Overall Rating

Furano/Central Hokkaido Experience

Furano/Central Hokkaido Experience5/512
Furano/Central Hokkaido Experience5 out of 5 based on 12 reviews
  • Recommend
    92%
  • Would Revisit
    92%

Furano/Central Hokkaido Experience - Reviews

Furano/Central Hokkaido Experience - Reviews

Poor Experience & POW-CRIMES

01/05/2024

Grant Schmidt

Powder Puppy
Powder Puppy

Grant Schmidt

Powder Puppy
Powder Puppy
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    51-70
  • Ability
    Expert
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    4

Poor Experience & POW-CRIMES

01/05/2024
Negative reviews are not my norm but in choosing FST, I relied on all the 5* reviews on PH and they were NOTHING like what I experienced. I’ve been on numerous ski tours and experienced FST as average at best and my exerience was poor. The positive was the accommodation that Ken and his wife run, which was good. The Tour/schedule/route of the tour was also fine. We did not get a lot of fresh snow during my tour so relied on Ken to know where the stashes were hiding and he did a decent job of this. The killer of the tour was Ken himself and is absolute rigidity in how he ran the tour and his compelte absence of a customer service mentality. It was Ken’s way or the highway in every aspect. I’m not talking safety here, I’m talking what/when/how & why...was all Ken and questions or suggesiton were dismissed everytime. It was if we were on a school trip with a grumpy teacher doing a job for the $…and I know others on the tour felt the same. But the real issue were the POW-CRIMES that Ken committed. We had only two true POW days in the 5 we toured. On the first, at the legendary Asahidaki, Ken wanted to pull the plug at his standard cut off time of 3pm rather than do another run... we had only done 4 for the day! I had to push for a 5th, which he reluctantly agreed to. But the real crime was on the final and best POW day of the tour when we went to Kamui Ski Links after a dump. Ken was taking us on crappy/flat side piste when the best POW of the mountain and of the entire tour was in another area of the resort that he cleary knew about and did not take us. I split off from Ken’s BS and skied myself for the afternoon. I hooked up with a solo who took me to lift acccessed areas where Ken did not and I COULD NOT BELIEVE the POW I found. Ken failed at his job...and, frankly, his business in tjhis instance! Being balanced I would rate FST at a 3.5…personally I rate it a 2. If you don't know what good looks like, you probably would not pick up on much of what I have outlined but there is so much better avaialble the FST...suggest you find it

Response from Ken of Furano Snow Tours

“The previous review written by Kalo is from the same tour, and his review was very positive. Others on the same tour are repeat customers and are looking to come back again for a 3rd time. So I am not sure what Grant means by “and I know others on the tour felt the same” as it seems that they had a great time and didn’t feel there were any “Pow Crimes” committed.

On the first day Grant decided to do a run himself (2 others decided to do this too) while everyone went to have lunch, which is fine. However, he decided to go off-piste unguided and got lost and stuck for a while. The 2 others went off-piste unguided too before Grant and they got separated. The 2 informed me of the situation when they made it back. Aaron and myself were concerned for his safety. We had an idea of where he was. It was a smaller resort luckily and he finally made it to a road and came back to the restaurant himself. I discussed this issue with him as I did with the other 2 lads regarding safety concerns, which it seems he perceived as me being a “grumpy teacher” which was evident through his response to my feedback.

On the same day after doing a van pick up and dropping the group off, Grant decided to rest his skis up against a local Japanese snowboarder’s Mercedes Benz. The Japanese guy saw this and was staring at the group furiously and walked over to his car without saying anything (probably intimidated by a big group of foreigners). But everyone didn`t seem to realize the situation at the time. I saw this while driving off in the van. Others also put their avi packs on the roof of another car. After mentioning this to the other guide we decided that this lack of respect for other people`s car and property should be addressed although I didn`t want to be the grumpy teacher and was considering not saying anything. I decided to address the whole group later in the day and not mention any names. But I guess Grant knew it was about what he did and again did not like being provided with feedback. We saw the owner of the Merc again at the end of the day and he was rightly giving us greezies so I went to apologies to him and informed him and his friend that I’d given feedback to the group. Some owned up to placing their bags on the car roof later and apologized, however Grant did not. So that may have set the tone for Grant and how he perceived me and the rest of the tour while everyone else enjoyed the week.

If it is after 3 and depending on the weather we do not venture backcountry at Asahidake on the 3:20 or 3:40 (last cable car) in case something happens and we need time for rescue. We are usually there for 1st cable car and lifts with our tours as other tour groups arrive late. This became an issue once before many years ago where I needed to rescue a client late in the afternoon in a blizzard where we should have finished one run earlier.

It's unfortunate that he wasn’t able to accept feedback graciously and get on with enjoying the tour and the powder like the others in the group.

