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JaPow—the perfectly dry and deep powder craved by any serious skier is now, thanks to our guides who put this together, just a few clicks away. And the added bonus? Oh, nothing huge, just an unforgettable, total immersion in Japanese culture, traditions, and lifestyle. This is a one-of-a-kind, 10-day backcountry skiing trip in the Land of the Rising Sun, where the snow is always immaculate, the food exquisite, and the minshukus (family-run lodgings you’ll be staying at) cozy and warm. Off-piste shredding is just an hour and a half away from the cosmopolitan Tokyo, and you can expect fantastic terrain options and less tourists in the several resorts you’ll be visiting: one day you’re zooming past steep trees and chutes, the other you’re cruising down mellow slopes of untouched powder. It’s impossible to get enough of JaPow, but once your legs let you know it’s time for rest, retreat to hot springs, authentic restaurants, and inviting lodgings.

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  • Thrilling powder chase

    Experience the chart-topping JaPow and its exceptional quality — Japan has the highest annual snowfall in the world

  • A record breaker

    Japan has more ski hills by area than any other country in the world!

  • Snow monkeys & hot springs

    You might get the opportunity to bathe with the incredibly cute snow monkeys

Itinerary

Put together by a Japan native and an avid skier since childhood, this trip is bound to be skirrific. Over the course of 10 days, you will visit resorts primarily frequented by locals, and ride the supreme powder snow in Japan’s backcountry. These will be Naeba, Kagura, and Tenjindaira, with each of them bringing exceptional terrain and even better snow. Apart from everyday snow shredding, your guides’ focus is on experiencing the real, authentic side of Japan—so you can expect delicious food and fantastic restaurants, relaxing hot springs, and the traditional minshukus, with its kotatsus and grass tatami mats.

  • Use this day to reach Echigo-Yuzawa station from Tokyo, settle in and get some rest! You’ll meet your guides and your team at the Densuke minshuku (family-operated, Japanese-style bed and breakfasts) near the station.

    Meals: Dinner
    Accommodation: Densuke minshuku

    Guests in Japan
  • Today you’ll warm up the legs on one of the many local resorts with some slackcountry deep powder laps, looping back into the resort for bumps back up into the alpine. In the evening, gather back at the Densuke for dinner. You’ll discuss your interests and abilities to create the perfect program for all of you!

    Meals: Breakfast and dinner
    Accommodation: Densuke minshuku

    Backcountry skiing in Japan
  • Naeba Ski Resort has plenty of terrain to choose from and it’s renowned for its snow quality! Once you’re done shredding snow for the day, return to your Densuke accommodation.

    Meals: Breakfast and dinner
    Accommodation: Densuke minshuku

    Skiing group in Japan
  • Once you transfer to Kagura Ski Resort, you’ll spend the next 2.5 days here. Due to its high altitude, great powder snow is found here, and the ski area has easy access to the backcountry area that attracts expert riders from all over the world. You’ll find plenty of fresh powder here, and the snow quality in the upper areas is excellent due to the high elevation.

    Meals: Breakfast and dinner
    Accommodation: Wada Goya mountain hut

    Skiing in Japan
  • Use this day to ski in Kagura until late afternoon. Then it’s time to transfer back to Yuzawa and stay at Densuke.

    Meals: Breakfast and dinner
    Accommodation: Densuke minshuku

    Skiing day in Japanese Mountains
  • Today you’re enjoying world-class amounts of snow at Tenjindaira Ski Resort! You’ll find expanses of backcountry terrain here, featuring mellow trees, steep chutes, and cliffs. Once you’ve had enough for the day, retreat back to Densuke minshuku.

    Meals: Breakfast and dinner
    Accommodation: Densuke minshuku

    Powder skiing in Japan
  • It’s time to bid farewell to the amazing team, guides, and the trip! Take the shinkansen bullet train back to Tokyo, and feel free to stay a little while longer to enjoy the incredible capital of Japan.

