Rising Sun Cat Skiing

Overall Rating

Rising Sun Cat Skiing

Rising Sun Cat Skiing4.0/57
Rising Sun Cat Skiing4.0 out of 5 based on 7 reviews

Rising Sun Cat Skiing

Overall Rating

Rising Sun Cat Skiing4.0/57
Rising Sun Cat Skiing4.0 out of 5 based on 7 reviews

Rising Sun Cat Skiing

In addition to providing backcountry and lift accessed guiding services in Hokkaido, Rising Sun Guides offer day guiding for Niseko cat skiing. The Rising Sun Cat Skiing is true backcountry skiing, and unlike many other Japan cat skiing operators, it doesn't occur at a retired ski resort.

Rising Sun Guides consists of a highly experienced team of local and international ski and snowboard guides. They focus heavily on tracking weather conditions and offer the ultimate in flexibility to ensure that you and your crew will be skiing/riding the deepest driest powder within reach on any given day.

Rising Sun Snowcat Skiing Terrain

Most Japan cat skiing outfits operate on abandoned ski resorts that have small and low-angle terrain - it doesn’t feel like “real” cat skiing. Rising Sun Cat Skiing is different. The terrain isn’t an old ski resort – it’s in the true pristine backcountry without a defunct chair lift in sight.

The cat skiing terrain is below the treeline and has a range of lines including gentle north facing slopes with smatterings of trees, and steep south aspect slopes with tighter trees. The terrain also has pillows, mushrooms and other jumps. Run lengths are about 200 metres of vertical powder.

A typical day consists of about 8 runs, or more can be achieved with a strong group.

See our Rising Sun cat skiing review for more information on the terrain.

Ability Level

Rising Sun Cat Skiing is ideal for advanced skiers and boarders and above.

The minimum age is 13 years.

Rising Sun Guides Terms & Conditions

  • A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to confirm all reservations.
  • Full payment is due 60 days prior to the start of the tour. If the tour is booked within 60 days of departure, full payment is required to confirm.
  • Cancellation within 60 days but 30 days prior to the tour will incur a tariff in the amount of 50% of the full tour cost.
  • Cancellations within 30 days will incur a tariff in the amount of 100% of the full tour cost.
  • At the time of booking, you will receive a message with your invoice allowing you to complete payment by international bank transfer or with your credit card through Paypal. Paypal is the preferred method on payments under 100,000Yen. There is a 4% service fee associated with all paypal transactions, however on payments up to 100,000 Yen Rising Sun Guides will accept this fee. For larger payments, the 4% service charge will be added to your invoice. Alternatively, bank transfer is the preferred method on large transactions as the associated flat rate fees are lower. All bank transfer details are available on your electronic invoice. If you choose to complete a bank transfer, please ignore the paypal service charge listed on your invoice and only transfer the amount owing on the balance line of your invoice before the paypal service fee. Note: You do not need a Paypal account to use this online system. Simply follow the instructions and links provided with your electronic invoice.
  • All customers signing up for a guided tour are required to read and sign a release of liability waiver before departing. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the tour without refund.
  • All participants under the age of 19 must also have a parent or legal guardian sign their release of liability.
  • RSG reserves the right to cancel any tour at any time (typically due to inclement weather, unsafe backcountry travel conditions or guide injury / sickness). In the event of cancellation, the customer will be offered the opportunity to either reschedule or receive a refund. All guests booking our backcountry or lift assisted day trips are covered by the RSG Powder Guarantee.
  • All participants entering the backcountry (anywhere outside of the ski area boundary) on a guided tour must be at least 13 years of age.
  • We ask guests to be honest with themselves about their skill level. If you have booked and paid for a trip with RSG but it is clear that your skills are insufficient for the trip you have booked, we will cancel the remainder of the day and refund 50% of your booking fee.
  • It is your responsibility to care for any rental equipment supplied by Rising Sun. Guests will be charged for repair or replacement of any lost or damaged items.

