Powder Odyssey Tour Overview
The Powder Odyssey Tour is a great value trip that takes you to Tohoku, the northeastern part of Honshu, the main island of Japan. This Tohoku ski and snowboard tour heads to ski resorts that are well and truly off the radar of foreign skiers and snowboarders, so very few gaijin (foreigners) visit these areas.
The Tohoku ski areas are delightfully the antithesis of Niseko and Hakuba that are completely over-run with westerners. In Tohoku, there is very little competition (if any) for the abundant fresh powder, very little English is spoken (but your guides will help with communication and organising logistics), the cuisine is authentically Japanese, and other cultural experiences are plentiful. Some of the accommodation is likely to be in a ryokan with an amazing onsen (hot spring) for soaking the aching body, and some evenings the guides will take you to the most amazing Japanese restaurants in nearby cities or towns. By snowboarding or skiing in Tohoku on a Powder Odyssey Tour, you can experience the real Japan and satisfy your appetite for riding fresh powder.
Besides the abundance of fresh powder and lack of westerners, there are characteristics that are common to many of the Tohoku ski resorts. Many are small and only have enough off-piste terrain to keep you entertained for a day or two, so they are not destination resorts you’d want to head to for a week long trip.
One of the major benefits of the Powder Odyssey Tour is that you can sample multiple ski resorts. The guides can drive you around and can get you straight to the goods and show you where the powder stashes are. Off-piste riding may be considered taboo at some of the Tohoku resorts, but with discretion and leadership from your guide, you’ll be rewarded with abundant freshies in the trees. This Tohoku tour also provides the flexibility of being able to chase the best conditions.
Each tour runs for one week with a Saturday departure from Morioka. The tour heads south and finishes at a Shinkansen train station so you can easily get to Tokyo or your next destination.
Areas and Resorts Visited
You and your guides are in search of the best lines and best conditions….this means that the actual destinations visited are subject to the weather and where the powder will be the deepest. So the guides keep it flexible and chase the snow and best weather…..of course they do it in consultation with the group as you discuss each night the following day’s plan of attack.
The primary base areas for the Powder Odyssey Tour are Morioka in the Iwate Prefecture where the tour commences, Yamagata, and the Mt Bandai area.
Examples of ski resorts visited might include:
Morioka – Hachimantai, Geto Kogen, Tazawako, Shizukuishi
Yamagata – Zao Onsen
Bandai area - Alts Bandai, Inawashiro, Nekoma, Minowa, Grandeco
A few ski resorts are so deserted midweek that they'll almost feel like your own private ski resort!
So that you get the most out of the adventure, the guides try to group the tours into ability levels. You don’t have to be a pro, you just need to have a sense of adventure and want to ride powder.
A huge feature of this tour is riding off-piste in fresh powder, so ideally the minimum ability level is advanced. However intermediate riders that want to just ride the groomed runs could also join the tour.
Groups and Guides
There will be either 1 or 2 guides depending on the size of the group, however the guide to client ratio will not exceed 1:5.
The head guide is an experienced snowboarder (14 seasons in Japan at over 200 resorts), certified instructor with off piste/back country knowledge of the ski areas, and avalanche qualified.
Transport for the tour will be provided in private 4WD vans. The tour will incorporate a fair bit of driving, but your guides do it all for you, so you can just sit back and relax.
Get to go where others don't...
..get driven around...
...the powder is superb.
The Powder Odyssey Tour is a road trip, so you need to be happy to pack up your bags every 2-3 days and change accommodation so that you can chase the powder and best conditions.
Accommodations are typically 3.5 star and above and in most cases rooms have a private en-suite. Rooms are all on a twin or triple share basis. The quality of some of the accommodation will surprise you given the low cost of this tour.
The only exception to all of the above is if you stay at Geto Kogen
in the unique hostel on the mountain (which has shared facilities and one of the best indoor & outdoor hot springs complexes you will ever see). This is a pretty special experience!
Alts Bandai Hotel...
There is no set itinerary for the Powder Odyssey Tour because the whole idea is to chase the best conditions at the many different resorts.
However the general idea is to visit three key areas. The tour starts in Morioka (Morioka is easily accessed via bullet train - you’ll receive information after booking about how to get to Morioka) and from there, you’ll visit the nearby ski resorts for a few days.
After this, the tour will head south, potentially to Geto Kogen and/or the Yamagata area, and then onto the Mt Bandai region where there are lots of ski resorts to choose from. At the end of the tour your guides will drive you to a bullet train station, where you can easily travel onto Tokyo or your next destination.
Experience the real Japan...
..and its amazing food...
...ahh and the daily onsen.
- All bookings will be held for 7 days once quotes have been issued.
- A 25% deposit is required to secure bookings (credit card payment available)
- Payments will be invoiced in Australian Dollars (AUD)