Question Hokkaido Road Trip 2016

Ralphmars

Hard Yards
Jun 26, 2008
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Evening all,

Looking for some opinions/insight/thoughts regarding a road trip around Hokkaido next year.
Will be touring the island for 10 days with a few mates using mini-vans and interested in ideas as to best places to ride (excluding Niseko) and best places to use as travel/accommodation hubs.

Planning is only in the early stages, but a vague itinerary would have us start in the SW and hit up:
Kiroro - using Otaru as a base
Moiwa/Rusutsu - using Kutchan as a base (accommodation is pretty tight for our dates, no Rusutsu availability that I can see).
The will transition to the NE and try and visit:
Kamui/Asahidake/Furano - we've tentatively booked some accommodation in Asahikawa.

We're relatively happy with the first part, as we have all spent a bit of time in the southern part of the island, but have no experience up north, so not sure as to the best places to ride and subsequently the best places to base ourselves.

I'd really appreciate some thoughts from any of the many Japan veterans that are a part of this excellent forum.

Cheers in advance for any thoughts anyone may have :)
 

oreo

One of Us
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Jun 15, 2007
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Yeah that will be good. Given that you want to ski Asahidake, Furano and Kamui, Furano may be a better base, but Asahikawa has it's charms.

Be aware of the following:
Asahidake tramway closes regularly during high winds. Furano is more resilient in windy conditions and Kamui, being so close to sea level also usually escapes the worst of the winds. However, given it's low elevation, it can suffer rain/heavy conditions if the freezing level raises whereas Furano and even more so, Asahidake, has elevation on it's side.
 

Heinz

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For just 10 days I'd say base more around Furano & Asahikawa. Hit Tomamu from Furano also.
Maybe check out fields near Sapporo eg. Teine or Kiroro on the front or back end (if you are flying into Chitose).
 

Ralphmars

Hard Yards
Jun 26, 2008
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Cheers for the advice, Oreo, Mate and Heinz.

Do the resorts I've outlined in my original post seem like decent choices? Might try and add on Tomamu also as we'll be in the neighbourhood (dependent on time I guess).

I guess we're thinking about 1-2 days at each place, but it depends on weather and how much fun we're having. Based on an averages at that time of year in Hokkaido, would any resort warrant more time, does anyone think?

Anything to be wary of at any of those resorts? I'm thinking more of logistics, rather than terrain or weather issues...

Thanks.
 

Heinz

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Furano is a good base to start with as you obviously have a decent szied the resort right there to start with, so ski there at least a couple of days before thinking of road tripping elsewhere.

Things to be wary of? Furano, Tomamu, Kamui, Kiroro, Teine, Rusutsu are all more of less regular ski areas. Asahidake is rather different however - just a ropeway with a couple of pistes but plenty of off-piste and a guide is recommended to start with. How much off-piste are you interested in?

For more on Central Hokkaido areas have a look at this thread.
forums.ski.com.au/xf/threads/furano-asahi-dake-kamui-tomamu-tokachi-2015-2016.72756
 

Tonester

Lift Line Nazi
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So, I'm about to head over to Japow and have made some last minute changes in the itnerary. I have decided that, when my daughter flies in to meet me in Tokyo, we're going to head up to Hokkaido instead of doing North Honshu. So, a road trip!
Not Niseko, not Rusutsu, maybe Furano BUT hopefully a lot of fun ski hills near Otaru and in the centre basing ourselves probalby in or near Asihikawa.
So, hopefully I'll keep this thread updated from the 28th January with my trip report.
Let's see where the snow will take us!
And a shout out and thanks to @Mr_Ed for his tips and advice.
 
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mixitup

First Runs
Jan 18, 2016
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Done the road trip a few times now... great way to explore, get different experiences and find some quieter patches. Personally I like to keep it flexible (snow pending) and except for Hirafu itself have never had a problem getting accommodation. Central Hokkaido can be awesome.... but it can also have dry spells.

To give an idea of base places (apart from the big N) and options:
Otaru. Pleasant seaside town, lots of restaurants etc, easy to get reasonable hotel for cheap.
Ski within reasonable drive: Tiene, Kokusai, Kiroro

Asahikawa Busier city. Zoo if that's your thing. Cheap to stay (lots of hotels).
Ski: Kamui, Asahidake Pippu

Sapporo Busier city. Snow festival if that is on.
Ski: Similar to Otaru. But also more central eg mt racey

Furano Quieter town. But ski field on door step if wanted.
Ski: Furano, Asahidake, Tomamu, Sahoro,

Kutchan/Lake Toya Cheaper alternatives to Hirafu
Ski: Niskeo, Moiwa, Rusutsu

There are heaps and heaps of little baby places I've not listed on the way which can be some fun to check out too. So enjoy... I sure do. Just done the count.. I've been to 17 different Hokkaido ski resorts (and I'm only counting N united as 1).
 

middsey

Hard Yards
Feb 12, 2015
25
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We did something similar this year. Otaru, Rusutsu and Furano over 12 days.

I would second keeping your options open. We got all time conditions in Furano, best riding I've ever have. But I've heard people book a 10 day trip and not have 1 powder day.

Follow the snow and Research which resorts and good in which conditions (wind affected etc. ) for optimal riding.

I would also recommend at least a few days in each place. Furano is quite big, and takes a while to scope out the best places. Rusutsu has tonnes of tree and gully run outs to explore. If you get good snow in either of these places then why move? Just ride different runs. Our first two trips were to Niseko and didn't get bored of the terrain in 15 days. No powder days would be a different story..
 
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Neslot

One of Us
Jul 7, 2002
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We are renting a car and doing Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Asahidake, Kamui, Furano and hopefully Tomamu.

Any tips driving? Are tolls an issue?
 
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bullet

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Aug 11, 2007
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We are renting a car and doing Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Asahidake, Kamui, Furano and hopefully Tomamu.

Any tips driving? Are tolls an issue?
Only issue with tolls is the cost, I think is was something like y4000 from Sapporo to Asahikawa.
 

mixitup

First Runs
Jan 18, 2016
7
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Found driving to be easier than expected. Always amazed by the efficient snow clearing. But yes you will get a bit stung by tolls.
One tip with the GPS-- write down the phone number of your destinations for the day somewhere. They can be a pain to find without internet access-- and for some of the GPS units I've had this is the only/best way to enter it. I've got a note on my phone for the resorts/hotels I might use.
 
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