This is a private tour and a skiing vacation with a Japanese twist designed for those who appreciate fine accommodation and the opportunity to combine culture and skiing in one vacation. The dry, high-quality powder snow of Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido is world-famous. There is even a name for this phenomenon, “Japow” as in “Japanese powder snow”. March is excellent timing for a skiing vacation: The busiest peak is over but ski season in Hokkaido is still going strong! Unplug from your busy everyday life and enjoy a vacation that allows you to both move your body and have some food for thought.
Welcome to snowy Hokkaido!
There will be a private airport transfer to a hidden gem of Hokkaido, Kiroro Ski Resort, nesting at the mountainous area west of Sapporo. Today you can just relax at your luxurious accommodation to cure your jet lag and perhaps enjoy a nice dinner at one of the resort’s high-end restaurants. Or, if you have the energy, you can get going and head to the slopes of fresh powder snow right away!
A full day of powder snow skiing
Good morning Hokkaido! This day is reserved exclusively for skiing. Kiroro Ski Resort enjoys the same excellent powder snow conditions as some of the more high-profile Hokkaido ski resorts nearby. Being relatively less-known, you can experience the world-famous powder snow without having to wrestle with crowds. There are around 20 courses with slopes suited for beginners and intermediate level skiers. Let us know if you are interested in private ski lessons or kids’ ski school!
– There may be many excellent powder snow resorts across the world, but what really sets Hokkaido apart from the competition is the fact that excellent snow quality is guaranteed here every single year.
– The reason for Hokkaido’s heavy snowfall is related to its geographical location and the local weather: first the cold winds of Siberia meet the warm currents of the Sea of Japan, creating moisture. Then, this air encounters the cold air in inland Hokkaido, around the Niseko, Furano and Tokachi areas, resulting in snowfall that is extremely well suited for skiing.
Traditional games in a small fishing village
After enjoying some nice morning skiing, let us turn the spotlight to the local culture. Kamoenai is a charming village on the west side of the Shakotan Peninsula, facing the Sea of Japan. This little village has a long history of fishing, and has it’s own traditional fisherman’s rope game. In the past, when fishermen went out to sea for fishing, the women of the village were left at home waiting for their return. The rope game was originally a pastime activity created by the fishermen’s wives. Today you will have a chance to try out this traditional game, in which ropes are tied to a small treasure. Players choose a rope without seeing what’s tied to the other end. Besides this fun cultural activity, you will get to meet some lovely individuals and learn about their lifestyle!
– A cozy Japanese “ryokan” inn with “onsen” hot springs.
– The town of Iwanai is at the base of Shakotan Peninsula, facing the Sea of Japan. Takashima Ryokan is located in an area surrounded by a forest, approximately 5 kilometers inland from the sea.
– Takashima Ryokan prides itself in being not just an accommodation, but also a restaurant.
– Traditional Japanese “kaiseki” dinner with high quality local ingredients will be served. Because of Iwanai’s location right by the sea, there is always extremely fresh seafood served at the ryokan.
Snowshoe trekking in Japan's northernmost beech forest
After enjoying a nice breakfast in the intimate and friendly local “ryokan” in Iwanai, it is time to make a day trip to our next off-the-beaten-path destination. The little village of Kuromatsunai has been selected as one of the most beautiful villages in Japan. What makes Kuromatsunai really special is that this happens to be the northernmost place in the whole country where you can find beech trees. You can put on snowshoes and walk in the silent beech forest together with your local guide. After some peaceful timewalking through nature in good company, your new friend will take you around the village to show you some unique and inspiring local boutiques and meet some of the charming individuals behind these little shops.
– A traditional and luxurious Japanese “ryokan” inn with a modern twist.
– Both Japanese style rooms with “tatami” mats and Western style rooms are available.
– All the guest rooms have their own private indoor hot springs as well as an outdoor hot spring that has a view of the surrounding forest.
– Zaborin Ryokan has been designed in cooperation with England-born creative director Shouya Grigg, a former photographer who is also behind many other successful boutique hotels.
– Japanese “kaiseki” dinner with high quality local ingredients is a real feast not only for the taste buds but for the eyes as well. Impressive Teppanyaki dinner is also available.
– Located in the Hanazono district of the famous Niseko area.
Japanese traditions in the historic town of Esashi
The South Hokkaido town of Esashi was among the first places where Japanese immigrants started to live. In this town, you can venture around the fascinating Esashi Inishie Road, where you can appreciate reconstructed historical buildings and local shops. In Esashi you can also find Hokkaido’s oldest Shinto shrine, that is believed to originate from before the Edo Period. One way to get absorbed into the mesmerizing Japanese customs firsthand in this very shrine, is to join a traditional tea ceremony wearing a beautifully patterned Japanese Kimono.
– An environmentally friendly boutique hotel in Esashi town.
– The hotel has been designed by architect Makoto Nakayama. The guests get to enjoy room wear designed by fashion designer Junko Koshino.
– All the guest rooms have their own private indoor hot springs and a view to a private stone garden.
– Esashi Ryotei Kuki prides in using local food produce: they manage and work constantly in cooperation with Takumi Farm. Any food waste from the inn is composted or re-used to feed the farm animals.
Matsumae, Japan's northernmost castle
On the way to South Hokkaido’s largest city Hakodate, let’s follow the coastline to the old castle town of Matsumae. There, just before the island’s southernmost tip, is the Matsumae town that used to be the northernmost border of Japan during the Edo Period until Japanese immigrants started to make their way towards the inner parts of the island of Hokkaido. This town also hosts the northernmost Japanese castle ever built, Matsumae Castle. If you want to play around a bit, there is even a small historic theme park where it is possible to try out Edo period costumes.
– In Japan historic buildings are partly rebuild or even torn town regularly. From a point of view of a person who comes from a culture, where value is based in the “authenticity” of objects, this can seem puzzling.
– A well-known example is the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie prefecture. The shire is rebuilt every 20 years! Besides pragmatic reasons related to the rotting of the original wooden materials, there is also the Shinto belief related to the impermanence of all things behind this tradition.
– As authentic materials and methods as possible are used in the reconstruction of traditional Japanese buildings. There is extremely limited number of organizations that have the know-how and permission to conduct these rebuilding processes.
– Matsumae Castle is not an exception. This partly wooden the castle was badly destroyed in a fire in 1949, but even before this the castle has been rebuilt many times. The current castle was actually built in the 1960s.
The intriguing historical city of Hakodate
Today marks the last day of your Hokkaido culture and skiing private tour. If you wish to continue your Japan adventure from Hakodate, you can conveniently catch the Shinkansen bullet train to the main island.
Before leaving Hakodate behind, you can explore this historically important city, that was one of the first ports to open after Japan’s 220 year long period of isolation right before the Meiji Restoration. If you don’t know where to begin, a cool way to catch a glimpse into the history of this intriguing city is visiting the start shaped “last samurai battlefield” Fort Goryokaku.
6 Nights Accommodation
6 Breakfasts / 1 Lunches / 3 Dinners
7 Days Jumbo Taxi with English speaking Driver
*2-3pax Toyota Alphard with Local English speaking Driver
Parking, Fuel and Highway Fees
Taxes (10% Consumption Tax)
The quotation per person can be less in case of small children.
*Prices are in JPY（Japanese yen）, per person, based on double occupancy.