We are lucky enough to ski Alta/Snowbird for much of the winter. Occasionally we look at conditions elsewhere in North America and wish we were there. But the consistency of the conditions, the terrain, the predictability of snowfall (average over 500 inches year) and the lightness of the snow in our part of Utah rarely disappoints. Why go elsewhere?!

Despite all that, Japan has beckoned us for many years given the tales we hear and the pictures we see of their legendary powder. Charlotte and her husband spent their honeymoon in the deep in Hokkaido shortly before Covid shut Japan down in the winter of 2020. We will leave the question as to how dare Charlotte go to Japan before her dad for another day.  But dad is now trying to catch up.

As I write this, I am on a bullet train from Tokyo to the northern part of Honshu, the main island of Japan, with three close friends/ski buddies.  When we started planning the trip we had discussions with several outfits. Having never been before, we wanted guides to help navigate the country and the terrain. The outfit we liked the best, Japan Ski Tours, told us that if it was our first trip to Japan, we should go to Hokkaido, the northern island, famously known for its powder skiing. Their explanation was that we would feel like we were in western Europe since there would be many American and Australian skiers there.

And that is exactly why we aren’t on a train to Hokkaido. Further discussion with Japan Ski Tours made us shift our focus to the prefecture of Tohoku on the northern tip of the main island. While slightly south of Hokkaido, Tohoku held the promise of equally good skiing but a more authentic Japanese experience.  It came with warnings. Brent at Japan Ski Tours wanted us to really understand what we were in for. Did we realize not many people speak English; did we realize that there was no glitz to the small ski areas in that region; did we realize it would involve some serious back country skiing?

What he didn’t realize at first was he had us after the third or fourth “Did we realize…” With assurances that the skiing was as good as Hokkaido, we were in. Japan Ski Tours operates in both Hokkaido, and more recently, in Tohoku. One of their primary trips in Tohoku has the sexy name of the  “8 Day Tohoku Storm Chaser.”  (Despite the sexy name it is a tad misleading. Two of the eight days are non-skiing days. The first day is a late afternoon pick up at the local train station and the last day is a morning drop off at a different train station.) Despite that, we signed up for the trip, which promises 6 days of skiing at uncrowded smaller areas with plentiful opportunities for guided side country and back country skiing. Since we are traveling half way around the world we wanted more so we have added two more days at the end of the Storm Chaser trip.

For an interesting article (with a tad too much hype, but…) on the Tohoku area which features Japan Ski Tours read the Conde Nast Article on Tohoku.

Stay tuned…to be continued.

Be Well; Ski Well.



conSKIerge co-founder

Kevin Dennis is a life long ski bum with a 34 year legal career on the side. Now retired, he skis 80+ days a year. While he lives in Alta UT in the winters, he has traveled extensively through skiing and has skied almost every major resort in North America (and many you have never heard of). He continues to hit the road often throughout the western United States and Canada and trips over the last several years have included ventures in British Columbia, Montana and Colorado. Whether you want to know about the behemoths like Aspen or Squaw or are interested in the road less travelled (Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana or Whitewater in BC anyone?), Kevin has been there, has an opinion and you will most likely have to tell him to shut up after a half hour!