Advice needed Extended Japan Stay

Nomad71

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Nomad, if you want some ideas, check out this.


The only decision you need to make is clockwise or anti-clockwise ;)
Thanks heaps. 16 pages to wade through. I'll get another drink. Would love to do the road trip but with kids in tow it's just a pain in the butt to pack every couple of days.
 
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Donza

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We're allowed a carry on bag each for our clothes for 4 weeks.
Board bags x 2 for snow gear.
Duffel bag usually gets purchased for souvenirs.
 
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Hyst

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yeah.
I only know of maybe 4 or 5.
@Hyst probably knows more than I do.

it sucks when you have to split up your crew for an onsen.
is not so fun to end a great day backcountry with a kickass girls ski group by sitting on my own in an onsen.
when its one chick and a bunch of dudes they might not be so keen tho.

some proper ones with facilities/etc require everyone wear swimmers, or heavily recommend the ladies wear something.
but the natural outdoor ones its (to my understanding) a super real big no no to wear anything in the water.
Sorry, Hyst knows nothing about that, and if I would I would not write it on a forum.

Result could be that wife and me enjoys onsen and a full buss with Chinese, Koreans or a bunch of Australian/US men, would turn up and stare at my wife like she is a creature from outer space.

Wish they would create couple onsens instead of the the clothing for females many places nowadays. That would create a better atmosphere.

But ski and onsen ( and thus a car) is a great thing, (and I will miss it this winter).



Family onsen with kids is often a possibility - but the water is sometimes not warm enough.
 
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LMB

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I thought Id look for some pictures to get an idea of the snow in late December.
It looks better than I remember, so I thought I would clarify, Niseko in Late December:
- I'd say 99% of inbounds is skiable
- 30% of slackcountry is skiable
- 10% of backcountry is skiable.

In December, you get used to the Sasa hitting you in the face.
For example, the first picture is about 1/2 second before I got a bloody lip.


With this information, if your goal was to only ski inbounds, I'd say you could go quite a bit further south if you wanted.


Dec 21 2019
dec212019.jpg


Dec 31 2018
dec312018.jpg


Dec 22 2017
dec222017.jpg


Dec 30 2016
dec302016.jpg


Dec 19 2015
dec192015.jpg


2014 photos missing?!

Dec 14 2013
dec142013.jpg


Dec 8 2012
dec82012.jpg


Dec 19 2011
dec192011.jpg
Yeah, I was gonna chime in that it really is dependent on what people are after as to how early is too early and where you’d look to go to reduce risk.

I have been so so lucky and had cracking early and late season in a few places on Honshu, and I’ve seen lean starts and ridiculous deep pow early starts in Hokkaido.

If people are on piste skiers I don’t think it really matters so much. Something will be open. It’s those of us chasing deep off piste in a 2 week holiday window that would be focused so much on ensuring we went to a time and location that gives us the best chance of *epic*. Still not guaranteed though LOL

And yes… you and I are biased - it’s “home”, and we miss it! :cry:
 

telenomore

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Fukiage is great. If you staying in Tokachi you can get there on skis. Great spot, only downside was putting cold ski boots on afterwards.
The bottom pool is a comfortable temperature, it is shallower so you can sit there for an extended period. I checked out the top pool also, was a mixed group with a few older women, but it was HOT. A couple of mins there was all I could manage.

268a_Tokachi_Fukiage_onsen.JPG
It’s fairly deserted in winter , most people go up the road to Hakuginso. Although I don’t know how Covid-19’s affected that place.
Nice recollection there @Heinz. The car park there is a great place to park up your camper van. Often see vans based there for a few days during ski season. Has a toilet and of course and a bath. Early days we would ski in and no clothes of course but the last few years, most locals (mostly the women I have to say) now cover up with swimmers. Nearby Hakuginso (also called Fukiage so can be confusing) has an excellent mixed "rotenburo" (outdoor onsen) and swimmers are required. Times have changed. In the 80's it was very common to see onsens at most mountain Inns have mixed bathing. It is still possible in some up market Inns for private onsen baths but not for general public as a rule. There also used to be a great outside onsen skiers right half way down the main run at Asahi Dake, almost under the gondola but it's no longer accessible. Naka Dake Onsen is another one that you ski to but it requires commitment, about half way between Asahi Dake and Kuro Dake, over the Mts!
 

