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Question Advice sought for where to stay in Hakuba

Discussion in 'Japan' started by southpaw, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Hi all
    First time poster here. We are are a family of 4 intermediate skiers with primary age children. We are going to Japan for the first time between 9 and 28 January and are proposing to ski for a week in Hakuba. I know there’s a lot of info here but I’m still confused about the best place to stay.
    Based on what Ive read, Basing ourselves near Happo One and taking shuttles to other resorts seems to be generally recommended ( access to English ski school and dining options etc). On that basis we are looking for accommodation that isn’t too far to walk to get to the ski field but also has good and easy access to shuttles to get to the other resorts. If the other resorts present equally good options given our skiing ability and English ski school needs then we would be open to that too. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
     
  2. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'd stay in the Wadano area of Happo One. It gives you great access to the Sakka area of Happo, which is a great place to start the days skiing, and there are shuttle buses direct from Sakka over to Iwatake and Tsugaike Kogen. Wadano is pretty popular with families and there are quite a few places to eat within easy walking distance.
     
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  3. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks that’s very helpful.
     
  4. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you’re walking distance to the Happo bus terminal you’ll easily be able to jump on one of the Alpico shuttles that you can take to 47,Gouryu, Iwatake, Tsugaike and Cortina which is covered on an all valley pass or 500 yen each way from memory. Peak season though there are a other few shuttle loops to take you around and some of the hotels/lodges do their own shuttles to and from the resorts which is handy.
     
  5. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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  6. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hakuba Valley Shuttle Bus:

    Happo Shuttle Bus:
     
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  7. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    For reference two super markets are shown on the map above, they are 'A-Coop' and 'The Big'.
     
  8. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks! the shuttle and town map are incredibly helpful, we were struggling to get a sense of the town
     
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  9. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I find 3D google earth the best way.

    Just for a random accomodation option.
    Something like this is a good option for what you're after.
    http://www.penkepanke.com/
     
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  10. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    The Rabbit Hole (in Hotel Villa) over the road from penkepanke is also great for a burger and beers or coffee. They also have live music at night :thumbs:
     
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  11. silva

    silva One of Us

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    Having travelled to Hakuba with a primary age child I would also recommend staying in Wadano area of Happo One.
    There are lots of accommodation choices but the popular ones do fill up fast (for good reason). Penke Panke is our favourite. We like it because they have a kids room, access to a kitchen (if you have fussy eaters this is a godsend), private shuttle bus in the evening to the supermarket, onsens etc and breakfast is included. I think you would be out of luck if you were after a room in January though - they book out fast but they do have another lodge called Panketo Lodge with the same advantages just up the hill so are still worth a call (but I have not stayed there personally) and I have also heard good things about Kizuna Lodge which I am told is closer to the English speaking ski school Evergreen. I am pretty sure Kizuna is managed by the same people as Penke or at least have borrowed very heavily from their business model. All of these properties can be booked through Hakuba Lodge Co-op. If you are after self contained accommodation Big Bear Chalets are really nice and well located.
    http://www.penkepanke.com/
    http://www.hakubalodgecoop.com/
    http://www.bigbearhakuba.com/

    edit - sorry the map ended up at the top of the post rather than the bottom but anywhere between Kizuna and Panketo is the Wadano area - great for shuttles. The closest English speaking ski school is Evergreen (you catch the happo shuttle bus to get to it).
     
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  12. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Your english ski school at Happo One is "Evergreen". They are at the base of the "Kokusai" area.
    So anywhere near there (Wadano) is good.
    If you have deep pockets "Mominoki Hotel" would be a perfect location.
    Plenty of eating options on foot, shuttle stop out the front to other resorts, 100 metre flat walk to Kokusai.
    If you choose up towards Penke Panke, the closest base area is "Sakka" which you can ski from down to Kokusai.
     
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  13. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nice resturant at Mominoki
     
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  14. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks, but having just booked airfares pockets are now incredibly shallow
     
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  15. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks for this!
     
  16. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Yep, know the feeling having shelved out plenty of coin for our family of 4 over the years. :)
    I've stayed at Penke Panke with the family..........great stay. The owner "Justin" runs a good ship.
    Send him an email.
     
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  17. silva

    silva One of Us

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    If you need any other info about Hakuba with kids let me know - went when our son was 6 and 7.
     
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  18. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I stayed at a great aussie owned boutique hotel in Wadano area www.doubleblackhotel.com

    Reaaly nice hotel

    Its less that 15 minute walk to 2 different lifts.

    However, they operate their own shuttle service and will drop you off and pick you up at the different resorts each day and to and from the train station at the beginning/ end of your stay
     
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  19. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    and Onsen!
     
  20. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    yep, definitely this.
     
  21. Mitchthewitch

    Mitchthewitch Hard Yards

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    A few years ago our family of 4 (kids were then 11 and 13) stayed in Echoland in a great self contained little house, couple of different shuttle stops short walk from door, easy flat walk into town for restaurants or the shuttle to the supermarket. We really enjoyed it as we didn't fancy having to go out every night to eat. And the kids didn't mind the walk for ice creams either! I think the kids had lessons at Goryu with Hakuba Snow Sports, easy to get to. Just a different alternative if your interested in that.
    https://www.blackbearproperties.com
     
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  22. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    looks amazing - we're very tempted, thanks!
     
