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Piste-Carving and Storm-Chasing in Japan

Ski enthusiasts often argue the age-old question: which is better - Hakuba or Niseko? But there is no need to choose when you can discover the highlights of both of Japan’s finest ski destinations on this 13-day adventure. From the fascinating city of Kyoto, travel to Hakuba for its fluffy powder and long mountain runs. From the bright lights of Tokyo, ride an overnight sleeper train to Niseko to take advantage of its gorgeous back-country skiing. Besides during Chinese New Year, when our selected resorts are very busy with tourists, these destinations offer plenty of space and a myriad of options whether you are an expert or beginner. Get well off the beaten track with a journey to Asahikawa, a centrally-located mountain town with access to at least six different resorts from which you can choose, based on the weather. Enjoy days spent on the slopes, carving up the powder, and evenings sampling delicious food and soaking in natural hot springs.

Highlights
  • Discover the rich culture and history of beautiful Kyoto and the bright lights of Tokyo
  • Ski the long mountain slopes of Hakuba
  • Explore the myriad of runs in Niseko
  • Go storm chasing from your base in Asahikawa to find the best snow in the region
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1

Touch down in Tokyo where you will be met by your guide and whisked seamlessly off on a bullet train ride to Kyoto where the journey truly begins. For tonight, relax and bed down in your comfortable hotel.

Day 2

Spend the day exploring the culturally rich city of Kyoto, home to countless beautiful temples and Shinto shrines. Sample local delicious delicacies before re-boarding the bullet train for your first ski destination, Hakuba, in the Japanese alps. Relax here for the night in your comfortable, family-run accommodation.

Day 3

Spend the day getting to know the slopes, all of which are within easy reach of your hotel. Your guide will lead you to some of the finest mountain skiing spots in Japan and you can enjoy Hakuba’s long, sweeping runs. In the evening, relax your aching muscles in a traditional Japanese onsen.

Day 4

Now that you’ve got your ski legs, spend the day carving up the slopes and reveling in Hakuba’s fluffy piste. Alternatively, if you prefer to take a break and get into nature, take a trip to Jigokudani to visit the wild monkeys who play in its hot springs. Treat yourself with another rejuvenating soak to round off the day.

Day 5

Spend the morning getting in a few final runs on the slopes of Hakuba before boarding the train direct to Tokyo. Hit the town this evening for delicious Japanese cuisine and the chance to see the city’s bright lights. Immerse yourself in the action and bustle of Shibuya and Shinjuku before a good night’s sleep at your luxurious hotel; we recommend the beautiful Aman Tokyo.

Day 6

Today you will have the chance to explore the fascinating delights of Tokyo, from the madness of the fish market and the glamor of Ginza’s fashion district to the Meiji shrine and the Imperial Palace. After sunset, sample Tokyo's internationally renowned restaurant culture – from succulent pork tonkatsu to the perfect bowl of street ramen. 

Day 7

Rise early this morning and board your short, 90-minute flight from Tokyo to the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. After your arrival, your Remote Lands guide will escort you to your two-hour overland transfer to the charming ski town of Niseko. Arriving at midday, you will have the afternoon to unwind or, if you like, hit the slopes just outside the hotel. Your guide can introduce you to the best runs in the resort to ensure a great day of skiing. Relax in the evening with dinner and a soak in an outdoor hot springs.

Day 8

Continue to explore Niseko’s myriad of runs. Access the back-country slopes or take the lift to the very highest point from which you can hike upwards another 30 minutes to the very top. Here, the views are astounding, and your choice of runs is endless.

Day 9

Spend the day perfecting your turns and form, or – if you like – take the 90-minute drive to Rusutsu and try your hand at a new set of runs.

Day 10

This morning, journey north to Asahikawa. While not a ski resort itself, this centrally-located town enjoys access to six other neighboring resorts from which you can choose. Your expert guide will help you select the best depending on the day’s weather.

Day 11

Wake up bright and early for a discussion with your guide about where the best skiing can be found today. The locals call it storm-chasing and the vast array of options in varying climates allows you to find the best snow, within easy reach.

Day 12

Spend a final day storm-chasing from your base in Asahikawa and in the evening, celebrate your achievements on the slopes with a grand dinner of delicious local fare.

Day 13
Departure

Say your farewells to the alps of Japan this morning as you board your domestic flight to Narita International airport in Tokyo, ready for your journey onwards or homewards.

