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19 day japan itinerary

Discussion in 'Japan' started by M1sh4, Aug 29, 2019.

  1. hotsaki

    hotsaki One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Well.Boris didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.
     
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  2. M1sh4

    M1sh4 Early Days

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    haha whoa.. this one derailed a bit LOL.. Driving on the left will definitely be an adjustment on the first day but I managed on our last UK trip so hopefully it comes back to me quick.. Parallel parking and backing into small parking spots on the wrong side can be a bit confusing, might look like a learner on the first few days.

    Back to the itinerary.. for our final 4 nights in Sapporo is it recommended to rent a car for the duration since we want to hit up Tiene and Kiroro? Is it advisable to stay in a downtown Sapporo hotel as a base and have a rental car, parking? traffic? etc.. How is the bus service between downtown sapporo and the surrounding ski areas?
     
  3. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ooohhhh while I think of it - prepare yourself actual advice ahead - the traffic lights are a bit different with many of them on the opposite side of the intersection ( than here in Oz and IIRC also the US.). So if you stop AT the light youll be stopped in the middle of the intersection. If you’re concentrating on driving on the opposite side of the road this may trip you up the first time, especially if it’s puking with snow and visibility is low and lines are covered with snow.

    The odd one in Sapporo has the red amber and green lights plus arrows left right and straight. I can’t recall now if it was a green light with 3 red arrows of a red light with 3 green arrows but PB and I were like “WTF, what do we do now?!” Thankfully we were behind someone so just followed what they did LOL
     
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  4. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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    Bus to Tiene was good.
    [​IMG]

    We drove our hire car to Kiroro.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Here is the link for ski bus https://www.access-n.jp/winter2018/en/skibus/
    I did use it for Teine - pick up from hotel and worked fine. Takes a bit longer as it does several pickups.
     
  6. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Check to see if your Sapporo accom provides complimentary (and close) parking, can be a bit of an issue if they don't, and a little expensive too. Having a car is definitely the most preferred option as you can be most flexible with your options. Easy as drive to Tiene and Kokasui, Kiroro is a bit more of a journey. Banksei is worth look for a night ski if you're keen :)
     
  7. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    The Napoleonic Code was definitely written by a bunch of people who wore blouses and not culottes.
     
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  8. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    If anyone is looking for accomodation in Chitose I can recommend the Best Western. I stayed there overnight when I had to drop the boys at the airport in the afternoon and pick PB up the next morning. Plenty of parking behind the hotel. Super simple location.

    The Red Cross is the airport.
    The blue dot is the Chitose Maccas that you see as you head out of town toward Niseko.
    So from the airport the hotel is pretty much a straight line with one turn. Then to head out to Hirafu/Rusutsu straight line to the light where Maccas in on the right. Easy. Also easy to get back on the expressway of headed to Furano or wherever.
     

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  9. Paradox

    Paradox Addicted

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    Now see that's your own fault ;), you can't leave us kids unsupervised and expect there not be a mess when you come back.....:D:D:blb:
     
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  10. M1sh4

    M1sh4 Early Days

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    Ok! a little late but I figured I should give a trip report for anyone who finds this itinerary on google.

    I want to thank everyone in this thread for the abundant and useful information which helped us put together a perfect itinerary for the time we had in Japan!

    I'll start by emphasizing that the snow in Japan this year really sucked.. this was a huge bummer for us as our first trip to Japan especially since our main focus was riding but what can you do. Coming from Canada the terrain simply does not stack up without the famous regular Japow dumps so we were definitely slightly disappointed with a lot of the on-snow portion of this trip but what can you do!

    Our first 4 nights in Tokyo were awesome.. this is definitely a city I would love to come back to with more time. The 14h time change makes the first few days a bit of a write-off, also we were there over new years which had a lot of stuff closed for the 1st and even several days before. Definitely planning on coming back with more time to experience everything. Food was incredible, stayed in Shinjuju area which was mental in the best way lol. Passmo/Suica card was vital.

    We ended up shipping our bags to Hakuba as soon as we landed in Narita which ended up going very smoothly, got there in 2 days despite being right before New years. No issues travelling on Shinkansen on Jan 2nd we pre-bought reserved seats and it was a very comfortable and cool experience taking the train.

    Booked a car in Nagano and drove to Hakuba.. the advice to have a hire car in Hakuba could not have been better you really need a car here to get to the various resorts the valley is fairly spread out. When we arrived there was literally zero snow in the valley, I expected poor snow pack from watching the weather but damn.. there was literally nothing on the ground. We took the first day off and drove to the snow monkeys, GF loved this and we got there early so not that many crowds, as well as mastumoto temple which was awesome!

    Our first day riding was January 4th and I was expecting this to be the busiest day of the trip.. Japanese NYs holiday and a weekend also a first snowfall in a while there with about 15cm of fresh up top. We rode Happo and lined up about 30mins before gondola opened and were the first couple rows back. Throughout the day the longest line wait was maybe 5-10 minutes to perhaps busy for Japan but nothing like whistler on basically any weekend lol.. Happo was a cool resort but the snowpack was so poor that you had to take the gondola down from mid station, lower half the the mountain was not open. There was some decent steep terrain and by far the best vertical of what we rode in Japan.

