Tokachidake Backcountry Ski Area

Tokachidake Onsen - photo by Mike Banks
Ski Tokachidake - photo by Hokkaido Powder Guides
The powder is light, dry and superb
The climb up may make you steaming! Photo: Hokkaido Powder Guides
Tokachidake is a backcountry paradise for powder hounds
There are no lifts so you have to earn your turns
Heading up to Furano-dake
Lots of features for popping off
Views from the village of Tokachidake
Tokachidake terrain
The Kamihoro Ryokan
A room at the Kamihoro Ryokan
The food is a highlight
Exploring...
Hokkaido mushroom
You can explore the area with Hokkaido Powder Guides
The outdoor onsen at Ryounkaku
Indoor onsen at Ryounkaku
A relaxing way to finish a taxing day
The girls onsen at Ryounkaku - Tokachidake Onsen

Tokachidake Backcountry Ski Area

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Tokachidake

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Japan Powder Road Trip

Tokachidake Ski Area Hokkaido

Unleash the hounds! Tokachidake is an absolute feast for adventurous powder hounds. This is the place where you will potentially experience your deepest powder days ever! You won’t find any cable cars, ski patrol, or trail markings at Tokachidake. This is the wild backcountry where you have to get up the mountain under your own steam, and steamy you will become, just like the active volcano that you skin up! And the skiing and snowboarding on the way down will be smokin’!

And because this isn’t a ski resort you definitely won’t find any snowmaking guns at Mt Tokachi, just the abundant snow that Mother Nature shoots down with her snow machine guns! And in Central Hokkaido, the powder is about as light and dry as it gets, and it’s bottomless. Tokachidake is the capital of the Central Hokkaido snorkel territory!

Where is Tokachi-dake?

Mount Tokachi is a volcanic peak located smack bang in the middle of Hokkaido in the southern section of the Daisetsuzan National Park. “Daisetsuzan” means “mountains of big snow” whilst the indigenous Ainu name (kamui mintara) means “playgrounds of the gods”. In my language it translates to “big playground for powder hounds”!

Daisetsuzan National Park also features Furano-dake which is a fraction southwest of Tokachidake, and the renowned Asahidake and Kurodake which are to the north of Tokachi.

On the flank of the mountain is Tokachidake Onsen, which consists of a small collection of onsen ryokan and trailheads. This little "village" is situated at the east end of Route 291, 20km from Kamifurano, and a one hour drive northeast of Furano Ski Resort. The city of Asahikawa is 57km to the northwest.

How to Get There

It’s easiest to get there and around Tokachidake to the trail heads and onsens if you have your own wheels, or if you head there as part of a day tour or multi-day tour where transport is included. 

Otherwise it is possible to catch a train to Kami Furano Station. From the station there are 3 buses each day to Tokachidake Onsen. The trip takes about 45 minutes and costs 500 yen.

Tokachidake Ski Terrain

Tokachidake Onsen is at an elevation of 1,280 metres whilst the summit of Tokachi is 2,077 metres, and verticals of about 800 metres can be achieved. The terrain is a mix of true alpine (with the odd fumarole!), sub-alpine and tree skiing amongst gorgeous snow coated birch trees (the treeline is at about 1,450 metres).

The Tokachidake Onsen village accesses three peaks that are sometimes collectively referred to as the “Tokachidake” area. Firstly there’s the actual smoking volcano of Tokachi which is good for fine days. To the lookers’ right is the Three Step Mountain (Sandanyama) which as the name suggests has three steps or plateaus. Further to the right again is Furano-dake, of which its lower parts are great for inclement weather days.

Some of the terrain and the gentle bowls are somewhat similar to Asahidake, yet the Tokachidake alpine also has some chutes, cliff bands, spines and steeper pitches that continue down into the trees. The other difference between the two volcanoes is that the ski terrain at Asahidake has a south facing aspect, whilst many of the Tokachidake lines are north facing, which keeps the deep powder in a divine state.

Uphill & Equipment

At Tokachi-dake you have to earn your turns, but the rewards are far superior compared to what you’d find at the ski resorts. Full ascents require about 2-3 hours of skinning. Skiers require alpine touring bindings and skins, and considering the depth of the powder, snowboarders will generally find it easier on a split board, but snow-shoeing will suffice. Snowboarders require collapsible poles, and needless to say, an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe are part of the standard backcountry attire.

There may be a few skin tracks to aid your climb and you might see a few other punters about, but largely you’ll be in splendid isolation.

Tokachidake Snow and Weather

Deciding when to visit may depend on your priorities. The months of January and February are generally very stormy and there’s lots of pow, but you’ll often have to hang in the trees. If you’re keen to access the alpine and see the “gods’ smoking ceremonies”, March provides finer weather that is more conducive to getting to the top.

Tokachidake Onsen Accommodation

There are a few pensions and ryokans (inns) in the “village” of Tokachidake Onsen. These are traditional Japanese lodgings and the food they serve up in the evenings is generally amazing.
 
Ryounkaku at the top of the road used to be a popular choice but it’s reportedly becoming a little run down in more recent times. This ryokan features the famous reddy-brown onsen.