See our video here

A Great Week Snowboarding in Hokkaido

Kalo
19/02/2024
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    18-35
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Bulgaria
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    5

A Great Week Snowboarding in Hokkaido

Kalo
19/02/2024
We had a great time overall. Everything was organized very well. Ken and Aaron did a great job of guiding us in different spots each day and showing us some secret places where there was always fresh untracked powder. On some of the days they organized van pickups so we could snowboard down untracked backcountry terrain where there were normally no other groups so we had the terrain all to ourselves. They were always very professional but were also easy going so we had nice fun chats and with them. We also had a few nice dinners and onsen visits.

Some of us rented some of their powder boards and I would definitely recommend this if you don't have one or just want to try something new. They are well waxed and super fun to ride! Also quite a convenience for travelling if you don't carry one with you.

I can see in other comments that is has happened before not to have a great skill match between all the guests participating in the tour. We had a similar experience, however it was really not that big of a deal in our case. It was handled professionally and sometimes we were split in 2 groups. I would say it is hard to judge anybody's skill before riding together so it's normal to expect that on any tour.

About the Accommodation - the Element Furano is a modern and spacious villa with everything you need for a great winter holiday! Chi was taking great care of us every day, making us big portions of great western-style breakfast and also warming up the fireplace in the evening. It is a 10 min drive from town so they gave us lifts to Furano whenever we needed - for a meal or to a convenience store. It's fairly easy to call a taxi from most bars or restaurants and costs less than 2000 yen to get back to the villa.

Overall great experience and would definitely repeat at some point! :) Thanks guys!
See our video here

Insane JAPOW!

JEFFREY
04/02/2024
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    18-35
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    United States
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    4

Insane JAPOW!

JEFFREY
04/02/2024
This tour was insane! Ken put us on the powder EVERYDAY! Literally not a single day that we did not get fresh lines and good times. His wife Chie made our stay at their awesome lodge feel so comfortable. She left a huge impression with a minimal footprint. Didnt even notice she was there but we DEFINITELY noticed that she was there with how well taken care of we were. I would absolutely do this tour again. Word of advice to all who go on the tour. The ability guidelines are there for a reason please make sure you are well within those guidelines so that you can get the most of the tour and not hold others in your group back.
See our video here

Furano Group Guided Ski Trip Jan 2024

Tony Raynor
29/01/2024
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    51-70
  • Ability
    Expert
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Country
    United States
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    4

Furano Group Guided Ski Trip Jan 2024

Tony Raynor
29/01/2024
Ken and Chia were wonderful hosts. Their lodge, Element, was comfortable and in a nice location, an easy cab ride from anywhere in Furano. The lodge is warm, inviting, comfortable, social and the Japanese bath was so nice, also the breakfasts were also very good!

Ken was a great guide and certainly knew the area well. I feel as if he maximized the conditions and weather to the fullest extent and that each day we were skiing in the right place. The onsens were also a nice bonus.

My only comment is that the group was not evenly matched according to ability. There were a few skiers with less ability and a few skiers with greater ability and it was a struggle to make it work. With that said, Ken was clearly aware of the situation and was proactive at communicating to everyone and handled it as well as could be expected.

One other comment...the food is stellar in Furano and there are a lot of great places to eat. I would recommend doing a little research on where you want to eat, have options, so that on the nights there wasn't a group dinner with Ken you had ideas. Our group, although it always worked out, had moments of struggle trying to find a place to accommodate us.

I would certainly go back and ski with Furano Snow Tours again!
See our video here

An amazing experience

Andrew Duffy
26/01/2024
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    United Kingdom
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    3

An amazing experience

Andrew Duffy
26/01/2024
I can’t recommend this tour enough, Ken, his wife and Aaron literally take of everything from being picked up in Furano to being dropped off on the last day. The accommodation is very well designed, a great breakfast every morning and dinners out during the week. But best of all was the days on the mountains, Aaron and Ken’s knowledge of all the resorts / back country areas we visited was insane - I couldn’t believe how much they knew, from finding the best spots for fresh snow whilst safely navigating and ensuring everyone was enjoying themselves. I’ll be back every year that I can!
See our video here

Epic week exploring Central Hokkaido

Andrew Hunt
09/04/2023
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    4

Epic week exploring Central Hokkaido

Andrew Hunt
09/04/2023
This was my first experience on a guided tour and it didn't disappoint. Ken and his wife Chie were awesome hosts. For Hokkaido standards, we didn't have a huge amount of snow while we were there but at least arrived after good snowfalls. In saying this, Ken was able to find plenty of untouched and very easily accessible lines each and every day and we had a ball!

The group was of mixed abilities but Ken was able to supply a second guide after a few days in so the group could be separated in two and each could enjoy appropriate terrain. Safety was always of the utmost priority, there was never a moment that I felt as though any of the group were in a vulnerable situation.