Rising Sun Cat Skiing Review 2018

The Niseko region is the capital of the Land of the Rising Snow, so it’s no great surprise that Niseko cat skiing is gaining in popularity. We’ve worked with Andrew from Rising Sun Guides for many years, so we knew that it was going to be a pretty special experience to go out cat skiing with his crew! The day definitely didn’t disappoint! The sun was out (which is rare for Niseko) and there was an abundance of steep tracks on offer.

Despite us having a phenomenal time, no cat skiing company is absolutely ideal for everyone, and it’s our job to review any minor inadequacies. Our review covers different aspects of the cat skiing operation so you can determine if it is likely to align with your priorities. As a guide to the ratings below, a 5/5 equates to absolutely outstanding, 4/5 is excellent, whilst 3/5 is still a very good score. We’ve reviewed over 45 mechanized backcountry skiing operations around the world and you can check out our cat ski ratings to see how Rising Sun Cat Skiing (Big Wave) fares against other operations (including the highly renowned British Columbia cat ski companies).

We’ve compared Rising Sun Cat Skiing to other Niseko cat skiing and some Japanese cat ski operations. They all have some similarities such as small terrain size, and the Hokkaido operations have amazing snow, but Rising Sun has some stand out features.

Pros
  • Rising Sun Cat Skiing completely breaks any stereotypes that Japanese cat skiing (and skiing in Japan in general) can’t be steep and deep.
  • Rather than being an old ski resort that’s converted into cat skiing as is typically the case in Japan, the terrain here is proper backcountry.
  • The Niseko region is renowned for its amazing snowfalls that possess both quality and quantity.
  • The location in the Niseko region is also a huge pro because you can combine a day or more of cat skiing with everything else that Niseko has to offer: resort skiing; backcountry touring; nightlife; restaurants; activities etc.
  • The guiding is of high quality and the guide to guest ratio is high. You feel safe.
Cons
  • A day of cat skiing doesn’t involve a lot of vertical and each run is rather short. It’s all about the quality not the quantity.
  • The cat skiing terrain size isn’t large (as is common in Japan) but at least the resets come frequently.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • The retro snowcat was primitive yet very funky. The snowcat wasn’t as comfortable as a standard snowcat cabin, but it was a very cool cat!
Powder Snow
As with the Niseko Resort, the cat skiing terrain scores a lot of snow. It’s rather coastal snow but it’s Hokkaido cold powder, so the quality is often excellent. The top elevation isn’t particularly high at 710 metres, which is a little lower than the other Niseko cat ski outfits and about 500m lower than the top of Niseko Resort, but the upside is that the terrain is below the treeline where it’s nicely protected from the winds that can buffet nearby areas considering its proximity to the sea.

The quality of the snow is pretty typical for Niseko, which is world renowned! The sun doesn’t come out that often in the height of winter, but when it does, only approximately 25% of the slopes have shady aspects whilst the majority of the slopes have a more solar aspect.

If the Niseko powder machine has switched off for many simultaneous days (which doesn’t happen that often), Rising Sun Cat Skiing will cancel a day of cat skiing rather than take your money for a sub-standard experience.

Overall Terrain
The terrain is small to medium sized, which is typical of Japanese cat skiing, and it offers about 4 days of freshies before the guides have to work hard to find virgin lines. At least it’s bigger than the other Niseko cat ski operations of Chisenupuri cat skiing and Weiss cat skiing, and the powder resets are frequent (we don’t call Niseko the powder machine for nothing!).

The runs were all about quality not quantity, because the vertical per run was very short. On average the runs we did were 226 vertical metres and a couple as short as 150 metres. We only did 7 runs, totalling 1,580 metres for the day. Typically, 7-8 runs are included per day unless a group is particularly fast, whereas members of our group were having way too much fun hucking off pillows which took a bit of time for setting up and spotting (and photographing). We also stopped for lunch, which cut into skiing time a little. The typical vertical per day was consistent with some Japanese cat skiing outfits, but less than the other Niseko cat skiing operations.

Alpine Terrain
The terrain is below the treeline. There are some small patches with just smatterings of trees that could be considered sub-alpine, but at Rising Sun Cat Skiing, the huge strength is the tree skiing.

