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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. willsnow

    willsnow Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    How good is that fresh naan! I'm drooling looking at those pics. Wash it off with the beer ahhhhhh good times.

    How long was the walk from Ichinose to where you're staying? Must be about 20 mins (probably faster as you need to walk fast to keep warm!)
     
  2. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Walk was maybe 15-20 from the main part of ichinose and all downhill. I highly recommend using either the ski shuttle or the prince shuttle to ichinose as walking uphill is for chumps.
     
  3. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 7th - Shiga Kogen - Second Morning of Lessons

    3-4cm (if I’m being generous) overnight but the runs were all perfectly groomed. A little overcast with periods where the sun managed to poke through.



    Today we purchased the Super Pass 6 which allows 6 days (can be non-consecutive) for the full Shiga Kogen Resort. Essentially works out to ¥4500 a day for the adults. Discounts for Students (13-18) and children (12 and under) as well.


    Second lessons with Rafal and Aki had the boys heading over to Oku-Shigakogen and us tasking the grand tour past Ichinose almost making it to Hasuike. We again worked on carving and managed to finally string some decent looking turns together. So thumbs up to Shiga International Ski School.

    We again had lunch at the ramen place beside Prince West (I remembered to take a picture of the menu this time!)



    After eating and a bit of a warm up we decided to explore Ichinose Diamond, Ichinose Family and Yamanokami. We really enjoyed the wide open runs and relatively fast quad lifts. We also found our first soft serve ice cream in Shiga. I have to say, every other area we’ve been it’s bern really easy to find. Not so in Shiga Kogen.




    We then started playing in the trees as we made our way back to the hotel for a bit of iPad time for the boys and a stretch for the adults.

    For dinner we caught the shuttle to Izakaya Time to catch up with @Lady Penelope and crew where we had some great food, great conversation, and a lesson in incorrect ergonomics. The boys especially enjoyed chattering away with their two younger ones. One of the drawbacks of a private lesson is they miss the interaction with other kids.

    I didn’t manage to get the menu photos this time but we booked in for Thursday again so I’ll post them then.

    Back to the hotel for an onsen, this time filled with an exceptionally loud group of 15 or more Chinese guys, and hopefully lights out by 9.30.

    Boys have morning lesson while we have some free time tomorrow. Huzzah!
     

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  4. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 8th - Shiga Kogen - May you live in interesting times.

    2am knock at the door by Mr 10. “My stomach hurts”. He climbs into bed with Mrs elSpike “ohh he’s a bit warm” and minutes later he’s on a mad scramble to the bathroom. Poor boy.

    By breakfast he’s feeling better but not skiing better so it’s a morning in the room for him and Mrs.

    Meanwhile Mr 13 gets Aki, the instructor, all to himself so they went off and did scary things on runs that weren’t runs, and I took the opportunity to go explore Oku-Shigakogen. The place was pretty empty so I had wonderful fast groomers basically to myself for the morning, talking some challenging (for me) runs and having a grand old time.





    After lunch it’s my turn with Mr sick but his temp hasn’t came down so we asked the hotel if there was a doctor nearby and they graciously drove us down to Ichinose.


    The clinic is on the right behind those roller doors next to the big snowcan rental shop on Ichinose Diamond. Unfortunately we arrived during their lunch break so had to wait a bit.

    When the roller door goes up there is a door you go through to the clinic waiting room.


    The clinic has 9am to 4pm hours with an hour for lunch.

    Quick check by the nurse and some ubiquitous paperwork and we were in to see the doctor.


    The doctor and both nurses spoke fairly solid English so I could explain what bought us there with little hassle. They even had a little testing machine that ruled out Influenzas A and B in less than 5 minutes!

    20 minutes later we were on our way with a stack of medicine for a diagnosis of the common cold and a medical certificate for our insurance to pay the ¥9000 bill (would have been ¥6000 without the certificate).

    It’s great to know there is a solid medical clinic in the village though. Understandably he had an alarming number of anatomical models of knees and ankles to no doubt help treat his more regular clientele!

    Wife managed to make her way over to Ichinose Family and played there for most of the afternoon but we managed to link up for a few runs while Mr 13 stayed in the room with his royal sickness.

