Japan 2010 - 2011 Trip Plans/Thoughts/Reviews Thread

kanazawan

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damian said:
kanazawan said:
damian said:
A The number one type of crime in Japan is preying on peoples weakness, trust and naivety.

i wouldn't call semi-korean places like kabukicho "japan".
wink.gif

I wasn't just talking about there.

Ever heard of "hey mum, it's me" phone calls? It is so common that there are posters in the banks and at ATM's about it.

right.
modern japan is certainly NOT a homogeneous crime-free society. it is a diverse, multi-ethnic(east asian) country. the world of Yakuza, pachinko, sarakin/yamikin financial sharks, hostess bars, etc. symbolises such diversity. no one should lower their guard too much, especially in big cities.
 
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Go Native

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kanazawan said:
modern japan is certainly NOT a homogeneous crime-free society. it is a diverse, multi-ethnic(east asian) country. the world of Yakuza, pachinko, sarakin/yamikin financial sharks, hostess bars, etc. symbolises such diversity.

Less than 1% of the Japanese population were born overseas and in your mind this translates into a multi-ethnic and diverse society??
confused.gif

Maybe in a few isolated areas you find some diversity but overall this is still a very homogenous society.
In Australia it's something like 25% of the population were born overseas.
 
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Sandy

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Go Native said:
kanazawan said:
modern japan is certainly NOT a homogeneous crime-free society. it is a diverse, multi-ethnic(east asian) country. the world of Yakuza, pachinko, sarakin/yamikin financial sharks, hostess bars, etc. symbolises such diversity.

Less than 1% of the Japanese population were born overseas and in your mind this translates into a multi-ethnic and diverse society??
confused.gif

Maybe in a few isolated areas you find some diversity but overall this is still a very homogenous society.
In Australia it's something like 25% of the population were born overseas.

agreed!!
 
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fattwins

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Don't get started on the sarakin system that really has nothing to do with people from overseas. It is simply the worst method ever to get small businesses money or help an addicted gambler get from paycheck to paycheck. There is little permanent diversity in Japan.
 

kanazawan

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fattwins said:
Don't get started on the sarakin system that really has nothing to do with people from overseas.

are you really sure about the backgrounds of typical sarakin/yamikin founders and owners?
 
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Go Native

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I'm pretty damned sure that's a discussion that could be held in another thread if a discussion is really needed at all!
thumbsup.gif
 
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Toto Warmlet

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High above the crazy whirlpools of the Japanese Strait of Angst Naruto.
 
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MarkGC

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OK trip report so far. First couple of days in Tokyo, staying in Shinjuku, there were African guys all down the street my hotel was in offering to take me and my wife fun places, lucky my wife doesn't like fun after reading what happened to Kaos. Probably the pick of the things we did was the fish markets, I would recommend that to anyone as long as you don’t take little kids as the probability of a child being hit by the carts in there is 1.

Arrived in Hakuba on Saturday and first day skiing on Sunday at Happo. Having only ever skied in NSW before we were loving the looong runs. The snow quality was equivalent to NSW in August but apparently there hadn’t been much snow in the last couple of weeks.

Monday brought the rain, we asked at the front desk where the best place to go in these conditions was and they suggested Onsen, we explained that we still wanted to ski and they looked at us like we were strange. We headed to Hakuba47/Goryu. At around 11:30 we found ourselves almost alone at Hakuba47 with snow puking down. Made a point of rubbing this in to others in the hotel who said we were mad to go out.

Tuesday we went to Iwatake, bought our ticket, walked around the main building and saw that interschool competitions were on. All but 2 runs down the bottom were roped off and there were lift lines longer than Telemark at Perisher at 3pm. We jumped on the Gondola and headed up top, once the fog cleared we had a fabulous day with snow continuing to fall. A note to anyone heading to Iwatake, the interschools run till the end of this week.

Yesterday we hit up Cortina and Norikura. Cortina was amazing in the morning, deep pow and great runs. Then the wind came and shut all the high lifts, so we ventured over to Norikura. The terrain was fairly flat, but the trees between the runs kept the wind away and the powder in place.

Plan to head to Tsagaike today and will ski Happo Friday before heading to Kyoto.

We are staying at Hakuba Luna in the Wadano area. It is a lovely place, the staff are nice the food is delicious and cheap compared to a lot of the hotels around here. The Sakka lifts at Happo are closer then the V8 from the skitube at Perisher. The only thing I would suggest is that it may be slightly easier if we were closer to the Happo bus terminal, but that is only an issue if you want to go to places other than Hakuba47, Happo and Iwatake.

