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Our trip leaders are often asked this question: what’s the best SKI BUMS trip of all time? We’ve got an easy answer: Niseko, Japan.

Niseko is Japan's most famous international ski destination for a big reason: the snow. More than 600 inches of dry, fluffy powder blankets these slopes each year. The New York Times called Niseko "Japan's St. Moritz," with "snowflakes large enough to cast shadows" and a contagious energy that brims with the excitement of a true global destination. It’s simply like nothing you’ve ever skied before, and one of the world’s few ‘must ski’ destinations.

SKI BUMS has hosted three Japan trips — including two here, in 2013 and 2015. The demand to return is high, and we’re experts at showing you the good stuff. There’s no telling when we’ll come back again, so if this is on your wish list, don’t miss this opportunity to experience the mythical beauty of one of the world’s snowiest places.

Space on this trip is limited. Sign up now for the best pricing.

Sign up now for our trip to Japan >
Sign up for Japan
Chill. Out.
The World's Largest Club
We reserve the right to cancel, reschedule, or make changes in the trip itinerary as a result of weather or safety considerations or as otherwise deemed necessary or advisable. If your trip is cancelled or rescheduled due to weather, snow, or mountain conditions, or circumstances beyond our control, you will receive a credit toward a future trip. All trip credits may be applied to any trip in the SKI BUMS future. There is no expiration date.

SKI BUMS is not responsible for the cost of any additional expenses that you may incur as a result of trip rescheduling or cancellation (airline ticketing fees, etc.).

To use a credit for a future deposit or payment, please
contact us directly.
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Through October 1, you may cancel your spot at any time and receive a full refund. After October 1, the following cancellation fees apply:

For cancellations received from October 2 - October 31, $1000 fee. After November 1st, 2017: no refund.

In order to obtain our bulk group discounts, we must agree to a very strict cancellation policy. It's the nature of group travel. Think of your SKI BUMS booking as you would an airline reservation; even we find someone to take your place,
the cancellation fees still apply.

If you buy travel insurance, you can still receive a refund for a cancelled SKI BUMS trip.

To cancel your SKI BUMS trip, click here >
Travel insurance
Buy travel insurance. It's affordable and easy.

A travel insurer can provide a refund even when SKI BUMS cannot. In the circumstance that you need to cancel your trip because of work or health reasons, you should purchase travel insurance within 30 days of your initial trip deposit.

Even if you purchase travel insurance after this date, some coverage is much better than no coverage at all. Our cancellation policy is strict, and after cancellation fees kick in, a travel insurer may be your only chance for a full refund.

There are many travel insurers, and policies are very affordable. We especially recommend, and suggest you add the sports package to cover skiing & snowboarding activity.
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$3999 USD per person

additional options:

-- $1500 supplement to upgrade to a single occupancy room in both hotels
Payment dates
$1000 deposit due at sign up

Balance due December 1 |
Make a balance payment here >

These are the dates for those who sign up today. Pricing and payment dates may change for those who sign up at a later date, if space remains. Late payments are subject to a 5% late-payment fee. It is up to you to submit your payments on time. You may always pay early.
methods of payment
You may pay with any major credit card, cash or check.

Lift tickets
Your trip includes a five day lift ticket for Hakuba Valley.

In general, it's tough to ski or ride from one resort area to another — most of the resorts don’t connect without a trip through the backcountry. SKI BUMS trip leaders will name specific resorts for the first few days and invite everyone to ski and ride there -- but you'll always be free to do your own thing if you prefer.

Note: If you or your travel partner do not ski or snowboard -- we can remove the lift tickets from our package; contact us to make arrangements. (See "non-skiers," below.)
About half of our participants rent skis or snowboards -- in part to avoid traveling with extra bags. Rentals are not included in our trip price; you should budget about $300 USD for a 5-day rental. No advance reservations are needed; you can pick up rentals upon arrival in Hakuba. The shop here is well stocked with the same top-of-the-line brands that you'll find at North American ski resorts; we love the gear and the crew at Rhythm Sports.
Skill levels
SKI BUMS designs our season for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, but we make specific recommendations for each trip. On ALL SKI BUMS trips, we begin by dividing into skill level groups so you can identify those who enjoy the same terrain that you do.

