Common questions about Adventure Travel in Hokkaido and our tours

You’ll find answers to a range of commonly asked questions below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us directly via email or simply give us a bell - We’re here to help!

Questions About Your Trip

You’ll find all kinds of people from all walks of life and all ages join us on our tours! We believe that adventure has no age limit and we welcome any travellers who have a sense of exploration and a love for the outdoors. To get a better idea of the kind of people on our trips, take a look at our latest tour galleries here.
We cap the maximum travel group at 10 people. We do this for two reasons. Firstly, it minimises the environmental impact of our travels. Secondly, we believe that smaller groups make for the best trips! You will have the chance to meet new people as you travel and explore Hokkaido with us. Being small also allows us to use smaller facilities, which often give us more interesting insights and memorable experiences. If you are looking for a private tour for your own party, it’s also possible to orangize this. Feel free to contact us!
Yes, you do! 1-day or 2-day tours must be booked at least 10 days in advance. Any other tours that are longer than 2 days must be booked at least 30 days in advance. However, we do try to accept last minute bookings if we can secure guides, accommodation, transportation and equipment for the tour. Please reach out to us and we’ll do our best to make your adventure in Hokkaido a reality!
One of the best ways to experience a culture is through its food. What better way to experience Hokakaido’s authentic cuisine than to eat like a local? On all our tours, we do our best to provide you with meals made with local produce. As part of our vision at Adventure Hokkaido, we make an effort to reduce our food miles and support the local community by dining at locally owned establishments.

For hiking trips where we’ll be staying overnight in emergency shelters, our guides will prepare dinner and breakfast for you. We tend to stick to Japanese style dishes, even in the backcountry so you’ll have plenty of carbohydrates such as rice accompanied with vegetables and miso soup.

When staying at inns and guest houses, you will be provided with dinner and breakfast prepared by the hosts. In general, a Japanese style breakfast is a very balanced meal. Traditionally, this would consist of rice, grilled fish, vegetables, egg and/or fermented beans called natto, and miso soup. Yum!
We believe that eating like the locals is the best way of experiencing Hokkaido’s unique culture. However, we understand that it’s not possible for everyone to do this and we’re more than happy to cater for food allergies, dietary restrictions, and special requirements. If you have any diet restrictions or preferences, please tell us in the Registration Form at the time of booking, and we will do our best to accommodate your dietary needs. In some rural areas particularly, we ask for your flexibility. For example, if you require halal food, we may be able to substitute for a vegetarian option instead. The most important thing about dietary requirements is to let us know in advance so we can prepare and organize the foods you need.
We provide a variety of local accommodation from traditional Japanese inns called ryokan and guest houses to hotels. Depending on the location of the tours and itinerary, we do our best to choose accommodation that suits the tour’s travel style.

A ryokan (旅館) is a traditional Japanese inn and it is the epitome of Japanese hospitality and cuisine. They are often located in natural surroundings and feature Japanese style rooms with tatami mats with rice paper partitions and futon. Each ryokan prides itself on its cuisine, featuring seasonal local ingredients. These meals are often served in the privacy of your own room if you are travelling in a small group, and consist of a number of different courses, with a great variety of dishes. Many ryokan also have on-site natural hot springs for their guests to enjoy during their stay. If you’re after the authentic experience in Japan, we recommend staying at a ryokan for a night or two!

A minshuku (民宿) is another type of accommodation we often use on our tours. Frequently translated as a guesthouse, in many cases, a minshuku is a house of the owners who operate an accommodation business at smaller scale. In Hokkaido, many minshuku have natural hot springs, and provide guests with bathrooms for communal use. Since the minshuku facilities are smaller and the service is all delivered by the friendly owners themselves, they make for the perfect opportunity to interact with the local people and travellers staying overnight.

