Day 9 - Powder for everyone.
This is me:
Now, you may be wondering how I found myself tumbling through almost a foot of accumulated snow. Here’s my story.
Sunday morning greeted us with a much better balcony view, with cars buried happily in the pillowy soft snow.
Unfortunately Mr11, while having no temperature, still felt a little unwell. After a slice of vegemite toast, (we bring vegemite on all our vacations) he decided a day in bed would be good for him.
So it was just Mr14, my wife and I racing to put on gear and be ready for first lifts at Ichinose Family. Climbing the hill was a little more difficult with at least boot deep powder everywhere. The official 28cm report was very accurate in the village.
Unfortunately some other people had the same first lifts idea.
So on the sixth chair of the day, we made our way up the Ichinose Family quad, with me bravely (Narrator: foolishly) declaiming I would come down the main black run, while the other two followed the winding green of the Tengu course.
Let me reiterate that I’m not very good when the powder gets deeper than about boot deep. Shin deep and I’m struggling. Knee deep and there’s going to be some interesting footage.
The front black course was a consistent knee deep, tending to waist deep in drifts. It did not go well. In the space of 600m or so I had fallen twice, once with a wonderful double ejection. Perhaps this wasn’t the best “first run”. But in the end I managed to make it down and on to the red and green lower parts where I had much better success. The other two met me with tales of untouched trails and crashes of their own, though most of them seemed to entail not being able to determine where the edges of the pistes were.
Our second and third runs were on the “b” chair that takes you up to the Red section of Ichinose family and we’re much more confidence inspiring.
It was about this time that I posted this to the Shiga Kogen thread.
What I neglected to share was this little beauty!
Crashing is learning right?
About this time, Mr14 decided that it was not in his best interests to stay out so he headed back to the Chalet to keep his brother (and his iPad) company while the parents soldiered on.
After having so much fun at Yakebitaiyama’s quad 3 yesterday we thought we might have more luck over there on runs we love.
On the way I found the first of the deeper snow drifts, just off the top of Quad 2.
And my wife commented that my Movember Mo had progressed to a Snovember Mo!
Quad #3 and the two runs off it proved to be as magical as we hoped, and even more magically, only had 6-8 people lapping it with us for most of the time.
Most of the morning was a chilly -8°C so a warm up in one of the gondolas was needed.
At around 11am we went back to check on the boys.
We had every intention of grabbing an early lunch at the Teppa Room but they didn’t open until 12 so after a brief conference we left the boys some money to get their own lunch and kept moving.
We ended back at the Pizza and burger place we’d been to a few nights before. At lunch they have the same menu but you order and pay using a ticket vending machine. You can keep you ski boots on, but they insist you give them a good brushing down to remove the snow before you are allowed in.
Pizza and burger were still very good. With bellies full and fingers defrosted it was time to start our “loop” through Terakoya, Hoppo, Giant, Hasuike and Nishidateyama.
Unfortunately we’re we’re greeted with this sign at the top.
So instead, we went along the top of the ridge to Takamagahara where we learnt that the Higashiteyama Gondola had been stopped for wind and would probably not be running for the rest of the day. No delicious coffee for me today! Instead we followed the trail from the top of Takamagahara down to Hoppo and over to Giant. we spotted a snowmobile that gave a good indication of the snow depth at the summit.
Climbing the hill from the bottom of Hoppo to the Giant romance lift is a real pain in the butt. It really needs something there. Maybe a moving carpet or something.
At the top of the romance lift, the wife and I managed to get separated for about 15 minutes due to the intense wind and near whiteout visibility, but we finally reconnected at the bottom of the Hisuike triple thanks to the wonders of modern technology. (Find My Friends)
Hisuike and Sun Vally are quite small and we’re filled with lots of minion groups. I didn’t really enjoy the runs over there and after asking a few people am convinced there is no more rope tow to be found. This will be disappointing news for the elderly members like @Hyst
The traverse back to Giant was pretty arduous. I’m sure there is a better way, but for us it involved about a 200m boot back through the forest trails. You could probably skate your way over in normal conditions but the foot deep powder was impossible.
We then travelled back up through Nishidateyama, though most of the red and black runs there were aggressively closed off. Not just a token rope and some poles but Signs and in some cases a fence structure to block your way.
I will admit we saw some incredibly funny crashes from the various chairs we took throughout the day.
Coming back down from Nishidateyama there was a lovely surprise. The bridge across to Takamagahara was still closed, but the constant fall of snow throughout the day meant that you could just ski straight across the road. Easy as!
Around 3.45 we decided to call it a day so it was the usual zigzag back through Tenne and Ichinose Family before skiing down the footpath back to Chalet Shiga and it’s welcoming Onsen.
Dinner was supposed to be back at the Taco place at Shiga Grand but with the weather and Mr11 not 100% we snuck downstairs to the ever faithful Teppa room before early bed.
Tomorrow is going to be so good after the fall last night, the constant snow throughout the day, and more coming tonight. But please don’t come to Shiga. We want it all to ourselves!
We walk up when we want first tracks on Ichinose Family. We cross the road and pop on skis next to the Snowcan rental when we are heading toward Yakebiteyama, or when we are feeling especially lazy.
Was it all cold?Day 10 - prologue.
Narrator: This post is a prologue to the main daily post. Our author is precious about his 20 pics per post so he didn’t want to waste two taking about a breakfast anomaly.
Last night we found this stuck to our door.
Today’s breakfast was a set menu which we hadn’t experienced so far. At 7.30 the doors to the dining room were opened an we were confronted with a seating plan and trays already laid out. My wife didn’t have much on the plate that she could eat so in hindsight if we get another note we’ll ask if they can accommodate dietary needs.
Interestingly, we were all racially profiled, with the two western families receiving plates of toast and croissants and the locals receiving bowls of rice. No choice was offered. That said, the staff are all painfully nice so I’m certain we could have asked for rice if we desired, and vice versa for the locals.
May be problematic at Shiga Kogen, where 10yo, 75mm skis are the order of the dayThe gracious powder crashes could be avoided if you had some wider skiers to help stay afloat in the powder. Worth a look at hiring some, even for a morning, on the next powder day if you want to improve your deep snow skiing
Actually, both Nord and Snowcan had multiple sets of >100mm skis in various lengths to rent. I’m planning on talking about the three rental places I looked at in Ichinose in my summary, but maybe I’ll do it sooner. Once I do I’ll link to it or repost it in the Shiga thread.May be problematic at Shiga Kogen, where 10yo, 75mm skis are the order of the day
This would be great, we are hiring skis x 4 people (3 x intermediate and 1 x advanced) when we arrive on the 18th Jan, so would appreciate some info on whether it's better going to Snowcan or the Head shop inside Chalet Shiga in terms of both selection and pricing. From intitial enquiries they both seem to offer similar prices but I'd appreciate any info on this and/or discounts offered to Chalet Shiga guests. CheersActually, both Nord and Snowcan had multiple sets of >100mm skis in various lengths to rent. I’m planning on talking about the three rental places I looked at in Ichinose in my summary, but maybe I’ll do it sooner. Once I do I’ll link to it or repost it in the Shiga thread.
I suppose what I'm getting at is that what's considered wide in Japan, it not necessarily what's available at Shiga Kogen. Around 100mm is not so wide in Japan. It's something people need to be aware of, if hiring at Shiga KogenActually, both Nord and Snowcan had multiple sets of >100mm skis in various lengths to rent. I’m planning on talking about the three rental places I looked at in Ichinose in my summary, but maybe I’ll do it sooner. Once I do I’ll link to it or repost it in the Shiga thread.
Snowcan definitely had a pair of 120mm something’s. I’ll get pics later.I suppose what I'm getting at is that what's considered wide in Japan, it not necessarily what's available at Shiga Kogen. Around 100mm is not so wide in Japan. It's something people need to be aware of, if hiring at Shiga Kogen
20% off for Chalet Shiga guests. They have the full range of Head super shape skis, along with a couple of Monster 88s. Pics later too.This would be great, we are hiring skis x 4 when we arrive on the 18th Jan, so would appreciate some info on whether it's better going to Snowcan or the Head shop inside Chalet Shiga. From intitial enquiries they both seem to offer similar prices but I'd appreciate any info on this and/or discounts offered to Chalet Shiga guests. Cheers
Buffet was fine. Toast sometimes needs another “toasting” but food is pretty good.Cold western 'cooked' breakfast is not enjoyable.
But seeing your breakfast this morning is probably why the Green Leaf in Niseko didn't seem to care to keep it hot!
whats the buffett temp like?
How dare you! Those pants coordinate with everything. Burnout stripes are the new black!Color coordination with Hestra quite good - now you just have to work on those trouses!
Look how it can be done:
And de-iced the snovember it seems.
Yes. Coolish is our favourite vending machine snack. I can tell you where every machine in Narita Airport is and which flavours they stock. The machine in prince west is just in front of the elevators that take you up to the rooms. It has 3 buttons for coolish, and still regularly runs out.Love those photos and your trip review! Counting down till our trip starts! 10 days to go! Is that ice cream from Prince West?
Coolish is EVEN BETTER in summer.... It's hot & humind, and you can buy a coolish and stick it on your neck/face until it gets to eating temperature. I can't tell you how underestimated this method is.....Yes. Coolish is our favourite vending machine snack. I can tell you where every machine in Narita Airport is and which flavours they stock. The machine in prince west is just in front of the elevators that take you up to the rooms. It has 3 buttons for coolish, and still regularly runs out.
Sitting here reading this in Darwin dripping with sweat I want a vending machine full of Coolish!Coolish is EVEN BETTER in summer.... It's hot & humind, and you can buy a coolish and stick it on your neck/face until it gets to eating temperature. I can't tell you how underestimated this method is.....
Mate!!!!Japan has a summer? I’ve only ever seen it in winter.
I large land mass towards the north pole. That mass gets cold in winter and the wind blows off it.Flat as a pancake...lol
It did amaze me that Japan could be as hot and humid as Darwin and yet snow..
It has been explained why, sea currents and stuff..
Fantastic trip report @elSpike . This brings back some fabulous memories of our stay at Shiga Kogen last year (it was great to meet you then). I can certainly vouch for the quality of the skis hired out at Chalet Shiga. My friends hired through them and were very happy with the gear; they thought it was much better than the skis and boots they later hired at Nozawa. Beautiful pics ... I think we’ll have to return some timeShiga Kogen Summary.
This might be a little bit all over the place as I haven’t planned it out. It’s my TR so you just have to accept it.
This is what we are all here for. I can safely say that we maximised every single day we were here. How can I be that certain? We track everything we ski in an app called Slopes. I can’t recommend it enough.
We only skied 8 runs at night skiing that first evening so the vast majority of those stats were done in the past 9 days. We skied the equivalent of Perth to Wave Rock in distance and half way to space in height.
This brings me to the next thought...
It’s no secret that this is one of the worst starts to the season we’ve seen in a very long time. Most places are showing between 1/3 to 1/2 the usual snowfall and accumulation. But, with that said, there was nothing that our family wanted to ski, that wasn’t available to us over the past 9 days. @Sandy says time and time again, if you have to come early in the season, go high. Shiga’s pretty high. It’s a great choice for early turns.
We stayed at Chalet Shiga this year for a few different reasons. We wanted to be closer to Ichinose village than the Prince Hotel we stayed in last year. We got a wonderful recommendation from @Lady Penelope who stayed here last year, and we got an excellent price through Japan Snow Accomodation, who has helped us book nearly every one of our Japan ski trips since the very beginning.
We really enjoyed staying here. The people are great. The Onsen is hot. The rooms are spacious and if you get a mountain view room you get what you pay for. There are little niggles, like no light in the entry foyer of the room where you hang your coat and kick off your shoes, but that is just Japan sometimes. The best recommendation is to say that when we are next in Shiga we will do everything we can to stay here. It just perfect for our needs.
A lot of reviews say that there aren’t enough restaurants in Ichinose. I think that’s old news, and if you look around there are plenty of great places to eat. For lunch, there are a plethora of options. Almost every ski field has their own spot. For dinner, there are a couple of old favourites and a new addition I think are very worthy of your time.
