Snowshoeing Sapporo

I am a snowshoe junkie. Love it. Go about 3 times a week. And the thing about snowshoeing in Japan, in my humble opinion, is that it is underrepresented as an outdoor activity. That’s sad. Skiing gets all the love. But skiing has it’s own issues. It’s prohibitively expensive, often crowded, and honestly a bit bourgeois. When I hear that someone has a year long ski pass they might as well say they belong to a country club. Plus skiing isn’t really exercise when you have a lift magically transport your fat ass uphill to the summit.

Snowshoeing is comparatively cheap and is a rigorous cardio workout. You can get a decent pair of Tubbs for between 100-200 USD (Japanese prices tend to be much higher and lean towards Atlus and MSR brands) . Parks with unplowed trails are everywhere, especially inside Sapporo.

Asahiyama snowshoeing

My local park of choice has always been Asahiyama. In the winter it becomes the perfect snowshoeing haven. Most of the main trails are plowed either by machine or natural foot traffic. But there are also numerous trails that remain ungroomed, making for some excellent snowshoeing. Most importantly, the whole backside of the mountain is a snowshoe paradise. You won’t see a soul, which is a hard find in this dense archipelago.

When it comes to population density, Japan is at the top of most lists. And it’s an island, so there is no where to run. Finding a patch of solitude is always a chore.

This past winter of 2018-19 seems to have stalled out in the latter part of February. For several weeks now, daytime temperatures have hovered between 3 and 7 degrees Centigrade (even higher if the sun is shining). Snow is turning to slush, only to refreeze in the morning and start all over again. Snowshoeing in the surrounding mountains has been less than ideal. Things could always spike back up. I’ve snowshoed as late as April in the past, but more than likely we are entering the worst season for Sapporo outdoor enthusiasts. Brown sludgy snow, mud, and untraversable trails. Get used to doing indoor jumping jacks.

Asahiyama night view
The night view of Asahiyama rivals some of the best panoramic views within Japan.
Snowshoes by Tubbs. Gaiters by Sea to Summit. Pants by Mont-Bell. Waterproof upper shell by Patagonia. Fanny-Pack by United Colors of Benetton, Poles by Atlus.

What do you think?