Japan Cat Skiing

Japan Cat Skiing: Iwanai Near Niseko
Japan cat skiing is all about the amazing powder
Iwanai Cat Skiing: views across the sea
Cat skiing Japan: some operations are former ski resorts
Shimamaki Cat Skiing Hokkaido
Shimamaki Cat Skiing Japan
Snowcat Skiing Hokkaido Japan
Snowcat at Chisenupuri Hokkaido (near Niseko)
Divine Hokkaido Powder
Chisenupuri Cat Skiing Japan
The Onsen Run At The House Of Powder Chisenupuri
Niseko Cat Skiing: Rising Sun Guides
Rising Sun Guides Cat Skiing
No shortage of steeps at Rising Sun Cat Skiing
Weiss Cat Skiing Niseko Japan
Mikuni Cat Skiing Near Naeba
Japanese Cat Skiing
Weiss Cat Skiing Niseko
Shizukuishi Cat Skiing Japan

Japan Cat Skiing

Japan Cat Skiing

Snowcat skiing is one of the finest adventures for avid powder hounds and Japan cat skiing provides fresh powder galore, there’s no competition to get to the untracked snow, and you don’t have to hike to get to the goods. Cat skiing in Japan offers the ultimate scenario due to the superb quality and quantity of the powder, especially with Hokkaido cat skiing where the powder is delicious!

Style of Japanese Cat Skiing

Most Japan cat skiing differs significantly to that in British Columbia Canada, the home of snowcat skiing. Firstly many of the Japanese cat ski operations are situated at old ski resorts that were built during the lavish bubble era when money grew on trees. Now with the economic downturn, enterprising snowcat operators utilise some of the abandoned ski resorts (e.g. Chisenupuri Snowcats or Iwanai Cat Skiing at a partially operational resort), so some of the runs are on the ungroomed “piste” and there’s also plenty of tree skiing.

And synonymous with many of the Japan ski resorts, the cat skiing terrain isn’t particularly steep, especially relative to many Canada cat skiing outfits. Much of the Japanese cat skiing is ideal for strong intermediate to advanced riders and those relatively new to powder skiing (e.g. Hachimantai Cat SkiingChisenupuri Cat Skiing, Niseko Weiss Powder Cats).

Other common characteristics of Japanese snowcat skiing relative to BC cat skiing is that there are no multi-day trips staying in backcountry lodges, the vertical drop per run and the vertical covered each day is not substantial, and the terrain size is generally rather small. However powder resets are very common so fresh tracks are generally not a problem, and Japan is ichiban for the quality, quantity and consistency of the snow.

One operation that breaks the Japanese cat skiing stereotype is Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures.

Niseko Cat Skiing Hokkaido

Niseko is the most popular Japanese ski resort for international travellers hunting for powder, so it’s no surprise that the greatest concentration of snowcat operations is found around Niseko. See the Niseko cat skiing page for more comparisons of the different operators.

At the former ski resort of Weisshorn next to Hanazono, is the Niseko cat skiing operation of Niseko Weiss Powder Cats. The Weiss Cat Skiing terrain has some nicely spaced trees and old “piste” runs that are the equivalent of easy blue runs where there’s plenty of room to manoeuvre, so it’s particularly well suited to up and coming powder hounds (strong intermediates), or those looking for a relaxed day of powder skiing.

Rising Sun Niseko Cat Skiing is about 30 minutes from Niseko (transport provided). Instead of being at an old ski resort, the terrain is located in the true backcountry and it has some steeper terrain, a range of tree spacings, and mushrooms and big pillows for expert riders.

Hokkaido Backcountry Club in conjunction with The House of Powder are running a snowcat operation at the former ski resort of Chisenupuri, which is the next ski area over from Moiwa (adjacent to Niseko). It’s about a 30 minute drive from Niseko Hirafu to Chisenupuri. The cat skiing is unguided so Chisenupuri Snowcats is well suited to first time cat skiers and those learning to ride powder who want to go at their own pace, or advanced riders who want the freedom to explore the area by themselves.

Northwest of Niseko near the coast is the outfit that operates from the Iwanai Resort (pronounced “ee-an-eye”), offering unique views across the Sea of Japan on those rare clear days. Only one lift operates at the base of Iwanai Resort whilst the Iwanai cat skiing occurs in the terrain above this, which was previously serviced by chair lifts.

Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures (see below) operates about 2 hours southwest of Niseko, and they provide transfers to and from your Niseko accommodation.

