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Discussion in 'Japan' started by Sandy, Oct 14, 2013.
If parking on street. Turn on hazard lights ... it makes everything legal
Cheers, looks like I will spend 2 days looking around the Nagano city area. Poss Matsumoto, Sibu onsen or similar locations
Gaijin smash it. I've never had a problem as long as you dont do anything stupid.
Matsumoto is great. There are some interesting drives around that area as well
Mt Norikura pass road will be closed, but if you drive up the 158 and past Asuza Lake, you'll get to Norikura ski resort. There's heaps of good onsens up there too. I recommend.
That works up to a point. When someone from another hotel comes in and starts yelling at me because my guest has (unknowingly to me) parked in his hotel is another matter. Or when I spend a couple of hours trying to find out who has parked on the main street and blocked a local business AND the snow clearer ("...but it was quiet and no-one was around"). Wasn't even one of my guests - they just asked me to help out. So there's stuff that goes on that the gaijin may never find out about.
You're a bit of a different situation to many other places in Japan though, especially during the winter with the snow banks. In your experience do you see more of this from gaijin or from Japanese? I've seen plenty of instances where Japanese have parked up and i've gone nup, im going to go park somewhere else cos I can see this becoming an issue.
But if his hazard lights were on, you can park anywhere....................yeh?
There is very little parking on the side of the street. Most shops, restauraunts etc have parking. Have a look on google maps to get an idea of what parking there is if you are in doubt.
About 4.30 in.
Are you or skichanger in that report anywhere M_G?
I am not in it. The story seems to be about Akakura Onsen. I am in Shin Akakura.
I make a brief appearance in the gaijin meeting photo near the end but I wasn't around when it was filmed. There were hordes of tv/paper crews crawling around last season and they knocked on our door a few times. There's one interview that went on so long (but was cut down to 2-3 minutes) that near the end you can clearly see in my eyes that my brain is about to implode. We get on well with Tsugui-san, who is the head of the village and featured in the video, so that's why I get asked to help out with what are perceived as foreigner issues every now and then.
Have driven once in snow but nothing like what it snows in Japan. What I remember as issues was the windshield icing in the morning and the water for the whipers having frozen. What do people do to avoid these two issues? I remember using carton to try and prevent the winshield from icing (I know...old school).
also do rental cars come with shovels? do we need to have a shovel?
1) Brush of the now at driver set so that snow does not fall into the cabin when opening the door.
2) Start engine
3) Start fan direct upwards
4) Get out of car and brush of snow from car (may take some time)
5) 2WD - make sure fallen snow does not block wheels, 4WD - just drive (almost).
6) Buy the windscreen liquid used in the area.
7) If they do not have shovel in the car, use your own or ask for one - they will find one
8) You do not need a axe to break the water in the onsen.
Hokkaido is powder don’t really need a shovel, but brush with long handle can be found in any petrolstation.
They come with a brush usually. Ask at the rental outlet for one if it isn't in the car already. We've never rented a vehicle that included a shovel although sometimes they would be handy.
Snow brush / scraper is essential IMO. If it doesn’t come with one, just drop into a supermarket and pick one up. They are generally very cheap. Or even convenience stores should stock some cheapo brand. Generally the snow is so dry and light in Japan, that you can just start the car with the fan shooting up onto your windshield, and by the time you dust off the snow around your windows you’ll be right to go. Unless it’s a doozy of an overnight dump .
Oh also, your windshield fluid should be anti freeze. Though, I found that I was wasting a lot of it because I had fan on cool which then froze the snow/ice onto the windshield during heavy snow storms. Remember to keep the heat going to make sure it doesn’t freeze. If you have troubles, head to a petrol station and the attendants will be more than happy to de-ice your wind shield and top your fluids up.
Most mornings, you'll find your vehicle something like this...
Clear the driver's door first, the exhaust 2nd, and start the car. Put the windscreen demister fan on high, then clear the rest of the car. Always flip the windscreen wipers up when parking the car for the night, and make sure that the wipers are OFF before starting the car. If the car has been warm the previous night, and it snows, the first snow will melt and water will run down onto the wipers, and sometimes freeze them in place. When clearing ice off the wiper blades, do it gently, as you don't want to rip the wiper blades out!!!!
One tip.... After clearing the snow from the windscreen, if you are moving a reasonable speed, the snow will dry enough not to accumulate on the windscreen.... it will blow right over the top. HOWEVER, if not moving as fast and if you have the fan on strong heat on the windscreen, it will warm the windscreen and snow can melt on and then freeze on the wiper blades. So back off the heat, or direct it at your feet, not at the windscreen.
I'm a wipers down guy. I've seen wiper arms get bent by the weight of snow.
Good tip.. Put your wipers in a plastic bag. It works.
Cleaning a car is common sense. As sandy said. Make sure the exhaust is clear.
