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Japow Freedom Tour

Japow Freedom Tour5/55
Japow Freedom Tour5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
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    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Southern Hokkaido Powder Tour
Japow Freedom Tour Enquire

CAMPER VAN TOUR
8 Nights | 7 Days Guiding

Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Off-Piste, Backcountry, Sidecountry
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Price p/p Based on a group tour for 2024 with a group of 4 people
USD 3,198
Explore in a camper van with the support of your guide & get the maximum exponent of freedom to be in the right place at the right time. The itinerary is completely flexible depending on snow forecasts and your guide can show you the best Japow spots in lift-assisted freeriding zones
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Japow Freedom Tour

The Japow Freedom Tour from Life In White Adventures is a guided and hosted tour where your guides will help you fulfil your expectations for Japow hunting with some freedom. Your accommodation and transport will be a warm and cosy motorhome/campervan (don’t worry, the heating is awesome) and you’ll drive yourself around following your guides in their campervan.

With a maximum group size of 4 and living in a van, there is plenty of freedom to make last minute decisions depending on the weather because you’re not tied down to a hotel reservation. Your guide has been exploring the mountains around Nagano, Niigata and Gunma for more than 10 years and knows exactly where to go during stormy days and on the precious bluebird ones too. This is the ultimate Japan powder chasing vanping trip!

Powder Hunting Areas

The preferred powder hunting grounds are the prefectures of Niigata, Nagano and Gunma in Honshu, the main island of Japan. These zones receive an amazing amount of snow with many ski areas averaging more than 12 metres of snow per season, whilst some peak at 20 metres in a season. Compared to Hokkaido, the terrain in Niigata, Nagano and Gunma is steeper and more varied, and the Japanese experience is far greater.

Ski resorts visited might include some high profile ski areas, along with some lesser known gems.

The Japow Freedom Tour is mostly about lift assisted backcountry freeriding. Ski touring or splitboarding to get to even better spots is possible on request, and if you want to guarantee the earn-your-turns component, get together a group of up to 3 friends and you can make it a private tour so that you can ride the type of terrain that you like. You can make a booking request to find out about availability.

Naturally, your guide will have a plan but it’s totally open to the group preferences, conditions and forecasts. This is what makes it an adventure, not knowing what to expect on the next day. Be sure that whatever happens, you are in the best hands and that you will get fed up of powder.

Travelling in a van in Japan is pretty good and a safe and convenient place to do it. The vans are heated, and have charging ports, a kitchen, and the motor homes have a toilet (or you can go to 7-Eleven) and some have a shower but you’ll want to go to have onsen each day anyhow. And in the evening you probably don’t want to cook, so your guide will show you where to get a good ramen. It sounds like a great plan that after a powder day, you’ll have a bath in natural hot springs, then a good ramen and then go to sleep in your warm van remembering the faceshots of the day and dreaming of the ones you’ll do on the next day.

Ability Level

You need to be at least an advanced skier or snowboarder, with some freeride experience in powder and other off-piste snow conditions. Snowboarders need to be able to hold a traverse well and read the terrain so as to maintain speed in mellow areas and not slow down the group. You also need to have a good level of fitness. If you have any questions about ability level you can ask a question here.

Equipment

You will need a backpack with shovel and probe plus an avalanche beacon. These can be rented for 3,000 yen per day. It is optional to have a helmet and airbag backpack.

If the plan is to go ski touring or splitboarding, you'll obviously need touring gear. If you don’t have this, the guides can assist with rental of equipment.

It is mandatory to have travel and mountain rescue insurance and a valid international drivers license. Check your local authorities on how to get this before you travel to Japan, but it is usually a simple and inexpensive procedure.

Itinerary

The trip will have a custom route, with a wide variety of potential destinations depending on weather conditions and snow. Flexibility is key. The tour will be planned a week before the start date after studying the weather forecasts, local reports and talking with trusted locals. Each riding session will be followed by a soak in the hot springs every day, in every place we go.

This is an example of how the tour is expected to run however weather and snow conditions may ultimately determine the daily activities.

Day 1 Arrival Day

Pick up at the Narita Airport, drive to the nearby facilities of the motorhome rental company, where the group will spend 2 hours with vehicle preparation (briefing, vehicle checks, loading all your gear). This is followed by a quick meal in Narita and then a 3 to 4 hour drive to the first stop of the tour. If efficiency is going well, you can enjoy the first onsen before dinner in one of the selected restaurants.

