Overall Rating

Frontier Explorer

Frontier Explorer5/529
Frontier Explorer5 out of 5 based on 29 reviews
  • Recommend
    97%
  • Would Revisit
    97%
Frontier Explorer Enquire
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room occupancy for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 4,300

GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN HONSHU
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing

Pay deposit before Aug 31 to get early bird discount. Only 25% deposit required.
Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Off-Piste, On-Piste, Backcountry, Sidecountry
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room occupancy for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 4,300
Get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow, and also 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
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Fixed Date(s)
Days
Price
Availability
Fixed Date(s): Jan 12 - Jan 19, 2021
Days: 8
Price: AUD 4,300
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Jan 22 - Jan 29, 2021
Days: 8
Price: AUD 4,300
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Feb 01 - Feb 08, 2021
Days: 8
Price: AUD 4,300
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Feb 10 - Feb 17, 2021
Days: 8
Price: AUD 4,300
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Feb 20 - Feb 27, 2021
Days: 8
Price: AUD 4,300
Availability: Available
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
Enquire

Frontier Explorer Tour Overview

The Frontier Explorer Tour is a ski and snowboard safari in Northern Tohoku in 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 in Morioka and chase the best powder each day at up to 5 different nearby ski hills (plus a half 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, Appi KogenHachimantai, Shizukuishi, Amihari or Iwate Snowpark, plus a few other undisclosed gems.

After smashing the powder in the Morioka area, you will travel up to Aomori City and Hakkoda (right at the top-end of Honshu) which is Honshu's answer to Asahidake. Hakkoda has 8 peaks serviced by a single ropeway (cable car) and gets an insane amount of 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 traditional hot springs (onsen), 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 :)

And some of the tour dates align so that you also have the option to add on a couple of days of cat skiing with the Hachimantai Cat Skiing Trips.

ski japan
Ride the famous bullet trains
ski japan
Stay in regional cities
ski japan
Ski at uncrowded ski areas

Highlights

  • Storm-chase the best powder & conditions each day
  • Stay in 3-star hotels in real Japanese cities not frequented by western tourists
  • Soak your powder-tired muscles in outdoor natural hot springs (onsen)
  • Into the après-ski scene? An endless supply of nightlife from izakayas to craft-beer establishments offering local brews
  • Cat skiing for one half 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 in the off-piste and side country zones, and resort orientation from your native English speaking bilingual guide
  • 2 days of backcountry guiding with a local guide at Hakkoda
  • Explore resorts that most gaijin don't get to (so lots of fresh powder)

Skier/Boarder Ability

This tour is ideal for strong intermediate to advanced 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 (ski touring or splitboarding) or snowshoeing.

ski japan
Ski endless lines of powder
ski japan
Experience a day of cat skiing
ski japan
Visit incredible onsens

Itinerary

Day 1: Meet at Morioka train station 6:45pm

There are three options of where to meet the group.
1) Meet at Hanamaki Airport "Hana Shop and Cafe" on the first floor at 5:30pm
2) Meet at Morioka Station South Exit by 6:45pm on day-one of your tour
3) Meet at the hotel in Morioka by 7:30pm on day-one of your tour

Day 2-5: Storm Chase in the Iwate/Morioka Region

The area surrounding Morioka explodes with ski hills in every direction. Depending on the conditions, you'll hit Geto Kogen, Tazawako, 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 involves a fair amount of driving (by your guide) in one of the adventure vans. Every day you can expect to travel 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to a ski hill.

Each night you'll head back to the vibrant city of Morioka where you'll have the option to head to a great restaurant organised by your guide. And if you’re into nightlife, you’ll have an abundance of options.

On the afternoon of day 5 you'll pack up and your guide will drive you 2 hours north to the city of Aomori (near Hakkoda).

ski japan
Fabulous cultural experiences
ski japan
Incredible local cuisine
ski japan
New lifelong ski buddies

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 there are 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 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: Drop Off Day

You'll be dropped at the Aomori bullet train station where you can take a 3.5 hour train back to Tokyo. 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 to the NRT or HND airports. That way you won't have to lug it around!

Lodging

All of the hotels are 3-star rated, western-style, shared twin room accommodation with ensuite bathroom. 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.
  • 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.

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.

A buffet breakfast is provided, with a range of Japanese and western fare.

Aomori Lodging
Located in the heart of Aomori City, the hotel is the best this humble city has to offer. 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 a bit smaller than the first hotel at 23 square meters or 247 square feet. Beds are two single beds.

ski japan
Deluxe business hotel accommodation
ski japan
Private ensuite bathrooms
ski japan
Daily buffet breakfasts

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 interpret 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 US$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 the guides have to deviate from the planned meals because they can't make advanced reservations for everywhere they want to take you, so bear in mind that flexibility might be required.

The areas you're going to 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 aren't crowded but there's always a chance that someone sitting in your 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.

2021 Rates, Inclusions & Add-Ons

Full Price: 319,000 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 featuring western & Japanese options
  • Lift passes for 6 resorts, 1 day cat skiing
  • Ground transport to ski areas
  • Arrival pick up from Morioka station (or Hanamaki Airport) & departure drop off at Aomori
  • 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
Add-ons
  • Single room upgrade (pending availability)
  • Avalanche safety gear rental (beacon, shovel, probe)
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

Updated July 28, 2020:

Here at JST HQ, we understand that due to continuing developments of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, you may be experiencing some concern and uncertainty with regards to your winter travel plans. JST is now offering flexible booking options so you can book your ski trip with confidence. The following COVID-19 terms and conditions will apply to bookings for the 20/21 winter season.

The special COVID-19 cancellation policy will apply under the following circumstances:

• If you cannot leave your home country or enter into Japan due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and/or,
• If quarantine measures are in place at the time of your trip (either on arrival in Japan or return to your home country).

Under the above COVID circumstances, the following options are available for cancellation requests up until 60 days prior to the start of your tour date.

• Option 1: Receive a 100% credit towards a future trip with Japan Ski Tours. Credits do not expire.
• Option 2: Receive a 90% refund

Under the above COVID circumstances, the following options are available for cancellation requests up until 30-60 days prior to the start of your tour date.

• Option 1: Receive a 75% credit towards a future trip with Japan Ski Tours. Credits do not expire.
• Option 2: Receive a 50% refund

Instead of the usual 50% deposit, this year a 25% deposit will secure your reservation. Guests can cancel by August 31 with a no questions asked full refund. To stay reserved, guests will be notified and the card-on-file will be charged an additional 25% on September 1. The final 50% is due two months prior to your booking start date.

While our trips don't usually have a minimum group size requirement, for the 20/21 season, JST reserves the right to cancel a trip if it does not have a minimum of four guests reserved by 60 days before the trip's departure date. If a trip is cancelled due to insufficient guest numbers, a 100% refund will be provided to all members of the cancelled trip.