Heinz

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Nice recollection there @Heinz. The car park there is a great place to park up your camper van. Often see vans based there for a few days during ski season. Has a toilet and of course and a bath. Early days we would ski in and no clothes of course but the last few years, most locals (mostly the women I have to say) now cover up with swimmers. Nearby Hakuginso (also called Fukiage so can be confusing) has an excellent mixed "rotenburo" (outdoor onsen) and swimmers are required. Times have changed. In the 80's it was very common to see onsens at most mountain Inns have mixed bathing. It is still possible in some up market Inns for private onsen baths but not for general public as a rule. There also used to be a great outside onsen skiers right half way down the main run at Asahi Dake, almost under the gondola but it's no longer accessible. Naka Dake Onsen is another one that you ski to but it requires commitment, about half way between Asahi Dake and Kuro Dake, over the Mts!

In fact it was you that would have taken that pic. It was from 2006.
 
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Nomad71

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Thanks for all the great info everyone. @Hyst you sound like you are keeping secrets but I don't blame you. You don't need 10,000 Aussie men crashing the best Rotenburo's in Japan! We've paid to use a couple of private ones in the past but the best ones are still public access.

We're definitely not groomer cruisers @LMB. So, I realise getting any pow is going to depend on the timing of storms. Beggars can't be choosers. School holidays are cramping our style these days.

In summary, it's sounding like Niseko, Hakuba or Yuzawa are our best options for self-contained accom and descent infrastructure. A car for mixing up the slopes and a lean towards Hokkaido for early season weather. Which puts Niseko with the most boxes ticked. Just might be a bit on the exy side. Maybe with a car, we can stay a bit further away but it would still be nice for the kids to have independence to come and go from the local hill.

Anything I'm missing or overlooking?
 

absentskier

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Thanks for all the great info everyone. @Hyst you sound like you are keeping secrets but I don't blame you. You don't need 10,000 Aussie men crashing the best Rotenburo's in Japan! We've paid to use a couple of private ones in the past but the best ones are still public access.

We're definitely not groomer cruisers @LMB. So, I realise getting any pow is going to depend on the timing of storms. Beggars can't be choosers. School holidays are cramping our style these days.

In summary, it's sounding like Niseko, Hakuba or Yuzawa are our best options for self-contained accom and descent infrastructure. A car for mixing up the slopes and a lean towards Hokkaido for early season weather. Which puts Niseko with the most boxes ticked. Just might be a bit on the exy side. Maybe with a car, we can stay a bit further away but it would still be nice for the kids to have independence to come and go from the local hill.

Anything I'm missing or overlooking?
Even from my own research, Furano could be a goer too?
 
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Kash

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I'd definitely look at Furano. While its hardly undiscovered, it really is a pretty special resort and a nice change from Niseko crowds/prices. Some of my best powder days in Japan off the link chair and other little pockets of Furano. Also amazing accessibility to the Asahidake and the small resorts between between AKJ airport and Furano. It isnt massive but more than made up for in quality and is a pretty little town.

Absolutely agree that for December, early Jan I'd be really only looking at Hokkaido to give your best chance of solid snow. Obviously there will be anomalies but generally better snow there at that point. Shiga might be the exception for Honshu given altitude?

Also agree with the car option but another perspective is just hiring it when you need it.
 

Any

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I'd question weather Furano's Kitanomine side would be open that time of year, its much lower elevation. From memory it opens in Jan and closes mid March. When they close it you've been skiing on grass for a week or two, so I imagine when they open it its the same. The resort much much smaller without it. When it is closed it makes access from the town harder.
Does Furano have shuttle busses? The town is close, but it is a good 5-10min drive away from the Furano base area. I've only been there with a car so don't know about busses.
Bouts of pow is almost guaranteed anywhere in Hokkaido in Dec. But without the base, Furano off piste in December would be the sides of groomers type deal. This is why I don't normally ski Furano until Feb.
Also always surprises me how expensive Furano is.

