Japan 2010 - 2011 Trip Plans/Thoughts/Reviews Thread

Heinz

Have skis, will travel - Once borders open again..
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Oct 14, 2005
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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

Hard Yards
Dec 10, 2010
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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.
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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.

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

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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:

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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
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parkmonkey

Old n' Crusty
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It was pretty good, good in Hakuba but a little boring off snow, especially with the lack of snow (wouldn't have been bored and out skiing all day with good snow). But i liked the food and setup of the area, there is a fair chance i'll go back again next year, beautiful mountains. I'd for sure hit Japan for trips under 14days but maybe go back to the States if i had longer or really want to go to Europe but its most likely that i will only have time for the shorter trips. I'm pretty bored with resort skiing in general.
 

Toto Warmlet

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Sep 2, 2003
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sorry donza, I was off on one of the many Japanese threads and may have accused you wrongly
my stance on TR's is pretty minimalist, I did one this year without any words, next year will try for one with minus words
 

Toto Warmlet

One of Us
Sep 2, 2003
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addendum
seefar thanks for those pics and report
I remain suspicous that Myoko is too flat however
I remember trying to just get little more speed to haul out that long powder turn..
 

seefarr

Hard Yards
Dec 10, 2010
45
53
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London
Toto Warmlet said:
addendum
seefar thanks for those pics and report
I remain suspicous that Myoko is too flat however
I remember trying to just get little more speed to haul out that long powder turn..

I think you may have a point. If they've got more than 30cm of fresh, much of the terrain can get slow. Or stationary. I'm strapped in here:
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There are some steeper areas if you know where to look though. Plus they get 30cm or so with a fair degree of regularity. . .
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K@os

A Local
Aug 12, 2005
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OK time for a bit of a TR - here's Part 1 as these things can take a while to write. I'll try to be brief.

We started out flying into Osaka, where it was sunshine on our arrival. After sending my board up to Hakuba, we ran to the bus for the ferry as it was about to leave and caught the ferry accross the harbour to Kobe. Whilst on the ferry a younger Japanese guy came and sat with us and talked to us for pretty much the entire trip.

Our first day in Kobe we had a brief look around and found a temple where a Japanese wedding ceremony was occuring

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We were oringinally going to go to Hikone on the way to Takayama, but decided we wouldnt have much time in Takayama if we did that, so we went to Himiji Castle instead, which is about 40 minutes from Kobe. Unfortuantly the main pavillion was covered in scaffolding and the rennovations wont be finished until 2014, but it was still a good way to spend a day. The town of Himiji itself reminded me a lot of Matsumoto, however the castle is many many times the size of Matsumoto

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I dont actually have a pic of the whole structure, as my gf was taking most of the pics.
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We wondered around Himiji, went to the art museum and a shrine then headed back to Kobe.

Day 2 we headed to Kyoto. Whilst looking lost at the train station with a map in our hands, an old Japanese guy approached us and explained he had been practicing english for around 6 years and would very much like to show us around. It was snowing heavily and he seemed very kind and friendly so we took him up on his offer. He parked his bike and then we caught a cab to his place, where he showed us around his 2 storey place. His wife had died from cancer and he lived with his 3 adult children. They all had rooms with western beds, he slept on a tatami mat down stairs. He cooked us lunch, made us coffee, explained some of the rituals of the japanese home and then we headed off to Sanjusangendo Hall. No pics allowed inside, but it was well worth the visit - 1000 statues of golden buddahs are within the hall along with other statues of Buddhist gods - all built in the late 1500's I think.

We then drove to Gion, parked the car and made our way to Kiyomizu Temple, which was definately a highlight. The snow looked beautiful and our guide, Hideki, said this was his favourite place in Kyoto. He also explained many things along the way, which was great.