I will post a pic or to when we get home.
 

seekingpow

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Quick Honshu question as I'm planning a trip back to the main Island next year (over Niseko for now).
I've done Hakuba as well and wasn't my cup of tea.

I love tree riding and I was hoping to get an opinion on peoples preferences between Nozawa & Myoko?

The keys things I'm after are:
* reliable snow
* tree runs where you don't have to dodge the ski patrol
* accessible: not having to shuttle bus everywhere to access resorts & terrain
* longish runs

I know Myoko is more like a large sprinkling of smaller resorts but sounds to have more reliable powder and sanctioned tree runs compared to other Honshu resorts.

Thoughts appreciated.
 

smitty484

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This is all my opinion, others may disagree.

Reliable snow:
From my own observations I would say Myoko gets more snow than Nozawa. In fact, I would say the Myoko resorts are some of the snowiest of the more well known (to westerners) Honshu resorts. However in saying that, when it's on in Myoko, Nozawa still gets plenty of snow so I wouldn't be worries about the difference between these two resorts.

Tree runs where you don't have to dodge the ski patrol:
Myoko has plenty of them, I really don't think there are any ropes at all. I don't think any competent rider would find any of the runs that challenging, but there is still plenty of off-piste riding. Nozawa has the area up the top that is open, however it is pretty flat as well (although I had fun there). The problem with Nozawa is a lot of the steeper, in bounds runs are down the bottom and therefore face the normal problems of lower alttude runs. However if they had fresh snow then they would be a lot of fun and certainly steeper than Myoko. Also, as Donza put it, Nozawa is a "nudge nudge wink wink place" in that there are plenty of steep off-piste options outside of the ropes but it's probably a good idea you know or ride with someone that knows where they are going as you could get stuck in a gully.

Accessible: not having to shuttle bus everywhere to access resorts & terrainL:
Nozawa wins this one. One mountain with the village at the bottom means that if you stay near the lifts it's just a short walk there every morning and up the mountain you go. Myoko has 4 main areas: Suginohara, Ikenotaira, Akakura Kanko and Akakura Onsen. The majority of accommodation is in Kanko and Onsen, so therefore Ikenotaira and Suginohara require a bus to get to. You can ski between Kanko and Onsen (as long as you have the correct pass to get back up the lifts), however you cannot ski between Kanko/Onsen, Suginohara or Ikenotaira. I think Ikenotaira is about 10min or so on the bus from Kanko/Onsen and Suginohara is about 30/35min, slower if it's pelting snow.

Longish runs:
Both resorts have plenty of vert, just depends on what the snow gods deliver in regards to how much of it is worth riding on the day.
 

Sandy

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When you say Hakuba wasn't your cup of tea, do you mean the individual mountains (and which ones did you try?), or do you mean the transportation system?

There are lots of places where you can ride trees in Honshu, but I guess you mean "well known" Honshu resorts?

Nozawa is a single mountain, so transport is not an issue. There are not that many ropes inbounds (although there are around the edges of the resort). Ask FatBoy, but he says the ski patrol has a relaxed attitude to ducking ropes.

I've only been to Suginohara at Myoko, but there are not many ropes at the top area, except around the edges of the resort.

Kagura (Niigata prefecture) has few ropes and trees are very accessible there.
Madarao has a lot of trees with no ropes, except in hazardous areas.
 

Heinz

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Hakkoda actually ticks those boxes - does have other issues though.

Geto Kogen & Onikoube also.

Remember Honshu isn't just Nagano / Niigata
 

seekingpow

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Thanks for the extensive feedback folks.
Sandy, regarding Hakuba, I've been to Happo & 47 but didn't venture further.

We had a bad year when there as we had boiler plate then Perisher in late September slush.
When I was there I wasn't advanced enough to ride trees but I did not see anywhere in the "well known" spots where irding trees would not result in losing your pass anyway.

I'd be taking a few mates with me this time who have not done Japan before so convenience is desirable but not at the cost of snow quality & volume.

So Hakkoda ropeway is out of the question leaving Nagano & Niigata prefectures. I'd also avoid Hakuba just for the sake of something different.
 
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Sandy

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smitty484 said:
Sandy what would Kagura be like without the peak chair open?

The combo of Naeba/Kagura on the same ticket is a good one, and there are lots of trees at Kagura, but if you're going there for more than 3-4 days, then I'd always go there after the last weekend in February when the peak chair is open.
 
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smitty484

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Sandy said:
smitty484 said:
Sandy what would Kagura be like without the peak chair open?

