Why not start your next Japowder mission in Asahikawa, the heart of Hokkaido? It’s the island’s second largest city, big enough to have major department stores, attractions and some great restaurants and funky nightlife spots, but small enough to be laid back and super easy to find your way round.
Which is very handy if someone on your trip wants some of that urban stuff like shopping. Truth be known, that’s normally 99% of women, and which guy won’t also get lost in J-land games or gadgets while she does?
Being Japan, prices are no more, and maybe lower, than you’ll pay in the big cities, and it’s much more relaxed to find what you want. Save even more with our voucher deals at Don Quijote stores – just save the link to your phone to use when you shop in person or online.
More importantly though, Asahikawa is your almost instant gateway to all the magnificent Central Hokkaido skiing, with the towering peaks of the island’s highest ranges in the Diasetsuzan National Park gleaming white behind the city.
Yes, that’s genuine alpine terrain you can see in the not far distance, with the base of the Ropeway at steaming Asahidake at about the same height as the top of Niseko lifts for example, and the peak rising to 2290m above that. In an island blanketed by snow at sea level most of winter no surprise it gets slammed with snow, and big powder dumps are not uncommon well into spring.
Asahikawa airport is less than half an hour from the 80% powder courses Kamui Ski Links, one of the best small powder resorts on the planet. It’s only 20 minutes from downtown.
Or 70 minutes from Furano, an hour or so from Asahidake, and a bit over 90 minutes from truly wild Kurodake.
For some of the most consistent back country powder skiing on the planet the Tokachi Mountains are an exceptional experience – sure, you earn your turns (well, apart from some sneak road-runner runs!) but they are more than worth it – more on that in our Tokachi feature here.
A huge variety of accommodation in town for all budgets lets you access all of these, with shuttles to Kamui and buses to Asahidake, although you’re better off staying right there in the little alpine village there for first shot at the often ridiculously deep snow, and the getaway from it all experience.
If you’ve been thinking about a self drive snow trip in Japan think no more – Asahikawa is an easy place to start, Hokkaido’s largely empty roads make driving here a lot more relaxed than heading out of Tokyo. Nippon Rent-A-Car have great deals and an excellent English language website with lots of useful info.
Flights to Asahikawa
Fly from Tokyo (10 flights daily JAL, ANA, ADO), Chuo Central or Kansai in Japan, or from Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul or Taipei internationally
There’s a great variety to suit all budgets, from ryokan to top hotels. For easy access to shopping and nightlife stay close to centre.
Travel and tourist information
The city’s English language tourist site is here