  23. skinik

    skinik Hard Yards

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    As above; my group would recommend staying in the Wadano area or Echoland for bus transport to the various areas. Tsugaike Kogen would be my pick with primary school aged intermediate standard kids for terrain and fewer skieers. Sorry, not sure about the ski school there and whether there is an English speaking option, but terrain is great, and there's lots of kid-friendly snow park options, and easier slopes to play on for much of the day. Some gorgeous easier trails through the trees as well.Quieter than the Happo, Goryu or 47 areas, and with cheaper family friendly food options (fast noodles, Hungry Jacks etc). And at the end of the day there there's a public hot springs foot bath next door to a bar, so you can soak those feet with a cup of hot sake in hand ;-) while waiting for the bus or a taxi back home...
     
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  24. Mitchthewitch

    Mitchthewitch Hard Yards

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    Tsugaike is a great pick too, we’ve stayed at @tsugaike, great little lodge walk across the road to the ski field, easy as!
     
  25. silva

    silva One of Us

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    Evergreen do group ski lessons at Happo, Tsugaike and Iwatake and adult lessons (and snowboard lessons for 7+ year olds) at Happo and Tsugaike. Hakuba snowsports do lessons based out of Iimori which is part of Goryu and linked to Hakuba 47. Our son has done lessons at both Evergreen Happo and Hakuba snowsports. We found both good but don't expect the slick organisation of Canadian, US and Aussie ski schools. For beginners and lower intermediates I would recommend Iimori as having better terrain for progression than Happo but for intermediates and above both are suitable. Group lessons at Tsugaike and Iwatake are new but if they had been available I definitely would have done lessons at both so Mum and Dad can explore the mountain while the kids are in lessons without being a bus ride away (and having to do a short day to get back for pick up). Both mountains have fun intermediate terrain - we actually enjoyed them more than Happo.

    If lessons are a important part of your mountain choice you should also look at Myoko. Myoko snowsports has a well deserved 5* reputation (unless you have Epic passes and have chosen Hakuba to make the most of your season pass which is fair enough)
     
  26. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    QED
    Happo is crap
    <end rant>
     
  27. FatBoyDave

    FatBoyDave One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Have stayed at Hakuba twice. Once at Wadano and once down near the train station (Happoguchi area). There are pros and cons to each:

    Wadano: (stayed at Gakuto villas through booking.com)
    Much newer style accommodation
    Mostly Hotels, some self contained, in Wadano (ours was self contained).
    It is a short walk to Happo ski lift ~400 metres
    There are a few ski shops but no supermarket, unless you use one of the local Hotels quikimart.
    A lot of hosts run a daily shuttle to the supermarket which is ~3km-4 kms away (ours did).
    Accom is generally more expensive in Wadano
    Dining options here are generally more expensive in Wadano and less choice.
    It is very close to the free shuttle buses that go to the different ski resorts, (ours was right outside the villa)

    Hakuba station area:
    Older style accom
    Hotels and self contained
    We stayed at Hakuba Ski Condos (through booking.com)
    Need to get a bus to ski areas but...our host ran a free shuttle service to and from the ski fields (a lot do this but they don't advertise it very well). We just chatted by Booking.com messaging if we wanted to get picked up earlier or if some of us wanted to come back and some wanted to keep skiing. Worked really well.
    Walking distance to 2 supermarkets, ski shops, variety of restaurants (at different price points, e.g. fish and chips or nicer restaurant). All of this we found great for kids, plus our accom had netflix....
    Walking distance to Onsen.

    If it was a couples trip or a boys trip I would happily stay at Wadano again. If going with my family, I'd stay down near the station.

    As for ski schools. We had a good experience at Ever Green but (there are others).
    Generally our reason for picking Evergreen was English speaking but also as it is at Happo, once you drop the kids off, you have lift access to massive Happo One terrain and all of you aren't stuck at some dinky little hill somewhere.

    Intermediate skiing will let you access ~95% of what Hakuba has to offer. Be sure to try out the other ski hills. Generally Avoid Happo One on the weekend as it can become the busiest of the hills on these days.

    And be sure to go to Cortina (just for a day).. The Hotel Green Plaza there is very Disney kitsch and definitely worth a look.
     
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  28. tonks

    tonks Hard Yards

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    Hotel Goryukan (https://www.hotelgoryukan.com/en-us) is in Happo, has nice onsens and runs shuttles to 47 and a couple of the other resorts. At least it did when I visited in 2016. Close to restaurants. Could walk to Happo if you don't mind lugging your gear for 5 minutes.
     
  29. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks I was wondering whether Tsugaike would be worth exploring as I’m finding it hard to get 7 nights in Wadono except at extreme prices. Just wondering if there are sufficient places to eat and/ or grocery shop there?
     
