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Suggestion Hakuba Valley solo trip 19th - 22nd December, 18

Discussion in 'Japan' started by fosphenytoin, Aug 5, 2018.

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  1. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Staying the **** at home. Ski Pass: Gold

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    Vail, Breckenridge, President's Day weekend.

    Whistler Blackcomb last year.
     
  2. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    ??
     
  3. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Staying the **** at home. Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sorry, referring to how busy Australian resorts are.
     
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  4. willsnow

    willsnow Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    @fosphenytoin

    As you probably start to appreciate, Japan is much more than just Niseko and Hakuba. Better think of Japan in terms of 'regions' to ski. You get the Hokkaido, Nagano, Yuzawa, Niigata,Tohoku, Aizu region to name a few. Most first timers would stick to either Hokkaido or Nagano region. Niseko is in Hokkaido, while Hakuba is in Nagano. This page (http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Resort-Comparisons.aspx) would be a good reading to start with.

    Most major resorts in Nagano region can be reached via Shinkansen from Tokyo + bus ride from a Shinkansen station. End to end travel time from Tokyo station is usually 3-4.5 hours (in general). Best to avoid travel really late in the evening as bus service might be limited at that time.

    Some of the popular resorts in Nagano are:
    - Hakuba
    - Nozawa Onsen
    - Myoko Kogen (although technically in Niigata, neighbouring Nagano)
    - Madarao Kogen
    - Shiga Kogen

    Each has its own pros and cons and their own characteristic. Have a read through this forum to get a feel of what these resorts like. You can google their piste map to see if you like their terrains.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  5. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    He means Aus resorts are like this. but actually my experience is that they are far worse, especially during interschools.

    In Japan, with a few exceptions, it is a busy day if you genuinely have to wait in a queue as opposed to shuffling forward with a few other people. Love it when they wait for the next quad chair rather than catching a chair with someone else
     
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  6. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Seems the Aus resorts may be more like what the OP and I have experienced in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and northeast. In the Mid-A during holiday periods and weekends, it can be a 30-min wait for a 3-min run . . . when skiing relatively slowly on a black trail that is easier than most blues at destination resorts in the Rockies. The vertical at Mid-A ski areas is around 800-1000 ft (250-300 m) and most have fixed-grip chairlifts.
     
  7. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Learned a lot the past few days about skiing in Japan after reading postings on this website as well as Powder Hound. Very grateful to all your responses. :thumbs:

    Based on what I read up so far, I think I will like Zao Onsen the most, followed by Nozawa Onsen . Reason, Zao Onsen has the most traditional feel, with decent # of intermediate trails, whereas Nozawa Onsen is bit more westernized with more beginners terrains (per Powder Hound).

    I started to research for accommodation using Rakuten website, with dates 28th Dec to 1st Jan. I am a bit lost as to figure out whether the hotel is accessible via public transport or not? If not, is taxi service readily available? Do you suggest contacting the hotel directly to find out?
    For e.g.:
    1) Zao, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan - I found this one that I liked. Yuyado Asuka, address: 31-12, Kitayama, Togatta Onsen, Zao-Machi, Katta-Gun, Miyagi 989-0916, Japan

    According to description it is: 35 minutes by car from Shiroishizao station. Is this too remote? I won't have a car.

    For Nozawa Onsen, search under:
    1) "Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, Nozawaonsen, Nagano Prefecture, Japan" - found 3 hotels and one is "5 minutes by car from JR Iiyama Line Togari Nozawa Onsen Station", another one "via Iiyama station of JR Iiyama line, or Toyota-Iiyama I.C. on Shinetsu Expressway, orIsiuchi I.C. on Kanetsu Expressway".

    Can anyone give advise on how to figure out whether or not the place is easily accessible by public transportation.... :confused:
     
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  8. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep that is exactly what it can be like. Add in poor snow conditions as well. We live 45 minutes from the Aus resorts and do not bother any more as we get a full season of great snow in Japan. Even early and late season in Japan it is better than we ever get in Aus.

    My son has competed at Val St Comb (? spelling). and would never go there except that it has a moguls comp there. So we have head about some of these resorts.
     
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  9. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Glad we can help. Zao Onsen is criminally underrated IMO.

    DO NOT stay at that place you linked, its ages from Zao Onsen ski resort (I've circled Zao in red):
     
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  10. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    You need to look at the bus timetables. Perhaps look on Hyperdia

    The transport hubs at Nozawa are easy to access via bus from Iiyama Station. Look on the resort websites re shuttles. Or see if there is a local tourist association website. Use chrome as it will auto translate the website for you.

    One other potential problem is being a single traveller. The places I have stayed at with tatami mat rooms take 4 to 6 people. While I have shared with other people this was at a moguls event and they arranged for me to share with other mothers of competitors and the medic. My son shared with other competitors. Not sure what happens with single travellers.

    And be prepared to have some places just say no because you do not speak Japanese. I was the first person my neighbour at Chalet Myoko had stay who did not speak Japanese. The only reason he let me stay was because I was with someone who spoke both Japanese and English. They worry about problems that never occur when they cannot communicate.
     
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  11. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Have a look at this website for accom in Zao: http://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english/stay/

    My partner and stayed at a Ryokan called Boku no uchi: http://bokunouchi.com/
    Was very reasonably priced, and right across the road from the Family Mart (convenience store) and the middle gondola. Super convenient. Has a small onsen as part of the ryokan. The owners were lovely but don't speak much English.

    My friends stayed at Yashidaya: https://zao-yoshidaya.com/yoshidaya_lg_en/index.html
    A bit more expensive and about a 5-10 min walk to the ski lifts, but bigger rooms and a really nice free onsen as part of the hotel.

    RE - getting to Zao, it's super easy. Bullet train to Yamagata City from Tokyo. Then a short 30 min bus to Zao onsen. Bus leaves out the front of the station.
     
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  12. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the heads up. This is very useful information. It makes sense. Likely, I will be bringing my 79 year old father along for the trip since I will be going to HK first. So there will be 2 of us.

    I checked the two hotels link you provided, both have no availability for 28th Dec to 1st Jan. But I went ahead and emailed them, hopefully I will get lucky.

    The website for accommodation in Zao: 80 hotels to choose from, most are in Japanese with no email address. I will start making phone calls if the above 2 hotels have no availability. I think there will be vacancies given the # of options. I think I will be OK. (Even though I was a bit worried last night... ) Thanks again @Froff Life and @skichanger for the timely response.
     
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  13. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I find email the best way to book Japanese accommodation. A lot of the time the bigger booking websites will show no availability but if you email the places directly you can find some, and often at a better price.
     
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  14. Sandy

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

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    I think you need to go back up in the thread a bit, and first you need to work out if it's VIABLE that there might be snow at the resorts that you are choosing, before deciding to go there.
    e.g.
    Zao Onsen Snow depth:
    Dec 28th 2017: Bottom 70cm, upper 120cm
    Dec 28th 2016: Bottom 25cm, upper 55cm
    Dec 28th 2015: Bottom 20cm, upper 60cm
    Dec 28th 2014: Bottom 135cm, upper 170cm
    Zao gets less snow early season

    Hakuba 47 Snow depth:
    Dec 28th 2017: Bottom 90cm, upper 240cm
    Dec 28th 2016: Bottom 20cm, upper 110cm
    Dec 28th 2015: Bottom 15cm, upper 120cm
    Dec 28th 2014: Bottom 135cm, upper 250cm

    Nozawa Onsen Snow depth:
    Dec 28th 2017: Bottom 130cm, upper 265cm
    Dec 28th 2016: Bottom 20cm, upper 105cm
    Dec 28th 2015: Bottom 0cm, upper 70cm
    Dec 28th 2014: Bottom 180cm, upper 300cm

    Kagura Snow depth:
    Dec 28th 2017: Bottom 180cm, upper 280cm
    Dec 28th 2016: Bottom 110cm, upper 150cm
    Dec 28th 2015: Bottom not listed (probably 50-120cm)
    Dec 28th 2014: Bottom 160cm, upper 250cm
     
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  15. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    It sounds like OP will value factors like traditional village, access, price and accommodation more highly than snow quality.
     
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  16. Sandy

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

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    That might be true, but if I was bringing boots half way around the world's, I'd also be wanting to make sure there's a bit of snow around. If that was me, and I wanted reasonable amounts of snow pack and and some quaint accommodation and ease of access, I'd head to Naeba(Village) /Kagura(Mitsumata)
     
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  17. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture Endless Winter

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    Me too, stayed at a really nice accom at Naeba ( As far away from the Prince as possible !!! )
     
  18. Melskius

    Melskius One of Us

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    We stayed at the Prince in march, we enjoyed a few days there, even scored free lift tickets for the 3 days too.

    If you want to see what Naeba was like we have it documented in a you tube video. Search Dale discovers - the Naeba episode.
     
  19. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    So........back to message #21. LOL
     
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  20. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture Endless Winter

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    Fantastic video, what a dream resort with kids of that age, well done
     
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  21. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not so quaint and depending on budget, the Oyada Honjin in Naeba is very authentic with nice rooms and great onsens. Breakfast is traditional and there are restaurants within easy walking distance if you don't want to eat in at night. They also drop you off and pick you up from the hill.
     
  22. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture Endless Winter

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    It is a terrific place
     
  23. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    @fosphenytoin

    I wounder why nobody has told you about the smell in Zao? :whistle: ( but nice place)

    If you combine Rakuten and Google maps (zoom, zoom and more zoom) you can find a lot of accomodation. Do not expect english in all traditional places.

    As you bring your 79 year father allong I would choose Nozawa-onsen - if he does not ski, there are lot of onsen he can enjoy - and make sure he has shoes/boots which are not slippery (soft rubber soles).

    http://www.nozawakanko.jp/spa/sotoyu.php

    But long flight, transfer, shink, bus or train is a hard trip when you get a bit older. ;)

    If Nozawa, find a place deep towards the end of the village near the Ogama

    Pictures here:
    https://www.tripadvisor.dk/Attracti...i_gun_Nagano_Prefecture_Koshinetsu_Chubu.html

    I think Tanuki is somewhere around there but could not find on the map just now.

    https://www.tanukinozawa.com/

     
  24. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Sent out few emails to hotels in Zao Onsen, so far no luck. @Froff Life : Boku no uchi has no availability for small rooms. Yashidaya hasn't replied back

    Also emailed Nozawa Onsen and Naeba tourism board, submitted my request for booking, haven't heard back.

    I noticed for Nozawa Onsen and Naeba, there is a "tourism board" and helps to locate hotels for you based on your availability, price range and lodging preference. This is quite nice. How come Zao Onsen does not have this?

    The sites I am referring is:
    1) http://www.naeba.gr.jp/en/
    2) https://booking.nozawakanko.jp

    Hope I have visited the right site?

    What is that all about? Are you talking about the rotten egg sulfuric smell? If so, how come other "onsen" places do not have it.
    @Hyst : the hotel you recommended (start with "T" something), no availability for the time period I am interested in.

    I think ultimately, where I end up skiing (or visiting), may not be depending on snow depth, or traditional village vibe, it may well come down to where I can get a room!
     
  25. Sandy

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

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    These places MAY NOT be booked out.
    Generally, Japanese hotels don't open booking until around 3 months out. So when you see "no availability" at this time of year, it's because they haven't opened bookings yet.
    However, if you're looking western owned places, they generally do it in a different way, and have open booking year round.
     
  26. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the info. Good to know. Do you suggest I shall wait until 3 months out or I shall start making phone calls?

    For the another place you suggested: Kagura(Mitsumata)
    Is this the website for booking accommodation?
    http://www.kagura-mitsumata.ne.jp/english/mit_area/mit_area.html
    The page does not have links to the hotels website, only price and capacity info is provided, I guess I will have to call...
     
  27. Sandy

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

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    Only 2% of Japanese people speak English to an understandable level.
     
  28. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    :( Let's hope I will hit that 2%.
     
  29. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yoshidaya were pretty prompt in their replies, give them another day or 2. Boku No Uchi is a small family run place, probably only 7-8 rooms. My partner and I were in a small tatami room that would be perfect for a solo traveller. Think it was about 75 AUD per night from memory.
     
