A bustling city of around 350,000 people, Asahikawa is the second biggest city in Hokkaido and extremely well located for backcountry touring.
It’s packed with places to eat, hotels, bars and all that stuff, but the vast majority of them cater to Japanese speakers and dining out as a foreigner can be confusing. That said, there’s great food if you look around and can navigate a Japanese menu.
Kamui Ski Links, Asahidake and even Furano are within about an hour’s drive, so there’s good resort skiing. The touring within 90 minute’s drive in just about every direction is awesome. Even better, that drive can take you to areas that get really different weather patterns and have skiing over a wide range or elevations, so it’s pretty likely that you’ll be able to find good skiing in just about any conditions.
The big disadvantage at Asahikawa is that you need to drive out of town to go skiing/boarding. There’s a bit of public transport, but really you’ll need your own transport to get anywhere efficiently. And the traffic is pretty slow, so even a short commute (e.g. Kamui Ski Links) can take a while.
Asahikawa isn’t really a convenient ski holiday destination in the traditional sense. There’s heaps to ski, see and do, but it’s not a resort that’s purpose built to make things easy and comfortable for foreign guests. If you’re willing to embrace a bit of inconvenience (mostly around driving to ski/board) it’s a great base for a trip.
It’s good for:
Backcountry touring, with good resort options if you want them
A great travel experience - it’s a funky little city filled with regular Japanese people doing regular stuff
Eating delicious food
Snow conditions - it’s close to areas that get a range of different snow and weather so somewhere is likely to be good
It’s not good for:
Convenience. You’ll have to drive every day.
People who don’t have a car.
Groups with a range of abilities or goals - it makes the logistics much more difficult if everyone wants something different
The bottom line:
A great place to stay and ski for committed backcountry tourers. More of a hassle than a ski town, but more authentic from a cultural perspective and way better located for both terrain and snow than the other major options.
What we offer at Asahikawa:
We offer day guiding from Asahikawa and often stay there on multi-day trips.
It’s close to our home town so it’s no hassle for us to pick you up and drop you off each day.