    Not wanting to go out and not wanting to pay $90 a head for the buffet, dinner will be cup noodles and snacks from the hotel shop I think.

    The snow is starting to fall outside so fingers crossed for the medicines working to allow both boys out and about tomorrow. If not we’ll tag team again and hopefully get some time together in the afternoon.
     
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  5. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Little bonus. I managed to snap some pics of the Hi Happy menu that’s located in the same building as the Ichinose clinic.


     
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  6. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sorry missed the post. Staying at Shiga Grand Hotel in Ichinose from the 11th 4 nights.
     
  7. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nice. That’s right in the middle of the action. I’d either stay there or Chalet Shiga next time.
     
  8. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Shiga grand was a good price, just hoping its Ok, Its great to see pics of the runs. Good to see whats on offer food wise ect. What was the fee for the lessons? Sounds like a good way to see some terrain from a local. Keep up the good work.
     
  9. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Enjoying this TR also. As commented in Lady P's thread I probably should get back to Shiga one day. It seems to have preserved that old school vibe (for good or bad).

    A few things have changed though - when we first encountered one of those food ticket vending machines, there was no english or even any pictures, so we basically had no idea what we were ordering. Some of the guys felt hungry so opted for one the more expensive Y1100 items. Can't recall but I think I probably went for something around Y800. Of course it was all pretty safe - the regular ski-jo staples Ramen, Donburis, Katsucurries etc.

    Also you did well to get english speaking doctors and nurses. I struggled to get that even just last year in a hospital in Morioka.
     
  10. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was surprised too. I had prepared a stack of google translate statements describing what was wrong just in case. Interestingly the only one I used was “my son is sick, is there a doctor in ichinose?”

    私の息子は体調が悪い。一ノ瀬に医者はいますか。
     
  11. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are a few different ski schools here in Shiga. The private lessons with Shiga International Ski School rates are here: http://www.shigaskischool.com/lesson

    We went with the private 3 hour lessons or ¥27000. Can pay cash or via credit card through their square account (online or in person with a credit card reader attached to an iPad)
    I’m sure if you just wanted to be guided around Robel could figure out something if your group is bigger than the private lesson numbers
     
  12. skidazza

    skidazza Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the report and pic's @elSpike - brings back some great memories of my first trip to Japan (and Shiga Kogen) in 2016. I've just remembered ordering one of those Roast Beef sandwiches from Hi Happy - and how long it took me to eat it! Was delicious though :)

    Having just seen the snow reports from Shiga, I hope the whole family woke up fighting fit this morning - and you all managed to get out to enjoy the fresh.
     
  13. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks mate. I hope people get some useful info for planning their subsequent trips.

    Unfortunately Mr 10 is still not well so it’s been a day of rest with iPad and regular medicine to keep the fever down. Hoping it will pass soon. No one like being sick.
     
  14. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Theres only 2 of us. Wont be pvt lesson, probably wife and I together or separate Im intermediate wife lower intermediate. Be interesting how busy they are mid week, if it was quite we could go together.
     
  15. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for the link..
     
  16. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Np.
     
  17. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s pretty quiet mid week.
     
  18. willsnow

    willsnow Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    When I was there, I asked whether I can go for a group lesson, and also what will happen if I'm the only one showing up for the group lesson - will the lesson still go ahead? They offered me a deal that if I'm the only one turning up for a group lesson, I just need to pay extra 2000 Yen and I can have the instructor for myself (effectively private lesson at almost half price).
     
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  19. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 9th - Shiga Kogen - Japow Wow!

    It started snowing last night. It kept snowing. It then snowed some more. I think it only stopped about 4.30pm. I don’t know what the official measurements were but it was a lot.


    Mr 10 was still feeling poorly this morning so it was just Mr 13 in the lesson. Due to the conditions it became a powder lesson.

    With Mr 10 tucked in bed with Minecraft videos to watch, the adults headed out to do a few runs. We’ve never tried to ski in powder before, let alone when it was mostly knee deep and occasionally chest deep — on piste! We stayed on the west side of Yakebitaiyama to be close to the hotel.