The combo of Naeba/Kagura on the same ticket is a good one, and there are lots of trees at Kagura, but if you're going there for more than 3-4 days, then I'd always go there after the last weekend in February when the peak chair is open.

Ok cheers. I'm tossing around a few different ideas for the trip next year. Unfortunately I can't visit Japan that late in Feb due to uni commitments. I’m looking at having a car so it may be worth it for a few days.
 
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Sandy

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seekingpow said:
Thanks for the extensive feedback folks.
Sandy, regarding Hakuba, I've been to Happo & 47 but didn't venture further.

We had a bad year when there as we had boiler plate then Perisher in late September slush.
When I was there I wasn't advanced enough to ride trees but I did not see anywhere in the "well known" spots where riding trees would not result in losing your pass anyway.

I'd be taking a few mates with me this time who have not done Japan before so convenience is desirable but not at the cost of snow quality & volume.

So Hakkoda ropeway is out of the question leaving Nagano & Niigata prefectures. I'd also avoid Hakuba just for the sake of something different.

If you've only tried 47 & Happo, then you've seen less than half of what Hakuba has to offer.
The Cortina trees are open to all riders, and I'd say they are ideal for what you want.
 
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Sandy

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smitty484 said:
Sandy said:
smitty484 said:
Sandy what would Kagura be like without the peak chair open?

The combo of Naeba/Kagura on the same ticket is a good one, and there are lots of trees at Kagura, but if you're going there for more than 3-4 days, then I'd always go there after the last weekend in February when the peak chair is open.

Ok cheers. I'm tossing around a few different ideas for the trip next year. Unfortunately I can't visit Japan that late in Feb due to uni commitments. I’m looking at having a car so it may be worth it for a few days.

If you will have a car, then you can do a bit of a road trip through Niigata & into Gunma.
 
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seekingpow

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I think we're easy in terms of experience as I've done it all before so cost is more the factor. I'm happy to sleep on futons and tatami.

This trip is looking to be my bucks party (we aren't very rowdy, in it for the skiing and quiet beers) ansd we are avoiding Niseko for a reason.

Powder would be a vert big tivk as well so anywhere that increases the likelyhood of powder days is high on the list, heance why considering Myoko.

How does Kagura rate on this front? Regarding the peak chair being closed, is this due to loading up top?
 

Sandy

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seekingpow said:
I think we're easy in terms of experience as I've done it all before so cost is more the factor. I'm happy to sleep on futons and tatami.

This trip is looking to be my bucks party (we aren't very rowdy, in it for the skiing and quiet beers) ansd we are avoiding Niseko for a reason.

Powder would be a vert big tivk as well so anywhere that increases the likelyhood of powder days is high on the list, heance why considering Myoko.

How does Kagura rate on this front? Regarding the peak chair being closed, is this due to loading up top?

Kagura is one of the snowiest places in central Japan. I think they leave the peak chair close due to loading up on the big northern ridge (which is away from the chair, see photo), and plus I think the bottom station generally buried in around 5m of snow, which they dig out in late Feb.

Here's a shot of that area (the top of the peak chair is off 3/4 of the way to the left, so you walk out to the ridge). There is also another bowl out the back and to the left of the chair. You can ride all of those trees you can see, plus the ridge most of the way down.
2003Pano2.jpg
 
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seekingpow

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Thanks very much Sandy. What alititude is the base of Kagura and how much vert does it have?

Seems to tick some boxes for in terms of the snow volume and available freeriding.
 

fattwins

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Most of nozawa's off piste is quite challenging and can slide a bit as well. People these days are really noy considering that fact very well. Myoko much of the same problems with off piste most of it steep unless you head towards suginohara. Even there if you venture into the wrong spot you can put yourself over a cliff. The above resorts have the same policy as happo which is you arent allowed in the trees but we don/cant/wont try to catch you. Nozawa however if you run into the wrong patroller by mistake could be an issue. I really do mean that you would have to be completely unlucky to bump into one. I have seen about 10 patrollers at noz total in the 10+ years ive been going there. Seki onsen is good but if they dont have the top lift open then you dont want to be there. When seki doesnt have enough guests they wont open the lift.
 

damian

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The comment I get from Europeans and North Americans at least in Hakuba: great snow, great trees!... Pity the toff-piste tree runs are so incredibly short. 100m vertical and back to the lifts, sometimes indirectly, is a drag. Not all tree runs are that short, the better ones require a lot of local knowledge [and rule breaking, either grey or black rules. There are trees so close to some of the most popular tracked out trees in the valley, lift accessed, that NEVER get skied. I can go there and find it untracked in the afternoon on a weekend. Fattwins is the only person on this board who I know knows about them, and that is the way I am sure it will remain for some time. The best tees are the ones that have natural entry/exit barriers to snowboarders].

Note: the EU and NA types that 'complain' the most are hard fast expert skiing types that do not mess around, and do not, ever, stop to take photos. They ski all over the world so they know what good is when they see it.
 

YehYeh

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2 weeks in Shiga... spectacular with plenty of fresh snow pretty much nightly!
Pity they don't Avalanche control, especially around Yakabi, but that's just their way.
That nearly caught some young Ozzie snowboarders out, until they were told. Lifties not impressed.
Huge region to explore and the Monkeys were well worth it.
Back to Nippon again!
 

winter

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I am just back in Tokyo from 2 fabulous weeks on snow. I just wanted to thank all the forum people here for all the great advice and tips over the last couple of months. It really helped.

I will give a really quick review.
Myoko. Fantastic place. Hotel Alp was terrific, Satomi the owner is such a wam lady who speaks English a little and this year has employed an Australian Dan the Man to help out with the western guests. Alp is great for families with young children as is a true ski-in/out and not having any tantrums in the afternoon with tired kids walking around in ski boots was a huge bonus. It is not a budget lodge though if you are looking for an easy trip with great on-site onsens, great hosts, great access, spacious rooms this is your place.
We loved all the mountains, Kanko was our pick, with onsen perfect in the afternoon for playing around with the kids. It was warm when we arrived with 3 bluebirds in a row. The snow did come 40 cms, though it was not dry and fluffly, it was heavy powder with crust underneath. Not the best introduction to powder riding, though we had a ball regardless.
The Myoko Sports ski school was the best we could have asked for. Owned by an Australian and Japanese couple, we were so lucky it was quiet and our kids had private instruction for most of the week. Our 6 year old skiing black runs in 3 days and our 4 year old skiing all of onsen, no worries.
I loved that the village was so small and few westerners, although now Myoko is on the map I can see this changing very quickly.
The food was great, especially the udon noodle place and Kei, terrific. I would go back in a flash.


We left Myoko in the pouring rain and travelled onto Nozawa Onsen via the snow monkeys. The private driver was worth every penny.
We stayed at the budget Villa Nozawa, it was great though be warned if you are after a cultural experience without many westerners, this is not your place. It is pretty much 100% Australians. Mark the owner has taken all the work away from you, so you can turn up here and be sure that you will find the best of everything without any hassle.
Nozawa turned on the snow for us and is snowed 1.5 metres of light, dry, fluffy powder in 24 hours. Ahhhhh, for the 1st time I felt the float and enjoyed every bit of what the amazing mountain has to offer, except the part when I had to dig myself out of neck deep powder. Going into the trees without powder experience possibly was not the most clever move!
I am an onsen lover, so Nozawa with its 13 public onsens was a hit for me also.
The ski school in Nozawa is not great. Only 2 hour lessons at a time, pretty expensive.

In summary the 2 mountains are hard to split.
For the kids they liked the mountain at Myoko better, and I like the steep of Nozawa more. If I had of been at Myoko when they got the same 1.5metre fall I may have not seen any difference.
Ski School- Myoko by far gets the pick.
Mountain Access- Myoko for us as we were on snow, though Nozawa is a much better mountain to cruise around as it is all there and no need to catch a bus to adjoining resorts.
Onsens- Nozawa is your town, unless you get a private onsen in Myoko.
Restaurants- Both have good quality, Myoko a bit cheaper with more a family owned feel with more love in the cooking.

It ended up being a longer review........thanks again for this snow forum.
 

malibu

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Looks like Kitanomine base Smitty - perfect weather too
wink.gif


Thanks for the report Winter - I loved both places too.
 
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Toto Warmlet

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Japan ruling party MP calls on PM to quit soon: report
Reuters March 8, 2011, 6:34 pm

TOKYO (Reuters) - A member of parliament from Japan's ruling party called on Tuesday for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to step down as soon as possible, Kyodo news agency said, as pressure grows on the unpopular premier to resign or call a snap election.

"It is important that Prime Minister Naoto Kan would resign as soon as possible," Kyodo quoted Kenko Matsuki, a Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lawmaker close to Kan rival and scandal-tainted powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, as telling reporters.

Matsuki's call underscores the difficulties facing Kan, who suffered a fresh blow this week when his foreign minister abruptly quit over a political donation scandal.

Kan is struggling to get a divided parliament to enact a $1 trillion budget for the fiscal year from April, while keeping his party from splintering.

Matsuki left his post as a parliamentary secretary in the Farm Ministry last month, saying he was unhappy with Kan's policy shifts such as a push for tax reforms that include a possible rise in the 5 percent sales tax.

Kan, whose public support rating has slumped to around 20 percent, said on Monday that he intended to stay on and some analysts have said he may be able cling to his post.

But doubts remained over his ability to push key measures through parliament, including bills to implement the budget for the coming fiscal year and tax increases to address a public debt that is twice the size of Japan's $5 trillion economy.
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Edmund Klamann)


anyway
the K9 is frothing over the at weather channel, with live reports and pics
better than waiting 3 months for his opinions and I must salute him even if his condition is incurable
 

K@os

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They seem to change PM every 12 months in Japan, despite having a maximum term of up to 4 years. This guy started his term in June 2010. I don't think anyone has ever been popular enough to last a 4 year term.

All the PMs seem really fricken old too - I think all of them have been well over 60 years old

...oh and the dude married his first cousin, what's up with that Kan?
 

Sandy

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K@os said:
They seem to change PM every 12 months in Japan, despite having a maximum term of up to 4 years. This guy started his term in June 2010. I don't think anyone has ever been popular enough to last a 4 year term.

All the PMs seem really fricken old too - I think all of them have been well over 60 years old

The last popular one was Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2005). Koizumi was the only Prime Minister to have served more than five years in office since 1972. He was around 59 when he became PM, which was youngish by Japanese standards.
 
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Heinz

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Koizumi seems to be about the only one that had a lasting impression. Relatively young as you suggested and had charisma as well as trying to actually achieve stuff. I think it was the regular visits to Yasukuni that eventually did him in eventually though? Otherwise they seem to regularly rotate through mostly forgettable 70+ yr old LDP guys. They would usually fall foul of some corruption scandal, get replaced by a Mr 'Clean' who often turned out not quite so clean or was completely colourless and dull. The manga fan Aso was interesting - always seemed to have a sly smirk but also short lived.
 

seefarr

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Had my first day back at work after 3 weeks on the snow in Japan. Let's just say that I attempted seppuku on the tube this morning but the blackberry wasn't sharp enough.
tired.gif


We went to Myoko Kogen! We had good snow fall in the first week with a couple of 30cm+ days and a nice 5cm dusting another couple. The second week we had nothing but clear blue sky and spring snow (ie slushy), which was nice for a change but not really why we were there. The third week snowed the whole time with one massive 80-90cm dump where we got most of these pics.

The town has absolutely no apres scene at all - the pubs don't open until 6pm and tend to shut at 9:30 on a week night so if you're after parties, don't go. It does have a very Japanese vibe with not much English spoken in restaurants and hotels. There is a pizza restaurant (said to be fairly rubbish) but that's it for western food options. There are some really great izakayas in town (Kei was great and we had our beers served to us by the Akakan ski patrol in Pontaru) and the usual million noodle joints.

P1040544.JPG


Wheelies are really good fun. This is on-piste at about 11am:

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P1040560.JPG


The resorts were basically dead Monday to Friday with no lift lines to speak of:

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This was a groomed run which then had 40cm of snow over the top.

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There are a couple of day trips to do from the resort. There's the famous monkey onsen, where it seems to be impossible to take a bad photo:

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A large temple in Nagano called Zenko-Ji:

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And a castle built in the 1500s called Matsumoto:

P1060947.JPG


So like I said, if you want lots of snow and an authentic Japanese experience, it's a great place. If you want to be a bogan, get raging drunk every night and generally piss on the local culture, please don't go. This is not Niseko and it should stay that way.

We stayed in the Hotel Windsor which gets a few Aussies through and has Aussie bartenders in the bar, but it doesn't seem to have suffered because of it. The owners are some of the nicest people I've ever met there so I'd heartily recommend it. The rooms are a decent size (apart from the Japanese standard comedy bathroom) and the price was right.

The team at Myoko Snowsports really looked after us for hire gear. They initially didn't have boots small enough for my missus, so ordered some brand new ones in for her, which I thought was great!

Thanks to everyone on here for their advise, especially MG.

It's a great place and I will be going back. Wish I was still there!
 
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Donza

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Japanese oddities TR. Totoesque- i'll write a proper one soon..

In a a large mega store. In Nagano city. Well worth a trip, if you have a car.
One of the asiles.
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Around the corner.
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other end
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Point of sale. Less is more
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Toaster -for one slice of bread
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Lexus Van (off a Hiace ) in Kyoto
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Whisky 4 litres for a good time
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Message from a "Barsta"
Lucky the first bit is in English, otherwise I would have been stuffed
P1151_02-03-11.jpg
 
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