The lodge is simply beautiful and incredibly comfortable. Ken spent plenty of his own time with us all too, taking us to dinners, bars and surrounding onsens. It really was a great all-around tour. I'll be back, thanks Ken!
See our video here

A week in Furano

Eirik
04/03/2023
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    18-35
  • Ability
    Intermediate
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Country
    Norway
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    3

A week in Furano

Eirik
04/03/2023
Had an amazing week stationed in Furano with Ken and Furano Snow Tours. The Element is a beautiful lodge with a nice vibe for hanging out and review the days adventure and discuss the next one.
Breakfast from their own grown vegetables each day was very nice and a good start of the day.

Ken guided us around different resorts and always found a spot with powder, even though it hadn't snowed overnight. He knows the area well, has extensive knowledge and gives advice on the off day aswell. Has safety in mind when we're riding and matches the runs to the groups level.
Helpful with making reservations for dinner, and has recommendations for everything - even when we left for our next destination on our Japan trip.

Already recommended Ken and Furano Snow Tours to friends, and would visit again.
See our video here

Great into to Furano & Central Hokkaido

Claire B
26/02/2023
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Intermediate
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    United kingdom
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    4

Great into to Furano & Central Hokkaido

Claire B
26/02/2023
We stayed with Ken for his multi day tour and picked up fresh lines in powder everyday.
Ken’s tour is a great introduction to Japanese culture, food, ski areas, onsens. He is great at finding powder with minimal effort so you can get on and ride a few laps. On our trips the boot pack was never more than 5mins and a skate/walk out never more than 5mins. He worked out the best days to go to the different areas depending on the snow. He took us through tricky tree traverses to hidden powder and navigated tough no vis conditions at Asahidake mountain so we could still find good snow.
Ken’s lodge at Element is the icing on the cake. It is a high spec boutique building that is perfect place to chill out in after a day in the pow.
See our video here

Fantastic, laid back and great value trip

Robin
18/02/2023
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Expert
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    United Kingdom
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    4

Fantastic, laid back and great value trip

Robin
18/02/2023
Excellent trip, really impressed by Ken's lovely lodge with high ceilings, wood fire, generous rooms and fab breakfasts, as well as the stunning riding. We were two snowboarders, and 3 skiers were on the trip too and Ken guided well for us all. Great choices each day to chase the best snow and see a selection of small, uncrowded and untouristy resorts around Furano.
The Onsen were a great way to finish the day on several days and having them included was a real bonus. Ken took us to, or recommended, delicious, exciting restaurants all with just a few seats. Although a bit worried about being based outside of town that was not an issue at all, and anyway there's not much street life and you are better off having someone local like Ken to point you in the right direction.
See our video here

Furano Snow Tours Was Awesome

Matt Peterson
21/01/2023
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    51-70
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    United States
  • Month:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    5

Furano Snow Tours Was Awesome

Matt Peterson
21/01/2023
Our week with Furano Snow Tours was outstanding, we were there January 6-13 in 2023 and it was a fantastic week of lift-served side country and in-bounds tree lines that were barely touched. The terrain and skiing was great and our hosts and the guiding was outstanding. Ken knows the best lines at many resorts in central Hokkaido and planned our week based on the snow conditions and new snow that came to the area on the week we were there.

The hosts, Ken and Chie are awesome, the daily breakfasts were tasty, they were very helpful in organizing dinners or making suggestions to us on the nights we had a free night to enjoy our own choice of restaurant. The also made sure we knew how to explore Furano's bars and restaurants when we weren't skiing powder, dipping into the trees, eating lunch on the mountain or getting soaked in an onsen.

We had some snow during our week trip, but even on the days when it didn't dump some fresh snow, Ken monitored the weather and took us to the resort which would have the best conditions and found us the lines with fresh powder and tree skiing opportunities every day. Ken and Chie did a lot to help our group bond, with a welcome dinner on the first evening and lots of efforts to help us become tight as a group and help each other when needed.

Ken excels as a guide, host and leader, making sure we all had the right attitude and mindset to have a great day each time we went riding. Our group was a mix of boarders and skiers and the places we went were suitable for both, although skiers have it a bit easier when it comes to getting along cat tracks. The restaurants we went to for our group dinners were places you wouldn't know about if you weren't local, but they were some of the best meals I've ever had in Japan. Ken was a fantastic host, a great guide and the lodging that you stay in is purpose-built for a ski tour group with several different private rooms and in-suite bathrooms, a common area and a board/ski room for warming and drying boots/gloves and other items.

FST is a fantastic group to book your Hokkaido trip with, they really know how to do everything well and provided us with the best ski trip we could have imagined.

I recommend FST for anyone that wants a great week skiing Japow with a first class guiding operation.
See our video here
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