    Let’s just say that I fell down a lot, including one that managed to leave me buried under a couple of feet of snow, feet in the air, wondering how to get out of the predicament. For those of you playing at home, I popped the skis while they were still in the air and essentially thrashed my way out. Unfortunately I managed to lose my prescription insert out of an unzipped pocket (boo me) probably at this point.



    By then it was just too deep and too cold so we headed in to check on the boy and wait for the others lesson to finish.


    Lunch was at the restaurant on level 2 of the Prince west building. I again neglected to snap the menu so will do that another day. We did have some luck in that the staff were able to understand Mrs elSpike’s food allergy and modified one of the items to suit. They then insisted on refunding her about ¥200 because a component was removed. Only in Japan.

    After lunch we left the boys on their devices and went out to take another crack and ventured a little further afield. We rode the incredibly slow romance lift over to Ichinose Diamond, spent some time there figuring out again that I suck at powder while Mrs elSpike is a natural. “I just lean back and let the mountain take me”. We also spent some time over at Ichinose Family on their main slope which proved to be a happy medium with the schools wedging creating a groomed run for me and plenty of pow on the side for Mrs.



    Feeling the cold about 3pm we stopped in at Hi Happy cafe and to our surprise they had bakery goods for afternoon tea out. While not French patisserie quality, they hit the spot for a little refuel.



    A couple of more runs where it cleared just a little bit, and then we were done.


    Dinner again at the Teppa Room (wonderful beers) and then the usual onsen and bed.

    Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
     
  20. Lady Penelope

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

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    My friend organised a private lesson for herself and her two teens in Ichinose through Kitamura Ski School. I can’t remember what she paid (I can ask her tomorrow) but I know it was cheaper than the group lessons at Okushiga Kogen. They had a 3 hour lesson with a Japanese instructor who spoke reasonably good English and found it pretty good. Just google Kitamura at Ichinose
     
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  21. skidazza

    skidazza Hard Yards

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    Hi @elSpike - just re-read your opening post and saw you're doing 3 trips to Japan this season. So jealous!

    I see you're in Myoko from the 1st to the 5th. I'm staying next door (at Myoko Mountain Lodge) from the 1st to the 7th - and sounds like we share a similar skill level and love of red groomers - so we could well bump into each somewhere along the way - although hopefully not literally :)

    For recommendations, I'd definitely suggest checking out Suginohara early in your visit. I regretted leaving it to my last day on my first trip last year. Sugi has a red/green groomed run that's about 8km from memory. I think it might be the longest in Japan? @skichanger may be able to drop you there in the morning - but if not, there's a regular bus service from the top of the road.

    Hope the rest of your time at Shiga is awesome - and will keep an eye out for you around Myoko next month :)
     
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  22. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 10th - Shiga Kogen - A most outstanding day.

    We awoke to an incredible sky outside our window at Yakebitaiyama. After the chaos that was yesterday’s incessant snow, we had blue skies and freshly groomed runs.


    With the clear sky came a chilly -8°C. And Okushiga was reporting 70cm on the board next to the gondola.

    Last night I mailed Robel from SISS to see if we could move the boys final lesson to allow Mr 10 to be well enough. He replied within minutes agreeing to shift it to Saturday, so this morning saw 3 of us venturing out while Sick-a-saurus continued his bed rest. His temperature had almost gone so he just needed a bit more rest.

    We spent the morning between Okushiga and Yakebitaiyama, enjoying the runs that stayed largely fresh until about 10.30 when the ski school “minions” started making their presence known.








    We even found a lift line, the first of the entire trip!



    Back in time for lunch, we found a much improved boy who’s hunger had started returning.


    Lunch in the Prince West level 2 cafe (which I remembered to photograph) was again excellent.



    After lunch, the boys retired for their usual afternoon of iPad and Switch while the parents decided to take the leisurely loop through Ichinose, Takamagahara, Nishidateyama, Hoppo, Higashidateyama, back across to Ichinose and back to Yakebitaiyama.



    All in all we managed just shy of 32km of runs, and 5km of vertical. Not a bad day at all!



    Unfortunately as we arrived back at Ichinose Diamond someone on a spinal board was being loaded into a rescue helicopter. Stay safe out there team!



    Dinner was at Izakaya Time, this time at a table with real chairs, and back to the hotel for onsen, ice cream and bed.

    Side note, the Prince west has two top loading washing machines in each of the male and female onsen. You can buy washing powder for ¥50 in the little foyer shop.



    There isn’t much of a drying area in the room but you can jury rig up a makeshift drying area in the bathroom and around the surfaces of the room if you try hard enough. The lack of humidity dries clothes super quick. Just don’t leave the window open over night or you might end up with Undiecicles!

     
  23. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great tips mate. If you are up for it, we can grab a beer or a meal while we’re there.

    Sugi sounds just the ticket!
     
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  24. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    I love the shirt, where did you get it:cool:?
     
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  25. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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  26. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thx for the TR, we’re arriving SK, staying at Prince West 18/2/19.
    Taking in all your handy info and tips.
     
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  27. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    No problems. We are here till 14th so plenty more days of exploring!
     
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  28. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 11th - Shiga Kogen - The return of Family Ski

    This morning we got the band back together as Mr 10 declared himself fit for ski duty. His hunger returned at breakfast too, packing away toast, waffles and eggs in vast quantities.



    Yakebitaiyama again looked wonderful with light snow falling around 8am.


    After a couple of quick laps around the #2 Quad outside the hotel, we headed over to Ishinose Family (Diamond was packed solid with school group minions) to do the Black run down the front face a couple of times. It still had the untouched grooming from night skiing last night with a lovely 4-5cm of powder on top. Just magical for those wide sweeping turns I love.



    It was then over to the boys beloved trees at Tanenno Mori Okojo for about an hour or so of whizzing through the powder surrounding the groves.

    By then it got a little cold and a lot more snowy so we hid out at the Restaurant Dakekannba at the bottom of Takamagahara. No point in showing menu as it’s all on signboards and it’s the usual Curry and rice and ramen type fare. Real soft serve though.




    The visibility then got very bad so we headed back to Ichinose Family to make use of the sheltered facing and spent at minion free lunch time carving up those 4 slopes.




    Back to Prince for lunch and to drop off the boys, and then it was an afternoon spent doing summit to base of Yakebitaiyama for us adults. They really are some spectacular 2.5km Red runs. And so few people compared to the traffic jam that was the base of Ichinose Family with the schools.



    The sun even poked its head out for a bit!


    For dinner we walked over to Prince South as they have a wonderful path through the forest between the west and south buildings. Maybe 8-10 minutes walk.



    We ate at the Izakaya “After” under the #2 Gondala. Surprisingly delicious food, and one of the more reasonably priced Prince restaurants. One exception to this recommendation would be to avoid the Okonomiyaki. It was one of those pre-made in a bag and heated up ones with the consistency of day old mash potatoes.




    And it wouldn’t be an elSpike patented post without the menu for all you readers with dietary needs.






    Tomorrow the boys have their final lesson and the weather looks like it’s going to be glorious.
     

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  29. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We will be in Shiga in 4 weeks. Have no idea of layout of the place so I might be hitting you up for suggestions on trails ect if your available..? Reds our limit.
     
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  30. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Absolutely. If you are confident on reds you can do essentially the entire Shiga Kogen area. There are maybe a dozen true black runs in the whole place. It is Red Green groomer paradise.
     
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  31. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 12th - Shiga Kogen - Boys last lesson and a bluebird day

    Our penultimate day in Shiga this season saw a really great looking blue sky await us at the breakfast hall. Not too much new snow but the groomers had done their work well.

    [​IMG]

    Master 10 awoke with a still painful cough but some cough mixture and a throat lozenge allowed him to take part in their final lesson with Rafal from SISS. We agreed to meet at Ichinose Diamond a little earlier than the end of lesson time in case we needed to see the doctor again. They headed toward Okushiga while we decided to climb up to Terakoya to play on the fast reds before the schools made their way up.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Alas we didn’t quite beat them to the Ichinose Family Quad... the first of many lines were found.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Once we made it to the top it was much clearer, and we were greeted with some spectacular views and equally spectacular, untouched groomed runs.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We then spent a solid hour just repeating each of the Terakoya runs until it was time to head back to Diamond to grab the boys.

    [​IMG]

    Master 10’s through and cough had returned to its painful state so we popped upstairs to see the Doc (new doc same nurses as last time). We were in and out in 10 minutes with a course of antibiotics and some more cough medicine. All for ¥3000. cheap!

    Lunch was downstairs at Hi Happy under the Ichinose Diamond SnowCan rental place. You’ll remember I posted the menu a few days ago. What I didn’t realise was the size of the portions are huge!

    [​IMG]

    That’s an iPhone XS for scale.

    After lunch the adults returned back to Terakoya and across to the Higashitayama Gondola (James Bond style) but Mrs elSpike has tweaked her leg on one of the upward traverses so we decided to head back to Yakebitaiyama to drop her at the hotel.

    [​IMG]

    Once there I spent the afternoon, along with about 700 of my new piste mates, riding the trails. The west side remained in good nick but the eastern half became a sea of moguls that made bubble wrap look smooth as a billiard table. Ironically the smoothest runnout there was the Olympic black course.

    For dinner we tried the new Shiga Kogen tacos in the Shiga Grand foyer. I have to say, they were super tasty. We ate the vegetarian and meat tacos and the chicken quesadillas and all were filled with fresh ingredients. The tortillas were especially good!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Menu incoming!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Apologies for the imgur images. The site upload facility isn’t working for me. Is there a limit?
     
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  32. skidazza

    skidazza Hard Yards

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    I tried to warn you about that roast beef roll
     
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  33. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Was maybe 60cm long!
     
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  34. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 13th - Shiga Kogen - Half day hoards!

    We again woke to a clear and crisp morning with almost no snow to replenish the pistes. No more than a cm at best. Probably nil.

    The breakfast buffet crowd had almost doubled in size, and all of the window seats were taken. The long weekend is in full effect.

    Mrs elSpike’s hamstrung was a little sore so she decided to take a rest day, and after 8 full days of back to back skiing the rest of our legs were feeling a little tight too so we decided to just have a half day too.

    Using the last of our complimentary Yakebitaiyama passes we stayed in Prince land and tried to collect all the major runs on Yakebitaiyama.






    The highlight of the day was the Olympic Grand Slalom. While its’ 30° slope is right on the edge of my comfort level, it was groomed to perfection and perfect for fast carving. Maybe I am getting better?

    It was very cold out there with fingers and toes needing a little warm up at 10.30 before the sun came out and increased the temps by a few degrees.


    Lunch involved a stroll up to Ichinose to Cafe Rocky (sorry it was super busy so I didn’t get the menu) where all of the food was ~¥900-¥1200 with things like Spaghetti Carbonara and Corn Soup. They also had great soft serve for ¥300.



    After lunch we returned our lift passes to claim back the ¥500 deposit and handed back our rental skis, both quick and painless processes.

    The afternoon was spent watching TV and resting tired legs. Quite a few places were shut tonight so dinner was a return to the Taco place from last night.

    This evening it was Onsen and packing of bags for our transit to Madarao tomorrow morning.

    Speaking of Onsen. The prince west has clear signs saying no tattoos (I think all princes do) but that was pretty much ignored by most Chinese guests. Full back and arms were abounds. In previous years I used to tape mine up with strapping tape, but for this trip I’ve been using a specialised sleeve I got off amazon that’s been working really well. While it seems you can get around it, I’ve always subscribed to being the best possible guest I can be when travelling.



    We also ran into @hardbooter and his wife in the lift after dinner. Was great to put a face to the name. We joked about stalking each other on the forum, so now it’s just two blokes keeping in touch. Nothing weird at all! :whistle:
     
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  35. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    As we are heading to Madarao tomorrow I thought I’d add a couple of thoughts on Shiga Kogen.

    1. We will definitely be back. Shiga is without a doubt, the best area for people looking for exceptional Intermediate runs. Anyone who can Ski the Reds and Blues at Other resorts in Japan will have almost no issue skiing 90% of the terrain at Shiga. And remember there is 85km of pistes across the resorts.
    2. When we come back, we will definitely stay in Ichinose. It’s where most of the restaurants are and it has easy access to the kick off points for exploring the resorts.
    3. More places have credit card facilities than I was lead to believe. Nearly 100% of the restaurants actually.
    4. If you can, book your evening meals when you first arrive. Places book out pretty quickly, especially on weekends. There are plenty of options if you are happy to move about.

    Here’s a link to a map of Ichinose with most of the restaurants marked.

    https://www.japanspecialists.com/uploads/village-info/Shiga-Kogen-Village-Map.pdf
     
  36. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 14th - Madarao - Coming home.

    Despite sending the boys to bed with instructions that they should sleep in if possible, there was a knock at the door at 7am as usual; both boys dressed and ready for breakfast.



    A leasurely final breakfast looking at one of our favourite runs of Shiga we packed up our stuff and waited downstairs for our Nagaden Taxi to arrive.

    We chose to use a taxi to Madarao rather than the bus because it was cheaper (¥180k vs ¥230k) and faster (55mins vs 2.5hours via Nagano). Our driver was very competent and took back roads to avoid the toll ways, still arriving faster than Google Maps estimates.



    Madarao was where we first learned to ski, and is the first mountain we’ve ever returned to in Japan. Coming up that road from Iiyama was a little bit surreal. We all got that familiarity sense as we spotted different things that jogged the memory.



    We are staying at the Madarao Kogen Hotel. They have fairly large rooms by Japanese standards, and the location can’t be beat.

    Arriving early we checked in and dropped our bags in the big room downstairs before hiring gear and hitting the slopes. I forgot to grab a photo of the rental fees but they are all on the website so I’m sure you can find them.

    By 11am we were off skiing, marvelling at the runs we found terrifying a few years ago, that now feel flat and tame. We also got to relive some of the emotions of that first time a run just clicks and you feel that flying experience that only skiing gives.





    The pistes were a little firm and a couple of patches were a little icy. Nothing a few overnight cms couldn’t fix. Hopefully we’ll see some before we leave Friday.



    There were a decent enough amount of people out and about but the slopes didn’t really feel crowded. We did have a bit of flat light towards the end of the day as the sun fell behind the mountain. It makes “spot the massive divot some boarder has left cause they can’t stay upright for more than 10 meters” a whole lot more difficult.

    All in all it was wonderful to be back.

    For dinner we found a delightful Izakaya called Ikoi that I think made the best meal I’ve ever had in Japan. The Shrimp and Mushrooms were to die for and they have a whole ham leg that they cut in front of you for their special Jamon that just melts in your mouth. I can’t recommend it enough.








    On the walk back we found a little evidence that there had been some big dumps earlier...



    As we wind down the evening, sipping fresh milk after a relaxing onsen, it really does feel like we’ve come home.

     
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  37. skivet

    skivet Addicted

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    I am really loving yours and Lady Penelope trip reports! Staying at Madarao for the first time next week and are really pleased to hear about your thoughts on restaurants ect. Then next Shiga Kogen but there will be our sixth trip too! Thanks for your journey account.
     
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  38. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 15th - Madarao - The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly.

    Last night was probably the best night’s sleep we’ve had in Japan. I don’t think the bed is any better than Prince West. Maybe we were just tired.



    Such a lovely sunrise though.



    Another snowless and windy day greeted us as we pulled on the boots. Conditions were super icy in the morning, with lots of chunks of rock hard snow being carved up by boarders on both Champion and Giant. With the wind cutting across the main face we decided to take a look at Tanagram Circus and found it to be much more sheltered from the wind and less ripped up. The main bottom slopes there were still fast and hard but I think the genteler gradients kept people away. We spent the morning riding the fast quad and practicing both long and short carving turns across the wide face.

    Also. No crowds. I think there were maybe 30 people skiing on the Tanagram side the whole time we were there!



    (Hi Myoko!)


    For lunch we caught up with a couple of the boys school friends (and their family) at Aki’s Pub, which is half way down the from beginner slope and cohabitates with one of the ski schools. They mainly do Pizzas for about ¥1200. One very bad thing is that there was almost a full hours wait between ordering and food arriving, with no heads up from the person taking the order. Had we known we probably would have gone somewhere else so as not to eat up the daylight.




    After lunch we alternated between Champion, Giant, Poleslope and some of the inbetween “tree” runs which are largely just runs with trees widely spaced. Sort of a tree-light.

    While we had fun today, Madarao really needs some snow. The groomers need something to work with, as they are basically just grinding ice at the moment, and the boarders need some pow to get into the real trees. We kept joking that it was not Madapow today, it was madder ice.

    Luckily there is a bit forecast overnight and into tomorrow morning.

    For dinner we went to Unjaune which does some of the largest burgers you’ll ever see. All for a very reasonable ¥1200-1400. Their Umeshu pours are very generous as well!




    Would appreciate all you snow shamen and shawomen to start your snow dancing now.



    The Ugly:
    Let’s talk about the No. 1 lift back up to the Madarao Kogen Hotel. There are 3 sets of lifts. 2 romance and a triple. I get that the triple needs to be slow cause there’s lots of first timer little kids riding it for their lesson, but man. All of them are tied for 1st in the worlds slowest lift competition. I’m almost certain they run on some sort of windup clock mechanism. Ugh.

     
  39. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 16th - Madarao - Madapow!

    Well. My requests for snow dances seems to have worked. It started snowing around midnight and didn’t stop till about 5pm.

    We woke to a very different view out the window indeed. The snow was pouring in sideways from the wind as we ate our breakfast.



    Side note. Our dietary restrictions are weird. I can’t eat chicken and Mrs elSpike can’t eat Pork, beef, or lamb. (I know. Don’t have us over for dinner). I think the kitchen staff were plotting against us this morning!



    But in to the skiing. With a good boot deep cover over the groomed runs, we had to put our newly won powder skills, from Shinga last week, to the test. The placid greens of Madarao became quite slow and hard going, but reds and above were excellent fun.



    Visibility was a bit problematic at times too.




    For the morning we opened the account on the front of Madarao, charging down Champion before heading over to Crystal and on to Tangram where we had spotted some quite excellent little runs on the far side. At points we were getting fresh tracks in knee to waist deep snow flurries, the boys laughing the whole way down.

    Lunch was supposed to be at the Soba place at Tangram but unfortunately they were closed yesterday and today as replacements for the public holiday. We instead ate at Restaurant Banif at the base of Chrystal. It’s a pretty generic place to get out of the cold but nothing early inspired. One thing to note, be careful which asahi can you grab in a rush. Zero alcohol beer is pointless.



    At lunch the rest of the fam decided to head in, while I continued on for a couple of hours determined to really focus on some of the ski drills from our lessons. I think I’ve really progressed over the past two weeks and am finally feeling confident on almost all courses. I’ll have some questions over on the equipment section about skis later.




    Tomorrow is our last day skiing in Madarao. Fingers crossed for the great day that’s currently being forecast.
     
  40. skidazza

    skidazza Hard Yards

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    Looks brilliant - except for that beer of course :)
     
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  41. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 17 - Madarao - final ski day.

    As predicted, today was perfect. Perfectly groomed after the pow of yesterday. Very little to say other than we did pretty much every groomed run on Madarao and Tangram and they were all magical in their own way.









    Food:
    Lunch at the soba shop in the basement of Tangram. Highly recommended. As was the soba soft serve.






    Dinner with some old family friends at the Drop off bar. Fantastic Japanese tapas. The wasabi beans were a standout in a very good menu. Tell Evie that Patrick, the Aussie from Singapore, sent you. She will sort you out.


    Tomorrow we travel back to Singapore via Iiyama, Tokyo and Narita.
     
    #91 elSpike, Jan 17, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  42. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    January 18 - Madarao then Tokyo then Narita then Singapore.

    Today, as always, was one of the more tiring of the trip. Travel home.

    Due to some changes that saw our plans get extended for a day, last night we packed everything up and walked down the 200m to Xplore by ActiveLife for our last night accommodations. Not an easy feat with all of our baggage.

