The 'Playground of the Gods'
9 nights/10 days (off-piste/backcountry)
We begin this tour in Furano which was nicknamed the eNavel of Hokkaidof for its central location on the island. It is a beautiful area, nestled in between the Yubari Range of Mountains on one side and the high mountains of the Daisetsuzan National Park on the other. Furano is a traditional Japanese town where you will find some of the friendliest locals around. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in town.
Our base puts us in a central position to access five different ski areas, each getting snow from slightly wind directions thanks to their own micro-climates. The first 5 days of the trip we will be traveling from Furano to the resort that has the best snow conditions, mostly using the lifts, with perhaps short hikes out of the ski area boundaries utilizing skins and or snow-shoes.
Among the areas that we will visit is Asahidake, a live volcano and also the highest mountain in Hokkaido. It is an area that gets snow from all directions. At its base are some great thermal hot springs.
We then spend the next three days staying at a hot-springs lodge in the Daisetsuzan National Park and the southern area which is sometimes referred to as the ePlayground of the Gods.f From the outdoor hot-springs there are amazing panoramic views of the peaks of the area and backcountry right outside its front door. The snow here is very light and dry due to the low humidity levels.
There is a good selection of accommodations in Furano, from pensions to four star hotels and also self-contained apartments. An option is to stay in Furano for the whole trip and do day trips in to the national park when the weather is good.
This tour is best undertaken in January and February for the best snow conditions.
For a preview of the area check out this segment put together by the Furano Tourism Association;