Other Hokkaido Cat Skiing

Hokkaido Backcountry Club offers "real" cat skiing with Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures. Unlike most cat skiing in Japan that operates out of abandoned ski resorts on small and mellow terrain, Shimamaki is more akin to a Canadian cat skiing experience whereby the trips are multi-day and include accommodation, the terrain is large and has some steeps (trees and above the tree-line), and there are qualified backcountry guides. The main difference compared to Canada cat skiing is that you score the powder that Hokkaido is famous for as well as a traditional Japanese experience. You can feast on powder up to your eye balls, feast on Japanese food, and stay in a traditional Japanese pension and soak in the onsen.

NAC Cat Skiing has moved from the former ski resort of Weisshorn near Niseko to Mt Otoe near Kamui Links Ski Resort (near Asahikawa). The cat skiing is ideal for those new to snowcat skiing or those that want more powder riding experience in an unrushed environment. Advanced riders will also adore the NAC cat skiing for the phenomenal powder that central Hokkaido is renowned for.

Tomamu Cat Skiing is a relatively long standing outfit in the Japan cat skiing market. Run by the Tomamu Resort in a backcountry area nearby, a tour comprises about 5 runs a day (only about 2,000 metres of vertical in total). The snowcat tours are only offered on weekends and book up quickly, and they also tend to primarily cater to Japanese speaking guests.

Further north in the Daisetsuzan National Park at the former Kitataisetsu Ski Resort is Tengu Snowcats. Like other Japanese cat skiing, the tenure is rather small, the slopes very mellow, and the vertical per run is about 500 metres. A major plus is the quality of the snow with super cold temperatures and north facing slopes. Delectable powder!

Honshu SnowCat Skiing

Honshu cat skiing (i.e. on the main island of Japan) is growing in popularity. 

Myoko Snowcat Tours in the Niigata Prefecture near Jōetsu and Myoko Kogen offers 5-6 runs per day but good luck getting them to respond to an email. 

And a new cat ski outfit has popped up at Alts on the recently closed west portion of the mountain.

Cat skiing is becoming popular up in northern Tohoku, even though it’s really easy to find fresh powder by just skiing at the ski resorts. Single run (800m vertical) Shizukuishi cat skiing operates on some days on the old piste on Mt Ko-Takakura which is adjacent to Shizukuishi Ski Resort or you can do multi-run trips as part of a Shizukuishi Cat Powder Adventure. Tazawako Ski Resort offers snowcat rides for backcountry skiing (not operating in 2020) but there’s no guarantee your guide will speak English. Hachimantai Cat Skiing offers full day tours in an area near the Hachimantai Shimokura Ski Resort. And Geto Kogen, a powder magnet, sometimes offers snowcat rides up into the backcountry.
Japan Cat Skiing Packages
Iwanai Cat Skiing Day Package
8 - 10 Runs (Approx 4,600m vertical/day)
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Iwanai Cat Skiing serves up powder runs of 325-650m of vertical bliss, with 8 to 10 runs for the day. Located near Niseko, the Iwanai Resort snowcat skiing terrain scores masses of snowfall. Ideal for strong intermediate & advanced riders.
Price p/p Price is per person per day
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Displayed price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations. Price includes 8% sales tax
AUD 1,078
View Details
Shimamaki Snowcat Packages
Stay in Traditional Japanese Inn Inc All Meals
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This is the best Japan cat skiing! Departing from Niseko, the trip offers incredible snowcat accessed powder skiing & boarding, staying in a traditional coastal Japanese inn. Ride deep untracked powder all day, feast on Japanese cuisine and soak in the hotel's onsen in the evening.
Price p/p Display price is based on 2 days + 2 nights per person for 2021 season (regular season)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
AUD 2,365
View Details
Chisenupuri Cat Skiing
Single Day, Pick Up & Return Niseko
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Unguided cat skiing near Niseko is at the former ski resort of Chisenupuri. You have the freedom to explore and it is ideal for apprentice powder hounds or advanced riders heading to Niseko. Chisenupuri cat skiing is a lust-do! Finish the cat ski day with a soak in an amazing onsen.
Price p/p Price is per person per day
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
AUD 741
View Details
Otoe Day Cat Skiing
Mixed Group or Private Group
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Amazing Central Hokkaido powder and only a max of 11 other guests to share all the powder with. The Otoe cat tour package includes a full day of guided cat skiing and transport to/from Furano (if required)
Price p/p From price is per person per day
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
Displayed price may vary slightly due to currency fluctuations
AUD 607
View Details
Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Score yourself some Hachipow with 2 days of Hachimantai cat skiing. Share the cat skiing slopes with only 7 others! Add a couple of days of Hachimantai cat skiing to your Iwate itinerary or make it your main reason to head to the region. Share
Price p/p Price per person for 2 days cat skiing & 2 nights at Mountain Hotel twin-share accommodation. Base currency in Japanese yen.
AUD 2,022
View Details
 10% discount on listed prices if you book before Aug 30
See all Japan Cat Skiing Tours Here