    The view in the morning was pretty special though. 25/30cm to wave us off.



    ActiveLife have three properties in Madarao, with Xplore being the largest. Their renovation is still very new, with some of the furnishings still not quite delivered. Everything was up and running and looked great though. They seem to be going for a multinational vibe, with very friendly staff from all over the world. As we arrived, the staff were helping build a snowman with some of the smaller guests and having a great time.




    Due to our luggage we got a taxi down to Iiyama to catch the Shink back to Tokyo. If you are travelling with luggage I recommend you get to the station a little early and stake your claim at the front of the queue for your carriage so you get first dibs on the very limited luggage rack.





    As I said in an earlier post, we rarely go through Tokyo without stopping at Tan Tan vegan ramen. Delicious.



    Got the lunch / dinner menu this time too.









    NEX back to Narita, check in with ANA, a final coolish and we were off.



    Side note: don’t you just hate it when you get a 28 gate at Narita and have to take a bus to the plane? We do.




    Six and a half hours later we are home, already plotting for the next trip to Myoko in two weeks time!

    As a reflection, it was wonderful to return to Madarao, where we learnt to ski just a few seasons ago. We managed to explore most of the mountain, and not just the tamest of greens, giving us the full experience. Madarao has changed vastly too.

    Where in our first trip, we were one of two western families, whereas this trip there were only two or three Japanese families at the hotel. The village has gone from just a few restaurants immediately below the ski area, to the plethora of choices, with most needing a booking if you want to eat before 8pm.

    The mountain itself only needs three or four days. You can ski every groomed run on both Madarao and Tangram in one day. The majority of lifts are slow romance lifts with only 4 of the 15 being more modern Quads. But the skiing is fun, the tree runs are great, the powder, when it’s on, is first rate.

    On a self development front, I’ve “leveled up” in my skiing ability this trip. I feel like I’ve gone from a cautious lower intermediate into a much more confident advance intermediate. I’m carving more times than not, and starting to ask questions about the performance of the skis strapped to my feet. I’ve had a taste of powder and off piste and am keen to get a lesson or two focused on that.

    As the stats below show. We did a pretty good job of milking everything we could out of this ski trip.



    See you all in a couple of weeks for the next instalment in Myoko!
     

    Attached Files:

  43. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Choice! Where's the vegan ramen place?
     
  44. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    When in Tokyo station, follow the signs to Keiyō Line. Keep following them. Even when you think “oh no I’ve gone too far. There are no more shops past here”

    Tan Tan will be on your right. Have faith that you will see it.

     
  45. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks, pretty sure we walked past it last year. It's now a destination for the next visit.
     
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  46. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ok sportsfans, it's your old pal elSpike here gearing up for part 2 of the elSpike's Ski Ski Ski 2019.

    13 days in Shiga and Madarao just wasn't enough.

    As it is coming up Lunar New Year, in just under 48 hours we are jumping back on a plane to Japan for a 5 day whirlwind visit to Myoko. The hype is getting real again.
     
    #96 elSpike, Jan 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
  47. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    That's just greedy....:D
     
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  48. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    31 January - Just keep moving...

    And we are off again. Evening flight on Singapore Airlines venerable 777 (upgraded interior) leaving 5.25pm and arrived just before 1am JST.

    Same excellent SQ service as always. One weird occurance was about 3 hours into the flight someone started taking photos of their screen. A lot of photos. Like they were making a stop motion video of their movie. Chachick chachick chachick cachick.

    On arrival we checked in to the Haneda Park Hotel at the airport (great transit hotel) and then straight to sleep. Alarm set for 6.55 to get moving toward Myoko!

    That rain doesn’t look good for Sunday though
     
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  49. skidazza

    skidazza Hard Yards

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    Assuming you're here in Myoko now @elSpike ? We got here just after 10am tofsy and it's been snowing nicely the whole time so looks good for tomorrow at least! Sunday night looks a worry :(
     
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  50. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep. Arrived at 11.30. Now at Kanko. I think. The visibility is not amazing. Couldn’t see the chair in front of us and almost tripped over the Champion restaurant looking for lunch!

    Heading to Sugi tomorrow I think.