The hype is real. There's a reason that the powder skiing scene in Japan is the hottest growing market in the world. The snow is reliably good, and deep. Unfortunately the word is out, areas on the main island and near Niseko are overrun with powder junkies. Fortunately for us, we don't focus on hip scenes and big resorts. Our interest is in the lesser-traveled locals' zones where cold smoke is the norm, the onsens are hot, crowds are few, and the food is world-class. A trip with Third Eye Backcountry is an unforgettable experience that will have you yearning to come back to Japan every year.
Here at Third Eye Backcountry we don't focus on rigid itineraries and schedules. The snowfall patterns on Hokkaido are dynamic and always changing, so we pride ourselves on following the weather and snow totals and hitting the best snow at the drop of a hat. If you need every minute of every day planned out in advance this might not be the trip for you!
When not on skis, prepare to enjoy our curated Onsen (hot spring bath) tour, indulge in the intricate Japanese cuisines like sushi, yakiniku, curry, shabu-shabu, and high-end izakayas that rival any worldly dining experience.
ski the famous Japow with knowledgable guides
customize each day
enjoy Central Hokkaido's culinary highlights
stay in a private Japanese lodge
soak in healing onsens
For the 2024 season we are offering fully custom itineraries from late December to early March. Some other trip providers pre-select dates and ski venues, and maximize profits by combining groups of total strangers. We realize there is a myriad of options in Japan, each group is unique, and this is your dream trip so you need to be catered to individually. Contact us to craft your trip to Japan.
PICK UP / DROP OFF
$ - $$$$
Asahikawa airport or Furano train station
1-12 with a 6:1 guest to guide ratio
Lodging, ground transportation, ski guiding and lift tickets, breakfast and dinner, onsens
We have traveled the world with our skis. On most of the trips we budget enough time to be able to do the research and figure it all out on our own once we are there. And of course Mother Nature ultimately has the final say in it all. When it came time for a trip to Japan with a limited window of time, we realized we could spin our wheels and squander precious days wading through logistics. Fortunately we were pointed toward Third Eye. From knowing where to go given the conditions, whether it be backcountry or sidecountry, the obligatory onsen-a-day apres ski, to the best food Hokkaido has to offer, we were able to maximize our trip window. This would not have been possible had we done it on our own. Thank you Third Eye, we'll be back.
Mary Lewis and Jeff Hollenbaugh
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do we stay?
We've got options. Depending on the style needs of your group we can set you up in our private house in downtown Furano, or style you out in a luxe hotel walking distance from the tram.
What does a typical day with Third Eye Backcountry look like?
Each day's objective will depend on snow and weather conditions as well as your personal preferences. Our guides closely monitor conditions and will present options to you each morning. A centrally located base allows us the flexibility to adjust each day to maximize skiing and minimize crowds. We can also do more of a "roadtrip" style trip where we spend a couple days in one spot, then move on somewhere completely different.
Expect your days to look something like this:
Discuss and decide as a group over some hot tea and coffee
Enjoy a traditional Japanese or western style breakfast
Ski like gluttonous powder pigs all day
Relax and soak in an onsen
Indulge in some top notch sushi, shabu-shabu, ramen, teppanyaki, or Japanese curry for dinner
Why is the snow so good in Central Hokkaido?
Location, location, location. Hokkaido is the perfect juxtaposition of a relatively small landmass with a broad smattering of mountains just across a perfectly sized moisture source from a cold airmass. Siberia continually cranks out super cold air in northwesterly flow. These laminar winds roll over the Sea of Japan picking up the perfect amount of moisture, then hit the island and it snows, and snows, and snows. It's the perfect "lake effect" snow scenario. Sometimes you may go a week or more without seeing the sun, but we're not complaining.
But what about Niseko?
Niseko has a lot to offer - a big reputation, a bustling après scene, and some of the deepest snow totals in the country. What it also offers - crowds, expensive food, a lot of Aussies, and heavier maritime snowpack.
Do I have to know how to ski?
Not at all! You can still enjoy the dreamy onsens, mouth-watering cuisine, and wintery landscape. Please reach out for a non-skiing price.
How do I get to Asahikawa?
Plane or Train. There are frequent and relatively cheap flights between Tokyo Haneda and Asahikawa. Or you can take the Shinkansen, or bullet train, from the main island to the southern tip of Hokkaido, and connect to Asahikawa or Furano via smaller rail lines. It's a truly unique experience that is a great way to see the country and spend some time in different spots.
What is not included in the base trip?
Airfare / train to Asahikawa
Backcountry gear - beacon, shovel, probe (available for rent)
Trip Insurance (required)
What are the payment terms?
We ask for a $1,000 deposit upon reservation. The remainder is due 60 days prior to the trip. Please see our Program Policies page for more information.