.... Just might be a bit on the exy side. Maybe with a car, we can stay a bit further away but it would still be nice for the kids to have independence to come and go from the local hill....
Izumikyo is a good 15-20 mins walk from Hirafu's chairlifts, but they've got shuttles going to both Hirafu and Hanazono that the kidlets would be able to use. The busses are jam packed in the morning and often very late, but you could drive in the morning and it could be an easy method for the kids to get home on their own when they're tired. Should be cheaper, but not as cheap as Kutchan.
You can ski halfway back home actually. By dropping down beside the Hirafu Gondola and crossing the lower carpark. I suspect you can ski all the way back without touring gear by dropping from waterfall area, but I've never tried it. Not sure if you will be able to do either in Dec/Jan tho.
Or you could just drop the kids off at aunty @LMB 's place lol.
 

telenomore

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I'd question weather Furano's Kitanomine side would be open that time of year, its much lower elevation. From memory it opens in Jan and closes mid March. When they close it you've been skiing on grass for a week or two, so I imagine when they open it its the same. The resort much much smaller without it. When it is closed it makes access from the town harder.
Does Furano have shuttle busses? The town is close, but it is a good 5-10min drive away from the Furano base area. I've only been there with a car so don't know about busses.
Bouts of pow is almost guaranteed anywhere in Hokkaido in Dec. But without the base, Furano off piste in December would be the sides of groomers type deal. This is why I don't normally ski Furano until Feb.
Also always surprises me how expensive Furano is.


Izumikyo is a good 15-20 mins walk from Hirafu's chairlifts, but they've got shuttles going to both Hirafu and Hanazono that the kidlets would be able to use. The busses are jam packed in the morning and often very late, but you could drive in the morning and it could be an easy method for the kids to get home on their own when they're tired. Should be cheaper, but not as cheap as Kutchan.
You can ski halfway back home actually. By dropping down beside the Hirafu Gondola and crossing the lower carpark. I suspect you can ski all the way back without touring gear by dropping from waterfall area, but I've never tried it. Not sure if you will be able to do either in Dec/Jan tho.
Or you could just drop the kids off at aunty @LMB 's place lol.
Hmm, Furano hatchet job there @Any. And very incorrect. Although certainly agree that Niseko gets more snow, closer to the coast and not as dry as Furano.

Just to set the record straight, Furano Gondi always opens late November, every year I have lived and worked there (since the 80's). Kittanomine always later, usually 20 December, which means we use it as a private backcountry run till the lifts turn. It has never been delayed to January. Xmas new year always fully open and January no problems with snow depths for full mountain and off piste skiing. Of course there can be anomalies like anywhere in Japan but no reason to delay skiing Furano more than anywhere else. Quote "When they close it (in March) you have been skiing grass for a week or two". That is utter nonsense. Again, I love it when the Kitanomine side closes as we get weeks of BC on the Kittanomine side. The Furano Gondola stays open for skiing right through to golden week, and is one of a handful of lifts at Japanese ski resorts to be still be open for skiing then.

Both Prince hotels (who own the resort) and local town run shuttle bus services between Kittanomine, Furano gondola and the town. Expensive? No more than any other ski resort, with options at all ends of the budget spectrum for accommodation.

Japan has great skiing, from down south in the Japan Alps to the far north. Niseko offers a great ski product as does Furano, Rusutsu, Teine, Tomamu and other great ski areas in Hokkaido. I recommend people look to factual information on snow and lift data at sites like SnowJapan.com etc. There is no need for anyone to be bagging resort areas that they hardly know to boost the area they do know. It happens too often in here. IMO you should celebrate what is great about the area you know well and don't bag the areas you don't. That way skiers looking for information on this site won't be mislead.
 

Annabuzzy

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I don’t like driving overseas. My cousin died in a head on collision in France many years ago for the obvious reasons and I’ve never liked driving overseas in large part because of this, even in left side of the road countries. So I’m totally with the OP. I also don’t like packing up and moving every week or two. I’m happy to get the occasional taxi if needed, or just rely on bus networks.

