Freeride in Japan, and particularly in Hokkaido, is something completely different than what we have so far experienced and enjoyed in the Alps. Morphologically, Hokkaido mountains are not as steep and imposing, but their geographical location allows them to be completely and constantly covered in snow - that popular Japanese powdery and light snow that you can’t find anywhere else. The always muffled atmosphere contributes to render the trip a real Zen experience, where smiles and joyful moments are the only coloured touches in a total white environment. Travelling for skiing, skiing to travel: the passion for deep snow brought us to this amazing place.
Since the very beginning the research was addressed to the depth of Japanese snow but, as soon as we got there, we realized that our curiosity and attention was caught by something else, not only snow.
We thought we would have reached a futuristic place, we pictured very modern ski lifts, instead we found a world where simplicity rules.
The atmosphere you breathe among those mountains is mystic and astonishing; snow falls slowly to the ground and the birch forests surrounding the scenery, magically create the perfect line for the downhills.
The silence is deafening, you only hear your own laboured breath and the heart beats accelerating for the fatigue and the enthusiasm when navigating the snow sea. Not only mountains caught our focus, but volcanos n too, such as Mt. Tokachi.
Skinning up on the sides of this active volcano has been wonderful where we could enjoy an amazing view from the top, the crater was covered in snow and was smoking sulfur.
After a day spent skiing, nothing is more regenerating than taking a bath in the Onsen: natural thermal warm water holes into the woods. These small natural pools are private owned or not and nudity is mandatory to go in, that’s why pools are separated for men and women. Such experience let us understand how Japanese people include those bath in their routines: moms wash their babies there and take care of their bodies, there is no shame, everything is so normal and relaxing, wellness is put in first place.
After Onsen time dinner time is so close and the only question is ramen or sushi? Nipponese diet is delicious, ramen is a perfect mix of balanced calories and warmth that warms you up in winter time. To eat Sushi instead, we chose a small family run restaurant on the Iwanai coasts. Fish was literally just caught and an 80 yo man, manager and cook, made us some unforgettable sushi. No need to mention how impressed I was in front of the great experience and talent of assembling fish and rice.
Travelling through Sapporo, Furano, Niseko e Rusutsu we ultimately understood how our journey was actually an experience, an unforgettable experience. Japanese culture is so rich and deep to leave an undeletable mark in your memory.
Go, live and breath Japan, Arigatò.