Advice on first trip to Japan for newbie

Discussion in 'Japan' started by john_k, Jul 7, 2018.

  1. john_k

    john_k Hard Yards

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    Hi guys,

    Just wanting some advice for my first ski trip to Japan - have been skiing resort and back country in OZ for 10+ years but never OS, and never in anything other than ankle deep OZ back country snow for up to a week (Main Range and Vic Alps) ski touring style.

    Wanting to mix it between long resort ski runs (the thing I miss most when skiing in OZ resorts) and to get a real taste for some back country Japan style skiing with a mix of getting some instruction, and also some time to ski in a resort(s) perhaps on my own.

    Will be travelling solo, and I'm in the 35+ y.o. range, so not going there for nightclubs or heavy drinking sessions.

    Looking to head over there over the Xmas - NY's period.

    Any advice that can be offered including who best to organise through, best locations/resorts, do's/dont's etc.

    Appreciated.

    John K.
     
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  2. Seth

    Seth Old n' Crusty
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    Don’t forget your passport.
     
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  3. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Between Xmas and new year is not the most reliable time in central Japan, so better to look to Hokkaido (or change your time). Even there, back country may not be covered up.

    If you have only skied ankle deep back country in Australia, you probably don't really want to be skiing back country in japan, where it could be waist deep, and terrain traps become a serious issue.

    Off piste resort skiing is often very accessible, so I'd stick to that on your first visit , to refine your deep snow skiing.
     
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  4. mijs

    mijs Hard Yards

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    I'm a fan of off piste skiing and usually travel with my son and/or brother. Two years ago I was planning a solo trip but didn't want to risk skiing OOB by myself so I joined a Whiteroom tour (https://www.whiteroomtours.com). I liked it so much I went back the following year with two others and am flying solo on another tour with them in 2019. They have tours for various experience/abilities and make things easy for first timers to Japan. I could not recommend them highly enough. I'm sure others will be able to recommend other tour groups.
     
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  5. Olgreg

    Olgreg One of Us
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    Def Hokkaido for that time, crowds should just be starting to build. Def take yr time to get used to the powder, especially tighter tree runs. Instruction is useful for this. BC, other than a quick duck into in bounds off piste, or out gates and back, you should get a guide. Things can go seriously wrong very quickly if you don’t know the way home.
    So all that costs a lot, but maximises your enjoyment and safety. Then suddenly you find yourself back every year.
     
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  6. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Given the time-frame...Niseko or Furano as a base should tick most of your boxes.
     
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  7. Hyst

    Hyst One of Us
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    I have often wondered about these questions - here in Europe we have many ski-clubs, who arrange ski-trips for their members.
    Does that not exist over there?

    If such ski -clubs exist it would be the way to go first time to Japan - as there would be experienced members allonge.

    (only old piste skier living far away from the mountains).
     
  8. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local
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    It doesn’t really exist in the same way as it does in Europe.
     
  9. Hyst

    Hyst One of Us
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    Thanks for info. :(
     
  10. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    I sure there are. If you've ever noticed Japanese skiers who all dress in the same gear, they are members of a ski club. They are mostly older skiers (maybe 45yo+), who've probably been doing that since the 1990s.

    There's also two gaijin "ski clubs" that run bus trips every weekend. I've been on around 15 of these trips.
    - https://www.tokyosnowclub.com/
    - http://www.tokyogaijins.com/
    These weekend trips are fun because you meet a lot of people and there's evening parties & activities as well.
    A typical weekend will cost around $300, including bus there and back from Tokyo (leave early Friday evening, back Sunday night ~ 9:30pm), two nights accomm, two breakfasts, one dinner, one day lift ticket.
     
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  11. Hyst

    Hyst One of Us
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    :whistle: Over there was Australia for me. (went with me a Japanese Skiclub in 1982/83 Tokyo tech or as named at that time TIT);)
     
  12. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    Do a tour with a group (like Whiteroom) in Hokkaido over that period. You will have mates to ski with, have proper experienced guides to help you dable in the back country and they will take the stress out of accommodation and transport on your 1st trip to Japan.
     
  13. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Go later if you can. Either do an organised tour that accommodates singles or stay somewhere that has other Aussies or staff you can hang out with.
     
  14. Mils

    Mils One of Us

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    Tell us how you go working stuff out my partner and I are doing the same trip around the same time
     
  15. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local
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    How do you know the staff will want to hang with them ?
     
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  16. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Unless you ask you do not for sure. And the situation can change season to season. Last season my staff at Myoko took great care of solo travelers but the season before my staff spent as much time as they could visiting another lodge.
     
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  17. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    You often get back what you give out in those situations. I had a great day out with a couple of skichangers staff, and remain friends to this day. If you’ve got similar interests, you’re nice and you shout them a feed or drinks it can be a win win for everyone.
     
  18. D64133

    D64133 Guest

    I can vouch for Skichanger's comment, I stayed at Chalet Myoko last year and the staff often took me out with them all made sure i was set for the day, as well as izakaya trips and chu hai shopping in Joetsu followed by tastings. :)
     
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  19. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    mmm some of the evidence of that tasting is still sitting on top of the bar shelves. LOL Several types I had not seen before. Those guys were very diligent at finding every type of chu hai.

    Actually it is very satisfying for me when staff and guests have a great time. This is what we are aiming for.
     
  20. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Backwards to the future!
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    I'm starting to think about doing a 3-4 week solo trip in March 2019. I'm intermediate and mainly looking for inbounds skiing. Not really wanting to hire a car, so I'd be looking at bigger resorts or shuttle connected smaller hills that would keep me interested for that length of time. Ideally wanting to spend no more than A $150 per night for bed and breakfast.