    Our highlight of Hakuba was day 2 January 5th which say 20-30cm overnight for most resorts. We ended up riding Hakuba 47 and drove over to line up almost 1h before gondola opening as we were warned of massive crowds on last day of NYs holiday... A bit of an exaggeration because there was basically no one there until 15-20 minutes before gondola open, again perhaps our idea of crowds is different lol. This day was EPIC we rode knee deep pow until our early season legs gave out, the snow was HEAVY like pacific north west heavy not at all japow so the boards were floating like crazy but by end of the day the chunder was devastating to ride on tired legs.

    We had one more bluebird day that we rode at Happo again which was cool, got to see how relatively large the resort is and with good snow pack I would love to come back here. We rode some side country and got yelled at for ducking a rope to an area that would have certainly been open in North America.. classic Japan I guess.

    Our overall impression of Hakuba was very positive despite the sub-par snow conditions.. The valley and resorts still had a very authentic Japanese vibe, at least to us, and the Japanes Alps are stunning. We stayed in the Hakuba ski-kan in Happo town and I cannot recommend this spot enough was really cool sleeping on the ground with great japanese B&B vibe. Food and drink was reasonable too for a resort town.

    Next day we drove the car back and dropped it off at Matsumoto station for our flight to Sapporo. Our original plan was to drop it off as a one way rental in Matsumoto airport but they closed that Times Rent a car branch apparently :(. Driving from Nagano > Hakuba > Matsumoto was extremely easy even on the wrong side of the road.. Japanese drivers are the most courteous in the world! We took a city bus from Matsumoto station to the airport which was also very painless. Flew Fuji Dream airlines which didnt charge extra for ski bags albeit the ticket itself was rather pricey ($250CAD). We took the hokkaido resort liner from Sapporo airport to Niseko which was obviously super easy. Overall the trip from Hakuba to Niseko took about 12-14hrs.

    We arrived in Niseko at dark and could already tell this was a very different place.. as you drive in there is posch glass walled chalets everywhere with serious hong-kong and singapore money vibes. We stayed at the green leaf in Niseko village which we booked ages a go as the only available affordable ski-in ski out accommodation. I don't want to shit on Niseko too much but we simply did not get on with this place very much..

    Niseko village despite being ski-in ski-out is a very incovenient location, the terrain on this side of the mountain is very beginner friendly and its very isolated, the shuttle comes not often enough and takes nearly 30minutes to Hirafu. The trail map makes it seem like all the areas are super well connected but its not really the case.. lots of traversing and boot packing required. Only plus is that the onsen in the green leaf was incredible, how this was empty most of the time is beyond me! Unfortunately we had 7 days straight of 0cm fresh snow for our stay in Niseko which really sucked.. This is a very average resort without fresh snow, reminded me of east coast north America with worse lift infrastructure. They opened some of the side country gates which was a bit of a joke because by the time you got the the bottom you were bushwacking through Sasa and bushes.. And the amount of Jerries... oh god never seen so many horrible skiers and snowboards on one resort at a time, that was a huge surprise.

    That being said the entire stay in niseko was redeemed by our BC tour we did with Risingsun guides! It was a calm bluebird day so they took us up Mt. Yotei which was hands down the highlight of the trip. We were hesitant over the initial price but could not have been happier for going on this tour, highly recommend them to anyone who wants to get off the resort in Niseko.

    After our stay in Niseko we opted to take the train from Kutchan > Otaru > Sapporo for our 4 night stay in the city. I'm glad we did this as this was a much more exciting trip than the resort liner bus and ended up taking a similar amount of time. We LOVED Sapporo!! the food was incredible, very few tourists, reasonably priced and the nightlife was awesome.

    On our last day we rented a car and drove to Kiroro for a sneaky 15-20cm powder day of some proper light fluffy Japow! Kiroro is a strange resort and seems like its working its way up to becoming a posh resort town but when we were there it was EMPTY. Despite being a small resort there was untouched lines until the lifts closed, but god damn do they love roping off perfectly good areas and even stationing ski patrol to enforce them... The backcountry access looked really good but we didn't bring any gear with us unfortunately. This was a great day and we really got a taste of what that super light Japow is like.. what would be a rutted out chunder field anywhere else was fluffy pillows you can just charge right through!

    Next day we took the local bus from Sapporo to New Chitose, which suprisingly took forever, and flew to Narita then back to Toronto.. Successful and uneventful trip home. All in all we LOVED japan the people were incredible such a fascinating culture shock for us who don't travel to Asia very often and despite the poor snow we had some great riding days. Likely will be a few years before we repeat this trip as North America has lots of terrain that holds up even without epic snowfall levels but we will definitely be back at some point. Next time we will certainly skip Niseko and focus more on planning a Backcountry itinerary but as a first trip out this was very well planned thanks all the help from people on this forum!
     
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  11. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yeah for the most part you simply cannot compare the lifted terrain in North America to the lifted terrain in Japan. Cost wise though, blowing away all that avy danger and maintaining bigger lift infrastructure sure does add up for the resorts, and consumers.
     
  12. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yup you go to japan for the snow.... and when it doesn't snow. It can be very very average terrain wise. Especially Niseko (price vs experience)

    IMO this season is going to put a lot of future visitors off ...
     
  13. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nice report and thanks for sharing. I like the look of Ski-Kan in Hakuba and the central location in Happo. How did you find dinner options around Happo? Last time we were there, 7 years ago, there wasn't much on offer.

    Any pics coming?