  30. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I've stayed here before and it's good, cheap and it's very close to everywhere. It's your standard kinda run down but not Japanese accommodation. I've been to Zao 3 times now, last time we stayed at Zao Lodge Scole (Mao, the owner, is on insta/twitter etc so hit her up there, she speaks good enough English to be able to have a conversation with). They operate a joint that's stuck in the 90s bubble (isnt everywhere?) but it's cheap and good and the breakfast is good.

    Having said that, no way I would go to Zao for your trip. Kagura as Sandy suggested, is probably your best bet.
     
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  31. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Just called Kagura Tourist Association to inquire lodging info., (sigh) the receptionist does not speak english and wasn't able to help me. Stuck.... :(

    I wonder how do I communicate if I don't speak Japanese and they don't speak enough english?
     
  32. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Email
     
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  33. dr80

    dr80 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    You are in the US?
    Should be quite a few Japanese speakers and hopefully someone who may be willing to call / translate for you.
    Or as FL suggests, email does seem to work well.
     
  34. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Yes, I am in the U.S.
    I just sent an email to the Yuzawa tourist info. to inquire lodging in Naeba.
    Many hotel websites only have phone and fax, but I can't find email address on many of them. For reservation, it will take you to the reservation form but I don't understand enough Japanese to make out what field is for what info.
    (sigh) this is an obstacle I did not anticipate. If worst comes to worst, I will have to find someone speaks Japanese to call for me.
     
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  35. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Welcome to dealing with the Japanese. All nice and polite but really hard to get anything done.

    If you want Yuzawa and would be happy to stay in a western owned place I have a girlfriend who may be able to help you out.

    Truly staying in the Japanese places is difficult. We have been able to (or had to because there are no western places where we have gone) because a few of the Japanese who ski moguls speak very good english and they help us. Without their help staying at some of the less known resorts where my son has competed would have been mission impossible.
     
  36. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the offer. I sent out whole bunch of emails and see if I will get any responses. If not, I will reach out to you.... '
    This supposed to be a short trip and now I started to feel it will be a "Mission Impossible". :(
     
  37. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    The thing about Japan is that it always works out. You could jump on a plane with no accom booked at all and something would work out, you would get to ski and stay in a cool place somewhere.
     
  38. Sandy

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

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    It's too early!
    It's best to wait until September. Since no Japanese book early because they know how it works, if you're trying to book in September, you will probably still be first in.
     
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  39. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    @time_girl in here I think is working for the tourist information in Nozawa - may be she can help, if she is active already now.
     
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  40. Slowpony

    Slowpony Addicted

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    Try https://hopstepjapan.com/ for Yuzawa & surrounding areas (Kagura etc) Koji speaks english & has a variety of accommodations on his website, they provide transport to the local hills if you hire gear, there's also shuttles if needed
     
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  41. willsnow

    willsnow Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    Learn nihongo. It's fun. It'll be useful and make your life a lot easier in Japan. It's a good investment.
     
  42. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    ^ this. When we bought our 1st place I was told I would be able to stay in it when arrived. I arrived to find no water, no electricity and a "buried" lodge. Went to the local tourist office, sorted accommodation with my neighbour, who spoke no English, and managed to get everything connected, sort of, within a week just in time for when my family arrived. Then it snowed 4 metres in 3 days and we were even more buried.

    At the moment you are trying to plan way to far out for anywhere but western places. The Japanese leave averything to much later.
     
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  43. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture Endless Winter

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    Oyada Honjin in Naeba.....................
     
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  44. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don't give up that easy - it's Japan.:whistle: Learn how to use Rakuten.co.jp.

    (hope this link excample works - and you can use Rakuten in almost any place in Japan).

    https://search.travel.rakuten.co.jp...in=0&f_campaign=&f_gcode=&f_service=&f_km=0.5

    (and very easy to come up to Hikage from this area)


    Disclaimer: I am not employed by Nozawa in any way! ;)
     
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  45. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Her father doesn't ski. But is clearly the adventurous type who likes to travel. She started a thread asking about instructors for a Chinese-speaking senior several years ago on EpicSki because he was curious. Guess he wanted to know why his daughter and grandson like skiing so much. Rest of the family was . . . very nervous so that idea was dropped.