    Meals: Breakfast

    Leaving Japan
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Meet your guides

Tom Wolfe
5.00
Tom Wolfe
IFMGA/ACMG Certified Guide
Tom Wolfe is an ACMG/IFMGA-certified mountain guide who’s been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home. His winters consist of a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada. During the warmer months, Tom spends his days on water. He is a certified Paddle Canada Moving Water Canoe Instructor and Wilderness Canoe Guide.
Jun Yanagisawa
5.00
Jun Yanagisawa
Ski Guide ACMG
Born and raised in Tokyo, Jun has been an avid skier ever since his childhood. In search of wilderness, he eventually moved to Whistler, BC, where he has worked for close to 30 years in the ski and tourism industry, going back and forth between his native Japan and Canada’s heli and ski-touring world.
Sawback Alpine Adventures
5.00
Sawback Alpine Adventures
Sawback Alpine Adventures
Sawback was founded by Tom Wolfe in 1995, running mountain hiking trips for groups. Since then they have expanded programming to offer just about any mountaineering adventure you could imagine. Tom is an IFMGA Mountain Guide and a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Sawback trips are guided by owner/operator Tom Wolfe along with a staff of certified IFMGA and ACMG guides.
5.00 (4 reviews)
Iwona Erskine-Kellie (source: Google Reviews)

Best skiing of my life! Awesome people, fantastic guides, and superb choice of terrain, and let us not forget all that delicious food. I will come back for more!

Ryan Fox (source: Google Reviews)

I’ve done several trips and courses with Tom. He’s a fantastic guide. He has a tonne of knowledge, sets a friendly atmosphere on trips, and really works to make trips as good as he can for everyone on them.

Dean Prodan (source: Google Reviews)

My family and I had the adventure of a lifetime. It was an incredible experience and Sawback did an excellent job. We would highly recommend the trip and Tom to everyone.

Marilyn FRIEDMANN (source: Google Reviews)

Tom, the guide, plus the assistant guides were so courteous and attentive to the needs, not only of myself, but of everyone in the group. Tom knows how to provide excellent customer service!

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • 10-day backcountry skiing trip in Japan
      • Accommodation for 9 nights
      • Breakfasts and dinners
      • Lift tickets
      • Transportation during the tour (except Shinkansen)
      • Taxes on above items
      • Pillows, duvets, bed linen and towels supplied at ryokans and hotels
      • Slippers at the ryokans
      • Group gear
        • Altimeter
        • Map and compass
        • GPS
        • Snow study kit
        • Snow and/or bush saw
        • First aid kit
        • Emergency tarp
        • Emergency toboggan
        • Group repair kit
        • Radio & satellite phone

    What’s not included:

      • International and domestic flights
      • Shinkansen tickets
      • Accommodation and dinner in Tokyo
      • Lunches
      • Beverages
      • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment (available to rent)
      • Personal expenses
      • Travel insurance
  • In order to join this backcountry skiing trip in Japan, participants must have great fitness levels. Though there are options for classic as well as relaxed-paced groups, you’re still going to be touring up to 8 hours a day (with options for early return). The trip is designed to be town-based ski touring, and you’ll use lift access to alpine and treed ski runs. You’ll experience deep powder skiing on non-glaciated terrain.

    Expect 1,100-1,400 m (3,609-4,593 ft) ski touring per day (and even more with lift-accessed ski touring).

    Tours range from near sea level to +1,200 m (3,940 ft) above sea level. You can expect non-glaciated terrain as well as easy ski mountaineering (bootpacking etc.).

  • To participate in this tour, you need to have previous backcountry skiing experience. You will be skiing for up to 8 hours every day. Your guide will take care of the planning, oversee your technique, and teach you how to better manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training necessary to keep you safe.

    The trip is all lift access with some skinning to get out of bounds or back inbounds. Sometimes the group might stay out for the day and skin up runs. It’s a mix. Essentially, you will use lifts to help with access.

