, free, deep, with little infrastructure and thus, this is uncomplicated skiing. A local guide may not be essential, but he / she will help you get a lot more out of the these days. Fortunately, we know 'the man'.
Day 7
First thing in the morning you have a shared taxi booked to take you south to Appi Kogen, perhaps Tohoku's largest and most famous ski resort. You will arrive in the morning still, therefore there is enough time to check in to the towering hotel and get out on to the slopes in the afternoon.
DAYS 8 - 10
Three full days based in App Kogen. This resort has some wonderful dedicated tree skiing areas and some amazing other sidecountry - steep and deep, and the powder is absolutely superb due to both aspect and elevation! For those who don’t mind trees that are somewhat tight, some of the unofficial tree zones are also fun and as to be expected, you’re more likely to find fresh powder here. On piste, Appi is famous for it's very long runs...the longest being over five-kilometres! And they leave quite a few of the official in-resort-boundaries designated piste runs ungroomed after a huge dump, which is just fine by us!
DAY 11
A day off the mountain, to rest weary ski legs. You catch the local train from Appi Kogen Station to the city of Morioka (only an hour) - where you can break for lunch (do the wanko-soba challenge...we'll explain!) and then on to pretty Lake Tazawako, just one stop on the bullet-train from Morioka. You check in to the Tazawako Lake Resort & Onsen and then the later afternoon / evening is free to explore the lakeshore - this is Japan's deepest lake and the region is both stunningly natural and rustic.
DAY 12
After breakfast, you are met by your pre-booked taxi (circa 9am) and taken to Tazawako Ski Resort, which is only a twenty-minute drive. This is one of Japans’ prettiest ski resorts - overlooking the beautiful blue lake down the valley. Here you are met by your private ski guide for the day and, after a few runs on and off-the-sides of the lift accessed pistes, you will then head in to the backcountry for a full day of exploration in the deep powder. After a full day on the slopes, you head back down to your accommodation in the late afternoon, again by pre-booked taxi and the evening can be spent in the onsens relaxing those tired muscles.
DAY 13
Today you head to Ani ski resort, which is a longer transfer via pre-booked taxi. Perhaps set off a little earlier, at 8am, so that you can miximise your time om the slopes. Ani is less-known, quieter ski resort, well away from the crowds and your local guide will take you to places very few skiers will ever get to find. The side and backcountry in this region is exceptional. Once again, you will come off the slopes in the late afternoon and head back down to the Tazawako Lake Resort for dinner, onsens and perhaps a stroll around the lake?
Day 14
We suggest heading to Shizukuishi for the day – requiring an 8.30am departure from your hotel. Once again, a guide will meet you at the resort, with the local knowledge to get you to the best powder snow on the mountain - the tree skiing in Shizukuishi is simply outstanding. Once again, the late afternoon pre-booked taxi ytransfer will bring you back to Tazawako and your accommodation, perhaps for a celebratory dinner in one of the lakeside restaurants?
Day 15
Today you head back to Tokyo. There is a direct bullet-train from Lake Tazawako which will get you directly in to the capital before lunch - therefore, check in to the hotel and enjoy the afternoon and evening at leisure. This is your opportunity to say your good-byes to Japan.
Day 16
Make your way out to Haneda (or Narita) airport and fly home.

HOW MUCH WOULD THIS SKI HOLIDAY COST?

Obviously, cost depends on what standard of accommodation you prefer, 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 (15-day) itinerary would be circa £3,600 to £4,500 per person, including moderately decent accommodation (during mid / low season), transfers, lift passes in Appi Kogen,  Hakkoda, Ani & Tazawako, a Japan rail pass, and economy class flights from the UK.

If you were to move the dates to January (but still avoiding Christmas & New Year / Chinese New Year), this would then likely impact the costs by circa 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 our ATOL licence, which is preferable from your perspective.

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.

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.

We are featuring two of the best ski resorts in the Tohoku region - though there are many others, many of them wonderful. If you'd like spend time in Aomori Springs, Geto Onsen or Alts Bandai then we've skied them all ourselves and can certainly incorporate these places in to the itinerary. Tohoku really is Japan's last ski frontier, largely unexplored and with so much potential.

You can, of course, add more time for a general exploration. We have included Hachinohe City in this itinerary because we love it - remote, provincial, beautiful surrounding countryside and a friendly vibe. But Japan is your oyster and the options are endless.

What our customers say

4.5 star rating

Our customers rate us 'Excellent'

I cannot recommend them highly enough

Once in a lifetime trip to Japan and they where fantastic. The itinerary was the most detailed itinerary i have ever seen, they even included things that they had found while living in japan that would not be in the tourist guide books. They kept in contact with me every step of the way. I will definitely use them again.

Nicola  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

A brilliant holiday

We had a family holiday (three generations) to Niseko, with some time in Tokyo. A brilliant holiday. Different Snow were so knowledgeable about Japan and skiing, so helpful and friendly, and full of good suggestions - even down to restaurants and non-skiing activities. We are looking forward to our next trip with them!

Roger  ·  TrustPilot (verified review)

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