See how our groups work >

We recommend this trip for intermediate, advanced and expert skiers and riders.

Hakuba offers significant challenge, and we expect very few beginners. Typically, in February the conditions are particularly powdery. If you’ve never skied or boarded in powder before, we recommend booking an instructor upon arrival here. On our previous Japan trips, most participants are strong intermediate to expert skiers and snowboarders. (We expect about an equal number of strong intermediates and experts on this trip.) If you're a beginner, please contact us before signing up.
If this is your first and only trip to Japan, you may want to extend your trip. SKI BUMS trip leaders are happy to offer advice, but we cannot book additional nights for you, and we will not be on hand to offer travel assistance beyond the official dates of our itinerary.

TOKYO: Before and after Tokyo, there are countless options. You may want to consider purchasing the Japan Rail Pass; it gives you unlimited train travel on the entire nation's JR Train lines for 7, 14 or 21 days. You can use it to visit common destinations like Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka. If you’d like additional nights in Tokyo, we recommend these hotels: The Gate > Park Hyatt Tokyo >

For more discussion about trip extensions, and to see if others would like to join you...

join the discussion on our Facebook group >
Air transportation
Train transportation
Air transportation is not included in the trip price. Read these recommendations closely before buying airfare. This trip only requires international airfare to Tokyo.

Tokyo has two major airports, and you can fly into whichever one is most convenient for you. Narita (NRT) welcomes more international flights than Haneda (HND) does, but Haneda is considerably closer to our hotel.

HEAD'S UP: You'll want to be smart and cautious about buying your airfare, so you can attend our meet & greet on the first evening.


ARRIVAL IN TOKYO, THURSDAY FEB 14: Plan to arrive anytime before 5 PM on Thursday; our itinerary officially begins with a cocktail meet & greet reception in the bar of our hotel at 6:30 PM, followed by dinner around 8 PM. After landing, allow about 2 1/2 hours to get through customs, get your luggage and check in at the hotel.

IMPORTANT: those traveling from North America will advance a day while flying over the international dateline. Select a departure date of Wednesday, February 13.

After we check out of our hotel in Hakuba, your next destination is entirely up to you. Some participants will opt to return to Tokyo for flights home, others will extend their travel time in Japan. If you book a flight departing Tokyo on the 23rd, be sure to allow 4 hours for travel time from Hakuba to either Tokyo Airport, and plan to be at the airport three hours before departure. In other words, you probably won’t want to depart before the early evening hours.

Itinerary overview
Train transportation is not included in the trip price. After arriving in Japan, you'll purchase your own train pass for train travel while in Tokyo.

You should budget about $40 USD for a
Suica card, which you can use on multiple trains throughout Tokyo (and the express trains which serve the airports), and you’ll also buy a train ticket from Tokyo to Nagano, which is about another $40 USD.

Japan's primary train system, the JR Trains, are an extensive series of trains which include metro, commuter, regional and bullet trains, or
shinkansen. The system is efficient and very easy to use.

While in Tokyo, we'll rely on the JR Trains & Tokyo Metro. We'll email everyone specific advice before we depart.
Learn more about Tokyo's trains >

Hakuba Valley is the name of nine neighboring resort areas, all of which stretch along a long, scenic valley in a mountain range known as the Japanese Alps. The areas are much larger than it may seem on trail map; the skiable acres are comparable to major European resorts. The area offers more than 200 trails, and more than 100 lifts. As we saw in our last trip here, there’s far more terrain than you could ski / ride in a week.

Visit the Hakuba Valley (English) website >

The snow that falls here travels from Siberia in dry, cool waves; powder days are legendary, and unlike Japan’s resort of Niseko, blue sunny skies are common, too. The climate here (and the terrain) are very similar to Colorado, but at a lower altitude — the top altitude is about 5,500 feet or 1,700 meters.