Tree Skiing
The tree skiing at Rising Sun Cat Skiing has plenty going for it with respect to variation in both pitch and tree spacing, and that some of the slopes have really interesting features with different sized pillows to leap off. The steep and challenging terrain is what sets it apart from most Japanese cat skiing. The tree skiing would score full points if there was just more of it and the runs longer.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


There is some terrain that’s reasonably appropriate for confident and strong intermediate skiers and snowboarders, with reasonably wide open slopes that aren’t too steep. The group size is rather small, which increases the likelihood of being grouped with others of similar ability, and there’s a good guide to guest ratio which is particularly beneficial for those getting acquainted with the backcountry. However, this Niseko cat skiing tends to attract more advanced and expert riders. Intermediates would be much better placed at Weiss Cat Skiing, and potentially also Iwanai Cat Skiing or Chisenupuri Cat Skiing.

Advanced Terrain
A good proportion of the terrain is ideal for advanced riders, with gorgeous tree skiing of varying pitch and spacing. Once again, the small group size enhances the likelihood of being grouped with others of the same ability level, which is a big pro.

Expert & Extreme Terrain
The steep terrain at Rising Sun Cat Skiing is what sets it apart from other Niseko cat ski terrain, as well as all Japan cat skiing. There are a few areas such as The Stacks where there are lovely steep trees of just over 40 degrees, and then if you like to launch, these areas are littered with pillows of varying sizes and cliff-ettes. And if you don’t want mandatory air lines, the guides do a good job at pointing out areas to avoid. The expert terrain would score more points if the terrain was larger and had alpine chutes and the like. And of course if you want to really make sure you’re not stuck in a group with riders that don’t want to tackle the steeps, pull together your own group.

Guiding
The calibre of the guiding was very high, and the excellent guide to guest ratio was a huge pro. We had two different tail guides during the day, and one of them doubled as a photographer. With both tail guides, the communication between the lead and tail was exceptional and they worked well together to convey where to find or avoid the pillows, and the locations of glide cracks. Our lead guide Willie demonstrated strong leadership and we felt very safe in his hands.

Cat
The retro snowcats were incredibly cool and it was nice to experience a part of history, whereby the old cats were once used by the local town to check on people after a snow storm, before the days of sophisticated road clearing systems. The snowcat was very different to typical snowcat cabins, and a little difficult to get in and out of (agile youthful folks shouldn’t have much of a problem though!) and not very spacious. The power of the snowcat was OK without being particularly fast.

Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
There was a very strong emphasis on skiing the slope one at a time. Otherwise the minimisation of avalanche risk was only partially evident to guests during the day, yet there was plenty of behind the scenes work going on.

It wasn’t a requirement to carry a shovel and probe but our group did, and surprisingly the tail guide commented that our packs were just taking up too much room in the snowcat (rather than potentially being useful).

Safety Briefing
The safety briefing was very brief and somewhat typical of the process for some other Japanese and US cat skiing operations, but not in the realm of what’s generally included in BC or even with New Zealand heli skiing. The guide checked that we knew how to turn our beacons on and off and that the beacons were working, but that was about it with respect to avalanche risk. The hazards associated with the snowcat were also covered.

Frills
Rising Sun Guides Cat Skiing more than covers the basics, yet the main emphasis of the experience is on chasing the steep and deep. Included frills: a transport service between your Niseko accommodation and the snowcat staging area; a photography service (and the option for a video service); and a nice but reasonably simple lunch. If you want drinks or snacks for the rest of the day, you’ll want to BYO.

The whole operation seemed pretty well organised and the day flowed nicely.

Value for Money
You don’t get a lot of vertical per day, but it’s all about the quality of the terrain and the snow. The rates are a little more compared to a few other Hokkaido cat ski companies, but it’s worth it for the backcountry type terrain, rather than skiing at an old ski resort where the terrain may be very mellow.

Notes Regarding Review

The review is largely based on our experiences, but also on discussions with staff, other guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. We acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only (from reviewing 45+ mechanized backcountry operations). The photos and video have not been filmed using professional riders; they aim to show an example of the sort of experience that average people like us would get.

Further Information & Bookings

Click here to reserve the trip of your life!