  • You’ll need to bring all of the following personal equipment. Please don’t bring extra equipment. If you have any questions at all about gear, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Clothing:

      • Wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
      • Long underwear top (synthetic or wool)
      • Light fleece or wool sweater
      • Wind shell (nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type jacket)
      • Waterproof breathable jacket
      • Warm insulated jacket (down or synthetic)
      • Long underwear bottoms (synthetic or wool)
      • Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
      • Waterproof breathable pants
      • Warm hat (wool or synthetic)
      • Brimmed cap for sun protection
      • Face warmer (scarf, neck tube or balaclava) — optional
      • Light gloves (wool, synthetic or leather)
      • Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
      • Spare gloves or mitts
      • Handkerchief for blocking the sun — optional

    Snow safety equipment:

      • Avalanche beacon with good batteries (and spares)
      • Shovel
      • Probe (2.8 m or longer preferred)

    Snow touring equipment:

      • Skis (100 to 125 mm in the waist recommended) or split board (a powder board of course!)
      • Ski strap
      • Ski or snowboard boots
      • Poles
      • Climbing skins
      • Skin wax (or a candle)
      • Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
      • Ski helmet — optional

    Personal equipment:

      • Pack (25-30 litres will work fine, but you’ll want something larger for getting to the Wada Goya mountain hut)
      • Sunglasses (both orange and dark lenses help a lot for travel in all conditions)
      • Goggles (orange lenses)
      • Sunscreen and lip cream (SPF 30+)
      • Head lamp with good batteries
      • Insulated water bottle or thermos (1-2 L)
      • Lunch bag or container
      • Personal blister kit (i.e. Leukotape-P and Compeed/Second Skin blister pads)
      • Pocket knife — optional
      • Camera — optional
      • Binoculars — optional
      • Prussik cord – 5m x 6mm — optional, for contributing to emergency toboggan construction

    Personal belongings

      • Duffle bag for your clothes
      • A larger backpack to get to the Wada Goya mountain hut (e.g. 40-45 L)
      • Shoes
      • Comfortable clothing for travel as well as some nice clothes to wear to the restaurants
      • Personal medications and toiletries
      • Ear plugs
      • Reading material — optional
      • Chargers & adapters for electronic devices (Japan AC power is 100V and should work to power your device chargers, see this page for details)
      • Cash (you should have some Japanese yen in cash as there are still many places in Japan where they don’t accept cards)
  • All mandatory skiing gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent it from some hotels, all resorts, and rental shops in Yuzawa—such as Benri Rental or Boo Sports.

    Ski rental locations are in Yuzawa and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

  • Group sizes and prices:

      • For this backcountry skiing tour in Japan, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 5:1.
      • The cost is per person and doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

    Backcountry skiing in Japan can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.

    If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to Echigo-Yuzawa Station, the meeting point of your backcountry skiing tour in Japan, most people fly into Haneda Airport (HND) since it’s more conveniently located to downtown Tokyo and access to the bullet train (shinkansen). You can also take a direct flight to Narita Airport (NRT).

    Once you land, you can reach Echigo-Yuzawa Station by bullet train (shinkansen) in about 80 minutes from Tokyo Station. That’s where you’ll meet your guides.

  • 57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Japan, please refer to Japan’s COVID-19 travel advice.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

  • A non-refundable 50% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 3 months (90 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

    Secure your spot for 2025 with a 10% deposit! This tour gets sold out very quickly, but with early-bird booking, you can rest assured you’ve booked your dream adventure in time.

    • Only 10% of the total amount should be paid as a deposit upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable, but can be transferred to another 57hours adventure anytime in case the dates don’t suit you. This can be done by the end of the year.
    • Another 20% needs to be paid by the end of this year.
    • The remaining balance is due 3 months (90 days) prior to departure.

    If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Once your booking is confirmed, you and your Guides enter into financial obligations and they cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, it is highly recommended buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”.

    Your Guides do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary or venue should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force them to do so or should the physical condition of the participants, weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. Your Guides will not be deemed to be in default for any delay or failure to perform their obligations under this agreement resulting from acts of God, the elements, war, acts of government, civil or military authorities, natural calamities, catastrophe, fire, flood, accidents, epidemics, shortage of transportation, or any other like events beyond our reasonable control.

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