My ideal long stay has pretty much identical requirements and I’d do it without a car. With a bit of compromise and planning you don’t need to be slopesise anyway, provided you don’t mind catching buses.
 
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LMB

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Or you could just drop the kids off at aunty @LMB 's place lol.
Ha ha!
Probably actually could!
I’ll be in for the full season 22/23.
 

Any

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Hmm, Furano hatchet job there @Any. And very incorrect. Although certainly agree that Niseko gets more snow, closer to the coast and not as dry as Furano.

Just to set the record straight, Furano Gondi always opens late November, every year I have lived and worked there (since the 80's). Kittanomine always later, usually 20 December, which means we use it as a private backcountry run till the lifts turn. It has never been delayed to January. Xmas new year always fully open and January no problems with snow depths for full mountain and off piste skiing. Of course there can be anomalies like anywhere in Japan but no reason to delay skiing Furano more than anywhere else. Quote "When they close it (in March) you have been skiing grass for a week or two". That is utter nonsense. Again, I love it when the Kitanomine side closes as we get weeks of BC on the Kittanomine side. The Furano Gondola stays open for skiing right through to golden week, and is one of a handful of lifts at Japanese ski resorts to be still be open for skiing then.

Both Prince hotels (who own the resort) and local town run shuttle bus services between Kittanomine, Furano gondola and the town. Expensive? No more than any other ski resort, with options at all ends of the budget spectrum for accommodation.

Japan has great skiing, from down south in the Japan Alps to the far north. Niseko offers a great ski product as does Furano, Rusutsu, Teine, Tomamu and other great ski areas in Hokkaido. I recommend people look to factual information on snow and lift data at sites like SnowJapan.com etc. There is no need for anyone to be bagging resort areas that they hardly know to boost the area they do know. It happens too often in here. IMO you should celebrate what is great about the area you know well and don't bag the areas you don't. That way skiers looking for information on this site won't be mislead.
Before commenting I checked snowfall data, bus information, accommodation prices and lift opening and closing dates.

You'd be surprised to hear that Furano gets almost identical snowfall totals on average to Niseko (within an acceptable margin of error), however it's the average base depth data that is very different. The significantly drier snow means it compacts down a whole bunch more. 30-40% more according to the stats I found for the last 10 years. I
For this thread in particular I compared Niseko Dec 24 average base to Furano and it didn't consistently equalling that same base until February. Considering that Niseko slack country is at about 30% capacity at that same base I reasoned that Furano is about the same. You could argue that Furano has different foliage, tho not in my experience.
While Furano has some of the driest pow in the world, this has a negative side to it also. You can't have everything.
This is why I visit Furano in February now instead of January, where when I couldn't do things like the spillway earlier into the season, usually I now almost always find 100% slack and backcountry available to ski with almost no sasa.

I checked Furanos own website regarding the Kitanomine gondola which said late December/January and another Japanese website that proports to have recorded the open close dates for several of seasons (that stopped recording like 5 years ago) that recorded dates in January also.
I've only skied Furano about 4 times in March, and every time we found ourselves on grass and sludge at the bottom of the gondola, they run it to the last second that you could make it through.
I reasoned that there's probably similar conditions upon its opening, which every resort around the world does to get most terrain.

Thankyou for answering the question regarding shuttle busses, I assumed so but couldn't immediately find any difinitive info so I didn't want to say there is.

Furano is cheaper than Hirafu, but significantly more expensive than Kutchan.
As Furano base is 5 minutes drive from town. And Hurafu base is 8 minutes drive from Kutchan, I find it surprising to find Furano charging high rates for non ski in ski out accom. Perhaps I should have clarified my comparison.
I don't actually know about Kitanomine prices.