    @fosphenytoin booked her lodging for a mid-season trip for 2019 two months ago, or maybe three. I'm meeting up with her so I know how early we settled on the dates. I consider options for ski trips early but she makes reservations much earlier. Gets some very good deals that way on AirBnB/VRBO.

    I'm learning a great deal from this thread. Thanks all! :)
     
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  46. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Please give me the scoop on Prince Hotel? During my search for accommodation in Naeba, Prince hotel comes up as the "default" hotel, actually the only hotel on one website.

    Whenever I travel, I must make sure I have lodging booked. I have never traveled to place w/o advanced reservation. I always worry I'd end up spending a night on the street..... So I can't "wing" it and see how things pan out. I'd get stressed and anxious.This trip is no exception. ;)

    I did use Rakuten website as suggested by you folks (someone suggested in the early threads). I did find Oyada Honjin in Naeba on Rakuten website (went to the hotel link, english version took me to Rakuten website). When I entered my dates, Rakuten said no availability. Perhaps as @Sandy suggested, it is too early and the website does not have updated info. yet.
    I understand the dates I will be in Japan are considered to the peak holiday season, therefore I am especially nervous about not able to find something. Therefore I start early!

    Father will turn 80 this December. If this trip does materialize and he does want to go w/ me, I hope he'd be ok with NOT trying to learn how to ski. If he does, do you know if there is any Chinese speaking instructor(s) offer private lesson?
    I was hoping he can go onsen hopping while I go skiing....

    Yes, I do like to plan my trips far in advance. I booked my Jan 2019 trip in April 2018, March 2019 trip in July 2018..... got flights for my Jan 2019 trip as well. I'd like to check things off the "do" list.....

    Thus far, I have sent ~12 emails to 12 Ryokan / hotels the past 2 days. Got 3 replies, 2 replied in English and no vacancy, 3rd replied in Japanese and I had to use google translate, no availability either and told me to check somewhere else....
    I will resume the search in Sept.....
     
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  47. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Please educate me here, is it NOT a norm to catch a chair with other people? If you "impose" yourself to ride the chair with others, do you get frown upon?
    I'd like to know more about the skiing etiquette in Japan.

    I often ski solo, I usually ask other people if I can share the chair with them. Other times, I don't even ask, I just get on..... or sneak in.
     
  48. Sandy

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

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    You can sneak onto any chair with other people, but it's really common for Japanese riders to get on a chair with 1 or 2 or 3 unfilled seats on a quad chair. It's yet another anomaly in Japan.
     
  49. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Lol! Just a common thing in Japan that if you go to hop on a chair with another person sometimes they will wait for another chair. There are no hard and fast rules as such. And when there are queues and they do this the lifties are not happy.

    At Suginohara we see the big boss loading the gondola when it is busy. He packs people in and won't put up with that nonsense.
     
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  50. fosphenytoin

    fosphenytoin Hard Yards

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    Update:
    Nozawa Onsen Tourist Association emailed me the past weekend, they found an accommodation for me: Mikawaya Ryokan, close to the bus station, has in-house onsen for the guests.
    The tourist association staff mentioned that it took them quite an effort to secure a room around new year, as lodging is getting filled up. I already paid deposit. So I will be going to Nozawa Onsen for the New Year holiday. This will be my 1st time skiing in Japan :D, 3rd visit to Japan.

    I also called a Oyado Honjin in Naeba, but was told to check back in Sept. Another hotel in Naeba replied my email inquiry but only mentioned about the travel from Tokyo. Guess I won't be going to Naeba this time.

    In regards to the cancelation policy for accommodations in Japan, with the exception of Booking.com, if you book from Rakuten or hotels website, the cancellation is strict, not as lenient as the U.S. That's just observation based the search I have done for this trip. However, someone from another thread on Japan forum: Newby to japan in 2019. Where would you recommend to go? commented that "Most Japanese accommodation, including the big hotels, had very relaxed cancellation policies with no deposit required long before Booking.com came along." It seems the opposite from my experience.

    For Nozawa onsen lift tickets: is there any deals I shall watch out for? The only one I found was: http://www.nozawaski.com/en/lift_charges/img/specialpack_2017-18_en.pdf - there will be one for the coming season, I assume?

    For ski rental, any shop recommendations?
     

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