Japan is famous for a lot of things. It is a haven for tourists because there are plenty of sights to see and explore, whether man-made or natural. Hokkaido is the northernmost island in Japan that is known for its hot springs, volcanoes, and ski areas. So, if you are looking for adventure on your winter visit, you can explore backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
Winter in Hokkaido
Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan. As such, it offers plenty of exciting opportunities for tourists to take advantage of its natural resources. Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido, which is a popular tourist attraction in itself.
Winter is considered as one of the best times to visit Hokkaido. There are plenty of popular festivals to partake in such as the Sapporo Snow Festival, Big Air (snowboarding competition), and Asahikawa Ice Festival.
Many travel experts suggest visiting Hokkaido in the winter if you want to have a wonderful experience. The northernmost location of Hokkaido is part of the reason why it has a colder climate than mainland Japan. The temperature can drop to below zero-degree Celsius in the winter time. As the island is covered in white snow, it creates spectacular scenery and a host of adventurous experiences.
Today, skiing and snowboarding are two popular activities for tourists who visit Hokkaido during winter. Take time to learn about where you can enjoy these activities during your trip to Hokkaido.
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding in Hokkaido
Hokkaido is home to many beautiful ski/snowboarding resorts. These resorts feature world-class facilities that have drawn tourists from all over the world. The quality of the snow in Hokkaido is praised by those who’ve experienced it first-hand. There are also various slopes to choose from, so Hokkaido is a great destination for snowboarding and skiing enthusiasts of all levels!
During peak snowfall, Hokkaido’s top ski and snowboarding resort can get up to 17 meters of snow. Most popular ski resorts in the world only get an average of four to six meters of snow! The sight of the fluffy, white snow is too good to resist for ski and snowboarding enthusiasts.
Some of the most notable ski spots in Hokkaido are the Sapporo and Furano ski areas. There are several other nearby towns known for skiing, such as Asahikawa and Higashikawa. Nonetheless, the former two mentioned are among the most popular destinations, especially for first-time visitors to Hokkaido.
If you are new to winter in this part of Japan, it is also a good idea to hire a guide. Even if you are an experienced ski or snowboard enthusiast, you have to know that each type of terrain is different. Hiring a guide will help you find the most suitable spots without risking your safety. As a bonus, your guide can also provide some local knowledge and cultural insights to help ease you into the local culture much faster.
Preparing for Skiing and Snowboarding in Hokkaido
Are you ready to take on the snowboarding and ski slopes of Hokkaido? Take note of the following tips to plan your winter holiday so you can stay safe and get the most fun out of it:
- Skiing or snowboarding in Japan means you’ll be exposed to a lot of sun under low light and clouds. In a day, expect to experience changing light conditions, which can be dramatic. You can protect your eyes from these changing conditions by packing low light goggles. This will enable you to see the terrain better, which can be challenging when all you see is white snow. It is also a smart idea to pack an extra pair. You’ll never know when you can damage yours as you tumble into the snow, so it’s better to be prepared.
- Pack some face or neck warmers, too. As mentioned above, winters in Hokkaido can reach below zero degrees. When you stumble and fall as you ski or snowboard, more of the white stuff will get on your face. This can make you feel extremely cold. Make it a priority to cover up as much as you can.
- Always pack your own gear. There are some ski or snowboarding resorts that can let you rent gear to use. But there are also some resorts in Hokkaido with limited options. To ensure that you can get the most out of your skiing and snowboarding experience, pack a full set of gear!
- Use the directional stance on your snowboard. This is an important reminder when snowboarding in Hokkaido. A lot of snowboarders opt for the central stance. This can be dangerous when you are dealing with steep slopes and terrain in Japan. The directional stance will also enable you to ride longer.
- Don’t forget to bring cash! This might seem odd, but many establishments in Hokkaido are still heavily cash-based. It is a smart idea to bring some local money with you at all times.
Whether you choose to ski or do your snowboarding in Hokkaido or elsewhere, these tips should hopefully help you plan an amazing vacation!