Streets of Gion
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Hideki takes a pic for us
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Hideki says a prayer
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my fav pic of the whole trip
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clearer view of the main building of the temple
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Hideki and Sarah
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Cleansing the soul with the 'holy' water - I drank bucketloads, but dont think it made much of a difference
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It was valentines day so we tried to find somewhere nice to eat. We settled on a Yuba Restaraunt overlooking Kyoto Tower. No english menu, but set meals. Quite an experience as I'd never tried Yuba and the dishes that accompanied it were, ummmm....different! in a good way.

View from the restaraunt
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Top of Kyoto Station
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Day 3 we were on our own in Kyoto, so we headed to the tower to get our bearing of the city
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Looking over towards Gion, you can clearly see the statue Ryozen Kannon
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Kyoto Station
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First temple we went to was a short walk, I forget the name, I think it was Honganji, there were East and West Temples with the same name, but it was under rennovations, so there wasnt much to see.
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After visiting the west and east temples we headed by bus to Nijo Castle
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The artwork inside this castle was well worth the visit, every wall has a different mural, intricate wood carving is everywhere and the ceiling is painted differently in each room.

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The gardens were equally beautiful
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Next stop was the Golden Pavillion, quite impressive in itself, but you arent allowed anywhere near it, for good reason I guess considering its covered in golden leaf. Loads of people and the gardens arent that spectacular really, so the pavillion is the only thing to see really. It would have been great to see this when it was snowing, the contrast of gold on white would have been amazing!
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That's about all I can be bothered doing right now, I'll continue the TR in the coming week, which will see us going to Takayama, Kanazawa and finally Hakuba!
 
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Sandy

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Kiyomizudera temple in snow.... Nice!!!
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I posted, I think earlier in this thread, that Himeji Castle was covered in scaffolding, which was why I have been suggesting Hikone Castle instead.

Nijo Castle in Kyoto... The actual Castle keep(donjon) was destroyed by fire in 1750, and what you see there is actually Ninomaru Palace, with the famous "nightingale floor", which squeeks.
 
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K@os

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We were very lucky to get snow in Kyoto, it was quite a sight.

yes I now realise why you suggested Hikone, I think I had forgotten about the scaffolding, but we really would have had no time in Takayama if we had gone to Hikone unfortuantly. Next time it will be 2 days in each location as 1 day in Takayama and Kanazawa were nowhere near enough time.

The squeaky floors were very effective, you would have to be one awesome ninja to sneak into that place,
laugh.gif
 
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benchives

I forgot how to ski
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we had snow in Kyoto too, but it never settled.

I LOVE Gion and Ponto-cho, it is my favourite place in Japan I think.
 

K@os

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I just let it flow and you get what you get
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I do copy the text every so often so I dont lose the lot......I've learnt that the hard way!
 
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Donza

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Ok my TR of sorts.
Apologies for the musings, the irrelevant and “totoisims†in advance
Day 1.. Gold Coast to Osaka.
Well its finally arrived. Our much vaunted trip to the land of the rising sun. Its starts, like any good perspiration will, slowly. That might have to do with the 1km walk from Airport motel to Airport . Humidity ? Its only a number! How bad can it be?
Mind you while towing a snowboard bag, and pushing a stroller containing my little delightful daughter : P-star Aged 4. It was um Exhausting. …sweet getting my legs in for some hiking
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We travel light
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It was the P-star’s first big trip. In fact it was our first trip together as a family.
To say we were looking forward to it was an understatement of the highest degree.

