Frontier Explorer5 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
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Frontier Explorer Enquire
GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN HONSHU
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
From price based on twin-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on twin-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,610
Book before Aug 31 2018 to get 20,000 yen off the advertised price.
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Trying to get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow? Away from the masses you will experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder on this Tohoku tour. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu.
View Inclusions & Add-ons
Inclusions
  • Your own bilingual, qualified guide – max 1:4 ratio
  • 7 nights 3 star accommodation with ensuite bathroom (twin share)
  • Daily breakfasts & welcome dinner
  • Lift passes for 6 resorts, 1 day cat skiing
  • Ground transport to ski areas
Add-ons
  • Single room upgrade (pending availability)
Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Off-Piste, On-Piste, Backcountry, Sidecountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
These dates are for fixed date tours. Most fixed date tours are for mixed groups i.e. you can join a group as a solo, couple or small group Fixed Date(s)
These tours have a set number of days as shown below Days
Price
We try to keep the availability as accurate as possible however things can change regularly. The following statuses roughly equate to:
  • Available = 5 or more spots
  • Filling = 3 – 5 spots
  • Almost Full = 2 or less spots

Please “enquire” to get a definitive answer
Availability
Jan 09 - Jan 16, 2019
8
USD 2,610
Almost Full
Jan 19 - Jan 26, 2019
8
USD 2,610
Sold Out
Jan 29 - Feb 05, 2019
8
USD 2,610
Sold Out
Feb 07 - Feb 14, 2019
8
USD 2,610
Sold Out
Feb 16 - Feb 23, 2019
8
USD 2,610
Sold Out
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.

Frontier Explorer Tour Overview

The Frontier Explorer Tour is a ski and snowboard safari in Tohoku in Northern Honshu (i.e. way north of Tokyo) that chases the storms to get the best powder conditions, whilst incorporating cultural experiences, and authentic restaurants with the assistance of professional bilingual guides. The tour heads to far away Tohoku ski resorts that are not well known so there are plenty of fresh tracks!

If the ski hills were easy to get to they'd be tracked out, but on the Frontier Explorer Tour, you'll get taken to plenty of great ski areas.

For the first part of the tour you'll stay around the Morioka area chasing the best powder each day at up to 5 different ski hills (plus a day of cat skiing at an abandoned ski hill) where you will have little to no competition for the fresh POW. Ski areas visited might include: Geto Kogen, Tazawako, Hachimantai, Shizukuishi, Amihari or Iwate Snowpark.

After smashing the powder in the Morioka area, you will travel up to Hakkoda (right at the top-end of Honshu near the city of Aomori) which is Honshu's answer to Asahidake. Hakkoda has 8 peaks serviced by a single ropeway (cable car) and gets an insane amount of deep dry powder. The ropeway only provides some of the uphill. Expect to do plenty of touring or snowshoeing to get the most out of Hakkoda.

At the end of the day, you can soak in natural hot springs, treat yourself to delicious Japanese food, and think about how life couldn't get much better! Oh and post your brag photos on social media :)

Highlights

  • Storm-chase the best powder & conditions each day
  • Stay in 3-star hotels in real Japanese towns not populated by western tourists
  • Soak your powder-tired muscles in outdoor natural hot springs (onsens)
  • Into the après-ski scene? An endless supply of nightlife from izakayas to craft-beer establishments offering local brews
  • Cat skiing for one day at an abandoned ski resort - freshies galore!
  • Food is key - optional dinner reservations
  • Maximize the quality of your skiing and snowboarding by getting the scoop on powder stashes and get resort orientation from your native English speaking bilingual guide
  • 2 days of backcountry guiding with a local guide at Hakkoda
  • Go off-piste and into the side country to show you the best kept powder secrets
  • Explore resorts that most gaijin don't get to (so lots of fresh powder)

Skier/Boarder AbilityThis tour is ideal for advanced to expert skiers and snowboarders with plenty of experience riding powder. You don't necessarily need backcountry experience for your time at Hakkoda, but a good level of fitness is required as you'll be doing plenty of touring or snowshoeing.


Unlimited fresh powder turns

Great ski areas with now crowds

A day of cat skiing included

Lodging

All of the lodging is 3-star rated, western-style, shared twin room accommodation. Single room accommodation is available subject to availability. If one of your aims is to stay in "luxury" accommodation, this trip probably isn't for you since the hotel choices are clean, comfortable, and very nice, but not what anyone would consider luxury.
  • Pricing and occupancy are based on shared twin rooms. This means that you will be sharing your room with another person in the group and yes, you will have separate beds!
  • If you're traveling alone, we can't guarantee that you'll be paired with someone of your same gender. Ie, if you're a solo female traveler, we can't guarantee that you'll be paired with another female. If you're uncomfortable with this, please select the option for a single room upgrade at.
  • If you're traveling as a couple or as friends, you'll be paired together.
  • An upgrade to a single room is possible subject to availability.
  • Each room has its own private toilet and shower.
Morioka Lodging
The hotel in Morioka is the absolute best that this modest city has to offer, right at the perfect intersection of good facilities in a lively area, and directly across the street from one of the best pubs in town for some of that après. This hotel is very nice and functional but if you're looking for a luxury accommodation experience, this isn't it.

Each room features free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, complimentary toiletries, and bidets. Twin room size is 31 square meters or 333 square feet. Beds are two single beds.

Aomori Lodging
Located in the heart of Aomori City, this hotel is the best this humble city has to offer. Located right next to the bay and right along the pedestrian walking road, anything is within easy distance of this hotel. Featuring WiFi in every room, a superb buffet breakfast with western style options, and individual bathrooms with personal baths and showers, you couldn't ask for more to help you recover before your next big day crushing the pow at Hakkoda. Room size is quite a bit smaller than the first hotel at 23 square meters or 247 square feet. Beds are two single beds.

Food

JST thinks that skiing and snowboarding is about more than just the riding, especially when you're in a country famous for its culinary delights. The guides are excited to take you to the best possible food on any given evening. The guides will have nightly reservations for the group to favorite places in the areas. These meals are optional but highly recommended!

The criteria for selecting restaurants are strict:

  • Most of the restaurant selections can't be found anywhere in English, don't have English menus, and the staff don't speak English (your guide will translate for you)
  • The guides choose restaurants based on what food is regionally famous in the area and personally tested for authenticity by locals and your guides.
  • The guides understand that not everyone has $50 to spend on a meal so they choose restaurants which meet a variety of price points, usually between $10-$30 per dinner not including drinks.
  • They choose restaurants with an aim to provide you a diverse cross section of excellent Japanese cuisine from sushi to noodles, from rice to Japanese style BBQ!

Note that participation in dinner isn't mandatory and isn't included in the price of your trip. If you want to have dinner on your own--no problem, just let your guide know!

Also note that sometimes we have to deviate from our planned meals because we can't make advanced reservations for everywhere we want to take you, so bear in mind that flexibility might be required.

The areas we're going on this trip are so remote and off the tourist track that it's almost impossible to find an authentic restaurant that is completely non-smoking. Most of the places we go aren't crowded but there's always a chance that someone sitting in our vicinity might light up a cigarette. Unfortunately, this risk is the price of admission for good food in this region

Dietary Restrictions
JST believe that skiing Japan and cultural experiences aren't mutually exclusive so they try as much as possible to give you authentic food options. Unfortunately however, in Japan it's pretty much impossible to have an authentic culinary experience with dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance and veganism, even pescetarians and vegetarians have a famously difficult time. If you have dietary restrictions such as that listed above, your guide and selected restaurants will probably not be able to cater to your needs. This can be discussed with the guide but you should be prepared to eat grocery store food for most dinners.

Itinerary
Day 1: Meet at Morioka train station 6:45pm
If you'd like to meet the group in Tokyo Station, a pickup there is provided at 3:30pm to catch the bullet train to Morioka. Otherwise catch the train or get transport yourself to Morioka. 

Day 2-5: Storm Chase in the Iwate region
The area surrounding Morioka explodes with ski hills in every direction. Depending on the conditions, you'll hit Geto Kogen, Tazawako, Hachimantai Panorama, Shizukuishi, Appi Kogen or Hachimantai Shimokura, Amihari or Iwate Snowpark ski hills. With so many options sometimes it can be hard to choose!

One of the days your group will have its own private snowcat to go cat skiing at an abandoned ski hill.

One thing's for sure though, there will be negligible foreigners there and there'll be very little competition for our pow, if any.

