In late-April and early-May, thousands upon thousands of migratory geese make a stop-off at Miyajima Pond, just 50km northeast of Sapporo City. This happens to be around the time of the Golden-Week public holidays in Japan. This makes for a perfect excuse for an uber-extended weekend cycle tour of up […]

ROUTE GUIDE: Four-day Goose-watching Cycle Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)











Shakotan Hut provides an excellent base from which to explore peaks such as Mt. Shakotan-dake (積丹岳 – 1,255m) or Mt. Yobetsu (余別岳 – 1,298m) on the Shakotan Peninsula. About 40 minutes from the end of the snow-cleared section of dirt road, this is a public-transport accessible hut, free to use for […]

Shakotan Hut and Mt. Shakotan-dake Ski Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)



I hadn’t expected such a grandiose summit at the top of Mt. Mekunnai (目国内岳 – 1,220m). The summit looks pointy from a distance, but we were not prepared for the great frozen mountain of boulders, encrusted in a winter’s worth of wind-blown snow and frost, that greeted us almost out of […]

Mt. Mekunnai Ski Tour (Niseko Range, Hokkaido, Japan)



I once saw a photo of Mt. Piyashiri’s summit hut, encrusted in gale-crusted snow, and it launched my keen desire to do an overnight trip there in mid-winter. Hiro was mad enough (or perhaps naïve enough) to come along, so we made the 3-hour drive north from Sapporo, diving head-first […]

Mt. Piyashiri Summit Hut and Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)



Last year I was here at Hakuginso Lodge (Fukiage Onsen) with three fellows from France and a fellow from Germany (story here). Today I was back with my brother-in-law from New Zealand to try our luck at Mt. Maetokachi (前十勝岳 – 1,790m). I was keen to capture this active volcano’s […]

Mt. Maetokachi ski tour and Hakuginso Lodge for the second ...


This ‘ski-by-numbers’ ski touring route is a beauty. The red ski-tour-specific trail markers, starting at #1 at Shokanso Hut (290m), make for relatively straightforward navigation up to around 1,000m in altitude. To summit Mt. Shokanbetsu (署寒別岳 – 1,491m) however, you’ll need near-perfect conditions and an early start. Right on the […]

Shokanso Hut and Mt. Shokanbetsu (署寒別岳 – 1,491m) Ski Touring ...


First impressions of the Mt. Mayoizawa (迷沢山 – 1,005m) backcountry skiing route are probably not that great. You’d be forgiven to want to shun this route, with its overbearing-looking pylons and not much of a peak to speak of. But it has two seriously good things going for it: it is […]

Mayoizawa-yama mid-week ski tour (Sapporo City, Japan)



Mt. Okotanpe (オコタンペ山 – 968m) is classed as a beginner’s mountain in the guidebook. This is probably a reasonable description if you are on snowshoes. If on skis, you’ll want to be confident of your steep uphill zigzagging and steep downhill tree-dodging skills, such that I’d class it more as […]

Mt. Okotanpe Ski Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)



The approach to Mt. Soranuma-dake (空沼岳 – 1,251m) is a convoluted mess of topography which doesn’t lend well for great downhill skiing. Don’t let that put you off though. The old forester’s outpost Bankei Hut (万計山荘) is worth the effort, and the national park landscape is magical. We did the […]

Mt. Soranuma-dake Overnight Ski Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)



The pristine Chitose River, fed from Lake Shikotsu 25km upstream, is abundant with birdlife at this time of the year. Swans, ducks of every type, herons, and woodpeckers…all relatively nonplussed at a couple of people on snowshoes, tramping where few other humans tend to venture at this time of year. […]

Chitose River Urban Snowshoeing (Chitose City, Japan)


When Chitose City in Hokkaido, Japan, finally gets enough snow (around the beginning of January), the local ski field grinds into action. The tow-rope lift is a brutal contraption, but once you’re used to it, the 60yen per ride (or a whopping 500yen for a day-pass) feels like the bargain […]

Chitose City Ski Field: A one-run wonder micro-resort


The circuit track around Lake Hangetsu, at the foot of Mt. Yotei, is hardly the place for alpine skis. But with an abundance of bird-life at the trailhead, good views, and just enough elevation gain to make the second half fun, this is a great spot for honing the kick-and-glide […]

Hangetsu Lake Circuit: A fun side-trip on skis



Mt. Iwaonupuri (1,116m, curiously also marked as Mt. Io in English) – the smaller sister to Niseko’s Mt. Annupuri, sits to the northwest of the bustling ski slopes of Hirafu. It is a long circular drive to get there though, so it is a great way to get away from […]

Mt. Iwaonupuri (Mt. Io): A ski tour day-trip at the ...


Mt. Chisenupuri (チセヌプリ) is one of the classic Niseko-area backcountry ski locations. At the lower reaches is the Chisenupuri ski area, closed since 2013 (but re-opened for cat-skiing in December 2016). Word on the ground (when we did this trip in December 2016) is that the cat-skiing operation (run by […]

Chisenupuri Ski Area ski touring (near Niseko, Japan)




All good things must come to an end, and such did our 10-day cycle tour around the deep south of Hokkaido. We bundled the bikes back onto the train, and that train whisked us back to Chitose, ready to face another semester at university. Thermarest posted on Instagram and Facebook […]

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 11 – Onuma back to ...


*Featured image by Haidee Our last day of cycling on this end-of-summer cycle tour around southern Hokkaido would end up being the only day where we had rain. And the day was topped off with a shared campfire on a lakefront with another cycle touring couple. In the morning, we […]

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 10 – Kakkumi to Onuma


After a thoroughly relaxing two days sightseeing in Hakodate, we were back on the road again. At 66km, it would be our longest day of the trip, and our minds and bodies felt it. The sleepy little fishing villages and quiet roads kept things interesting though, as did the quirky […]

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 9 – Hakodate to Kakkumi