We are here in Japan on a discovery trip with some of our favorite clients to find out what everyone has been talking about. For years, we have been discussing the possibility of opening a new SASS trip in Japan. Our plan was to put together a trip based on the advice that many seasoned Japan skiers and snowboarders have been offering us over the years as well as some preliminary recon of our own. We decided to bring along a select group of some of our favorite SASS family members to gain feedback and see which spots put the biggest smile on their faces.
For the first week our itinerary was loose and we freestyled our way around the north island of Hokkaido hitting as many spots as possible…
The crew met up in Sapporo and were immediately introduced to traditional Japanese cuisine in order to fuel up for the coming powder filled days.
After deciding that the snow wasn’t up to snuff at Sapporo Teine, we switched it up and spent our first day at Sapporo Kokusai. Kokusai was the perfect warm-up to skiing in Japan. 15 cms of new snow, perfectly spaced trees and simple sidecountry access gave us the opportunity to shred and get through some beacon drills to refresh everyone’s memory.
Next we headed straight for the Niseko area with our eyes set on the lesser-known Moiwa ski area. It simply wouldn’t stop snowing for the next three days. We spent the first two lapping through the top gate of Moiwa playing in the trees, jumping off of pillows and avoiding the crowds of the famous Niseko United resorts. Despite our love for Moiwa’s privacy and ski-in-ski-out access, we wanted to explore what Niseko United had to offer as well. We dipped over to Niseko Annupuri to get a few laps in the morning. Our recently discovered off-piste zones delivered newly deposited knee-deep freshness and the crowds seemed to be unaware of their existence. Skipping over the less desirable terrain of Niseko Village and Grand Hirafu, we continued to wrap around all the way to Niseko Hanazono for more stashes of gate-accessed side-country that we had all to ourselves.
After two days of heavy snowfall and sun in the forecast (a rarity at a ski area that seems to get endless strings of daily dumps) we made the short drive from the base of Moiwa to Rusutsu. The sun was out and the famous Japanese powder was deep. The views from the top almost distracted us from the blower that was to be had below. The recon we did before the trip began proved effective as we spent the day shaking our heads unable to believe that every day just kept getting better.
We snuck in one more unforgettable day at Moiwa as it began to feel more and more like home (plus the surprise 20cms didn’t hurt). Next we head north to Asahidake for some backcountry missions Japan style…