Ski Japow: Your Next Winter Adventure Awaits

Apr 4 2023
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Ready to uncover the ultimate ski destination? Look no further than the best-kept secret of the skiing world: Japan's northern Tohoku region. With feather-light and dry snow thanks to the combination of the cold Siberian Air and the warm air from the Sea of Japan, Japan's ski terrain has earned the coveted title of "Japow." In February, the Indy Pass team embarked on a 10-day skiing journey with Japan Ski Tours, eager to confirm rumors of deep snow conditions and to visit our favorite independent ski resorts. We were not disappointed. Japan Ski Tours, an Indy Pass partner providing stoke-filled exhilarating ski adventures, immerses you in the unique cultural experiences that Japan has to offer and creates an affordable way to dive into Japow. 

January and February are notoriously reliable times to ski in Japan, as the Tohoku region produces deep snowfall totals during this time year after year. And with our Indy Passes, we had access to five different independent ski resorts with uncrowded slopes and unreal powder.

For the ultimate Japow experience, we recommend the 10-Day Japan Ski Tours Indy trip that takes you to all five resorts on the pass. With 18 meals included, featuring both breakfast and dinner and nine nights of traditional Japanese accommodations, we experienced a totally worry-free vacation. And with a multitude of options available for each meal (including western cuisine for any of the less adventurous in your crew), it's easy to find something that suits everyone's taste. While alcohol is not included, a refreshing beer can be found for around three bucks. For lunch, ramen (probably the best you have ever had) can be found on the mountain for only about ten dollars. 

food and place setting at Semi Onsen Ryokan, JapanSemi Onsen Ryokan, Japan/photo courtesy of Josh Laskin.

Transportation is also covered on this trip, with access to a door-to-door private vehicle from the start and endpoints. Getting to the starting point is easy - fly into Aomori (luckily, Japan Airlines has direct flights from Tokyo) so you don't have to haul your gear on the bullet train or you can fly into Tokyo and ship your gear directly to Aomori for a smooth ride. The bullet train is a great option for city-to-mountain transportation and allows you to travel all over the country easily providing a new way of adventuring reaching speeds up to 200 mph as you explore all over the country. 

This isn't just a ski trip—it doubles as a cultural adventure. To get the full Japan experience, we recommend budgeting for additional cultural experiences, such as visiting a samurai village or art museum, additional authentic Japanese meals and shopping for unique souvenirs to bring home with you. We spent our last night in Japan searching Tokyo for the best tuna sashimi (with success) and recommend making room in your budget for these experiences.

Here are some tried and true tips from the Japan Ski Tours team for exploring Japan: 

  1. Arrive early and ship your gear ahead of time so you can dive right into Tokyo and beat that pesky jet lag. 
  2. Stay connected with a Pocket WiFi! While all resorts offer WiFi, having your own portable WiFi device will ensure that you're always online. 
  3. For more tips before you go, check out this Local Freshies article on the trip here.


Check out the itinerary breakdown for the trip below:

Snowboarder riding deep powder in JapanJapan/photo courtesy of Josh Laskin.

Upon reaching Aomori, you will get to spend two days at Aomori Spring Resort located at the foot of Mt. Iwaki, which is a haven for backcountry skiers. Next, on days four and five of your ten-day skiing escapade, discover the tranquil Shimokura ski resort that boasts top-notch conditions along with an adjacent cat-skiing operation and backcountry touring area (approx. $280 per person for the day) for an alternative to ski resort skiing and a way to truly be in the wilderness. 

Two people in an onsenMatsukawa Onsen, Japan / photo by Josh Laskin.

Spend day six riding Okunakayama Kogen (OK). Don't forget to explore the in-hotel hot springs at every hotel called onsens. These hot and cold tubs are a vital part of the skiing experience, helping to soothe your muscles and alleviate lactic acid build-up. However, keep in mind that in order to maintain the water's purity, nudity is required, resulting in a nightly display of full moons. So embrace the Japanese culture and soak in the rejuvenating waters while enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. 

On day seven of your itinerary, roam Tazawako ski resort situated at the foot of Mt. Komagatake, which provides a stunning vista of Japan's deepest lake.

Skier riding deep powder in JapanJapan / photo by Josh Laskin.

Finish the trip with two days at Geto Kogen. With massive snow totals, extensive amenities, and a multitude of terrain to discover, this resort is a perfect way to end your adventure. Here you have the opportunity to stay in a traditional Ryokan (Japanese Inn) for a truly authentic experience with futon beds laid out on the floor, locally-sourced Japanese cuisine for breakfast and dinner, and three hot springs.

Experiencing 'Japow' for the first time, knee-deep, immediately made Japan our favorite place to vacation. From soaking in the onsens to eating life-changing sashimi, spending 10 days immersed in this cultural experience provided by Japan Ski Tours has given us all life-long memories and a hunger to go back. What are you waiting for? Book your 10-day adventure today.  

People walking in Tokyo JapanTokyo, Japan / photo courtesy of Josh Laskin.

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