Teppa Room - Located conveniently in the lobby of Chalet Shiga, this pub serves excellent beers on tap and a variety of simple but very tasty dishes. The vegetarian curry udon are the highlight here. You really should book ahead as the “sorry no more tables available” sign was out more nights than not. They speak reasonable English so you can call to book or just stop in during the afternoon. It is just a 2-3 person shop so there can be delays in service when it gets busy but it’s not the sort of place that you want to rush with anyway. They take credit cards or cash and have a few T-shirts for sake if you are into that thing.
Izakaya Time. Located in the foyer of the Hotel Diaroku, just a 100m further down the road from Chalet Shiga, This eclectic Izakaya has some of the best “things on sticks” and sharing plates in the village. Like all good Izakayas they have a standard menu and then specials of the day on a board above the bar. I love that on one night you can be listening to Eric Clapton and on the next they have Greenday belting out tunes. Again booking is worth doing in advance, and their English is pretty good. Credit cards and cash are fine.
Ethnic Beer Restaurant Kamoshika - located under Hotel Japan Shiga in Ichinose village (next door to Villa 101 and across from the main Ichinose bus stop and information hut), this Nepalese tandoor and curry place is fantastic value. Their Naan would hold its own in Singapore (home to some truely great Indian restaurants) and their vegetable curry is amazing. The prices here are reasonable and you will leave plump and satisfied. One cool thing is the tandoor oven section is surrounded by glass which encourages you to go watch how they stick the bread and meat to the side of the oven as the cook. I’m pretty sure only take cash.
Restaurant Altopiano - located between the Ichinose Family slopes and Hotel Japan Shiga, this is a new place this year that serves Burgers and Pizzas. Great burgers and pizzas at that. They have some tasty craft beers as well as a pool table. The pizzas are all made on fresh, handmade pizza bases and the burgers are well made with the only criticism being the patties are a little over cooked for my taste. Prices start at the ¥1300 mark and they take credit card and cash at night, but only ticket vending machine and thus cash for lunch.
Shiga Kogen Tacos. Located in the lobby of the Shiga Grand and open from 3pm till late (10pm I think). They do pretty good tacos with vegan and vegetarian options. I really like the owner and the staff and the crunch of fresh lettuce with some meat and cheese in a tortilla is often just what the doctor ordered. Prices are roughly ¥650 per taco and you really only need two.
This list is not exhaustive, but I think it’s a very good place to start.
Every hotel in Ichinose has a ski rental, usually offering 2-4year old 76mm waisted Rossis or Atomics. They cater to the general masses of the beginner market. Some might have to odd pair of powder skis but they are almost always in the 160-170cm lengths suitable for local clientele.
We looked at 3 places trying to find decent 85-95mm waisted skis and found the following.
Nord Ichinose, located directly opposite the Shiga Grand. Great people. They respond relatively quickly via Facebook messenger in English. They have credit card facilities and a decent selection of wider skis in the >90mm ranges, though most of them were 170cm or shorter. I really wanted to rent from them, but ultimately they didn't have skis quite long enough for all of us. I don’t fully recall the rates but they were essentially the same if not better than Snowcan’s premium skis.
Snowcan. Main shop is located right on Ichinose Diamond ski field and conveniently across the road from Chalet Shiga. They have other stations all over Shiga Kogan but Ichinose has the best range. They have an eclectic mix of recent model skis in pretty much every combination of length and width, if you can find them. When you come in, if you chose the performance price band they just point you at their stash and you choose. It’s a little bit like the ski shops in Tokyo actually.
Prices are on their website, and if you book at least 2 days in advance you get 8% off. They speak reasonable English and accept credit cards.
Head Station Chalet Shiga. Located in... well... you get it. We didn’t realise they were there till we arrived. They seem to have pretty much all of last years Head skis, from their basic range through to their top of the line racing skis. They even have a few pairs of the Head Monster range as well. Chalet Shiga Guest’s get 20% off the listed prices.
Hope all of this is useful.