What skill level is required for your trips?
Our trips are best suited to advanced and expert level skiers / riders capable of negotiating varied terrain, glades, deep snow… and sometimes less than perfect conditions. That said, we only offer private trips meaning that we are able to tailor each day to suit your group`s ability level; this means that we can also offer great ski days`s for advanced intermediate level guests looking to begin exploring off piste powder terrain. Unfortunately we do not offer on piste guiding or instruction so if you are a beginner or intermediate level skier / rider we recommend contacting one of the great local ski / snowboard school providers.
We want the best snow... when should we come?
Hokkaido is home to some of the most consistent powder conditions on the planet and you can generally expect great snow from Christmas through until mid – March. In many years it can be good earlier but coverage can be an issue meaning that it is often difficult to access the best off piste terrain at that time of year. Later in the season can also be great and coverage is never a problem in March; however the longer days typically bring warmer temperatures and higher freezing levels threatening snow quality particularly at lower elevations.
Through peak season (Christmas until mid-March) you can generally count on great snow across the island with an ever increasing snowpack. The heaviest snowfalls typically come earlier in the winter but the shallower, unconsolidated base can make backcountry travel a bit more challenging. By February the base will be well developed and regular top-ups of fresh snow which means great skiing and great access for quicker laps with less risk of getting bogged down in deep snow.
Disclaimer: The weather is the weather and unfortunately we don`t control it. Even here in Hokkaido you can catch a dry spell or even worse a rain event. Joining Rising Sun for a guided trip is the best way to mitigate this risk as if there is good snow anywhere, we`ll find it for you… and if its really not good anywhere we`ll give you a full refund or reschedule at no extra cost. Find out more about our Powder Guarantee.
How do I get to Hokkaido?
Most people will want to book a flight to New Chitose (Sapporo) airport or Asahikawa airport. New Chitose airport is Hokkaido`s main airport and accepts direct flights from some major international hubs (mainly in Asia). Otherwise you will likely need to stop in Tokyo to change planes for the last 90 minute leg to Sapporo. Asahikawa airport is an alternative place to fly into and works well if you plan to start your trip in Central Hokkaido.
Trains are also available and there is now a bullet train connection from Tokyo to Hakodate which is located on the Southern tip of Hokkaido. From Hakodate you`ll have to switch to slower, local trains to get to Niseko. The train option is generally slower and more expensive however works well if you plan to stop on the way North or if you have a JR pass.
Please note that we are not able to make flight arrangements for you. Please contact your local travel agent for air travel booking requests.
How do I get from the airport to my accommodation?
We have two bases of operation – 1 in Niseko and 1 in Furano. Both areas are serviced by frequent, charter bus services that come direct from the airport. If you are booked on a package trip with us, we will book your bus transfer and provide all necessary details to get you direct to your accommodation. If you are booking accommodation independently then we ask that you arrange airport transfers with your accommodation provider to ensure a seamless transition.
Please look here for additional information on suitable flight arrival / departure times that work with available airport transfers. Also note that other transport options are available if the regular buses don`t work for you. Please inquire for more information.
Some of your packages don`t include departure transfers - why not?
We do not typically pre-book departure transfers for trips that end in Sapporo because there are two options available at significantly different price points. Please have a read below and advise your departure transfer preference. Departure arrangements can also be made after you arrive. Options include:
- Taxi to train: We`ll arrange for a taxi to pick you up from your hotel and take you to Sapporo train station. Cost is ~1000Yen for the taxi and ~1500Yen/person for the train. Trains are available to meet all departing flights.
- Private transfer from central Sapporo to the airport. Easy and hassle free but expensive and slower than the train. Cost ~15000Yen for a regular taxi accommodating up to 2 people or ~25000Yen for a jumbo taxi.
**Sapporo city is approximately 90 minutes from the airport by private transfer or 45 – 60 minutes by train depending on the service.
How do I meet my guide?
This one is easy… we`ll come to you. We provide private door to door transport on all of our guided trips so once you have reached your accommodation, we`ll take it from there.
What can I expect on a guided day with Rising Sun?
Your guide will arrive on your doorstep between 7:45 and 8am (unless otherwise arranged) with a clear picture of weather and snow conditions. After a discussion with you, we`ll make a plan for the day and head to the mountains. We`ll ski all day until about 4pm (unless you`ve had your fill and are exhausted earlier) before taking you back to you accommodation. Sometimes we may stop at a restaurant or onsen on the way home if you are interested and we have time. Please note onsen entry and meals are not included in trip costs. On most day trips you can expect to be home between 4 and 6pm depending on how far we had to travel for the best snow that day.
ABS backpacks... what`s the deal?
ABS backpacks are an excellent piece of safety equipment. Unfortunately air travel with ABS backpacks can be difficult although most airlines have created policies allowing you to bring them. Please contact your carrier directly for more information on how to do this.
Unfortunately it is currently not possible to refill your ABS cartridges in Niseko however you can purchase new cartridges at Rhythm Niseko. Alternatively the new Jet-force system is air travel friendly so if you are planning to purchase a new pack, you may want to consider one of these instead.
Getting around - money?
Japan remains primarily a cash country so you will want to make sure that you have some cash on hand at all times. Credit cards are becoming increasingly widely accepted but you will still find many places – particularly restaurants – that do not accept cards.
This brings us to the next problem… getting cash. Most ATM`s in Japan do not accept foreign bank cards making this a bit tricky. The good news is that 7/11 convenience store ATM`s do accept foreign cards and are widely available across Japan. So if you need an ATM, look for a 7/11. You can also take out money at the Post Office however these are only open during business hours which is generally when you`ll want to be skiing powder.
Your guide will be happy to take you to a suitable ATM.
Also note that with the exception of the airport it is difficult and time consuming to exchange money. We do not recommend bringing foreign currency to exchange here.
Getting around - language?
In Japan you can expect to encounter a language barrier as soon as you step outside of the airport. The good news is that the airport`s are foreigner friendly so if you have any questions, you will want to take advantage of the English language information services available there before leaving. The other relatively safe area is Niseko where English services are widespread, restaurants have English menu`s and most Japanese staff are bilingual.
Beyond that though, be prepared for world where you won`t be understood and unless the menu has pictures, it will be illegible to you. Most Japanese people are extremely nice though and with a bit of sign language, smiling and patience you should succeed.
I`m a vegetarian / vegan. Will that be a problem?
There aren`t a lot of vegetarians in Japan and almost every dish will have some form of meat or seafood in them. Even if you request a dish without meat, this may also not work. For example, most soup`s will be made from a beef or seafood stock.
That said our guides will be happy to help you order dishes without meat but its important to know that your eating options will be limited and there is the possibility that you may accidentally eat something that has meat in it.
Please be sure to advise us if you are a vegetarian.
Does Rising Sun offer ski and snowboard instruction?
Our guides will be happy to provide tips and advice to help you imrove but our trips are designed to take competent skiers and riders to great lines and deep snow. If you are looking to progress and develop skills we recommend contacting one of Niseko`s great lesson provider`s.