Snowboarding in Hokkaido

Bobby and I didn’t meet too long ago, but after riding together with everyone at Northstar, we realized we can pace each other very well which makes riding super easy and enjoyable. Shortly after that, we started planning a snowboarding trip in Japan since I was planning on moving there. Well we made the plans and time flew by, so here’s the blog post from that trip! We stayed a total of 5 nights but this blog post might be all over the place, sorryyyyy.

Day 1

Instead of dealing with the hassle of taking the trains to Kansai International Airport, we just drove and left my car there, super convenient!

Airport food in Japan is so good and the prices aren’t boosted like the states.

We didn’t realize getting a bus from New Chitose Airport to Rusutsu resort would be so difficult, all seats were booked for the day according to the websites. But we walked around and checked a couple bus counters and found 2 seats available luckily! The tickets were 4,000 yen each and the ride was a few hours or so.

A little break at a rest area just 30 minutes before Rusutsu, I was kind of worried about the snow conditions because around the airport there was like NO SNOW. But things started to look promising from this point on.

Always gotta find some cool vehicles anywhere I go.

Once we arrived at Rusutsu resort our airbnb host was waiting there to pick us up! With his english ability and my japanese ability we were able to communicate flawlessly. The views on the way to the airbnb were incredible. Link to the airbnb here

This is the view driving out of the private road that the airbnb is on. We were allowed to use the family’s huge toyota hiace which was the selling point for us! Not having to rent a car was awesome.

It’s really interesting how the clouds stick to the top of the mountain, I have to look up the reason for that. Though it made the snowboarding pretty difficult the first few days, since the visibility was so low.

It’s always nice to bring your own phone mount because trying to navigate by looking at your phone while holding it and driving isn’t safe or fun.

Convenience store trips in the snow hit different haha. We had many many convenience store trips during our time in Hokkaido since most places were closed for the holidays.

And here’s a shot of the sweet hiace that we got to drive around, turbo diesel beast. The rear had no seats so it was perfect for getting dressed and undressed at the resort. No need to stand outside in the cold while getting your gear on.

One of the times that we didn’t eat convenience store food was at this little burger spot that had some heavy California/USA influence. It was actually a pretty decent burger, which is very had to find in Japan. It would have went well with some fries.

Day 2

The next morning we headed out to Rusutsu to shred some gnar!

Riding at Rusutsu was definitely the best snowboarding experience ever! The powder was insanely deep, very light and fluffy. But it was tricky because if you fall in the powder things can get sketchy quick. The hiace looks rad parked up with the boards posted!

This isn’t a great photo but probably my favorite from the trip. I like how the trees are glowing.

Here’s a quick couple snaps of the room we stayed in.

Pretty nice view from the room.

Day 3

The next day we drove to the east side mountain lot instead of the main lot, which made things more convenient since we didn’t have to take the long gondola.

My breakfast lineup

Bobby’s breakfast entrée.

The first few days I didn’t bring my camera up to go riding so there’s not much mountain pics. We did go to an onsen in town and that was a very pleasant experience. There were multiple signs posted saying no tattoos allowed and after about 15 minutes of contemplation we just entered anyways haha. My last self-motivational words were, “what’s the worst that can happen.” Works like a charm every time lol.

Day 4

This morning the snow came down quite a bit and even froze the doors of the van shut which was pretty funny. Oh yeah, I also accidentally didn’t close the door on the van all the way so the battery died haha.

Here’s Bobby cleaning the snow off the van while I did my camera duties.

I should have kept count of how many konbini trips we made lol. They are just so… convenient.

These are the views pulling into the main resort parking area. We decided to park on the main side on the 4th day so we could take advantage of the free onsen. On day 3 we did some recon and figured that all we had to do is BYOT (bring your own towel), so that’s what we did! It’s such a great feeling to take a shower and relax in a hot bath after a day of shredding the best powder ever! On our next trip I’ll have to make a video, not exactly sure how I’ll do it, but I’ll try to make it happen.