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
KYOTO
Four Seasons Kyoto, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Four Seasons Kyoto

Inspired by the tranquility and contemplative calm of the region’s many temples and Zen gardens, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto features 110 standard rooms, 12 suites, 57 condos and a Presidential Suite, which at over 2,600 square feet, is the largest hotel suite in Kyoto. The restrained chic of designer Agnes Ng’s modern ideas, allied with traditional design elements such as bamboo groves and shoji paper-walls, create an extraordinary set of contemporary, yet classic, accommodations – with a peaceful vibe, enhanced and completed by the gentle crash of water from the Waterfall Garden. The hotel features two restaurants, bar, lounge and even a tea house where guests can find a range of tantalizing treats and refreshments to expedite their relaxation – set off to perfection by a team of expertly trained, confident and multilingual service staff.

 

Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Just steps away from the popular streets of Gion, Kawaramachi and Pontocho, the hotel is the perfect gateway for seeing Kyoto’s fabulous sights. The large meeting facilities and services also make the hotel ideal for business. Respecting the ancient traditions and culture of Kyoto, the extravagant space is inspired from the natural surroundings and traditional architecture. Famous for Zen Temples, palaces and gardens, the Kyoto atmosphere is incorporated in the Ritz-Carlton’s design. Built in the style of a traditional Meiji House and courtyard, this is truly a cultural experience. A four-story waterfall is featured in the hotel entrance amidst patterned motifs. Guests are always guaranteed world-famous luxury at Ritz-Carlton, and Kyoto is no exception: guests enjoy high-thread count linens, plush Japanese “IMABARI” robes and towels, complimentary WiFi, Kyoto soap and seasonal bath salts, LED TVs and touch-panel environmental controls for automatic drape closure.  Accommodation amenities include a concierge service, swimming pool, banquet room, babysitting service, four delicious dining options and a spa for any pampering needs. 

 
 
TOKYO
Aman Tokyo

Aman Tokyo

Since its opening at the end of 2014, Aman Tokyo has been one of the most talked-about luxury hotels in the city. The most striking thing about it is its location; spread across the top six floors of a 40-storey tower in the Otemachi business district, the panoramic views are simply incredible. What’s more, all of the 84 rooms and suites take full advantage of the lofty position with floor-to-ceiling windows letting light in during the daytime, while also framing the breathtaking lit-up cityscape at night. Aman Tokyo has also received praise for its impressive interiors, which have been inspired by minimalistic design, including the use of camphor wood, washi paper and stone surfaces throughout the rooms as well as traditional Japanese facilities such as large ‘furo’ baths. Situated on the 33rd floor, both guests and non-guests can enjoy the fine Mediterranean food at the hotel’s signature restaurant, not forgetting more of those incredible views across Tokyo stretching as far as the Imperial Palace Gardens and Mount Fuji in the distance. Elsewhere, there is a spa, enclosed garden area, swimming pool, wine cellar, cigar lounge and a whole host of other facilities to keep guests entertained.

 
 
NISEKO
Ki Niseko, Vale Niseko

Ki Niseko

Niseko’s high-end deluxe resort hotel, Ki, has the unique attraction of being the only hotel in the region offering ‘ski-in ski-out’ accommodation. The second floor takes guests to the ski valet service center where your equipment and boots are stored (and dried and warmed), enabling them to step from the hotel straight onto the slopes - and some of the finest powder-snow on the planet. The lavish hotel rooms, suitable for two to three adults, are carefully designed to be the epitome of the modern Japanese aesthetic. Ki Niseko also has a choice of one and two bedroom condos – as well as the stunning penthouse suite. All rooms are furnished to maximise space, views and relaxation, with picture windows and snug armchairs to enjoy the magnificent vistas of the Yotei and Annupuri mountains. Après Ski, guests can rejuvenate tired bodies with a dip in the onsen hot springs or a hot-stone massage in Ki Spa, before indulging in the exquisite creations of Celebrity Head Chef Shinichi Maeda at the An Dining, Café & Bar – Ki Niseko’s in-house restaurant. This hotel offers Japanese alpine charm at its best.

 

Vale Niseko

This 5-star luxury resort hotel is located right on the slopes of Niseko Hirafu village, one of the most exclusive locations in Niseko, and features awe-inspiring views of Mount Yotei itself, as well as the majestic surrounding area. The Vale’s 49 ultra-chic hotel rooms range from studios through to two and three bedroom apartments and, of course, the award-winning super-deluxe penthouse apartments. All the apartments come with premium fit-outs, roaring open fires and open-plan bathrooms. One of the most outstanding features has to be the onsen (Japanese natural thermal spring) - water is pumped from 2000 feet below the surface, on a reported 160 year journey through Mount Yotei, directly to the hotel. Guests can recline in their own personal hot tub and take in the incredible views - all the while soaking in the healing minerals of this very special mountain water. The perfect end to a perfect day’s skiing.

 
 
Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our co-founder Jay Tindall finds Japan both a challenging and rewarding travel destination, which requires several visits to truly understand. It's also his favourite food destination in Asia.
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