Shimamaki Cat Skiing
The finest Japan cat skiing and boarding! Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures on Mt Kariba offer “proper” cat skiing. Unlike most cat skiing in Japan outfits that operate out of abandoned ski resorts on small and mellow terrain, Shimamaki is more akin to a Canadian cat skiing experience whereby the trips are multi-day, the terrain is large and incorporates some steeps (trees and alpine), and there are qualified backcountry guides. The main difference compared to Canada cat skiing is that you score the powder that Hokkaido is famous for as well as a traditional Japanese experience. You can feast on powder up to your eye balls, feast on Japanese food, and stay in a traditional Japanese pension, and soak in the oceanside onsen.
Join Hokkaido Backcountry Club
for a two or four day trip to the dedicated snowcat skiing terrain. Stay overnight in a pension in the coastal village of Shimamaki which is famous for its abundant seafood. Experience the maritime culture of rural Japan while skiing some of the deepest powder Hokkaido has to offer! There has never been a Japan cat skiing experience like this.
The Hokkaido Backcountry Club cat skiing trips depart in the afternoon from your Niseko accommodation each Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
Where is the Hokkaido Backcountry Club Cat Skiing?
The rural ocean-side town of Shimamaki is located on the southwest coast of Hokkaido Japan. Shimamaki is 164km southwest of Sapporo and 96km southwest of Hirafu Niseko
. The drive from Niseko to Shimamaki along the wild coastline is rather spectacular, with many snow covered beaches and rocks.
The HBC cat skiing occurs in a remote area on the flanks of Mt Kariba. The snowcat staging area is about a 15 minute drive inland from the pension/lodge.
Transport between your Niseko accommodation
, the snowcat staging area, and the lodging is included in the package.
Shimamaki Cat Skiing Terrain
The terrain is a far cry from the mellow piste runs found with other Japanese cat skiing! This is the real deal with plenty of terrain variety including open alpine bowls, steep ridges, naturally gladed birch forests, and rolling meadows. And you only have to share all this tasty powder-ridden terrain with 11 other guests and your two guides.
Run elevations are up to 1,520 metres on Mt Kariba, and depending on conditions, each run averages about 400 vertical metres. If your group is of average speed, expect about 6 runs on the first day and about 10 runs on the second day.
You can check out our Hokkaido Backcountry Club cat skiing review
for more information.
Age & Ability
Guests must be 13 years of age or older (and accompanied by an adult if under 18). You should be a strong intermediate off-piste skier or snowboarder as a minimum, and have a good level of fitness.
Staying at this simple traditional hot spring lodge is a fantastic Japanese cultural experience. The pension lodge is the complete antithesis to much of the fancy western accommodation in Niseko, and the many westernised restaurants. The pension is located right opposite the ocean, and it’s quite a unique experience to combine the aromas of the onsen with that of the sea.
The rooms are simple, clean tatami rooms (ie sleeping on the floor in traditional Japanese style) with comfortable futons and space for up to three guests. Private lodging is available with a supplemental cost. Bathroom facilities are shared.
The segregated onsen (separate bath house for men and women) has an indoor and outdoor bath with natural hot spring waters that are renowned for their healing powers (although they can’t heal a case of powder addiction!). In the outdoor onsen, if you peak your head up a little, you can see the ocean!
Right on the coast....
...superb fresh Japanese cuisine....
..outdoor onsen overlooking the sea
Dinner is held traditional style in the tatami dining room, where you can indulge in a large range of beautiful Japanese fare (and your BYO drinks), with freshly caught seafood as a feature. If you really want to get into the Japanese culture, you can wear your provided Japanese pyjamas to dinner! For those who have difficulty eating fish for breakfast, you’ll be pleased to know that breakfast is western style!
The town of Shimamaki is very rural, but it does have a Seico-mart convenience store for stocking up on food and drinks, and also basic emergency services. Guest members should be prepared to bring necessary personal and sundry items, as Niseko is a 2-hour drive to the northeast and there are no other shops or services available in the area.
Simple tatami room
..a great Japanese experience...
..snow 'n' surf.
Tours depart Niseko on Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday
Starts with being picked up from your Niseko accommodation at about 3:30pm, or you can meet at the HBC office in Niseko. Then it's a 2 hour drive southwest along the coastline of the Sea of Japan to the lodge at Shimamaki. Or there’s the potential to do a slight detour via the Seicomart for supplies such as beers, sake or Chu-His.
After you’ve had time to have a soak in the pension’s outdoor natural hot spring that overlooks the sea, you’ll be treated to a fabulous multi-course dinner that includes fresh seafood and other Hokkaido favourites. This evening will also include a briefing.
Starts with a western style breakfast at 7:00am, and then on your way to the staging area by 8:30am. After a cat ride up, you will ski or board your brains out! Typically the group skis no less than 6 runs or 2,400 metres vertical.
Lunch will be served in the snowcat during the 20 minute rides between runs, or at the day camp area (where there are basic bathroom facilities).
..with Hokkaido powder...
..superb terrain options.
Following the cat ride back down to the staging area it's a short 15 minute drive to the private ocean-side lodge.
Day 2 is a repeat of Day 1 until 5pm when you are loaded in the van and will have some snacks and drinks at a local restaurant in the town of Shimamaki.
For those traveling back to Niseko, we'll load up and start driving with dropoffs happening around 20:00 p.m. at your choice accommodation.
..with powder up to your eyeballs...
..and then more powder.
Price & Inclusions (2016-17)
- 2 days / 2 nights - ¥145,000/ person
- 4 days / 4 nights - Y275,500/person
- Additional days/nights - please enquire
- Single room upgrade - please enquire (subject to availability)
- Book the entire cat (max 12) from ¥520,000/day (cat only)
- Private group accommodation - please enquire
- Pick up from your Niseko accommodation and transfer to snowcat staging area
- Accommodation based on triple share
- Breakfast and Japanese-style dinner
- Daily lunch on each cat ski day
- 1 qualified guide for every 6 guests
- Use of beacon, probe, shovel & backpack
- Instruction on how to use safety gear
- 2 or 4 days of cat skiing
- Transfers between the cat ski staging area and lodge
- Return transfer to Niseko