    So I'm looking at Niseko, Furano, Myoko and Hakuba initially.

    Am I being realistic?

    Anywhere else I should consider?
     
  21. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Do a week with us at Myoko and then a week with us at Madarao and then a week with my girlfriend up at Yuzawa. My mogul skier will be in Japan then and probably tootling around to a few other places.
     
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  22. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    Have you considered Shiga Kogen? Biggest connected resort in Japan, intermediates paradise with loads of blue (red) runs and still retains a traditional Japanese charm. 2 weeks would be enough time there though.

    You could do 2 weeks at Shiga, 1 week at Myoko and 1 at Hakuba.
     
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  23. M_G

    M_G A Local
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    To maximise opportunities I'd consider it for at least part of the trip really. In March Shiga Kogen would be a good choice given it's elevation. Otherwise I'd probably consider Hokkaido and northern Honshu.
     
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  24. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us
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    Some of the Yuzawa resorts run a late season due to altitude too.
     
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  25. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Backwards to the future!
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    Some good suggestions there, enough for maybe 3 trips... :thumbs:

    I get what you're saying about a car @M_G. As a solo traveller, car hire can be a significant addition to the cost of a trip, although I understand that hire costs are much lower in Japan than North America.

    Ideally I'd want to take a look around first before opting to hire a car, or maybe team up with people who'd driven there before. Once I get a feel for road conditions then I'd be right.

    I probably won't do any detailed planning til I see how the season pans out up there. Then I'll see what accommodation options are available where the snow is good, then just grab the best flights I can.
     
  26. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Backwards to the future!
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    Just been reading @Birdlady's thread. So many options indeed. And I'd completely forgotten that my Epic Oz pass includes 5 days at Hakuba.

    I don’t get bored easily. I reckon I could make 10 days Hakuba, 10 days Madarao/Tangram then 10 days Furano work. Subject to snow conditions and ease of travel up to Hokkaido, of course.

    The following year, perhaps a 3-way split among Nozawa, Myoko and Shiga Kogen?
     
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  27. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Realistically, I wouldn't do 10 days at Madarao/Tangram. The both of them together are about as big as Iwatake at Hakuba.
    Hakuba is effectively 5 areas (7 mountains, of which 2 lots of 2 are linked: Happo, Goryu/47, Iwatake, Tsugaike, Cortina/Norikura), so all up, it's about 7-10x bigger than Madarao/Tangram.

    If it was me, and I chose only those resorts, I'd do 15 days at Hakuba, 5 at Madarao/Tangram, and 10 days at Furano.
     
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  28. M_G

    M_G A Local
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    Yep, 5 is more than enough at Madarao/Tangram, particularly in March and if there's no fresh incoming.

    But TBH, given your timing, I wouldn't even start booking until January or even Feb. Hell, I'd be tempted to book the first week only and then wing it from there. Always easy to find accomm for March and that way you'll be able to size up how the season is going at different resorts.

    Important note, if you don't have a car and you need shuttles, make sure the resorts you book at still have them running in March. Some resorts start scaling down or closing shuttles in early March.
     
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  29. chrisj

    chrisj Hard Yards
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    Yeah, I got caught by the sudden cessation of the inter-resort shuttle at Hakuba on March 18 this year. Fortunately, I was staying at Happo One, which has more than enough variety to keep things interesting.
     
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  30. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Backwards to the future!
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    Good points.

    Given that the trigger for the trip is the prospect of getting a redundancy payout and entering a brave new world of casual work, timing can also be a bit flexible. I say March because I'm thinking post peak. But having noted the dates of CNY and Foundation Day, timing is likely to be mid-Feb to mid-March. So potentially in Honshu until only the first week of March.

    No redundancy, no trip. But I'm confident it will happen. I score strongly on all the criteria Management say they are using to determine who gets the golden ticket. (read as: I'm a thorn in their side and they can't be rid of me quickly enough :D)
     
  31. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    I don't get the thing of 5 days somewhere being enough when people ski the same resort in Aus again, again again and effectively refuse to consider the other nearby options.

    Regardless, don't stress booking accommodation unless there is something you really want or something that is in limited supply.

    You can fly from Niigata city, and maybe Toyama to Sapporo. Niigata is a really easy airport to use. It is a bit like Canberra in that it is small and not busy. The only queue I experienced was for security for an international flight.

    If you go to Furano go to Harros. Tod should be running the shop this season.
     
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  32. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    They’re also my dates this year (sadly not longer).

    I’ll be based in Niseko obviously (having th Accom there) but day tripping to Kiroro, Rusutsu and perhaps a few other smalller hills. If you’re in he vicinity say hi! Especially if you’re around 5th March - might be buying a few rounds to celebrate a significant birthday o_O
    :party::cheers::party:
     
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  33. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    5th March, my games addicts 21st. He will be back in Aus at uni but now 2 reasons to have a few on that day LOL
     
  34. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    I’d rather be 21
    :evil:
     
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  35. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Backwards to the future!
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    Snap!
     
  36. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Backwards to the future!
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    All good, it was my bad for thinking in terms of so many days here and there. I'm just used to planning things down to fine details. This trip will be the opposite of that. More of a tasting plate of Japanese resorts.

    I'll try not to put parameters on it too far out.

    With the possible exception of pencilling the 6th of March in as a non-skiing day... :cheers::clown::sleep:
     
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  37. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    Best thing for a hangover is getting back on the hill nice and early!
     
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  38. Hyst

    Hyst One of Us
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    :gives: