THE SASS JAPAN EXPERIENCE

The SASS Japan experience is available to a wide variety of capable skiers and snowboarders. Adults are welcome during all of our programs. Skiers or snowboarders under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Whether you are an east coast weekend warrior looking to get into deeper snow, an experienced pow shredder looking to transition into the backcountry, a pro looking to get shots for sponsors or you have been dreaming about this trip to Japan ever since the footage began to appear, we are here to provide you with the platform and make it happen…

GUIDED SESSIONS

OVERVIEW

Take over six hundred inches of Japanese cold-smoke powder, add luxury lodging at Hokkaido’s snowiest resort and mix with professional backcountry guiding. SASS has been perfecting the recipe for your dream Japanese shred-trip for years. Strategically based at Kiroro Resort on Japan’s north island of Hokkaido, SASS Japan puts you in the best snow available on any given day. Join a crew of like-minded skiers and snowboarders as you tackle the north island’s best backcountry terrain without the crowds of nearby Niseko. Whether you’re seeking bottomless pow on playful tree runs or skinning farther into the surrounding backcountry for endless pillow lines, SASS Japan is your perfect powder experience.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

  • Double-occupancy lodging at The Kiroro – Tribute Portfolio Hotel
  • Lift Tickets to all resorts and side-country zones
  • Daily professional backcountry guiding (5 to 1 Client-to-Guide)
  • Admission pass to exclusive Kiroro Onsen (Japanese Hot Spring Baths)
  • Breakfast and Dinner daily, including special Welcome/Farewell Dinners
  • Meet and greet at Sapporo (New Chitose) Airport
  • Ground transportation to/from Sapporo (New Chitose) Airport and Kiroro at specific transfer times

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?

  • Airfare – clients should arrive at Sapporo/New Chitose Airport (CTS)
  • Backcountry gear rental (beacon, shovel, probe, backpack)
  • Lunch, alcohol
  • Ski lessons for those not meeting SASS’ skill level requirements.

AVAILABLE ADD-ONS

  • Photo packages
  • Custom transportation (e.g. special arrival day, nightlife, non-airport pickup)
  • Nightlife excursions
  • Demo equipment (including Folsom Skis, Jones Splitboards, snowshoes, etc.)
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GETTING HERE / TRAVEL

SASS operates from Kiroro Resort, located approximately one hour from the capital city of Sapporo and 30 minutes from the seaside cities of Otaru and Yoichi. The more popular/crowded resort areas of Niseko are located approximately 45 minutes away.

  • SASS programs start and end at the Sapporo – New Chitose Airport (CTS)
  • Most clients will connect in Tokyo, at either Narita or Haneda airport.
  • SASS provides client transportation on designated transfers days / times.
  • Once clients arrive at Kiroro Resort and the experience begins on Arrival Day, any additional transportation is included until the last day.
  • Clients can obtain discounted and consolidator airfares to Japan from North America via our travel agency partner, Amnet.

Looking to combine your SASS Japan experience with other local resorts or travel elsewhere in Japan? Let us know. We can often tailor your SASS Japan experience to fit within your larger travel itinerary.

A DAY AT SASS JAPAN

You may not even look out the window in the mornings anymore. As you wake up from the fifth night in a row, there’s even more fresh snow outside. The glow of daylight peers through the clouds… and even though you haven’t seen the sun in nearly a week, it doesn’t matter. You roll out of bed and treat yourself to an amazing buffet breakfast before gearing up and meeting the rest of the crew.

Whether it’s the endless powder or the enchanted trees, Japan is a powder-hunters’ dream. From pillow lines to short-pitch steeps and tree skiing that’s widely considered the best in the world, your guide will take you to the best spot on any given day. If we are looking to get away from the lifts for the day and push your limits a bit further, we have unreal access to backcountry spots right out our door. If the snow is piling up after dark, no worries. You can head over for some laps in fun and playful terrain under the lights.

