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Trip Report elSpike’s Ski Ski Ski 2019 - Shiga Kogen, Madarao, Myoko and Yuzawa

Discussion in 'Japan' started by elSpike, Nov 27, 2018.

  1. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    The hype is real.

    I hope you’ll indulge me. I’m starting a thread on our 2019 Japan trips as a sort of living trip report. I’ve followed along with some of the other posts and loved hearing your adventures so thought I’d have a crack at doing my own.

    Some background. My family (Wife and 2 boys aged 13 and 10) and I are relatively latecomers to skiing. We started our adventure in January 2016 with a week in Madarao. From that beginning, the bug bit hard so since then we’ve skied Appi, Naeba, Joetsu Kokusai, Gala/Ishiuchi, Furano, and Tomamu. We’ve all progressed from that first morning of asking “Is there a left and right ski?” to being solid intermediates who can tackle most inbounds posted up to Grey (‘light’ blacks ). My wife and I love perfectly groomed red/blues in picturesque settings with trees or views to the horizon. Our boys terrify us with their love of finding the hidden trails between the trees off the edges.

    Due to some very favourable flights on points (Thank you Aegean Miles+Bonus), generous public holidays (Thank you SG government) and a bonus Chinese New Year shutdown (Thank you employer) we are managing 3 trips to Japan this season.

    Current planned trips:

    Tokyo, Shiga Kogen and Madarao - Jan 1 - 18
    3 days Tokyo - Staying in Roppongi - General hanging out, visit the ski shops, eat some food.
    1 day Nagano - Shinkansen up to Nagano. Stock up on instant noodles etc due to lack of options in Shiga. Visit Nishi-no-Mon sake brewery. For reasons.
    9 days Shiga Kogen - Staying at Shiga Prince West. 2 mornings of lessons for adults, 5 mornings of lessons for boys. Rest of the time exploring the 85km of pistes. Any recommendations?
    4 days Madarao - Staying at Madarao Kogen Hotel for 3 and Active Life for 1 cause Madarao Kogen couldn't fit us in on the last night.

    Myoko - Feb 1 - 5
    4 days Myoko - Staying with @skichanger at Chalet Myoko, where we ski will be up to the recommendation of Nora’s chalet managers each morning.

    Yuzawa - Feb 22-25
    3 days Yuzawa - Sneaky extra trip for just the wife and I. Staying at a Ryoken near the Echigo Yuzawa station. No resort plans other than at least one day at Joetsu because of that Atema 4th slope over the back (Kisses fingers like an Italian chef).

    Plan is to post a daily report each evening.

    If you've got any suggestions for the places we are heading, feel free to contribute.

    The hype is real!
     
  2. rikedwards

    rikedwards Hard Yards

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    3 trips to Japan this season? Super jealous!
     
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  3. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Only a 6.5 hour flight from SG ;-)
     
  4. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    SG is what/where?
    (I know it will be the bleeding obvious when I see the response)
     
  5. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Singapore
     
  6. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    jealous...

    beware, there won't be much open in Tokyo on NYD
     
  7. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    We are flying in on 1st arriving about 4pm. Our usual thing is to find parks and stuff to wander around. I assume that we'll be able to find some restaurants and go wander in the parks / waterfront.
     
  8. 2ESki

    2ESki Addicted

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    Looking forward to your report on Shinga, D16 and self are thinking of going their 2020, so thoughts will be interesting :thumbs:
     
  9. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    When you are at Madarao drop in and see us at Chalet Madarao. We are just down the hill from the main hotel.

    There comes a point where you stop following your children as they leave you behind. Sometime it is just better to meet them at the bottom of the run. It is a mix of satisfying and frustrating.
     
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  10. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sure will. We should book in for a meal one of the nights if that works too?

    That is both heartbreaking and exhilarating to think about...
     
  11. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    When you are at Myoko drop in and see us at Red Warehouse. We are just off the main street of Akakura Onsen. I won't be around but @hotsaki will be up for a quiet ale.
     
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  12. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Count on it!
     
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  13. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Definitely do dinner at Madarao. I will update you if you need to book.

