Common questions about Adventure Travel in Hokkaido and our toursYou’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
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!
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.
Questions about Booking & Payment
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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|
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
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.
Please keep in mind that there are certain etiquettes that go with bathing in an onsen, however they’re super simple!
- You bathe in your birthday suit. Don’t worry, no one is looking!
- 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.
- Be respectful of others. Do not run, talk too loudly, drink alcohol, or splash around while in the onsen.
For more information, check out our blog, “Travel Deeper into the World of Onsen”