Additionally, the lift infrastructure and mountain operations are top-notch; very similar to what you'd expect in North America. All throughout Hakuba, English is widely used. There's a large contingent of Australians who are visiting and working here, giving the whole atmosphere a global village feel with an fun-filled jolt of enthusiastic, fun-filled energy.
Trip extensions
Meet the others
Who's coming on the trip? Find out by joining our special SKI BUMS Japan Facebook Group.

Whether you're simply curious about signing up or you're already on board, everyone's welcome to join this Facebook group. Feel free to invite friends, too -- it's a cool way to begin learning names of the skiers and boarders who you'll meet when we're in Japan!

Request to join the Japan Facebook group >

Weather history
Of course, weather is impossible to predict, but SKI BUMS plans our trips with an eye on weather history. The season in Hakuba generally follows that of North America and Europe, with the snowiest period occurring from late December through early March. January and February’s storms tend to be big and powdery. Wind and avalanche protection can sometimes temporarily close the upper areas of the mountain when a new storm blows in, but there are ample glades and tree skiing areas in the lower elevations to provide more than enough fun. And when the upper areas open again, the sheer amount of fresh powder usually provides fresh tracks for days on end.
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Upon arrival in Hakuba, we'll check in, relax, then enjoy a delicious dinner nearby.

The fun begins early Monday morning!
Happo One lifts are located nearby, and as with every SKI BUMS trip, we begin by dividing into skill level groups that help you identify the other skiers and snowboarders who enjoy the same terrain -- at the same pace -- as you do.

Learn about our skill level groups. >

In general, you'll spend most of the day in a smallish group of four or five skiers or boarders -- but that's up to you. The BUMS are a social crowd, so it's always easy to mix it up. Each day, we meet as a group for
lunches and après-ski. You and your group will set your own pace, and it's common to mix it up with a few different groups throughout the week. As the week progresses, some groups will opt for full days, while others might take a half-day off to relax. This is your vacation, so you're always free to break away and do your own thing.

Learn more about how SKI BUMS trips work >
Our rooms are guaranteed after 3 PM on Thursday the 14th, but feel free to arrive earlier. The hotel can store luggage if your room isn’t ready just yet. When you arrive, you'll simply check in at the hotel under your name. Most participants will arrive in the afternoon or early evening hours.
Check in
Our trip officially begins with meet & greet cocktails at 6:30 PM. In our hotel lobby bar, you'll meet the SKI BUMS trip leaders and the other participants -- and then we'll sit down for a relaxing dinner around 8 PM. Be sure to plan your arrival with this event in mind; see “Air Transportation,” above.
Meet and greet
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Getting around
While in Niseko, we'll rely on shuttle buses which serve the Niseko United resorts. Additionally, many restaurants offer free shuttle vans for guests with reservations. If you'd like to take side trips in the evenings, taxis are affordable and easy to arrange.
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Trip size
This trip has a minimum of 15 participants and a maximum of 40 participants. If we fail to meet our minimum number of registered participants by 60 days before the trip, the trip may be cancelled. In that event, those who have signed up for the trip will receive a full refund.
Trip alterations
+ Three night stay in Tokyo, six night stay in Niseko
+ Daily hot breakfasts
+ Three dinners (two in Tokyo, one in Niseko)
+ Five day lift pass for the Niseko United resorts
+ Two ground transfers between Sapporo and our hotel in Niseko
+ Complimentary shuttles in Niseko
+ Trip organization, guidance and assistance from SKI BUMS professional trip leaders
Not included
+ Air transportation
+ Taxi, bus and train transportation (airport transfers, Tokyo metro)
+ Ski and snowboard equipment rental
+ Backcountry tour guides (optional)
+ Lunches, some dinners, alcoholic drinks
+ Entry fees or visa fees
(if applicable)
+ Travel insurance
(very highly recommended)
Whats Included
Read our trip tips
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+ Thursday, February 14: Arrive in Tokyo -- most will arrive late afternoon / early evening