Cat skiing - terrain is all tight trees

Sheri
09/02/2020
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    USA
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    3

Cat skiing - terrain is all tight trees

Sheri
09/02/2020
The guides are very nice and friendly, and the snow quality is amazing! The only thing I'm sad about is the terrain. I don't enjoy the terrain a single bit. There's nothing above tree line, and most of the terrain is tight trees, with branches sticking out everywhere. I love tree skiing usually, but only when it's spaced apart nicely. But on this cat tour there's a lot of tight and steep sections that's not wide enough for my skis to fit sideways, and I have to nudge back and forth to get down and sometimes slide on my butt. Yes, I'm not very skilled. Everybody else in the tour loved it because they're much better than me, they jump through tree branches, or point their skis straight downhill then do a sharp turn, which is all beyond my skills. I like steep terrain (which is why I booked the Rising Sun cat tour because it's advertised as steep), but I can't handle steep and narrow at the same time.

Each run is 200m vertical. The first 100m is all steep narrow trees, and only the bottom 100m is wide open terrain. So the "fun" turns section is very short.

My biggest complaint is the advertising. I think this tour should be advertised as "Expert to Extreme", not "Advanced to Expert". Being "Advanced" just allows me to get down, but does not allow me to have fun. Being Expert, or be able to jump and navigate steep narrow trees, is the minimum requirement in order to have fun. (Just FYI, I've booked 2 other tours in Japan before advertised as Advanced to Expert, and the terrain is much easier, wide open, and I'm not the worst skier in the group).

Another complaint is the advertisement video: https://vimeo.com/264567949. I watched it before booking, and the terrain on the video looked wide enough. But the video doesn't show the top 100m of the run which is always narrow. Therefore I find the video misleading too.

Anyway, if you love jumping on pillows and between tree branches then book this tour and knock yourself out. If you can't jump then don't bother.

Response from Andrew, owner of Rising Sun Guides:
Thanks for the feedback and we`re really sorry to hear that the day didn`t meet your expectations. We do feel that advanced to expert accurately describes our terrain however we also recognize that these terms can be misunderstood. We have added some additional information about recommended skill level to our website to provide more context.

We do try to market our cat ski operation as the steepest and most challenging cat ski operation within day trip reach of the Niseko area. From your comments it does sound like that message was received but we apologize if anything was unclear.

Regarding the promotional video, we do feel that this accurately reflects the terrain and snow quality that can be expected on a regular day at our cat operation. It is important to note though that snow conditions change daily, over the course of the season and from year to year. Earlier in the winter, guests can expect tighter lines more brush and more defined pillows as our snowpack develops. Later in the winter, we`ll have a deeper base helping to open up wider lines.

This video was filmed on a single day when the Powder Hounds visited us to check out our operation as regular guests. It was not a specially selected day but rather our best effort to accurately demonstrate a day in our cat zone.

Thanks again for your feedback! The Rising Sun Crew

Rising Suns Backcountry Cat Skiing Day

25/01/2020

Brandon

Powder Puppy
Powder Puppy

Brandon

Powder Puppy
Powder Puppy
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    United States
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    4

Rising Suns Backcountry Cat Skiing Day

25/01/2020
Guide was excellent, spoke perfect English and had an impressive knowledge of the land. Japan was in an awful snowfall year but we were blessed with 18+ inches overnight so we couldn’t tell at all. Snow cats were a little old, slow and outdated, runs were a little shorter than we would have liked but the terrain itself was unreal. Perfect level of challenging / fun with pillows, trees, and deep pow. Only reason I give it the thumbs down for doing it again is the price per vertical feet when you do the math. 5,600 vertical feet, on 9 runs for over 500$. I don’t regret it in the least, I just treated it as an amazing once in a lifetime day at that price.

Fun day, cats need upgrading

Caroline Guenther
07/02/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    United States
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    4

Fun day, cats need upgrading

Caroline Guenther
07/02/2019
Went with Rising Sun guides cat skiing while in Niseko. This was my first experience cat skiing. It had snowed the day before so we had 8 fun powder runs through some steeper terrain and trees. I had some safety concerns about the cats. They seriously need to upgrade them. Before the first run the guide and driver both got out and the cat started rolling backwards with myself and all the clients inside. The driver tried to jump back in and missed and was being dragged along as we rolled backwards. I thought she was going to have her legs rolled over! Luckily everyone was ok. Overall the day was ok but I dont think this is worth the price since the runs were super short compared to time spent crammed in uncomfortable cat. Maybe thats the norm in cat skiing since it was my first time going I can’t be sure. They did bring along a photographer who got some awesome action pictures of us!