This section of the trip does involve a fair amount of driving. Every day you can expect to travel 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to a ski hill in one of the adventure vans.

Each night you'll be heading back to the vibrant city of Morioka where you'll see a traditional dance performance, have reservations to the best local cuisine, and have an abundance of nightlife options, if that's what you're into.

On the evening of day 5 you'll pack up and head 2 hours north to Aomori (near Hakkoda).


Excitement of the bullet train

Staying in great Japanese cities

And food to die for!

Day 6-7: Ski Hakkoda in Aomori
Hakkoda is one of best undiscovered gems left to be found in the Japow universe. In the same fashion as Asahidake in Hokkaido, Hakkoda is a single ropeway (tram) that opens up incredible backcountry terrain. Depending on where you want to go, one run can take 30 minutes or 1.5 hours. At Hakkoda, it's all about the quality. However, because of its location it often shuts down due to bad weather. In this case we've got some exciting backup options in the area that will still leave you satiated.

The two days in Hakkoda are backcountry days which are accessed by a tram. That means that while the tram takes care of 90% of elevation gain, you'll still be hiking anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes per run on terrain that varies from flat traverses to moderate climbs. Since you'll be doing 2 runs per day, that means you'll be touring for between 1-3 hours per day. But it's worth it and the snow quality is worth it!

If you have your own touring equipment, you will definitely want to bring it for these two days. If you don't have your own gear, the guides have snowshoes available for you to use along with an avalanche safety setup for no additional cost.

More than just skiing and snowboarding, Aomori is a unique and interesting culture with its own traditions, dialect and yes - amazing local food. In this town you'll be feasting on sushi, seeing a musical performance, and can even learn some traditional dances (if you're in the mood).

Day 8: The end of the tour
If you opt to buy the Tohoku JR East Rail Pass, you can take the bullet train on the morning of the last day and be back at Tokyo by noon or Narita Airport (NRT) by 1:30pm. Or you might choose to catch a train up to Hokkaido.

If you're planning on staying in Tokyo for a few days at the end of the trip, note that you can mail your ski bag for about 2,000yen straight to the NRT or HND airports. That way you won't have to lug it around!

More information on this is in the Logistics section.

2019 Rates, Inclusions & Add-Ons

Full Price: 290,000 JPY per person
  • Based on twin share
  • Base / invoice price is in Japanese Yen
  • Does not include 8% Japanese consumption tax

Inclusions
  • Your own bilingual, qualified guide – max 1:4 ratio
  • 7 nights 3 star accommodation with ensuite bathroom (twin share)
  • Daily breakfasts & welcome dinner
  • Lift passes for 6 resorts, 1 day cat skiing
  • Ground transport to ski areas
  • Arrival pick up from Morioka station & departure drop off at Aomori
  • Use of backpack with beacon, shovel & probe
  • Use of snowshoes for Hakkoda if you don't have touring gear
  • 2 days of guided backcountry at Hakkoda with local guide
  • 3 visits to onsen
Optional Extras
  • Single room upgrade (pending availability)
Not Included
  • FLIGHTS: International flights in/out of Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) - book flights here
  • TRIP INSURANCE: Highly recommended, as all subsisting costs will be charged in case of absence. Payment by credit card, Visa Premier or Gold MasterCard, may provide cancellation insurance. Check your contract. - buy online here
  • LUNCHES, DINNERS & DRINKS: only those meals stated above are included in the price
  • POWDER SKIS & POWDER BOARDS: It is highly recommended for maximum enjoyment that you have appropriate skis and snowboards for deep, deep powder
  • TRAINS: to & from Morioka & Aomori, JR Pass

Japan Ski Tours Terms & Conditions

Deposit and Full Payment

  • Deposit is 50% of the trip cost
  • The remaining balance is due one month before trip departure
  • Credit card payments may be made via Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express

Cancellation Policy

  • 30% cancellation fee for cancellations made more then 3 months before the start of your trip
  • 50% cancellation fee for cancellations made between 1-3 months before trip departure
  • No refund for any cancellations made less than one month before trip departure 

Cancellation by Japan Ski Tours
Japan Ski Tours reserves the right to cancel any program due to weather or route conditions. If a tour is canceled before commencing, due to weather or route conditions, then a full refund will be given; however, JST is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).