+ Fri Feb 15 - Sat Feb 16: Spend two days exploring Tokyo

+ Sun Feb 17: Bullet train to Nagano, bus tour of Snow Monkey Park, check-in

+ Mon Feb 18 to Friday Feb 23: Ski & ride Hakuba Valley

+ Sat Feb 24: Check out, travel back to Tokyo for return home (or your next destination)
Thursday night through Saturday evening, the SKI BUMS trip leaders will design a light, fun-filled itinerary with group outings to famous sights and extra time to explore the city on your own. Highlights include historic temples and shrines, whimsical fashion boutiques, trendy department stores, and quirky cafes. We'll visit the gay bars, too. They're fascinating.

The SKI BUMS approach toward city exploration isn't like your standard tour group -- no one's going to hold a flag aloft, saying "we're walking... we're walking.” Rather, we'll divide up into smaller groups, based on what sights you'd like to see, and trust that you're adventuresome enough to navigate one of the world's most popular, fascinating tourist destinations without a lot of hand-holding.

Our trip includes 2 full days in Tokyo -- you can enjoy more if you schedule your flights accordingly. We plan a
very light itinerary with recommended sights that you can easily opt-out of, in part, to give you time to adjust to the new time zone. The first few days can feel a bit like you're walking through a dream; unless you live in Asia, you'll need a few days before morning feels like morning.

Tokyo's recommended sights include
Meiji Shrine, shopping in Harajuku and Takeshita Street, Asakusa's Sensoji Temple, the shrines of Kamakura, and the gay nightlife of Shinjuku Ni-Chome. This is the largest city in the world; there's an endless list of cool things to do. Sumo wrestling. Owl cafes. The Robot Restaurant. The pre-dawn tuna sushi market. Endless.

Of course, if you ever need assistance, our trip leaders are very familiar with Japan, and very happy to help you explore this vibrant city. We’ve already led multiple fun-filled trips here.

View pics from the SKI BUMS 2015 weekend in Tokyo >
Traveling to Hakuba
On Sunday, we'll all board a Shinkansen bullet train to Nagano, where a private shuttle transfer will carry us to Hakuba, with a sightseeing stop at the famous Snow Monkey Park along the way.
Mobile phone
You must have a cell phone that will work while we are in-country. It will need to be able to receive domestic SMS text messages, even when you are not on Wifi.

Trip leaders send up-to-the-minute text message alerts with itinerary information, transportation pickup times, lunch locations, weather advisories, and more. Additionally, the other trip participants text one another to coordinate their plans on the mountain. You should set up an international plan that includes voice, data and SMS messaging.

View our communications guide for important information >
Clothing apparel
FOR HAKUBA: You should arrive in-country with all your skiing & snowboarding apparel. SKI BUMS requires our trip participants to wear helmets while skiing & riding. See our helpful guide, How to Dress for the Mountain, for suggestions. Additionally, you'll need to pack a pair of snow-proof shoes with a good tread; the roads in Hakuba tend to be snowy and slippery; it would be smart to pack a pair of crampons.

In addition to
Rhythm Sports, Hakuba has a few great gear shops, but larger sizes and availability will be very limited. NOTE: it's nearly impossible to find larger-sized shoes, gloves or goggles in Tokyo.

FOR TOKYO: If you've taken trips with the BUMS before, you know that we're not a showy crowd. All events on the SKI BUMS itinerary will be casual dress. Be comfortable, first and foremost. That said, the Strings by InterContinental probably isn’t the spot to eat breakfast in sweatpants or yoga outfits; smart casual style is probably the best way to blend in here. We'll email everyone our insights and packing tips.
SKI BUMS detailed trip itineraries are distributed upon arrival, and they're designed to be viewed on any smart phone. More importantly, our trip leaders send up-to-the-minute alerts that you'll receive on your phone via SMS text messaging.

For this reason, you must have a cell phone that will work while we're in Japan.

View our communications guide >
Daily plan
SKI BUMS lgbt skiing and snowboarding testimonial
Read more testimonials
Space is limited, and this trip will sell out.

Signing up is simple. You'll simply provide your information, then proceed to payment. You may sign up individually or as a couple.

After we've received your signup & payment, you'll receive an
confirmation via email that you're registered for the trip.

IMPORTANT NOTICE for GMAIL users: we send important confirmation & information emails that you won't receive unless you take special steps to see them.

Learn how to adjust Gmail's filters >
Bus transportation
TOKYO: Bus transfers from the airports to our hotel are not included.

*The Friendly Airport Limousine Bus, which can transfer you from the Haneda or Narita airport to our hotel, is not prepaid. Advance reservations are unnecessary; you'll simply purchase your ticket upon arrival at the airport (about $40 USD). This is a clean, efficient, easy service -- and it's much more affordable than a private taxi, which can cost more than $250 USD.

View the timetable here >

HAKUBA: Our Hakuba ground transfer bus on check-in day IS included in our trip price, but transfers on our check-out day are NOT included.

On our Hakuba check-in day (Feb 17) SKI BUMS will provide bus transfers for the entire group between Nagano’s train station and our hotel in Hakuba. On check-out day (Feb 23), transfers are
not included, to give you greater flexibility in planning your next destination. You may want to take a bus directly from Hakuba to Tokyo, or book a Shinkansen train between Nagano and Tokyo.

Transportation overview
Relax, you're in good hands. Although the thought of getting around Japan on public transportation might seem a bit intimidating from afar, in truth, the systems here are more efficient, modern and relaxing than what you're probably used to back home. With a little help from the trip leaders, you'll wish that it was always this easy to get around.

Here's an overview of how you'll get from here to there.

Before the trip, we'll email all our participants with helpful and informative transportation details. This is just a quick overview.

Arrival: Bus or train from airport to the hotel (the bus is easiest for first-time visitors to Tokyo)
Tokyo: Public trains, taxis and walking to get around Tokyo
Feb 17: Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo (Ueno Station) to Nagano (about $40 USD), then ground transfer / sightseeing bus (included) to Snow Monkey Park, followed by Hakuba
Feb 18- 23: public shuttle buses, and some taxis to get around Hakuba Valley
Feb 23: Return to Tokyo however you like — via train or bus

Want to see what other BUMS are planning? Join our Japan 2019 Facebook group >
Here's a quick geography lesson: Tokyo is our arrival and departure point. When describing areas, people generally break down this massive city into large neighborhoods, with names like Shinjuku, Ginza, Roppongi, Ueno and Chiyoda-ku.

View a map Tokyo's main neighborhoods >

Nagano is the name of the prefecture (like a province / state) where the town of Hakuba is located. We’ll take bullet trains (Shinkansen) to the large city of Nagano City, then take a group ground transfer (with a sightseeing stop along the way) to Hakuba.
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SKI BUMS at Hakuba, Nagano, Japan
Tokyo Skyline
Facebook group
Perfectly sized groups
At a glance
Trip info
Days on the mountain
Lodging location
Skill levels
Thursday February 14 through Saturday, February 23, 2019
Five -- Monday through Friday
In Tokyo: Shinjuku | In Hakuba: Hakuba Village
Recommended for intermediate, advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders
$3499 per person
Sign up
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Travel schedule
+ Thursday, February 14: Arrive in Tokyo -- most will arrive late afternoon / early evening

+ Fri Feb 15 - Sat Feb 16: Spend two days exploring Tokyo

+ Sun Feb 17: Bullet train to Nagano, bus tour of Snow Monkey Park, check-in

+ Mon Feb 18 to Friday Feb 23: Ski & ride Hakuba Valley

+ Sat Feb 24: Check out, travel back to Tokyo for return home (or your next destination)
Trail Maps
The Japanese Alps have some of the most powder-riffic, exhilarating skiing anywhere in Japan, with incredible pillow lines, powder-filled gullies and steeps that aren't easily found in Japan's other resorts. Hakuba Valley consists of nine separate resorts that offer tremendous variety! See the site below for each resort’s trail maps.