Your evening might include dinner at your hotel, or an excursion to the nearby seaside town of Otaru for local sushi. Utilizing the onsen (Japanese hotspring) will be part of your daily routine. Welcome dinners are catered at a private cafe at the base area. Farewell dinners find our clients celebrating Japanese powder and culture with a barbecue at a traditional farmhouse just minutes away in Akaigawa. With a crew of like-minded pow seekers, SASS Japan is the perfect opportunity for advanced skiers and riders to get into Japan’s amazing terrain.

PRICES

Only a $600 deposit due at booking.
Hold your spot for less (only available until Oct. 1st)

 

One Sessions (8 day) – $3695 USD*

Two Sessions (16 day) – $7290 USD

3 Sessions (24 day) – $10885 USD

 

Get $100 off for each additional week booked

* Session 1 (December 30th – January 6th) is our “Holiday Session” and runs over the New Year Holiday. Due to lodging demand, this session price is $4395

For help booking your package, call us at 800-851-4660

CUSTOM EXPERIENCES

OVERVIEW

SASS has been creating experiences for clients on Japan’s northern island for five years, including groups, families, teams and video production crews. Hokkaido’s new status as a “bucket list” trip for serious skiers and snowboarders means that lift lines are now common at many Niseko area resorts and other popular locations like Rusutsu. SASS locates itself strategically at Kiroro Resort in Hokkaido’s snowiest corner, but just 45 minutes from countless other resort areas with access to 4×4 vans. Leverage SASS’ expertise to create your own unforgettable custom experience on Japan’s northern island.

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Custom Japan experiences can be built to meet your needs, both at Kiroro and other locations throughout Japan. SASS can offer a variety of options, including:

  • Contract Lodging Options at Kiroro Resort
    • The Kiroro – Tribute Portfolio Hotel
    • Sheraton Hokkaido
  • Other Lodging Options (Greater Hokkaido)
    • One Niseko Resort Towers – Moiwa
    • Private Homes (facilitated through Niseko Izumikyo)
    • Mercure Hotel – Sapporo
    • Westin Rusutsu
    • Referrals for Ryokans, Hostels and Lodges; including Shirakaba-So in Asahidake, Moiwa Lodge outside Niseko, etc.
  • Transportation
    • Airport Transfers to/from Sapporo-New Chitose (CTS)
    • Daily Private Transportation
    • Rental Cars
  • Lift Tickets to all resorts and side-country zones
  • Daily professional backcountry guiding (5 to 1 Client-to-Guide)
  • Admission pass to exclusive Kiroro Onsen (Japanese Hot Spring Baths)
  • Breakfast and Dinner daily, including a special Farewell Dinner
  • Meet and greet at Sapporo (New Chitose) Airport

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?

  • Airfare – clients should arrive at Sapporo/New Chitose Airport (CTS)
  • Backcountry gear rental (beacon, shovel, probe, backpack)
  • Lunch, alcohol

AVAILABLE ADD-ONS

  • Photo packages
  • Custom transportation (e.g. special arrival day, nightlife, non-airport pickup)
  • Nightlife excursions
  • Demo equipment (including DPS Skis, Jones Splitboards, snow shoes, etc.)
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GETTING HERE / TRAVEL

Organizing logistics for a ski and snowboard trip in northern Japan, especially with a group or team, can be a challenge. Leverage SASS’ years of experience to simplify your travel needs so you can make the most out of your trip to Hokkaido.

Travel Tips for Custom Programs:

  • Plan to book your flights Sapporo – New Chitose Airport (CTS), not just to Tokyo. Domestic flights in Japan are far less expensive when combined with an international itinerary.
  • Most clients will connect in Tokyo, at either Narita or Haneda airport. Both airports offer flights to Sapporo, but Haneda offers more.
  • Reaching Hokkaido by train is still a long process, over 9 hours even with the new Hokkaido Shinkansen. Flying all the way to Sapporo is your best option. Note: If you want to experience the bullet train, consider going to Kyoto or Nara for a night before leaving Tokyo to go home.
  • Clients can obtain discounted and consolidator airfares to Japan from North America via our travel agency partner, Amnet.
  • We can typically tailor your custom SASS Japan experience to fit within your larger Japan travel itinerary.