A Aeroplane. Stuck.Soon to be us.
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Catching up with parkmonkey in the departures hall did nothing to ease the nerves. God why am I so anxious? I’ve done this all before.. more beer please..
Maybe it might have to do with the fact when travelling with a child an hour contains 53 mins. Take this into account parents. It bit us on the arse many a time. Lucky Japan has planned for such ill prepared people.
Unfortunately it seems Jetstar runs on the same timescale. Here we are. Tarmac marooned. 90 whole mins after our expected departure. This sort of thing seems to happen a lot. There seemed to be a worthy excuse on the surface. A discrepancy between the fuel pumped and fuel noted into our Airbus 330 . Not so good.
A seamless flight and landing , see Jetstar isn’t so bad after all (in fact the smoothest I’ve had in over 100 landings I’ve accumulated) and we land in Osaka. Initial impressions. It seems pretty much the same as I left it 3 years hence. Japan has that quality. Its so wacky and contrasting you’re not sure its changed or not. The old timers directing traffic in the arrivals hall do nothing to dispel this notion.
Digs for the night. The Nikko Kansai. Great location. Just across an “aero†bridge to the “aeroplaza†and we are set. P-star is fascinated by the traveltors and I’m comforted by the fact that yes my cat is swingable in this generously proportioned room. We nab all the free toiletries and settle in for the night with some dubious choices from the local Lawson and my first of many Happo-shus for the trip. Hello Japan.
Day 2 Osaka –Kansai to Kyoto.
Dawns bright and rainy. Warm as well…dammit… See I tell you Japan is a land of contrasts. Some dubious choices from Lawson have been stimulated by a few intelligible Japanese Cartoons and here I am, enjoying my first Toto bidet of the trip. Oh how I’ve missed you.
Some General Lee maneuvering with two baggage carts and here we are again. Challenging Japanese efficiency. First stop takkyubin. The +1 is unsure. However my confidence in this little old man to deliver our precious snow equipment is well founded. Though it takes a phone call to Hiro from Hakuba Powder lodge to finally put everyone’s mind at ease. A Japanese mobile phone number is acquired from a wee little counter and we are away. Next stop Kyoto.
The JR Haruka is a nice train. In fact as a admirer of trains I’d say its my fav. Copious luggage area and 30% patronage encourages these thoughts and a pleasant journey is had by all.

P-star impressed
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Particularly P-star as a city of endless limits unfolds beyond her eyes. Its hard to image how many people live in this area that is bounded by a 50 min train journey . It’s a bladerunner esque existence punctuated by some of the smallest driving ranges I’ve ever seen. 5 Storey’s of 3 woods. Awesome
These impressions are magnified 12 fold when we turn up at Kyoto station. My camera takes a pitiful picture of its grandeur. It really has to be seen to be believed, unfortunately folks that won’t be today.
Another long march and here we are at our accommodation for the next couple of nights.

Citadines Kyoto. Entry. Cool
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Citadines Kyoto. It’s a apartment hotel. A rarity. Though with a kitchen and generously appointed new décor we agree. Winner. A strangely non opening balcony door and three beds co-joined has proved some comfortable surrounds.
Pimp my Lexus Hiace
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A few wanderings during the arvo and some pleasant iziakaya type food has enforced our positive vibes about this place. I like. Lady Gaga on repeat on MTV does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for this trip. So what if she has a “poker face†I don’t give a shit. It’s a common example of Japanese embracing of crap pop culture . Albeit from two years ago. Timeless. Again.
Day 3 Well Hello Kyoto.
A brisk north wind whistles down Gojo Dori and I’m stoked. It feels like its snowing somewhere. A few showers don’t dampen our enthusiasm for a little exploring.
A few dubious choices from the local Maccas for breakfast and the longing for a decent cup of coffee drive us to leg it instead of using the convenient Metro to get around. I’d be thinking a bike would also be a fantastic alternative. As it is. A pram, backpack and map isn’t too bad at all and we strike off in pursuit of our first foe of the trip. Mickey Mouse.
What? Come all the way to Japan and buy a Mickey? The coincidence of a Disney shop being around the corner is too much to ignore.

Micky -Victory.
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A Melbourne/Vancouver like streetscape (complete with coffee shops on every corner) is quite a strange comforting site. It doesn’t take long to realize you’re in japan though. Some strangely obedient pedestrians and inadequate traffic lights results in some interesting moments at pathetically sized crossings of alleyways. Kyoto seems to thrive on alleyways. If this was Melbourne Kyoto would have a bar to person ration of 3/1. As it is life seems to thrive down these narrow corridors of strangely placed signs, large clusters of power lines and incomprehensible directions taken by manic truck drivers. Yet the cyclists bend and weave around like water in a rocky stream.