We’ve stayed at the Kamihoro Ryokan (aka Kamihoroso) which is a very well kept hotel with Japanese style rooms, a lovely onsen, beautiful Japanese dinner fare, and other amenities.

One option for simple accommodation is the Hutte Barden.  The surrounding district of Kamifurano also has various lodgings. 

Accommodation Listings

Onsen

The ryokans at Tokachidake Onsen have hot springs, and it seems almost mandatory at the end of an exhausting day of climbing and riding to have a soak in an onsen. The minerals in the water are supposed to be beneficial for the body and skin, and are bound to make you look gorgeous! Some of the hot springs are pretty hot though, so make sure you don’t poach yourself!

The Fukiage Onsen is a mixed outdoor onsen in amongst the woods. Or in case you’re a bit shy you can visit the segregated baths at the Ryounkaku Ryokan, which are renowned for the deep reddish-brown waters and the fantastic views across the snowy mountains.

Tokachidake Ski Tours

Backcountry skiing at Tokachidake requires the services of a knowledgeable and reputable guide.

There are a few guiding companies that provide guided day trips to Mount Tokachidake from Furano that include transport. Otherwise some backcountry skiing is included in multi-day tours. See the tours listed below.

More Reasons to Snowboard or Ski Tokachidake

Tokachidake is the most delicious snow cone that is blessed with amazing snow. On fine days the scenery is spectacular and the serenity is blissfully a long way from the craziness of Niseko.
Tours That May Include Tokachidake

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Hokkaido Unplugged
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY ADVENTURE
9 Nights | 8 Days Guiding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
So you have had a taste of Japan powder and you are now ready to get away from the crowds and find the best of Hokkaido. This tour visits some epic Hokkaido backcountry areas.This is a touring focused trip where you will be skinning for all guided days & likely to include some secret road side touring.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for 2019-20 season for group tour.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,839
View Details
 
Powder Road Trip
HOSTED & GUIDED ROAD TRIP
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Skiing
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Journey into central Hokkaido to visit ski areas such as Furano, Tomamu, & Asahidake. Ideally suited to those who mostly want to ride lift accessed powder at the ski areas and also have the option to do a bit of touring or a full day of touring at Tokachi-dake.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for 1st & last tour date 2020.
Base/invoice currency is in yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,848
View Details
 
Central Hokkaido Powder Belt
GUIDED - LIFT ACCESS & BC
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Riding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Central Hokkaido aka the Hokkaido Powder Belt has the most coveted ski areas for the ultimate snow quality. This tour offers the fantastic combination of lift accessed powder chasing with earning a few turns along the way.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option.
Requires min 5 guests to run fixed date tours
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,479
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Tokachidake here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Furano Guided Tours
GUIDED DAY TRIPS AT/FROM FURANO
PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 6 guests
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are in Furano with a group and want fresh tracks, head out with a Furano ski guide (or snowboard guide) at Furano or at one of the nearby ski areas or go backcountry touring with a guide. PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 6 guests i.e. you cannot join a group.
Price p/p From price based on guided single day tour in Furano (private groups only of 6) in low season for 2018-19. If you are a solo the cost is 6 x that shown.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 89
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Powder Belt Backcountry Tour
BACKCOUNTRY TOURING WITH LIFT ASSIST
8 Nights | 7 Days Skiing/Riding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Explore Central Hokkaido's endless backcountry under your own steam as well as using the lifts. Perfect for those that don't want to hike all day and/or those relatively new to backcountry touring. Based in Furano, explore different ski areas each day.
Price p/p From price based on twin/triple-share option for 2020 season. Min 4 guests required to run tour.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,715
View Details
 Super early bird: 5% discount on advertised price if you pay before June 30
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Tokachidake here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Backcountry Classic
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
11 Days | 10 Nights | Up to 8 Days Touring/Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
The Backcountry Classic Tour is pure backcountry skiing at its finest at Asahidake & Tokachidake. Deep, deep dry powder and it's all yours!
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for 1st tour 2020.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,694
View Details
 
High Earnings
BACKCOUNTRY POWDER CHASING
8 Nights | 7 Guided Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Enter the powder room! Visit some of Hokkaido's most remote locations and best backcountry zones. This trip has a backcountry touring focus and the skins will probably go on every day but your group will be within reach of ski resorts if the weather isn't suitable for touring or the lift accessed pow looks too good!
Price p/p From price based on twin/triple-share 2019-20 season.
Price per person for a group of 5 or 6 with 1 guide. Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,626
View Details
 
Hokkaido Backcountry Tour
GUIDED BACKCOUNTRY TOURING
9 Nights | 7-8 Days Touring
Ability: Expert
Earn your turns with backcountry touring. Flexibility is the key & the trip will go where the best untouched lines are, from the Daisetsu National Park in the North to the crater of Mt Yotei near Niseko. Only 4 spots!
Price p/p From price based on twin share option for group tour for 2020 season. Min 3 guests required to run tour.
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,652
View Details
 Super early bird: 5% discount on advertised price if you pay before June 30
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Tokachidake here
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