Since the majority of our adventures take place in rural regions of Hokkaido, we cannot offer en-suites every night throughout our tours. There will be times when we will stay in accomodation that has a shared shower or toilet as described above. In such cases we will make a clear note of it in our trip notes for you.
We’re committed to making travel in Hokkaido as widely accessible as possible, no matter your level of ability or disability. However we do ask for your flexibility regarding particular activities or changes to the schedules. We recommend individuals with disabilities travel on a custom or private tour, however depending on the nature of your disability, you may be able to join in our scheduled tours. If you have any worries, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly. Wherever we can, we will do our best to make your Hokkaido travel dreams come true.
For most of our tours, we offer a convenient hotel pick-up service but if you decide to make your way to us and you’re running late, call us! If you have not shown up on time and have not called us, we may set off without you. However, at Adventure Hokkaido we want you to experience the best our home has to offer, so wherever possible we will try to help you catch up with the tour group. Please keep in mind that any additional costs for transporting and accommodation, as well as cancellation fee/penalty charges will be covered by you.

Questions about Booking & Payment

Our booking policy is quite simple! For 1 Day and 2 Day tours, we require Full Payment. For the rest of Overnight tours, we require a deposit of 50,000 yen. Head over to our Terms & Conditions page for more details on our booking policies.

For booking a Scheduled Tour, one listed on our website with a set date, please select the tour date you would like and click the “Enquire” button, which will take you to our tour enquiry form. We ask for your name, contact details, and some information regarding your travel. You can also tell us about any special request or specific question you may have at this time. This helps us make our guidance more tailored to your interests.

After receiving your enquiry we will send your tour documents by email. The documents detail the itinerary, the conditions of the tour and how to make the payment required to secure your booking. At the time of booking we will also ask for more detailed information such as medical conditions, travel insurance and emergency contact details, which will need to be completed before you travel with us.

To book a Custom or Self-Guided Tour, please enquire using the forms on the Custom Tour page or on the Contact Us page. Alternatively, simply email or call us directly. Once your travel plan is set, we will guide you through all the necessary steps, which are very similar to the process described above, to submit your personal information and payment for the tour.

Our Scheduled Tours have a Minimum Number of travellers required for us to guarantee the departure of the tour. The Minimum Number is specified on each tour page. If the number of travellers has not reached the Minimum Number at 30 days prior to departure, we will notify you of the cancellation and refund the amount that you have paid us.

Please be advised that we will not be liable to compensate for any inconvenience or incidental expenses that might have incurred to you, including airline tickets.

If you wish to join our tour solo and we have confirmed that the tour will go ahead with just one traveller, then you can book the tour by paying for the price for a single person as established by us.

On receiving your enquiry we email your tour documents that detail the itinerary, the conditions and how to make a payment to secure your booking. The documents will contain a link to a payment page on our website, where your transaction is processed securely and confidentially via Stripe.

We require payment of the following to secure your booking.

  • For 1 day and 2 day tours we require payment of the full tour price.
  • For tours of 3 days or more we require a deposit of 50,000 yen

The Deposit is treated as a part of the tour price. We will remind you about paying the remaining balance by email, usually 30 days before your departure date.

We accept payment by credit card, only in our local currency, Japanese Yen. Credit card payments are handled securely by Stripe. If you prefer to pay by bank transfer, we will give you our bank details and the amount of bank fees that should be added to the tour price.

For individuals, agents and representatives of groups who prefer to pay us by bank transfer, please contact us directly. We will give you our bank details and explain how you can supply us the personal information we need to register the travellers with us.

Our general cancellation policy is shown as below. For further details, we recommend you read our refund and cancellation policy in more detail on our Terms and Conditions page. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you have any additional questions.
  • Cancelled more than 21 days prior to departure: Zero fees
  • Cancelled between 20 days and 8 days prior to departure: 20% of the Tour Price
  • Cancelled between 7 days and 2 days prior to departure: 30% of the Tour Price
  • Cancelled 1 day prior to departure: 40% of the Tour Price
  • Cancelled on the day of departure: 50% of the Tour Price
  • No refunds will be given after the tour has commenced

Questions about Travel & Safety

Your safety is our top priority, closely followed by fun and comfort! All our tour guides have years of guiding experience in the outdoors under their belt. At Adventure Hokkaido, we require all our guides to be certified as Advanced First-Aid Responders or Wilderness First-Aiders. At all times, our guides will carry a first-aid kit, as well as have an extra kit in our vehicle. Depending on the terrain and the potential risks it poses on each trip, our guides will also have the necessary safety and climbing equipment.
Absolutely! This is a must for all travellers joining our tours. Please make sure you have a valid travel insurance, covering the kind of activities you are undertaking during our tour, cancellations, loss of personal belongings, and any unforeseen circumstances while travelling. We will require the details of your travel insurance provider such as the name, policy number and phone number. We ask for these details prior to the commencement of the tour.
Hokkaido has a reputation for being Japan’s wild frontier and with good reason! Since over 70% of Hokkaido is forested, it is home to some truly magnificent as well as wild creatures... there are pit vipers, giant hornets and brown bears. During summer and autumn, hornets can be present in some of our forests. We strongly suggest avoiding wearing dark coloured clothing (hats included) and perfume to avoid provoking them.

We do our best to carefully choose the safest trails for our hiking tours, however there’s always the possibility that we may encounter these animals while out on the trails. It’s important to keep in mind that we are entering their natural habitat and as long as we keep our distance from them, it can be a truly magical experience spotting them in the wild. Our outdoor guides have years of hiking experience in the outback country and will inform you of any necessary precautions to take before hitting the trails.

Another unlikely dangerous animal are the foxes found in our forests. Foxes carry parasites called echinococcus which can contaminate streams. Water must be treated by boiling or using a reliable filter before drinking.
The answer to this question entirely depends on how you behave in their territory. Hokkaido is home to the Ezo brown bear, in Japanese we call them higuma. Higuma are quite different to the bears found in the mainland Honshu and southern regions of Japan. They are much larger in size, a male higuma can grow to more than 2 metres in height and weigh up to 300kg. Few people would want to come across such a huge animal, but our guests often say they would love to see one in the wild!

On average, our guides sight higuma once or twice a season so it’s really special when we see one on tour. Recently, studies have shown that their numbers have been increasing over the past 20 years and are from time to time sighted in nearby towns and villages located by the mountains. Of course, the population of these magnificent animals is mainly concentrated in the mountains, so there’s a much higher chance for hikers and nature lovers to catch sight of one while visiting their territory.

When a group of people are walking in their habitat chatting and making noise, higuma generally will distance themselves from us and we won’t even notice their existence. A lot of solo hikers prefer to wear a bell (sometimes more than one) so higuma can hear them coming and will retreat from the hiker.

Higuma have a keen sense of smell, so leaving food scraps and trash on the trail is a really bad idea. That’s how they learn that we humans carry food with us. When camping in a tent overnight, we take extra precautions and measures as to where and how we cook and store food.
Our winters here are absolutely freezing! Even though the island is located between 41° and 45° latitudes, a similar range to New York and Rome, Hokkaido is famous for its heavy snowfalls. Due to the northwesterly winds from Siberia, snow can pile up and exceed over 5 metres in a season! In the height of winter, temperatures can get down to -20℃/-4℉ in Central Hokkaido. The first snow usually falls before the end of September, and by late December the road surface is completely covered in snow and ice. During early April, the snow begins to melt and disappear from the towns and villages.

Hokkaido is famous worldwide for its incredible powder snow. Every winter, skiers and snowboarders from across the globe travel to this island to enjoy some of the world’s best powder and ski slopes. However, for locals it can be quite a challenge to get through the harsh winters here, but we celebrate the beauty of the season by hosting snow and ice sculpture festivals. The sculptures are often created by community volunteers, creating a cozy atmosphere in the venue. If you ever visit Hokkaido during the winter, make sure to check out these local festivals!
Higashikawa, where we are based, is located smack in the centre of Hokkaido. It’s the primo location to experience authentic and rural Hokkaido! Higashikawa lies next to Asahikawa, the second largest city on the island. There are a number of ways you can travel to Higashikawa. Check out the list below for more details.