Wandering
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To say Takashimaya is an impressive store is an understatement. Yet it seems all too familiar for this hardened Pitt St mall shopper. We navigate our way to the 6th floor (by escalators of course) where we nab in and swipe the unsuspecting mouse. Some wrong change enables me to use some stronger than average Japlish and I must say…I almost felt duped. However P-star is stoked. We are off…where ? No idea…down I guess.
A wrong turn(actually a wrong floor) leads us into one of the most awesome food halls I’ve ever seen. Practically every food type is being offered. For a devout Japanese foodie such as myself its Nirvana. The hustle and bustle of what could only be a local crowd enhances this feeling. Its almost oxymoronic to compare it to the staid atmosphere of prepackaged Japan upstairs. The building has a soul, its in the basement. Mark it down kids. 5 stars.
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Bum? what Bum?

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A few purchases and we are away yet again. Weaving our way through a myriad of increasingly photogenic and aged streetscapes. If Tokyo is Japan emphasized then Kyoto is Japan typified. It’s an assault of contrasts. Its welcoming to know that our well earned dosh and planning has produced the result we were looking for. A slice of what this country is all about.

Kyoto. Need a Navi

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For all you sparkies

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Ponto cho and Gion keep us busy for hours. To say we knew where we were going is a bit of exaggeration. To say we knew what we seen might be wishful. However we enjoyed every minute of it.

Ryozan Kannon

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Working upwards a visit to Ryozan Kannon is punctuated by a inquisitive Monk. He explains all about the structure. It’s a bit strange for me. Both my Grand fathers served in WW2 and to be honest I despised the Japanese growing up. I’m not sure whether to appreciate or loath this structure. However after chatting to the monk for a few solid minutes I feel ambivalent.
A pleasant late lunch and early dinner winds up a great day. The early dinner is in fact the first time we have eaten as family after 6pm (to say our P-star goes to be early is a understatement). The fact that it occurs in a sweet little Izakaya in Kyoto with gracious hosts makes it even better. A few small gifts on our behalf to the enthusiastically bowing chef and family makes it awesome, if slightly hilarious way to end the evening.

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Happo shu count 4 varieties by this stage. Suntory by a nose.
Chu hai count 5 – Blood Orange -196 extra strong is the makybe diva of the pre mixed sho chu drinks according to the wife.
We sleep. Wistfully under a large Doona and on a European pillow. Lush.

Next stop-Matsumoto and our little car awaits to take us to the mountains.
 
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Donza

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K@os said:
I just let it flow and you get what you get
laugh.gif


I do copy the text every so often so I dont lose the lot......I've learnt that the hard way!
Done...well first three days.
Next few will be harder
 
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Go Native

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Aug 30, 2004
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Anyone else feeling the quakes today? Some mighty big ones off the north eastern coast of Japan! Biggest shaking I've ever felt in this part of Hokkaido.
 

Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
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Massive quake and Tsunami washing over coast inland as we speak-write. It looks very VERY bad for ppl and communities in the way of the water. THIS IS REALLY SERIOUS
 

parkmonkey

Old n' Crusty
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Donza said:
Catching up with parkmonkey in the departures hall did nothing to ease the nerves. God why am I so anxious? I’ve done this all before.. more beer please..
You did seem pretty on edge champ
laugh.gif

I walked through customs thought i had heaps of time and my flight was boarding, i was one of the last ones on.
 
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Donza

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laugh.gif
yeah PM I was a wee bit... i guess the whole P-star first big flight etc
 
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Donza

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K@os said:
great tr so far Donza, look forward to the rest
cheers
Its a bit hard to get the motivation now cause of what happened over there...
 
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Born2ski

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Aug 29, 2006
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Any tourists from ski.com.au still in Japan at the moment ? Anyone still planning to go this season ?

I see the Myoko resorts are closing down for one day due to the rolling blackouts. Any of the other resorts closing due to the power shortages ?
 

Sandy

Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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I might go skiing not this weekend, but the following!!!
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Looks like some snow in the latter half of next week!!!
 
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