PRICES

SASS can often meet specific budget needs and offer competitive bids for large groups and teams. Alternatively, we can also assist smaller groups and families save money by maximizing their time and traveling more efficiently in Japan. SASS specializes in custom itineraries for those seeking backcountry ski and snowboard guiding for at least part of their group as a key component of their request.

 

For help booking your package, call us at 800-851-4660

FAQ

We get a lot of questions, and we try our best to answer them below. Please scroll down and see if yours has been asked before. You can also click here and ask us specific questions and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

What airport do I fly into?

All clients should arrive at Sapporo-New Chitose Airport (CTS). SASS Japan is located on Hokkaido, aka “the North Island.” Tokyo is located on Honshu, aka “the Main Island.” This is the main airport on Hokkaido and is located about 30 minutes south of Sapporo (Hokkaido’s largest city). This is considered the main Sapporo airport despite the fact that its actually in Chitose.

Clients flying from North America will typically fly to Tokyo, then connect to Sapporo (CTS). There are two main airports in Tokyo, Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT). The majority of international flights from North America arrive at Narita, but there are a limited number of flights between Narita and Sapporo — most other flights to Sapporo depart from Haneda. We suggest that our clients fly into Narita and connect from there on a handful of flights directly to Sapporo. This avoids an airport transfer from Narita to Haneda (where most domestic flights leave from) which is doable, but much more of a hassle than booking a flight that does not require changing airports.

After registering for SASS Japan, contact us directly with any questions about flight itinerary. We are here to help make this process as simple as possible. We will put you in direct contact with our air travel partner (AMNET Travel) to make sure you get the best deal possible as well as the best itinerary to make this journey as pain free as it can be.

When should I plan to arrive in Japan?

You should plan to arrive at the New Chitose Airport (CTS) on the first date of the session for which you registered. For example, if Session 1 is listed as starting on December 29th, you would want to arrive at CTS on the 29th. For a North American client, this would likely mean departing North America on the 28th. Contact us at 1-800-851-4660 or a travel agent for more details about coordinating your flight times.

How does the transportation work?

SASS meets and greets all clients at the New Chitose Airport on our designated arrival day. If you arrive on an “off day” – we’ll be happy to help you coordinate your own private transfer to meet your needs.

SASS includes private airport transportation for all clients in the evening (typically loading around 8:45PM) to accommodate most North American flights. SASS charters vehicles in addition to providing “chase vans” for ski gear and passengers on delayed flights. If you’re arriving much earlier, we’re able to coordinate transfers for you with Hokkaido Resort Liner or using the JR Train to Otaru.

Once at Kiroro, our clients utilize a free two-minute shuttle from our hotel directly to the ski area and our private meeting space at the Mountain Center every morning. In addition, we have multiple 4×4 vans for additional transportation if leaving the resort to some of our local backcountry zones, or even to nearby ski areas if necessary.

What is the exchange rate?

The currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY).

As of Nov. 30, 2016, 1 USD = 113.5 JPY

What’s the deal with credit cards vs. cash?

Most businesses accept credit cards.

ATMs that accept international debit cards are somewhat hard to come by (most Japanese bank ATMs do not take North American cards), but we know where they are and will always give you the heads up when cash may be necessary/useful. If in doubt, seek out a 7-11 convenience store, which always has an international ATM.

Currency exchange at the airport (or with your local bank prior to departure) is usually the most expensive option for obtaining Yen, but we do recommend that clients arrive with some Yen for food, drinks, etc. during your first couple days, since the currency exchange may be closed for those arriving late into Sapporo.

Is sushi the only thing to eat?

Food in Japan is either something that really excites travelers, or makes them nervous. If you love sushi, you will be blown away by the quality and access. That said, if you do not like sushi or fish, there are tons of other options. In fact, sushi isn’t even the most food that most people eat.

