Japow – Volume 1

“The perfect combination of great snow, culture, food and limited crowds” – Brian Sharpes

“Effortless turns” – Allison Sharpes

“The only time I have ever been the tallest guy on the tram” -John Asher

“After seeing the lines at Squaw, I’m loving the no crowds in Japan” – Michelle Sharpes

“The lightest snow I have ever skied” – Ian Meintjes

Leading up to the New Year, we knew we had an incredible January coming our way. Allison was heading off to Canada to spend four days with Eagle Pass Heli, Ian spent 3 days in Utah skiing Snowbird and Alta, and then we both headed off to Japan for two weeks!

The most well known spot in Japan for skiing is a town on the southern part of Hokkaido called Niseko.

Our trip took us farther north, to a less crowded and not as well known part of Japan; Furano.

We were told Furano was meant to be colder and have “the best snow in the world”; so why wouldn’t we want to check it out? 

Our travel to Furano included a 10 hour flight from San Jose, California to Tokyo and then an hour and a half flight to Sapporo that same day.

When we got to Sapporo, we were exhausted. Shoving four ski bags and a bunch luggage into the back of two tiny, Japan sized taxies proved to be challenging but we made it work and headed off to our hotel for the night. 

Before the bus came to take us to Furano the next day, we had some time to explore the little town we were staying in. There was a giant warehouse looking building which had a bunch of random shops in it. It felt like a mall, but each shop wasn’t separated from the next by walls. 

Once our driver arrived, we hopped in the van and took a scenic drive through the mountains to Furano. It was about an hour and a half from our hotel to the North Country Inn where we would be staying for the next week and a half. 

Our hotel room was very traditional Japanese. It had the tatami floor on the bottom, a tiny bathroom, and stairs up to our beds in a loft. While it was small, it was nice because it forced everybody to hang out in the common area and play some cards. 

The town was very small with some cool little shops and restaurants. It felt very local, but there weren’t a lot of people walking around outside. It almost felt like nobody lived there! That said, everything was open and we explored many restaurants. My favorite was called “MASAYA.” Along with that, there was a sushi train place and we found ourselves at the local bar, Ajito, a couple times! 

Furano has A TON of resorts within an hour and a half drive. We explored 4 or 5 excellent resorts with incredible access to the backcountry. Stay tuned for write ups on the skiing in and around Furano! 

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