  30. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The best areas in Hakuba IMO are (for what you described)
    1.Tsugaike
    2.Iwatake
    3.Norikura
    4.47
    5.Cortina
    6.Goryu
    7.Happo
    8.Kashmiyari

    Have a look around echoland and misorano as well.
     
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  31. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  32. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    Tsugaike is definitely worth a visit, some good tree skiing access in bounds and a scenic 20+min gondy ride from the base up to the top. Not sure i'd recommend staying out that way though.

    There isn't a whole lot going on in Tsugaike once the lifts close for the day IMO. It hasn't quite turned into Happo/Wadano yet but i get the feeling Foreign investor dollars are starting to flow in and it will be the new place to be in a few years.

    You can also ride snowscoots at Tsugaike which might be fun for the kids.

     
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  33. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks Silva, I had thought there were no English lessons at Tsugaike so that’s good to know especially since accommodation options in Happo are becoming very limited/expensive. Good to know about Myoko but yes we are utilising our Epic passes so for this time we are sticking to Hakuba.
     
  34. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks yes I was keen on this hotel but they seem solidly booked out!
     
  35. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I wanted to say how grateful I am for all the extremely helpful recommendations and advice that I’ve received in response to my question. I must admit I felt a bit of trepidation posting the question as it no doubt has been asked many times before, but I’ve been overwhelmed by how many of you have taken the time to provide genuine and thoughtful responses. Based on the many great recommendations I’ve had I’ve sent emails to a few places so fingers crossed I lock something in so I can relax.
     
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  36. tonks

    tonks Hard Yards

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    I'm not sure if it's the case with this hotel, but some Japanese hotels will reserve rooms for bookings through alternative booking websites. Did you try them direct?

    EDIT: some Japanese hotels won't even open reservations more than a few months out (though I doubt it's the case with this hotel).
     
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  37. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeam emailing places is the best. Especially if they are Japanese .
    Japanese don't seem to book as early as we do.
     
  38. silva

    silva One of Us

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    Its only recent that Evergreen have offered group lessons at resorts other than Happo - it used to only be privates at other resorts but check out their website for information:
    https://www.evergreen-hakuba.com/winter/

    Hakuba lodge coop have been very useful sourcing accommodation for friends when they could not find anything suitable.
     
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  39. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yep tried direct and through third party sites but can’t seem to find anything.
     
  40. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks for this. I better understand the trade offs between the two areas. I know a number of people swear by the railway station area even though it’s much further from the hill.
     
  41. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    We always stay away from happo. However we hire a car. Makes it way better.
     
  42. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Using the Epic pass may seem like a great value option, which is used to attract people to places like Hakuba.
    However, your savings are not as attractive as what they seem, when you consider that you can get coupon day tickets for as cheap as 3500 yen, ($47) at Hakuba.
    Balance this against some Japanese mountains where kids ski for free, and lift tickets for adults can be as cheap, or cheaper than Hakuba. (e.g. Prince Hotel resorts)

    Have you asked Justin at Penke Panke? (as some others have suggested) 3 min walk to lifts in the Wadano area.
     
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  43. Mitchthewitch

    Mitchthewitch Hard Yards

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    There are quite a few different places to eat, also great little izakayas and a couple of convenience stores. The family that run @tsugaike are terrific with recommendations. We’ve been to Tsugaike a few times, it’s just an easy place to enjoy.
     
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  44. FatBoyDave

    FatBoyDave One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Having a place with a shuttle service is a real plus. On peak days the free shuttle buses to some of the areas can be really packed and hard to get on (they are mostly just 20 seater mini buses running every hour or half hour). While Wadano is walking distance to the lifts, this is only for Happo One. There are lots of other hills in the valley..
     
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  45. Karbon

    Karbon Hard Yards

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    Couple of years ago we stayed at Braze Club. Across the road from the Sakka lifts. Pretty basic but comfortable.

    Have you considered hiring a car? Really easy to drive around the Hakuba Valley and much more convenient (and comfortable) than the shuttle buses....particularly with kids.
     
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  46. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks, I Have asked Penke but they can’t accomodate us for our dates. I have started to get promising replies in from other places. On the issue of the Epic pass, I’m beginning to get a sense that the economics are not that simple and the pass shouldn’t be the sole determinant of where we ski, but I figure for a first trip to Japan Hakuba is worth trying and in future we can explore other ski areas.
     
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  47. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah . You're correct on that.
    For us , the epic pass is just a bonus.
    We love Hakuba for a bunch of reasons. Will be sixth or seventh trip there next year.
     
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  48. southpaw

    southpaw One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks, I’m beginning to think a car might a good option. I drove around the east coast of Canada one brutal winter so the snow shouldn’t be a problem. can you hire one in Hakuba?
     
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  49. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Best deals are here IMO
    https://freedomhakuba.com/

    A SUV 4wd/AWD with snowtyres and roof racks . About 105aud per day

    *I'm in no way connected with any of these companies.
     
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  50. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    FatBoyDave, Karbon and southpaw like this.