By air

Asahikawa Airport is the closest airport to Higashikawa, located only 7km away. The major Japanese airlines JAL, ANA and AIRDO operate daily between Tokyo Haneda and Asahikawa. ANA also operates flights to/from Nagoya once a day. Currently there aren’t any LCC flights to Asahikawa. The Airport is known for its winter resilience; over 99% of the scheduled flights have been able to fly in and out regardless of seasons, owing to the reliable snow removal systems and measures put in place. If you plan on travelling to Hokkaido during the snowy winter season, we recommend flying straight to Asahikawa Airport.

By taxi

From the Asahikawa airport, the easiest way to get to the central part of Higashikawa is by taxi. There are taxis just outside the exit of the Arrivals terminal. The cost of a one-way ride is approximately 2,000-2,500 yen, depending on your destination within town. The drivers are often friendly locals who love to chat with tourists.

By bus

There are buses connecting Asahikawa Airport, Asahikawa JR Station, Higashikawa and Asahidake. The airport shuttle is limited to four trips a day. The bus network is quite handy to get around if you’re not in a hurry.

From/to Higashikawa Bus No. Duration Cost Frequency
Asahidake Onsen 66 38 mins 890 yen 4 trips a day
Asahikawa Airport 66 14 mins 340 yen 4 trips a day
Asahikawa JR Station 60,62,67,76 40-50 mins 750 yen Almost every hour

By car

If you plan on renting a car and driving straight to Higashikawa, you can park free of charge at the following location marked on the map in the centre of town. Also, most cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, and galleries have their own customer parking at no charge, so you can freely enjoy shopping and dining without worrying about paid parking!

Higashikawa Roadside Station Michikusakan MAP

Questions about Language & Culture

When touring with Adventure Hokkaido, we provide English speaking local guides to help deepen your understanding of the culture here and get around smoothly. While you don’t need to speak Japanese to hit the trails, every little bit you learn will make your Japan experience much easier and richer.
Not to toot our own horn, but Japan is known for it’s exceptional hospitality service. However, tips for gratuities are not expected, as we Japanese nationals don't have the custom. Funnily enough, if you do try to leave a tip after a meal or a cup of coffee, more often than not, you’ll have a waitress running after you trying to return your tip!
The Ainu are the indigenous people of Hokkaido, and had been living on the island long before Japan declared it as a part of its territory and named it “北海道” Hokkaido in 1869. The Ainu have their own unique language and culture, which is distinctly different from Japanese culture. An interesting point of their culture, is that they didn’t develop a written form of language, so for generations the Ainu have passed down their legends in the form of song and dance.

Many of the names of places and mountains in Hokkaido are derived from the Ainu as they are often descriptions of the land and their relationships with nature. Their lifestyles and ceremonies have shown that they lived in harmony with nature. They not only relied on nature to provide food and shelter, but they also paid great respect to and cared for the natural environment. Whenever possible, we try to include visits to Ainu villages and museums to provide opportunists for travellers to learn about their history and culture.
An onsen is a hot spring which is fed by natural geothermally heated water reservoirs found underground. As a volcanically active country, Japan has well over 25,000 natural hot springs scattered throughout the country. Since ancient times, the people of Japan have loved onsen and will travel far and wide to visit famous onsen establishments. In the winter time, onsen resorts make for popular weekend getaway spots as guests can relax in the spa and enjoy the cuisine offered. In Hokkaido, these resorts are often located close to the mountains and hiking trails. What better way to relax after a long day’s hiking than to submerge oneself in the healing hot waters of an onsen!

Please keep in mind that there are certain etiquettes that go with bathing in an onsen, however they’re super simple!
  1. You bathe in your birthday suit. Don’t worry, no one is looking!
  2. Shower before you enter the hot waters. It’s important for the onsen waters to stay clean so make sure to rinse all soap off and long hair should be tied up. You can take a small towel in if you’re feeling shy, but the towel cannot touch the waters.
  3. Be respectful of others. Do not run, talk too loudly, drink alcohol, or splash around while in the onsen.
Don’t forget to take in a hand towel, so that you can lightly dry yourself before returning to the changing room. We’re quite fussy about keeping the floors of the changing room dry. Last but not least, relax and enjoy yourself!

For more information, check out our blog, “Travel Deeper into the World of Onsen”
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