Ramen bowls are ridiculously tasty and are way better than what you used to make for dinner every night in college. Japanese ramen is basically salty noodle soup, with different meat options.

The breakfast and dinner included at SASS Japan are both large scale international buffets in the main dining room at the hotel. Here you will have options for both Japanese style cuisine and classic american dishes.

Breakfast includes options for eggs, breakfast meats, cereal, pastries, pancakes, waffles, custom omelets, fresh juices and coffee or tea. Traditional Japanese breakfast items are also available including white rice, miso soup, fresh fish and numerous other items that are worth trying.

Dinner includes just about every possible item imaginable, from fresh sushi, crab legs and rice dishes to fried chicken nuggets, roast beef, grilled steak and soft-serve ice cream.

Lunch options are dependent on the day, but your guide will let you know how to plan in the morning whether that means having cash for ramen bowls at the restaurants on the mountain, or grabbing packable snacks available at the mini market perfect for a day in the backcountry.

What are the medical facilities like?

Japan has state of the art modern medical facilities. The closest facilities are located in Otaru and Kutchan, approximately 20 and 40-minutes away, respectively. Depending on the nature of the injury or illness, SASS and resort ski patrol will recommend the appropriate facility.

Kiroro Resort has a fully functioning ski patrol and medical triage clinic at the base area and all of our guides are certified Wilderness First Responders and/or certified in Outdoor Emergency Care.

How intense is the language barrier?

Although many Japanese people speak English, it is not guaranteed. Luckily they are incredibly accommodating to non-Japanese speakers. Signs are written in English or at least in our alphabet, making pronunciation possible. Almost all menus use pictures making ordering food as simple as pointing at what you would like. Information desks are plentiful and typically staffed by English speaking staff eager to help with any questions or concerns.

What is the weather like?

You will not see the sun very much at SASS Japan, but that is kind of the point of coming all the way to Hokkaido during January anyway. Snow comes in near constant pulses, rather than large storm cycles. It is cold and can be quite windy.

Clear, yellow or rose-colored lenses for your (multiple) pairs of goggles, along with face masks or a buff, are a near-necessity. Skiers and snowboarders from the Western US may find Japan to be quite cold; whereas East Coast skiers and riders will find Japan to be a similar temperature on many days… just a far more dry and powdery version.

Before your trip, you will receive a detailed packing list. Warm layers and over the ankle boots are necessary when not on the mountain.

What is there to do besides ski and snowboard?

At SASS Japan our primary focus is the day on the mountain accessing the deepest snow possible. That said, we are always looking to provide the platform for further cultural exploration. Our hotel also has a variety of options for alternative activities after your day on-hill. We are a fun-loving crew, so after the day on the hill we typically meet up for food and drinks in true apres style. The onsen is a great afternoon activity that will help rejuvenate your tired muscles for the next day.

We are only 30 minutes from the historic fishing town of Otaru which has many unique shops and restaurants. A walk around the canal is highly recommended. Our hotel provides a free shuttle to town daily.

Additional SASS-sponsored activities will be announced throughout your time at SASS Japan.

What is an onsen?

An onsen is a Japanese natural hot spring. SASS Japan includes a pass to the on-site onsen at the hotel. The onsen experience is very important to Japanese culture and is one of the best things about Hokkaido other than the massive amounts of snow. The onsen at the hotel is both indoors and outdoors and includes a sauna, jet massage stations, heated lemon bath, steam room, natural outdoor hot spring, indoor bathing area and a cold dip pool.

Men and women are separated and bathing suits are not allowed (the detergents used to wash them are considered a contaminant to the water). Don’t worry, towels are provided. Showering stations are required upon entry.

Onsens are all about relaxation and rejuvenation, not partying. Drinks are forbidden and conversations should be kept to a respectful tone. We will help you navigate proper onsen etiquette. 

What is the time difference?

Japan Standard Time (JST) is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).