The scrapers/brush are 700 yen or so from yellow hat auto store.
Last couple of cars I've had have had remote start. Great to use from inside the comfort of your lodge.
Ask your lodge owner if he can lend you a shovel. I do with my guests using cars. Cheap insurance - if they get stuck somewhere they dig themselves out and I don't have to come rescue them!
And some mornings it will be like this!
Thanks for the input lads!
As far as rental car insurance goes, is it like in Australia where one has basic third party and then other options with different excess ? What do people go for?
Was thinking of going for an 4WDToyota vanguard. Is it overkill for two adults with two sets of skis (longest being 1,85cm)?
I am assuming all rentals in Hokkaido will come with snow tyres........
At this stage I dont see and AWD or 4WD cars on offer out of Nagano, we are not likely at this stage to be going up to any ski resorts, so can I assume 2WD will be fine?
You have to request a 4wd by special form.
However you'll be fine around Nagano in 2wd.
Prepare yourself for this possibility also
Once you have dug your way in to the car, ask your host to start up their tractor / snowplow / snowblower to clear a path for your imminent departure. Beats shovelling.
Yeah the worst is when a plow pushes a ledge up against your car. Those ledges can freeze quite hard. Like a frozen kerb.
I've gotta try and work out some kind of plan with car movement for the season... I don't want to annoy the plow drivers coz then you'll get that frozen kerb all the time. I might drive up to the lifts when I'd normally walk to get the car outta there for clearing.
And some afternoons it could be like this!
Something very wrong there. Should be 4WD on offer.
My advice is always - never bring a knife to a gunfight, never bring 2WD to the mountains in winter. And I say that from experience after getting stuck at Madarao in a borrowed 2WD. You'll probably be right most of the time. But if you don't have experience with driving in Japan/snow definitely go the 4WD.
WHAT is that thing you have in your hands? Were you going to be making sandcastles?
Plastic tools dont scrape paint off cars. Reinforcements in the form of a small front end loader cleared the bulk, after i'd done the delicate work aided by a brush.
Wifey did have a chuckle though, when she took the photo.
Had to clear that much off the car at Norikura after 5 hours of skiing one day. It was nuts, by far the heaviest continuous snow fall I have ever seen. And that was after cleaning 50cm off prior to skiing, and another 40cm off the following morning.
Every lift ride you would have 2cm on you by the top station.
First world problems are so tough to deal with.
Thanks Mate, How soon should I book a 4wd for mid Feb? And who would you suggest I try?
Tocoo is always the obvious first checking point but also look at Budget and Nissan.
Also looks like some good deals on rentalcars.com
From mid-November on tends to be the general consensus.
Mind you..he's not going to the mountains.
Your right... but But IF I can get myself a 4wd I will go with one just to feel a little safer.
If you're going to anywhere outside of the main resorts in places like Hakuba then you want 4WD every day of the week. It's too late to sook about it when you're half way up to some ski jo or onsen that's having it's road hosed down with onsen water and you hit a thick patch and it's see ya later. 2WDs and winter driving in the snow in Japan is full gaper spec.
The one time I locked up in a 4WD was going 2km/h through the icy streets of Takayama at 6am. I slid clear through an intersection at snails pace. You dont need to be on a mountain road to come to grief, and i'd be taking a 4WD over a 2WD any day for that reason alone.
As the driver having the wheels slip is not funny, it's stressful and full of responsibility.
Have done it for years.
Every winter, some people die in snowy Japanese villages because of this. If you park a car and are going to stay in the car for long, you should stop the engine.
The car in the pic I posted above is front wheel drive iirc.
Verm is just a bad driver and needs all the help he can get.
Driving around Nagano city ...you're not going to see alot of snow on the road. Sure if you were heading upto Shiga , Or Myoko etc...4wd would good. However in the city , its just overkill. IMO . Front wheel drive, snowtyres and a small car its fine.
@smackies has a 2wd and takes it up the Cortina road now worries.
Even in the 4wd drive cars i've had , i've left it in 2wd 99% of the time.
A lot depends on the conditions on the particular day and the driver.
We had Fins who went to lots of obscure places in a 2wd car. Once it was moving they were fine. A couple of mornings getting moving up our hill was entertaining. All but the driver would be pushing. Once the car was moving they all jumped in. Was almost as entertaining as the Tokyo visitors in the 2wds who need help getting out of the street.
Another occasion reasonably late at night we rescued a couple in a 2wd who were less than 50 metres off Route 18. 4 of us manhandled their car and turned it around cause they were going no further up the side road. It was puking snow and nothing but 4wds were going to get through there.
And sometimes in the really light stuff you have to just keep moving fast enough to have the snow get pushed aside almost like water. If you stop it can be really hard to get moving again.even if you are heading downhill.