Hitting the Slopes in Hokkaido: Japan’s Winter WonderlandPhotos courtesy of Third Eye Backcountry Travel Features Hokkaido
Breathing in the icy air and listening to the crunch of fresh powder underfoot are just the beginning of enjoying the routine involved with a day in the mountains. There’s something special about skiing in the early months of a new year. Whether it’s the feeling of connecting with yourself and nature or simply leaning into the best benefits of cold and blustering winter weather, those who enjoy hitting the slopes know this is as good as it gets. The seemingly endless, deep snow in Hokkaido, Japan, however, might be the ultimate ski and snowboard destination—with good reason.
Japan’s second-largest and most northern island, Hokkaido, sees some of the best snowfall anywhere around the globe. The snow isn’t the only reason the island’s backcountry has become so popular, though. While many go for the fresh powder, which amounts to nearly 20 feet on average each winter, they head to the resorts. However, just outside the cities and not far into the backcountry, the landscape is completely untouched-a skier’s delight. With a temperature that hovers just below freezing from December to March, locals like to believe it snows somewhere in Hokkaido every day of the season. The heaviest snowfall comes in the months of January and February, making them peak season months.
Third Eye Backcountry
A new travel operator in the region, Third Eye Backcountry brings sustainability to their holistic outdoor adventures in Japan. From morning briefings before heading out for the best ski locations of the day, to experiencing the best of Japanese culture and cuisine back in town, each day makes up the trip of a lifetime. Pistes, side country and summit attempts are only a few of the options you’ll have each day to get out in the powder. At the end of many runs, head for a soak in a hot spring bath, known as an Onsen. Top it off with a bowl of steaming ramen and a Japanese rye whiskey, then crawl into bed for a good night’s sleep before starting over again.
When You Go
When you go, turn to Curated closer to time to prepare for all of your gear needs. Launched in October 2019, the website lends a hand and a seasoned eye to online shoppers looking for just the right gear across a number of sports. Experts and pros with tons of experience in their sport lend insight and advice so buyers might find just what they need and love it upon receiving their new gear. For example, Garrett Waliky, a former competitive skier who visited Japan for the slopes in 2018, is just the expert to turn to before jetting off for Hokkaido.
Make plans for a January or February trip to make the most of the best snow of the winter. You’ll find plenty of fresh powder each day-at the resorts or in the backcountry. Make arrangements with Third Eye Backcountry for a beautifully curated trip tailored to your expectations for incredible skiing without the crowds. Keep an eye on their social media handles too for some winter inspiration and anticipation of the adventurous vacation.
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist. You can often find her on the highway somewhere between Florida and North Carolina or taking life slow in Europe.