Day 5

Our mornings always started off nice and peaceful, chill out in the attic with some light snacks, coffee, and good conversation. Then get ready and roll out. It was only about a 20 minute drive to the mountain from the airbnb and there was virtually no traffic. Now we certainly aren’t strangers to riding some nice powder, but anytime we get nice powder in Tahoe, it takes hours upon hours to get home due to constant highway shutdowns and accidents. There was none of that on this trip, which eliminated all the stress of a typical Tahoe snowboarding day. For example, even though my house in California is only a couple hours away from Tahoe, sometimes I get screwed because of trees falling into the roadway or highway shutdowns making it impossible to get to and from the mountain.

After getting ready inside, it became time to de-snow the hiace. It really is crazy how light and fluffy the Hokkaido snow was.

On this day I did bring my camera up, but it was pretty scary to take photos because if I dropped it, it would be impossible to find. I also ended up somehow accidentally welding the ND filter to the kit lens. It’s still nuclearly attached as I type this.

It was so tempting to jump of the chair into the powder below.

I really enjoyed the contrast in these couple photos. The clothing colors really pop against the nearly greyscale scenery.

I made a few attempts to get some cool riding shots of Bobby going by, BUT, it turns out I need more practice. I meant to zoom in on one of the shots but totally forgot, the powder really got to me I guess lol.

The lines did stack up pretty deep since our last day riding was a Friday, but we got super spoiled with no lines the rest of the week, so it was not a big deal to us.

After successfully completing our last run of the week, injury free, we chilled for a bit then made our way to Niseko area to return my rental gear.

I’m very glad Bobby was patient with me, because I was pretty picky about the gear I wanted to rent. I’m not really a picky person but all the other shops we checked out had really old and abused yet pricey gear. The prices just didn’t sit right with me so actually on the first day of riding, Bobby went to ride by himself for a bit while I check out Rhythm. Once I found out they rented current model boards for killer prices I was sold! The entire rental experience was so smooth, all the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. I think I paid about $200 for a board, bindings, boots, pants and a helmet for 4 days. The board being a current model capita if I remember correctly.

The store is 2 floors and very well designed and illuminated.

They have these kiosks were you can enter your info to get your rental slip, then you go through a couple sections where the staff helps you select gear. I chose the premium package because why come all this way and cheap out. It was well worth it!

You can’t see it too well, but the board I rented was the same model as the green ones on the left. Where else can you rent current model boards? I had no idea this was possible, major kudos to them.

They even have this cool little cafe corner, I was tempted to grab something, but I didn’t really NEED anything.

After wrapping it up with the rental stuff, we headed back to the general area of our airbnb to get some real dinner that wasn’t from the konbini, but there was one little issue. It was New Year’s weekend! Nothing was open haha. We drove from place to place until we stumbled upon this little shop that was open.

I forget the name of the place but it wasn’t super memorable, they made a good business move by being open that day. It was clear that the other guests had also dined at this place simply because it was available.

A very interesting lineup of items, but hey, food is food?

On the way home we saw two legacies that were visually, slightly modified. The one on the left really struck a chord with me because I miss my outback so much. It was funny too because both the legacies pictured here had USDM tail lights whereas mine has JDM taillights lol.

Day 6

Unfortunately this is the last photo I have of the trip, but at least this post ends on a tasty note? This picture is actually pretty funny because I was having a hard time read a certain kanji on the menu and this kind lady to my left gave me some help. But when I took of my hoody and exposed my tattoo the friendliness seemed to go away. Bobby said she looked pretty shocked when she saw my tattoo. It is what it is haha.

Closing note

This was a very unique trip and I’m glad Bobby and I made it happen. We had only been talking about it literally all year haha. Our planning style and our chill, freestyle way of doing things really worked out well. I definitely want to have my own gear for the next one, but it’s nice to know that such a good rental shop exists. Our other friends caught wind of how sick this trip was and now want to join us on the next one. Can’t wait!

Thanks again Bobby!

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