We’re just back from yet another wonderful “Bamboo Powder” backcountry ski trip to Hokkaido, Japan. Talk about sensory overload! The east coast of Hokkaido is in the centre of the “perfect snow storm”. Once the Siberian Anticyclone settles in, wave after wave of frontal air sucks the moisture out of the cold Sea of Japan and dumps it as snow on the volcanic cones and mountains just onshore. I have never been in a place where it snows so much and so intensely once it gets going!
The snow season started just a few days before we arrived in the Niseko area with a quick 2 meters! This set the tone for the rest of the trip during which I’d estimate we got at least another meter and a half. This coastal snow is unique, it’s much colder than what we get on our West Coast and the skiing is very high quality. The snow falls fast yet settles and bonds very quickly so is surprisingly stable. It was the best powder some in the group had ever skied.
We stayed in three different Ryokan Onsen Lodges (an Onsen is a natural hot pool) in three different regions of Hokkaido. Each day we did a ski tour averaging up to four runs on great slopes. It’s all tree skiing but unlike in Canada, we are skiing in deciduous forest which gives it a very different feel. Once back at the end of the day we’d relax in the Onsen before a dinner featuring superb Japanese food, not just fish and seafood, but also Furano Beef the last few days when we were in that region.
There were 9 of us plus our Japanese guide Hirofumi and we skied, onsened and ate our hearts out! If you are an experienced powder skier who doesn’t mind trees and likes Japanese food I’d strongly recommend “Bamboo Powder”, so named because of the bamboo shoots that poke out of the powder in places.