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The Alternative Ski Safari

Appi Kogen - Zao Onsen - Tokyo

Duration: two weeks

Northern Honshu Island is called 'Tohoku' and many believe it gets the best snow in Japan. The ski resorts up here are for locals and there is no huge budget to promote them internationally. And therein lies the magic - both Appi Kogen and Zao Onsen are magnificent ski resorts in their own right, rarely visited by overseas guests. 'Appi is a purpose-built ski nirvana, whilst Zao Onsen is its opposite, a traditional Japanese village that just happens to a wonderful ski mountain as its backdrop. Here you can expect to be the only 'gaijin' (foreigner) in the village.

For those with an adventurous spirit who want discover the real Japan...and quench their thirst for powder.

Day 1

Depart from your home country and fly to Japan.

Day 2

Arrive in Tokyo, or perhaps Sendai, and then immediately catch the bullet-train north, the length of Honshu Island. From Morioka City take a final coach transfer on to Appi Kogen.

Days 3-8

Six days skiing in Appi Kogen. For the powder hounds amongst you, you may consider a trip up to the Hakkoda ropeway also.

Day 9

Catch the bullet-train back down the spine of Honshu, changing trains in Sendai and then catching the local train to Yamagata City. From here it is a short hop out of the valley to Zao Onsen ski resorts.

Days 10 & 11

Two full days skiing or snowboarding in Zao Onsen, in amongst the snow monsters. Enjoy the onsens of the village in the evening.

Day 12

A final morning on the slopes, perhaps? Otherwise, its a bullet-train from Yamagata City directly in to Tokyo. Check in to your central, Shinjuku, hotel.

Days 13 & 14

Two full days to explore Tokyo at your own pace.

Day 15

Make your way you Tokyo Haneda or Tokyo Narita airport and fly home.

Obviously, cost depends on which accommodation you choose, how many excursions and activities you want to book, whether you wish to include ski hire and local backcountry guides, etc. An indicative lead-in price for this 15-day itinerary would be circa £2,780 per person, including on moderate accommodation (mid / low season), transfers, lift passes, travel by bullet-train and economy class flights from the U.K.

We don't have to include international flights. However, by keeping it all within one package, your arrangements are protected by ATOL.

Different Snow strive to offer the most competitive prices in all instances. However, we pride ourselves first and foremost on quality - we are an independent specialist tour operator and, therefore, are not beholden to any supplier. We make our decisions based only on who's best in each and every instance.

1. Get in touch with Different Snow

Whether you wish to plan your trip around one of these sample itineraries or you have other ideas, simply get in touch by phone or online. If using our online form, ideally we would like to still try get in contact with you by phone to discuss your requirements, but this is not essential.

2. Let us create a bespoke itinerary

We have the first-hand knowledge, travel industry experience and local contacts required to put your plans into action. We can answer your questions, offer suggestions and advice to suit your tastes and budget. We will carefully design your trip, creating a detailed itinerary which you will receive via email. We can then refine it until you are completely happy.

3. Confirm the arrangements with us

Once you are satisfied with all the arrangements, we ask you to complete a booking form and pay a deposit to secure your trip. Everything is secured once you receive our confirmation invoice. Even after booking, you’ll undoubtedly think of more questions. Feel free to call us at any time!

4. We'll send you your travel documents

Approximately three weeks before travel you will receive your travel documents. We will also provide additional information, such as restaurant recommendations, cultural notes, packing lists and one or two home-spun guides - created through our personal experience.

5. Tell your friends about Different Snow

It is important to us that your holiday exceeds your expectations! Different Snow will continue to grow through personal recommendations and word of mouth and, therefore, it is essential to us that you have a great holiday. We want you to travel with us again. Once you've returned we want to hear all about it and we'll certainly encourage you to tell all your friends!


Capital:  Tokyo

Time zone:  GMT + 9 hrs

Currency:  Yen

Language:  Japanese

Ski Season:  Early December until mid-April

Largest Ski Resorts: Shiga-Kogen is the largest..but we don't feature this ski resort (it's not very good!). Of the resorts Different Snow feature Hakuba, Niseko & Appi Kogen are the largest.

Access:  There are direct flights from the U.K. to Tokyo, either Narita or Haneda airports. Alternatively, it sometimes works out a little cheaper to route via Europe or another Asian city. From Tokyo the wonderful rail network, road transfers or a domestic flight up to Hokkaido Island will get you to the ski resorts.

Beyond the skiing:  Spending time in Tokyo is a must; it is the world's most exciting city. Kyoto is the cultural heart of the country. Get off the beaten track and stay in a ryokan or capsule hotel, visit markets, discover traditional Japanese arts and explore modern otaku culture.