My goal is to make informed suggestions for a month long holiday in late dec early jan. I resent the personal stab that my efforts aren't honorable.
I mentioned biases before, which I fully admit to, however being aware of ones biases is even more important. It hurts to hear negative comments about your favorite resort, truthful or otherwise, welcome to the ski.com.au forums with the eyes of a Niseko resident. But Ill not color it rose or gloss over what I think are important details to avoid hurting someone's feelings and steer people incorrectly based on the information I have at hand.
 
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Any

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I don’t like driving overseas. My cousin died in a head on collision in France many years ago for the obvious reasons and I’ve never liked driving overseas in large part because of this, even in left side of the road countries. So I’m totally with the OP. I also don’t like packing up and moving every week or two. I’m happy to get the occasional taxi if needed, or just rely on bus networks.

My ideal long stay has pretty much identical requirements and I’d do it without a car. With a bit of compromise and planning you don’t need to be slopesise anyway, provided you don’t mind catching buses.
If it wasnt for grocery runs and some backcountry I'd never use my car.
Not to mention needing to clear off the car and keep the carpark clear.
The costs of renting, fuel and carpark clearing fees could be substituted for taxi costs even.
I used my car so little one year I had the snow clearing company angry that I wasn't giving them opportunity to clear it.

Agree, If you can survive without a car I think it's definitely worth going without.
 

Nomad71

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Ha ha!
Probably actually could!
I’ll be in for the full season 22/23.
That wouldn't fly. Our son wants to be doing laps of the park somewhere. Our daughter would take you up on the offer though if there was hot chocolate involved. LOL
 
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LMB

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Or you could just drop the kids off at aunty @LMB 's place lol.
Ha ha!
Probably actually could!
I’ll be in for the full season 22/23.
That wouldn't fly. Our son wants to be doing laps of the park somewhere. Our daughter would take you up on the offer though if there was hot chocolate involved. LOL
Given my need of park hours I’d probably choose your son LOL
 
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Nomad71

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Price of accomodation will be the biggest issue for Niseko/Hakuba etc.
Self contained. I'm thinking $2500 plus a week.

Will obviously be cheaper in towns like Otaru
Yep. Silver Birch where we stayed last time is $671 per night. Ouch! And only 3 star.
 

DidSurfNowSki

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Looks awesome! What decent ski hills are close by. I see a couple on the map but no knowledge of them. Niseko is an hour and a half and Rusutsu is the same.

Other nearby ski resorts
Approx. distance from Otaru Tenguyama by road (in winter)

Have skied at Asarigawa, Kokusai, Teine and Kiroro. Don't like one resort, try another !
 

Nomad71

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Other nearby ski resorts
Approx. distance from Otaru Tenguyama by road (in winter)

Have skied at Asarigawa, Kokusai, Teine and Kiroro. Don't like one resort, try another !
Thanks heaps. That's the obvious resource. I thought @Donza might know what's worth the lift ticket price in the local area. Otherwise, it looks like a long drive to a major hill.
 

mannyk

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@mannyk I'm also keen to hear more of your experience in Yuzawa. I looked at this as a destination a couple of years ago.
Sorry for the delay, We didnt spends a lot of time in town most of the time near the train station. We had 5 days at Naeba and 4 days at Ishiuchi.
We had a quick trip planned so Yuzawa was great so close to Tokyo.
I would go again and spend at least a week in the area and hire a car.
While it was crap at Naeba it rained and very firm, we were skiing in fresh over at Kagura and Tashiro across hills using the Dragondala.
Its a long ride.. by car to the base of Tashiro would be the pick.
We caught the local bus from Naeba but that had its issues.
I am going to get a trip report together soon..
 

Nomad71

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Sorry for the delay, We didnt spends a lot of time in town most of the time near the train station. We had 5 days at Naeba and 4 days at Ishiuchi.
We had a quick trip planned so Yuzawa was great so close to Tokyo.
I would go again and spend at least a week in the area and hire a car.
While it was crap at Naeba it rained and very firm, we were skiing in fresh over at Kagura and Tashiro across hills using the Dragondala.
Its a long ride.. by car to the base of Tashiro would be the pick.
We caught the local bus from Naeba but that had its issues.
I am going to get a trip report together soon..
Nice feedback. Thanks for the input. Cheers.
 
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