Day 2 to 7 Ride, Onsen, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Each day will have the same menu, with the aim of powder, powder and powder. The daily routine will be breakfast in the motorhomes/campervans, ski/snowboard until your legs say enough, then onsen and dinner in any of the guide’s selected restaurants in the area. Usually the group will spend 2 days in every stop of the tour and on moving days, the driving is never longer than 1:30 to 1:45 hours. Snow is the priority of the trip but also the comfort, rest, relaxation and dining. For that reason, the guide always calculates the timings in and off the mountain to enjoy the skiing/snowboarding and also the rest of the day’s activities.

Day 8 Last Day of Riding

After skiing/riding the group will start the 3 to 4 hour drive back to Narita. In Narita the group can have dinner in any of the good restaurants that the guide knows and then sleep at the motorhome rental facilities.

Day 9 Departure Day

Breakfast in the motorhomes/campervans, emptying the vehicles, preparing the bags and the guides will give you a ride to the Narita airport and say farewell.

Lodging & Transport

Your accommodation will be in your cosy and warm motorhome or campervan. You’ll have the best views and staying in a van will allow you to sleep in longer and be the first in the lift line in the morning.

Some of the features of the vans:

  • a kitchen and all the utensils you’ll need to prepare your delicious breakfasts
  • USB sockets to charge your devices, new LiFePo4 with an amazing performance, which are more than enough for the daily needs of charging
  • good curtains for total privacy
  • blankets, linen, towels, pillows
  • Ipad Mini with internet connection
If you have any questions about vanping in Japan, you can make a booking query

Heating

The vans are equipped with the best heaters on the market, Webasto and Eberspächer. They work super well and consume very little fuel. The truth is that if you do not take care with the thermostat, you will sweat like you’re in a sauna!

Motor Home

These are perfect for groups of 3 to 4 people. It’s a compact motorhome of 5 metres in length, which is easy to drive and park everywhere, but with lots of space inside.

The motor home can come with 2 king size beds or 1 king bed and 2 bunk beds.

All have a toilet and some have a shower, but you'll likely want to have an onsen instead.

Big Campervan

These are ideal for two people. As the name says, it’s a big camper van with 4.5 metres of length. The camper van has a queen bed.

Parking

Often the group will park the vans in the resort parking lots so you’re well positioned to be there for first chair or gondola.

Meals

There will be plenty of opportunity to visit shops to get supplies, whether that be for breakfast, snacks or beverages.

The group will usually head out for dinner together.

Driving

Driving in Japan is very easy even if you have never driven on the left side of the road before, and Japanese drivers are very polite. All the vehicles come with snow tyres that work well in winter conditions and some are 4x4.

Everyone drives together as a group and you’ll have a radio to assist with inter-vehicle communication.

Rates & Inclusions

Rates 2024

  • 2990 euro per person, assuming 4 people on tour in the motorhome
  • minimum of 2 people required to run tour
  • if only 3 persons on tour, the cost is 3490€ p.p.,
  • if only 2 persons on tour, the cost is 4200€ p.p.
  • a small daily fee will apply if solo travellers want a camper to themselves - please enquire for more information
Inclusions
  • Motorhome or campervan for the whole trip
  • 7 days of guiding on the snow - lift assisted freeride
  • 9 days travel guiding to show you the best onsen to relax after a powder day & the best restaurants to refuel
  • All ski passes
  • Customized route depending on snow conditions, weather and avalanche forecast
  • Use of iPad with internet connection
  • Radios for safety & good communication in the mountains & in between vehicles
  • Pick up and drop off with private vehicle to and from the Tokyo Narita airport
Add-ons
  • Avalanche safety equipment rental - 3000 yen/day
Not Included
  • Flights to Narita
  • Vehicle fuel - gasoline and diesel is much cheaper than in Europe
  • Highway tolls
  • Onsen entry (generally ranges from 500 yen to 1300 yen)
  • Damage Deposit of the van, €1200 for the big campervan, €2000 for the motorhome
  • Travel insurance that covers skiing/snowboarding off-piste
  • Ski/snowboard gear and ski clothing
  • Groceries, lunches, dinners and alcohol
  • Extra activities, souvenirs