Visit Hakuba Valley’s website >
Lodging: Tokyo
In Tokyo: We'll have group dinner reservations on Thursday and Friday night at some of Tokyo's tastiest restaurants. These dinners will be prepaid; you'll just get your own drinks. Saturday night is a "free night" for you to dine wherever you wish.

In Niseko: Most evenings, we’ll have group dinner reservations — and you’ll simply pay for whatever you order. After two trips here, we know the best dining spots in town! We’ll celebrate our final night of the trip with a delicious multi-course meal at a Michelin 2-star stunner, Kamimura. All together, there are three prepaid dinners on this trip.

Most of our lunches will be at on-mountain cafeterias and cafes; in general, we'll meet as a group each day for lunch. In the evenings, you’ll have a few free nights to explore town and dine wherever you like. Many restaurants offer free shuttle service to guests with a reservation.

Planning for food & drink: as you might not expect, food in Japan is wonderfully affordable. Prepare to be wowed, as you see how much further Japanese cuisine can go beyond sushi and ramen. Japan's cuisine is very easy for omnivores and pescatarians, but vegetarians or strict vegans may struggle when eating out. Here's some great advice.
You may choose double or single occupancy.

We are happy to arrange roommates for you. Typically, half of our participants ask us to match them up with a roommate.
About a month before the trip, we assign roommates and condo mates -- based on your requests. We'll ask a few easy questions and accommodate your preferences. (Those who sign up together will be placed together, unless you specifically request otherwise.)

Please note: there are a very small number of single occupancy slots available. We collect the single occupancy supplement when you sign up (View "Pricing & Payment" below).

All those who request a roommate match will be given his or her own bed. Those who are traveling together may request a room with one bed or two.
On this trip, we’ll be staying at the modern, comfortable Hilton Tokyo. It’s lovely — just read its top-ranked reviews on TripAdvisor. With excellent on-site restaurants and swanky lounges, it’s an upscale property that warmly welcomes global guests. It's sleek, clean and well-appointed. Plus, it's located within easy reach of the large Shinjuku train station, which makes getting around Tokyo a breeze.

Our hotel is located in Shinjuku, a very vibrant, centrally located neighborhood that’s perfect for first-time visitors, and not far from the fun-loving LGBTQ bars of Shinjuku Ni-chōme. It’s quite easy to get here from both of the airports, either by train or the Friendly Airport Limousine Bus.

Explore the Hilton Tokyo >
Lodging: Niseko
We are returning to the wonderful, warm hospitality of the Australian-run Hakuba Hotel group, who hosted us on our last trip here. We’ve booked the Hakuba Springs hotel, a comfortable, well-appointed skiers hotel located right in the heart of Hakuba Village. The location is ideal; dozens of great restaurants and local bars are right within walking distance, and it’s right near the town’s main bus stop, which will make it extra easy to visit the Hakuba Valley resorts.

Hakuba is a casual ski town that puts the focus on the mountain; it’s not a spot for luxury lodging. Our hotel is one of the best in town, but it’s quite casual. You can come as you are.

Read the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor >
Fish and sumo wrestling
Travel portfolio
About a month before we travel, all participants will submit a Travel Portfolio, where we'll collect your flight information, dietary restrictions, roommate requests, emergency contact info, skill level, and other pertinent details. We'll email everyone and post the link here when it's time to submit it.
Info packs
SKI BUMS anticipates what you'll need to know, and when you'll need to know it. We email valuable pre-trip information to all our participants, in numbered Info Packs. You'll need to receive them and read them closely, so it's crucial that you've provided an email address to us that you check regularly. Gmail users: you need to take extra steps to see our emails.

Click here to view instructions >

The vast majority of our important trip info is located right here on this page.
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Hakuba, Nagano
Skiing powder in Hakuba
Alpenglow in Hakuba
Hakuba Valley's nine resorts
Hilton Tokyo
Tokyo Station
Train through snowy Japan
Sunset in Hakuba
Join the Japan 2019 Facebook Group
Jigokudani Monkey Park
Hakuba village