Why The Pros Love Japow

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Cutting through the silence of another classic Japanese snowfall, I was snapped out of my snowflake induced hypnotic trance with; “What is Japow?” in nearly perfect English.

He must have caught a glimpse of the small #JaPow sticker on my splitboard. Ironically, the local backcountry skier had never heard the expression, but he was covered in it head to boots.

“You are living it!” I replied.

It was yet another classic day of Japan backcountry. Nature’s snow machine was on overdrive dumping prodigious amounts of snow, covering up our tracks after each run.

snowboarding japow
A classic February powder day in Hakuba, Japan

What is Japow?

Japow is a term coined to describe the perfectly dry and deep powder snow that falls on the mountains of Japan from the steep Japanese Alps to winter island paradise of Hokkaido.

On the bullet train back to Tokyo, I began thinking about my adventures in Japan and the first time I actually heard the term Japow; 11,000 miles away, on the other side of the planet. Photographer Mark Welsh and I were running a team photo shoot trip in Chile.

His stories and images from literally dozens of trips to the land of the rising sun had me mesmerized. Just 5 months later, I was on my first trans-pacific flight to Hokkaido, Japan.

 I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best pro skiers and snowboarders on the planet. While stemming from unique backgrounds and influenced by different riding styles, one common topic always tends to come up during our trips- Their love for Japow and the overall Japanese travel/culture experience.

As the snow begins to stack up in Japan and Instagram is flooded with dreamy images of deep Japowder, I reached out to some of the pros to get their perspective on riding in Japan and why they are Japow obsessed.

sage japow
Culture, hospitality and of course japow makes the journey to Japan the perfect ski experience for Sage. Photo Credit: Mark Welsh

Japan is the perfect combo of a ski experience. It's got the dreamiest snow, generally deep and consistent, paired with amazing hospitality and culture.

Japanuary Japowder
Blue skies on a Japanese powder day. Pure bliss. Photo credit: Mark Welsh

Japanese culture is rich in kindness. Every time I visit I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be a visitor in a culture with such good food, epic champagne powder and seeing the unique style in the mountains. One of my favourite memories is of this RAD bar in Hirafu, a little whiskey bar where you have to duck into a freezer door to get in to this cozy little space. We’ve been back countless times and just called it fridge door bar but I think the name is Bar GYU. Also, I loved seeing the monkeys in Nagano area and taking a relaxation break after shredding in all the onsens. Goryu was a favourite resort as well as the side country in Kiroro. There is so much to do in Japan and also you can’t forget to stop in Tokyo for a few days to check out the shops, scenes, food and people. I can’t wait to go back!

snowboarding deep japow
Bryan Fox snowboarding deep Hokkaido japow. Photo credit: Mark Welsh

Imagine skiing amazing perfectly spaced deciduous trees with snow that is the fluffy and light, accessed by a chairlift. After lapping this to your heart is content, come down and immerse yourself in the amazing Japanese culture of amazing food and the best part of the day the onsen.

japow days in Hokkaido Japan
Chris Benchetler loves spending his Japow days in the canopy of the Rusutu trees. Photo credit: Oskar Enander

Japan is full of culture, kind and respectful people, deep pow, inspiration, and some of my fondest memories. I hope to go back every year for the rest of my life, which is unrealistic, but always good to remind myself of how much I love it over there.

skiing japow
Chris Benchetter taking flight in Japan. Photo credit: Oskar Enander

How to Snowboard and Ski Japow

You wouldn’t be here if ideas of the perfect Japan powder trip weren’t keeping you up at night. Dive in deeper before planning your dream japow trip this winter. Discover when and where to go and how to make it all happen.

Here are some useful links to get you started.

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