Discover Asahikawa the heart of Hokkaido

With the effects of Covid-19 virus causing mass closures of ski resorts across much of the World here’s a little (relatively) good news story from Asahikawa. As of Tuesday March 17 they had a grand total of 10 confirmed cases, up 1 in a week for this area of 375,000 people.

9 in Asahikawa city, and 1 in Aibetsu town.
The number of infected patients are 10, but some patients were already discharged (they still have been monitoring closely the symptoms appear or not.)

Nearby resorts remain open – Kamui, Kurodake and Asahidake. So do many of Asahikawa’s attractions like the famous Zoo.

So if you want to ski, can find a flight, and are prepared to get stuck getting home, then our previous advice below is more pertinent than ever —

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.

Winter view Asahikawa City
Hokkaido’s highest mountains tower behind Asahikawa © Asahikawa City

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.

Night in Asahikawa City
It’s a lot of fun at night here © Asahikawa City

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.

Kamui Ski Links is a short bus trip from downtown Asahikawa © Asahikawa City

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

Asahikawa access
Asahikawa is a great alternative to New Chitose Airport

Asahikawa Accommodation

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.
Ice candles Asahikawa City
Ice candles © Asahikawa City

Travel and tourist information

The city’s English language tourist site is here

For updates on what is open/Covid-19 latest check

Location map

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