    One of my biggest heart in my mouth moments as a parent was seeing my mogul skier doing his 1st back full in competition. The emotional mix was ....difficult. But it is their life and you have to let them travel their journey.
     
  14. samurai skier

    samurai skier Hard Yards

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    What sort of food do you serve in your restaurant . Do you have a menu you can post so everyone knows ?
     
  15. hardbooter

    hardbooter Hard Yards

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    I'm doing the same trip but in reverse Madarao Kogen Hotel 6-12th Jan then Shiga Prince West 12 to 19 Jan .Maybe we will cross paths at Shiga Kogen and we can swap tips .
     
  16. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    We serve a mix of western and Japanese food. Like good pub food. Better tan the cafeteria's on the mountain but not super high end.
    Breakfast is cereals, choice of eggs several ways, bacon, sausages etc.
    Lunch is soups, ramen, curries, sliders - filling and warming options.
    Dinner - burgers, pasta, stir fries, Risotto, paella

    Waiting till my chef gets here to nail down the Japanese options. He needs to see what ingredients are available and work out what he can do with them.

    We will have a website soon and I will post a link to that when it is up and running.
     
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  17. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    My plan is to post daily while in Japan. I suspect you'll be visible in your hard boot setup!
     
  18. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    December 31st - The Night Before Japan-mas.

    It was the night before Japan-mas when all through the house,
    Not a creature was stirring, not even elSpike or his now sleeping spouse.
    The baggage was packed, by the family with care, with hope that nothing was left behind there.
    The Yen had been exchanged, the passports collected,
    All that was left was was for the ANA seats to be selected.
    He surveyed the house, his face aglow,
    For tomorrow his family would arrive in Tokyo.

    Have a great New Years Eve ski.com.au-ers. First official trip report tomorrow night!
     
  19. 2ESki

    2ESki Addicted

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    Safe flight, look forward to the updates :thumbs:
     
  20. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 1st - Travel Day.

    Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all woke early with a spring in your step and the hope of fresh turns on your horizon. We’ve never really been the midnight countdown sort of family, much preferring to synchronise ourselves with Sydney time (10pm SGT) or even Queenstown time (7pm SGT)!



    Today started with a very early 6.35am flight on ANA’s venerable 777w. This time with more BB8! Top notch service as we’ve come to expect.



    Side note, how good is Changi Airport? Thumb print through immigration, quick security scan at the gate and you are on your way. Peak efficiency is just what was ordered for 5.30am.

    On arrival in Narita we headed to the luggage counters to send the ski bags to Shiga to keep us nice and light for our Tokyo leg. 8000jpy for the two big bags and two boot bags from Narita to Yakebitaiyama with the black cats.

    Next we charged up our Suica and Pasmo cards and made our way to Roppongi-Itchome via the Ski Liner with a quick change at Nippori and Oji. Note: you can’t buy a Suica in Nappori station. You have to exit first and get one at a 7/11. We’d usually take the nex, but Hyperdia suggested this was the optimal route without a pass.

    We chose to stay at the Hotel Villa Fontaine in Roppongi as we hadn’t stayed down this way before. Previous trips had us at Ueno in an AirBNB, which as we know is not quite the same anymore. Two rooms down the hall from each other and gear stowed we were off to find dinner. We were recommended Truro Ton Tan, a famous Udon chain. Great fresh udons!



    Tomorrow we are thinking of heading to the snow sports area over near Jimbocho station for a couple of things, maybe a stop at a hedgehog cafe and perhaps a park or two.

    Just checked the forecast for Shiga. Looks like we are in for some more snow days! Can’t wait.
     
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  21. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hope you had better luck finding places that were open (ie restaurants) than we did today and yesterday in Kanazawa! We are in Shiga Kogen for a week from tomorrow; may run into you there :)
     
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  22. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah we were lucky. Most of the main stretch of Roppongi was open. Had to wait about 30 mins for a table but I suspect that’s the case anyway as the restaurant appears popular.

    We are at prince west and will be heading to Ichinose most evenings for food so I’ll keep an eye out!
     
  23. Tennex

    Tennex Hard Yards

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    Don't ask Just let Nora cook up!! Gochisosama deshita
    Thanks Nora.

    Sorry I wont be in Madarao this trip.
     