The Steeps Break the Japanese Stereotype

13/04/2018

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    5

The Steeps Break the Japanese Stereotype

13/04/2018
A rare fine day
Who said Japan cat skiing wasn't steep?!
A gorgeous day to stop for lunch
Lovely tree skiing
A whole load of fun!
Andrew the owner of Rising Sun Guides had told us that the cat skiing terrain was uniquely steep for Japan cat skiing, so we knew the day was going to be pretty good. And we weren’t disappointed – it was amazing! It was a bluebird day (which is rare) so there were amazing views of Big Bertha (Yotei), and whilst the powder wasn’t deep the snow was soft and nice to ride.

Pros
Rising Sun Cat Skiing completely breaks any stereotypes that Japanese cat skiing (and skiing in Japan in general) can’t be steep and deep. Rather than being an old ski resort that’s converted into cat skiing as is typically the case in Japan, the terrain here is proper backcountry.

The Niseko region is renowned for its amazing snowfalls that possess both quality and quantity. The location in the Niseko region is also a huge pro because you can combine a day or more of cat skiing with everything else that Niseko has to offer: resort skiing; backcountry touring; nightlife; restaurants; activities etc.
The guiding is of high quality and the guide to guest ratio is high. You feel safe.

Cons
A day of cat skiing doesn’t involve a lot of vertical and each run is rather short. It’s all about the quality not the quantity.
The cat skiing terrain size isn’t large (as is common in Japan) but at least the resets come frequently.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
The retro snowcat was primitive yet very funky. The snowcat wasn’t as comfortable as a standard snowcat cabin, but it was a very cool cat!

You can see our full Rising Sun Cat Skiing review here.

So deeeeeeep. Can't wait to go again next year

Hunter
05/03/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    USA
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    2

So deeeeeeep. Can't wait to go again next year

Hunter
05/03/2018
My buddy and I had an amazing time cat skiing with Rising Sun guides. Not only were the guides great, and the selection of runs, but we lucked out and got a ridiculous amount of snow both before and during our cat skiing experience.

I grew up in a major ski resort and I've never seen that much snow in my life. So much fun. Stoked for next season - already planning on coming back to Niseko.

Fun Pow with Rising Sun Guides

Eric Polczynski
18/01/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    USA
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    2

Fun Pow with Rising Sun Guides

Eric Polczynski
18/01/2018
We had a really fun day cat skiing with Rising Sun Guides. They have lots of fun terrain with drops, rolls and pillows in the trees and plenty of room on private property so you don't have to compete with other groups. The guides are super nice and competent. They had 30cms new snow which covered most of the tracks in the area. We skied 8 runs around 200 meters each.

Awesome POW Days

Jonas
17/03/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    Switzerland
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    2

Awesome POW Days

Jonas
17/03/2017
Had two great days and were very lucky quite a lot of fresh snow each morning. The guides were very friendly and knew well. CATs have seen their best days but were still up to the task. Slopes were good but could be slightly steeper at some parts.
Rising Sun Cat Skiing Packages
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Niseko Cat Skiing Day Tours DETAILS
Price p/p From price is per person (min 4 persons required to operate)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese yen in taxes
*display price may vary slightly with fluctuations in currency
USD 555

NISEKO DAY CAT SKIING
Single Day Guided, Inc. Lunch

Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Price p/p From price is per person (min 4 persons required to operate)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese yen in taxes
*display price may vary slightly with fluctuations in currency
USD 555
A day of awesome guided cat skiing near Niseko in backcountry terrain with some steep lines, technical trees, and pillows and mushrooms. The snowcat skiing is ideal for those craving bottomless untracked powder runs. More
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Custom Booking Period: Dec 20 - Mar 15, 2021
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