Japan — Niseko and Asahidake

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 11, 2015      
Skiing pow through the cool Japanese trees in the Nito area on the way to the onsen.

Skiing pow through the cool Japanese trees in the Nito area on the way to the onsen.

After a few days in the Niseko area by ourselves, we met up with Mako and Yuki, our guides for the rest of the trip. They met us at their hotel, and immediately went skiing at Nito, a small backcountry skiing area above a classic Japanese onsen. We stayed below the overhanging clouds all day, and skied creamy boot-top pow laps on the various slopes in the area.

We ended the day at the authentic onsen. With the huge snowpack, the outside hot pools were surrounded by overhanging 10 foot high walls of snow. I took a good long soak, and tried to sit in the 95 degree (Celsius) sauna for a bit, but couldn’t even begin to match the stoic Japanese onsen veterans, who had been in there for 20 minutes or more. Afterwards we headed to our lodge in the resort village of Niseko.

Crossing into the Nito area past a traditional Japanese Shinto shrine.

Crossing into the Nito area past a traditional Japanese Shinto shrine.

Hayden skiing through the beautiful trees and pow.

Hayden skiing through the beautiful trees and pow.

We were psyched to ski more in the area the next day, and woke up early only to hear the pitter-patter of rain on the lodge roof. Rain in Hokkaido? I guess it happens, but none too often. We discussed our options, and decided to head north, to the Asahidake area. Although we had already paid for three nights at the place, we ate the loss, and headed out in a few hours. The next few days, we skied the short laps of the tram at Asahidake. The terrain at Asahidake has some good skiing, but it’s on short pitches, so you can ski lots of laps, and consequently it get’s tracked out after a few days without snow. When we arrived the skiing was great, but a few days later, the tracked areas were expanding, so we decided to head to another area: Tokachidake.

Mako, Japanese guide. Back in the day he raced skier-cross, but now shreds the deep pow of Hokkaido.

Mako, Japanese guide. Back in the day he raced skier-cross, but now shreds the deep pow of Hokkaido.

The crew. (from right to left) Yuki, myself, Hayden, Julie, and Mako. Michael's taking the picture.

The crew. (from right to left) Yuki, myself, Hayden, Julie, and Mako. Michael’s taking the picture.

Driving through the night to find some powder.

Driving through the night to find some powder.

The jam-packed tram at Asahidake.

The jam-packed tram at Asahidake.

Mako finding pow at Asahidake.

Mako finding pow at Asahidake.


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5 Responses to “Japan — Niseko and Asahidake”

  1. Coop February 11th, 2015 9:59 am

    Awesome Louie-San! Stoked to hear about Tokachidake. We found that place to be more fun than Asahidake.

  2. DavidB February 11th, 2015 3:39 pm

    Great to hear you are enjoying yourself. It’s a shame the snow gods haven’t been as bountiful as usual in Hokkaido but then again a bad snow season in Hokkaido is not that bad in comparison.
    I love the central Hokkaido region and Tockachidake is special in many ways.
    I’ts a shame to see the Asahidake tram that jammed. I could show you pictures of us practicing out golf swing in the tram with only our crew and a metre & a half of fresh on the mountain. Those days seem long gone in Japan now.

  3. Wookie February 12th, 2015 6:13 am

    skied one area in Central Hok couple years ago. February. prime season.

    Saw three people in four days at the resort. Powder was knee-deep the whole time.

    weird. even all the restaurants were closed. had to eat out of Lawsons.

  4. Paige February 12th, 2015 1:02 pm

    What an amazing looking trip! We are headed out to Hakuba area then Niseko area area tomorrow and looking for any additional beta on where to ski around Hakuba? Thank you!

  5. palic February 13th, 2015 10:33 am

    Cool to hear, that there is somewhere possible good powder skiing in Asahidake. We found out there in the first week of February 2015, that the real terrain is about 100 altitude meters, the rest of this ski-resort is just flat terrain, where you have to use quite a lot ski-poles. It is also standard for snowboarders there, that they have one ski-pole in their hands 😀

    What’s nice at Asahidake? It is also the highest peak of Hokkaido island. And skiing from the summit to the destroyed remains of crater is quite cool among fumaroles 🙂 http://www.tulenipasy.cz/skialp-expedice/19621-se-skialpy-na-asahidake-2291-m-nejvyssi-vrchol-ostrova-hokkaido/

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