  24. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Please do! There’s a photo or two of me over in my trip report; we are staying at Chalet Shiga in Ichinose. :)
     
  25. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Will no doubt post a family pic in a later report. But Aussie with a beard, wife and two boys 13 (looks 16) and 10 of you see us too!
     
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  26. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Probably easy enough to spot by the sullen teenagers in tow.o_O
     
    #26 Tonester, Jan 2, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  27. 2ESki

    2ESki Addicted

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    I think that's only Miss 15 :p
     
  28. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Today we started with a leisurely 4km stroll through Azabujuban and breakfast from a small bakery in there.



    Gathering our selves we then jumped on a series of trains to take us to Jimbocho station. With this map it was easy!


    We wandered around the Ski shops, grabbing a mid layer from London Sports for Mr 13 and some new goggles for Mrs elSpike.

    We then headed over towards Shinjuku hoping to grab lunch before taking a look at the gardens, but there our plans struck the same problem as MsP: nothing bloody open! Took us a good 30 minutes wandering the back streets till we found a little shop that did fried things on sticks. Turned out well in that it was delicious!




    Then when we arrived at the park we found this:



    Ugh.

    Backup plan was to head to one of the hedgehog cafes for a little bit of time with these little cuties!





    Then it was back to the hotel for a bit of a snooze before taking an early dinner of Soba and Tempura with a healthy dose of +10 dryness sake in Roppongi.

    All in all a successful day.
     
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  29. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 3rd - Moar Tokyo

    So today was full of win. In all the best ways. We queued. We queued some more. And then we queued again. But before I get to that let me begin.

    Learning our lesson from yesterday we went to a specialty breakfast place in Shibuya called World Breakfast All Day. They work with embassies and trade organisations to feature a traditional breakfast for 6-8 weeks. This time it was Germany! I love pickles for breakfast.


    After that we headed over to Yoyogikamizonocho to take a look at the Emperess’s garden and the Meiji Temple. Little did we know that it is a pretty big deal to go pay your respects during New Years so we found ourselves taking a walk with literally thousands of our new friends!


    Once at the temple we queued (first time) to throw money at the temple (they had set up backstop nets to disuaide the more aggressive throwers), bow twice, clap twice, bow again and then get out of the way so someone else could chuck some coins.



    We were then sheparded to a side area where you could purchase trinkets and talismans for the coming year, along with a randomly selected poem from the Emperor - he left a legacy of 100,000 poems for his people!

    Mine was lovely:


    Next up was the Emperess’s garden which was just as serene as I could hope. At the end of the garden we found another queue so we joined it as the last one had been so novel. Twenty minutes later we reached the source (pun intended) of the queue.

    Yep. We waited twenty minutes to see a well... Mr 13s face shows his joy! Apparently a samurai built it in the 1400s. It was a hole with water in it.

    Anyway. Next up it was a visit to the Tutti Candy Company for these!



    So much sugar!

    For the rest of the day we did the Shibuya crossings, some delicious Okonomiyaki, shopping for T-shirt’s, a walking ice cream, and then back to the hotel to hibernate after so much food.

    Tomorrow we leave quite early for the Shink up to Nagano and a local train to overnight in Yudanaka before the skiing at Shiga for 9 days begins!
     
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  30. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Correct, although she was actually reasonably happy today!
     
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  31. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great pics! Shame Shinjuku gardens were closed - they are beautiful.
     
  32. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    well, snow would make anybody happy, right?
     
  33. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    :whistle: Hmm, I had a few complaints yesterday about cold hands, handwarmers notwithstanding (plus the ”early” rising at 7.30) ....
     
  34. toomuchwork

    toomuchwork Hard Yards

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    I was planning on getting the kids over mitts and using heat pads so they have double layers with chemical warmth on their hands. Windy and -18C last year made them very unhappy. Hopefully this time their hands will be ok.
     
  35. Pink

    Pink One of Us

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    That is a nice simplified map. Here’s a more complete one if you can’t find somewhere.;)
     
  36. silva

    silva One of Us

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    If their hands are cold put an extra fleece layer on their core first - I carry a thin fleece vest and extra head cover for our little snow monster. If his gloves are wet change them first, then extra fleece and head cover then hand warmers. Also mitts are way better than gloves. His favourites are Burton vent mitts and Oyuki Chotto mitts. Others have recommended Swany gloves but they have individual finger slots inside the Mitt and he found them super uncomfortable.
     
