2015 Japan Group Backcountry Trip

Group Leader: JR Musser

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Thank you for choosing SASS Global Travel for your backcountry experience in Japan next season. We’re excited to work with you to create your ideal backcountry experience. Below, we’ve outlined a 10-Day program in Japan per the request of your group leader. If you’re interested in extending your time in Japan or adjusting your personal itinerary, we’re happy to help.


Japan has the highest concentration of individual ski areas anywhere in the world, somewhere between 600-900 depending on your source. Most are located on the northern island of Hokkaido, and are small, local town hills with a single lift. However, a few of these resorts are true hidden gems. Beyond the developed lift systems and resort town of Niseko, we’ll explore areas like:

Moiwa – Located just 20 minutes from the main Niseko resort area of Hirafu, this small resort is a powder dreamland.

Rusutsu – At 45 minutes from Niseko, this resort stands out as one of the steeper, deeper and more playful areas to shred pow. Often racking up snow totals that put Niseko United to shame, Rusutsu is often our choice for deep pow and great terrain.

Kiroro – Roughly an hour from Niseko, Kiroro is one of the newest and largest additions to the ski scene in Japan. With minimal traffic from Australian tourists owing to its location, Kiroro offers fast lifts and access to an impressive amount of backcountry terrain without the competition.

Asahidake – Three hours from Niseko, Asahidake is an overnight trip. Accessed by a single tramway, this “resort” is really a backcountry playground. Hiking and skinning options abound when the sun shines, but its position on Hokkaido’s highest peak can often make weather a factor.

Niseko United – The four resorts that comprise Niseko United (including Hanazono and Annupuri) are among Japan’s largest and most developed. This can make crowds and competition a factor, but Hanazono and Annupuri in particular offer a wide range of terrain that crowds don’t seem to track out. After the ski day, the small town of Hirafu has become a great place for dining and nightlife just a few meters from the lifts.

Sapporo Teine & Kokusai – Our frequent choice for first-day skiing, these resorts offer great terrain and snow at a short distance from Sapporo.
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About Guiding at SASS Japan

Our small crew of mountain and travel logistics professionals will be with you every step of the way. Here to make your experience happen and exceed your expectations, we will be the ones showing you the goods and helping with any travel logistics you have. Never hesitate to ask these guys for anything that might make your adventure better and more memorable. We have been traveling the world extensively for years looking for snow and figuring out how to bring our experiences to other like-minded individuals. Join us this year and see what makes this the best crew in high-end ski and snowboard travel.

Flexibility in Guiding

If your group is larger – you’ll be able to command a high degree of flexibility. Our Japan program is unique in that we utilize 4×4 vehicles and small groups of guides and clients to access the best terrain for that day. So, in consultation with your guide, you would be able to determine the itinerary that’s best for the day considering the weather conditions, snow, visibility, ability level, etc. Obviously safety is our first consideration; but as long as the terrain is safe to ride and your group is stoked — we’ll make it happen!

On-Piste vs. Off-Piste

On-piste terrain is truly just a handful of groomed runs in most places; suitable for intermediates. Nearly all of our time is spent in off-piste zones, trees or other backcountry areas. This allows us to access the powder that Japan is famous for. On-piste “sidecountry” areas do exist at some resorts in Japan, but not many. We ride with beacon/shovel/probe every day, and generally treat any day on-mountain as a backcountry mission. This is part of our commitment to safety as well. Touring equipment is optional — most resorts and backcountry zones are easily accessible by hiking, however options increase considerably when groups are uphill-capable.
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  • 10 Nights Lodging, Double Occupancy
    • 5 Nights Niseko Area
    • 2 Nights Sapporo
    • 3 Nights Asahidake (Conditions Permitting) or Kiroro
  • Professional Backcountry Guiding for 9 Days
  • 9 Days Lift Tickets to all resorts and side-country zones.*
  • Breakfast Daily
  • Meet and Greet at Sapporo (New Chitose) Airport
  • Transfer to/from Sapporo (New Chistose) Airport to Sapporo
  • 4×4 Van Transportation to follow the best conditions in the region

*We can offer you the opportunity to receive a credit for Vail pass days you use instead of our passes at Niseko United.

  • Airfare to/from Sapporo, Japan (CTS). Travel Agency Assistance Available
  • Backcountry Gear Rental (Beacon, Shovel, Probe, Backpack) – 5000 Yen /Day
  • Lunch / Dinner
  • Japanese Hot Springs Admission

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Wed Depart North America
Thurs International Arrival in Tokyo (Haneda or Narita Airports) / Airport Transfer + Domestic Travel to Sapporo / Overnight in Sapporo. Welcome Dinner.
Fri Morning in Sapporo / Skiing and Orientation at Sapporo Kokusai. PM Transfer to Niseko / Hirafu. Overnight at Arbor House, Hirafu.
Sat Moiwa / Guided. Lift accessed sidecountry.
Sun Annupuri (Niseko United) / Guided. Lift accessed sidecountry.
Mon Hanazono (Niseko United) / Guided. Lift accessed sidecountry.
Tues Kiroro / Guided. Lift accessed sidecountry.
Wed Moiwa / Guided. Lift accessed sidecountry.
Thurs Flex Day / Moiwa or Kiroro Day Trip
Fri Check-Out of Lodging / Early AM Transfer to Asahikawa Town, Backcountry Skiing at Kamui or Asahidake. Overnight in Asahidake.
Sat Backcountry Skiing in Asahidake / Touring with PM Transfer to Sapporo or Early Departure from Asahidake with Skiing at Sapporo Teine. Overnight in Sapporo.
Sunday Depart Sapporo for International flight to North America via Tokyo.

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Niseko – Arbor House or Similar

We’re recommending the Arbor House and its sister properties for your group’s time in Hirafu. These newly-constructed residences are a private retreat for just six to ten guests only minutes away from the Hirafu main village. With its wide open living areas, dining spaces, decks and comfortable sleeping quarters, it will be your home away from home. Best of all, these properties are often in duplex, which means we can easily add on another connected property and adjust plans to accommodate the correct number of guests.

Sapporo – Mercure Hotel

Our first choice is the Mercure Hotel. This property offers larger rooms than the traditional “city size” Japanese rooms common in Tokyo and most other locations. Bathrooms are spacious, and the hotel offers excellent services, including on-sen (hot tub and sauna) to its guests. In addition to quality facilities and customer service, this hotel is located in the heart of Susukino, making it ideal for SASS clients looking to experience the exciting culture of Hokkaido.

Other Lodging Properties

We make every effort to secure the best possible lodging for our clients. In some cases, conditions dictate that our itinerary changes, and lodging along with it. Particularly in locations like Asahidake, we will patronize local lodging and take the opportunity to showcase the unique traditional properties that make this region a pleasure to visit and ski in.

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NOTE: Pricing is in US Dollars and all inclusions, costs and amenities are not guaranteed until the number of participants is confirmed and an invoice has been issued and accepted by the client. Upon registration, a deposit of 30% of the registration amount is required.

1-4 Persons:

Joins Existing Group – Shared Vehicle – $3195 P/P (10 Day) / $2795 P/P (8 Day)

4-6 Persons:

Private Lodging – Shared Vehicle – $2895 P/P (10 Day) / $2495 P/P (8 Day)

6-8 Persons:

Private Lodging – Private Vehicle – $2695 P/P (10 Day) / $2295 P/P (8 Day)

8+ Persons:

Private Lodging – Private Vehicle – $2595 P/P (10 Day) / $2195 P/P (8 Day)