Walk Japan, the pioneer of off-the-beaten-track tours of Japan, announces the launch of the Hokkaido Snow Tour, which joins the company’s popular Snow Country Trek and Winter Nakasendo Way for further adventures into Japan’s snowiest regions.
The eight-day, seven-night Hokkaido Snow Tour is a fully-guided, snowshoe exploration of east Hokkaido, a seemingly empty and vast landscapes, bordered by towering mountains and the steely-grey Pacific Ocean and Sea of Okhotsk. Here high-quality powder snow, the same snow that has made west Hokkaido a soughtafter destination for skiers, falls copiously and creates a beautiful winter landscape. Few visitors come this far. Even fewer venture onto the snow, where wildlife usually leave the only other footprints to be seen.
Sunny weather brings crystal clear air and brilliant blue skies, which fall to a far horizon lined with the towering mountains of Hokkaido’s Daisetsuzan National Park, the Shiretoko Peninsula, or, the islands of Russia’s Siberian far east. In complete contrast, at other times as snow gently falls, enveloping everything around in a quiet, intimate calmness, the perspective may only be as far as a silhouetted tree standing a few metres away.
The weather is always crisply cold outside but each night the tour accommodation is cosy and warm. Some also feature onsen hot spring baths, a classic Japanese experience and a fine way to relax and luxuriate at the end of the day. Meals are derived from locally-sourced ingredients, some of the finest found anywhere in Japan.
The tour begins at the fishing port of Kushiro. From here it ventures over frozen seas where fishermen huddle around ice holes; through snowy landscapes past remote farmsteads, and along cliff-tops, where deer gambol with impunity on the precipice. En route Hokkaido’s famed tancho red-crested cranes make an appearance. The tour finishes in Utoro, a small, onsen hot spring resort town on the coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here the setting sun, reflected on a sea patterned with ice flows, provides a dramatic finale to the tour.
Details The Hokkaido Snow Tour is an eight-day, seven-night, fully guided snowshoeing tour for up to 11 participants. It is a Level 3 tour and is suitable for anyone who can walk at a gentle pace for six hours in comfort.
Price From JPY498,000 per person. This price includes local travel from tour meeting point to finishing point; accommodation for seven nights; seven breakfasts, three lunches and seven evening meals; snowshoe rental and baggage transfers. Not included are flights, some lunches and drinks with meals.