  37. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sometimes, when the gloves fit too snugly, they get cold. I know I do. A slightly looser fitting glove allows for the air between the skin and glove liner to warm up.
     
  38. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 4th - Nagano Bound

    Well, it was Yudanaka bound in the end, cause we changed our mind and decided to stay somewhere with an onsen and a little bit closer to Shiga for access to skiing tomorrow.

    Early-ish start, with a delicious vegan Ramen brunch at T’s Tan Tan in Tokyo Station, and the Shinkansen to Nagano.




    Shinkansen tips:
    When buying from the machines, remember that you need both the base fare and the seat fee (both reserved and unreserved). This is also true for limited expresses like the one from Nagano to Yudanaka.


    Transfer at Nagano to the LTD. EXP. SNOW MONKEY which is a local service to Yudanaka, the closest village to the snow monkey park. We aren’t visiting them this time as it’s pretty much the same thing as taking our two boys to an onsen.

    It was a short walk to our Ryokan Shirogane and visit to the Lawsons to do a stock up on snacks because a ski holiday in japan isn’t the same without weird sweets. I also took the opportunity to wander over to the post office to pull out some more cash, just in case. Nobody rob me please.





    After dinner at a wonderful Izakaya called Ichidaya, just round the corner from the station, we hit up our indoor outdoor onsen then early to bed to be ready for our trip up into the mountains!



    Fingers crossed our bags made it to the hotel tonight!
     

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  39. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    I love that the kanji for 'fried things on sticks', 串 , actually is a picture of two fried things on a stick :)
     
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  40. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    SkiSki #1 has begun!

    Odyssey to get us into that chair in post tonight.
     
  41. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 5th - Yudanaka - Shiga - Ski Ski

    Early start for the 7.40am shuttle up to Shiga Kogen Prince west. The only shop open in Yudanaka at 7am is the 24 hour lawson. I think their yakitori rotisserie might have vintage sticks.... bus station has a half dozen drink vending machines though.

    Buying tickets was easy and confusing. All of the signs said that the fare to Prince West was ¥1100 but they charged us ¥770 each. He tried to tell me something was free but his English wasn’t great and my Japanese is borderline international incident causing.

    I’ll be trying to take pictures of information I was looking for in my web searches to hopefully help others who follow. With that in mind here is the (incorrect) fare structure for Nagaden busses from Yudanaka


    and here is the schedule.


    Bus looks like this.


    There are apparently two types that leave from Yudanaka. One goes to one end and the other goes our way toward Ichinose and Oku-Shigakogen. Make sure you choose the right one!

    The ride up was pretty uneventful but then our slightly concerning tale took a little bit of a sideways turn.

    Check in was the usual Prince hotel precision with our breakfast coupons, complimentary ski passes and, room keys all premade in little packets. Excellent English by the staff on the front desk.

    Then over to the cloak room, hooray our bags had arrived. Thumbs up to the black cat.

    Now. Prince has now got a Viking Ski Rental counter at the Shiga prince. This is where the wheels came off. Rental prices are ok for the gear. A little pricy but ok for those of us who don’t want to store or transport skis, but decent brands and range. (Rossi Experience 84s, Volk XTMs all <2 years old).

    (Side note for the rest of the days after 2nd day there is an additional 10% discount. )

    What freaked us out was the guy handing out skis didn’t bother checking DINs or Boot fit in the bindings.

    That’s right. I had to ask specifically for him to set them.

    He then proceeded to just do Mr 13s, and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t moving out of the way to let another customer in. I had to find an English speaking guest (shout out to the Japanese lady who was just as concerned as I was) to explain what I was agitated about.

    Finally they got it. Another member of staff care and did the lookups, set the DINs correctly and make sure our boots released correctly. Even then we got outside and found that Mrs elSpikes bindings had not been adjusted for her boots!

    The worst rental experience we have ever had.

    That all done the skiing was great. We opened the account with a dozen or so runs in the lower part of Yakebitaiyama, getting our ski legs back and trying to remember all the tips from last years lessons.





    Skiing done we decided to head into ichinose for dinner. The Prince puts on a shuttle bus for guests:



    As it was close we decided to start at the Teppa Room. Sort of a pub/bar with local beers on tap and bar type foods.
    Sorry for all the pics but as per information here is their menu:






    The IPA and Porter were especially good.

    By happy coincidence, we ran into @Lady Penelope and family there too and confirmed our dinner date for Monday.

    Finally we walked back down the hill to the prince, took our first of many onsen and headed to bed.

    Next up tomorrow we have the first of our lessons with Shiga International Ski School. Looking forward to it!
     
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  42. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nice to meet you! I can recommend the Porter beer and Snow Monkey sake ... mmmm. The food options we ordered from Teppa were all delicious - nothing left on our table :)
     
  43. Tennex

    Tennex Hard Yards

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    Ski hire is expensive AU$130 for 2 days.
     
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  44. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great Info. will be there Feb..Staying in Ichinose
     
  45. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s pretty great. Where in Ichinose?
     
  46. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The gorgonzola cheesecake caught my attention. It reminds me of an awesome dessert I had at a place called Walters Wine Bar in Melbourne many decades ago. It was a blue cheese cheesecake with apple calvados sorbet. You'd think yuck, but was actually yum. </sidetrack>
     
  47. GSea

    GSea Hard Yards

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    Sure is.
    Wife and I have our own gear but we will buy a set of skis for our daughter in Tokyo this time instead of hiring.
    Then off to Myoko and Madarao for 14 days.
     
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  48. Sandy

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

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    This rental experience is not that unusual at Shiga Kogen. ALWAYS check the DIN setting and boot length adjustment before you leave the place.
     
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  49. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 6th - Shiga Kogen - First Morning of Lessons

    Snow status: maybe 8-10 cm overnight here at Yakibitaiyama. Looked like this out my window:

    And walking to the ticket counter


    We booked in for 2 sets of private lessons with Shiga International Ski School (http://www.shigaskischool.com) based in Okushiga Kogen. One instructor for us adults and one for the boys. Robel from there helped us book back in June 2018 when we were planning for the trip. As advertised we found Rafal and Aki next to the ski locker exit at Prince West in their blue jackets. A quick conference about the boys and where to meet, we were off.

    Rafal had us do a few runs to assess where we were and then then had us work on carving (or attempted carving in my case) with some exercises. Overall it was a very enjoyable lesson with clear explanation of the aspect we were focusing on, and great enthusiasm for the entire duration. I really need to work on keeping forward though so after lunch at the ramen place under the ticket counter at Prince West I made sure to really try to feel my shins on the tongue of my boots as much as possible. Speaking of lunch, the chefs at the ramen place were very kind and took care of our very unique allergy combination. We’ll definitely be back for some more miso butter corn on a future day.

    -the boy loves his ramen.

    The boys really enjoyed their time with Aki and Misters 13 and 10 even managed to tackle some ungroomed blacks for the first time.

    In the afternoon we played around on the eastern side of Yakebitaiyama, drinking in the views of snow covered trees and long winding red groomers.





    Interestingly our mid afternoon tradition of a rest with some hot chocolate or royal milk tea was thwarted by a combination of completely out of stock vending machines and machines that had run out of 10 yen coins to dispense change. Keep a stack of those copper coins if you can!

    For dinner we caught the prince shuttle further into Ichinose and tried the Nepalese/Indian at the interestingly named Ethnic Beer Restaurant Kamoshika. http://www.snowmonkeyresorts.com/restaurants/ethnic-beer-restaurant-kamoshika/






    We live in Singapore so have ready access to some very high quality Indian food. I can say confidently that these guys know how to Naan! A few vegetarian options too so if you haven’t been @Lady Penelope your crew will be fine.



    A walking return to the hotel and a lovely onsen to sooth tired old muscles and we are off to bed. But wouldn’t you know it, the coolish is out of stock!

     

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  50. Jellybeans

    Jellybeans Walking on a dream Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
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    Wish I could plunge into some of that powder on the planks. Oh well. Keep up the good work :thumbs: