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Japan 2013/2014 epic planning thread!

Discussion in 'Japan' started by tr+h, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    What they said. If you are really after a North American type experience you may be best sticking with North America.

    If looking for apartment in a village with shopping and restaurants, then Niseko being more westernised will probably come closest. Furano is a good town but doesn't have much in the way of apartment style accomodation. You could combine them on a trip with maybe a stop in Sapporo in between.

    Read up on Onsens.
     
    #51 Heinz, Apr 7, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  2. Witchery

    Witchery First Runs

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    Thanks everyone. I probably should say that i'm not expecting the same environment as Canada, in fact i'm looking forward to something different. I went to Vail/Beaver Creek and was a bit disappointed that most of the shops shut by the time you're down for the day, so was hoping to find a bit more life at night time that doesn't just include food and drink.

    Looks like i'm going to miss my hot tub experience but never mind. Onsen's here I come.

    I think with the look of those photo's I might be up for a challenge anyway. I've skiied some great powder, but that looks insane. Great photo's BTW.

    I was going to organise a ski guide, any recommendations?

    Thanks again for your help

    Thanks for the advice on dates. I'm not sure how long we will be going. 7 days if staying in one place, if we go to two, then maybe 12 days?
     
  3. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you're looking for night life. Japan is not for you. You need to change your way of thinking or you will only be disappointed. If those things are important to you I would probably stick to NA.
     
  4. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Japan is quite a bit different from NA or most places in many respects. That works both ways and most people enjoy the differences.

    What do you mean by a 'ski guide'? For on or off piste skiing? There are often mountain hosts who show you around the pistes etc. Or if you go with a tour group, there will be someone to show you around in general. These are not actually 'guides'.

    But Off piste though quite a different story, depends on where you go.
     
  5. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Solid information being provided by those who have been to Japan multiple times, or even residents, so take all of that on board. It sounds a bit to me like you've experienced snow life in NA and want to bring that with you to Japan. It's not really going to happen. Most of the guys here have explained why already, so I dont need to cover of their points again, but i'll just make a few observations.

    1 - You're looking for 'village atmosphere'. A lot of 'villages' in Japanese ski resorts are actual towns, so your chances of finding 'village atmosphere' like you have experienced in NA will not really happen.

    2 - You sound like shopping and wandering around looking at stuff is important to you. You do that in Tokyo, not at the snow. You wont find anything like you've found in NA in Japan.

    3 - Heinz has covered your post on guides. They are not the same as in NA. And you shouldnt just go off piste and ride some terrain because it looks good, like you might do in NA. To honestly ride off-piste in Japan you need to do one of the avalanche courses like what Damian runs before you head out. Sure there are some small areas where you can 'safely' ride off-piste without too many troubles, but anywhere under a rope you really need training and gear to do it safely.

    In all honesty, it sounds like Japan is not what you are looking for in a ski holiday. Not being mean, it would just be a shame to see you disappointed and feeling like you've wasted your time on a ski holiday when you could have gone somewhere you would have enjoyed more.

    I recommend you look through some trip reports to get a gauge on what it's like over there. Forget the skiing photos, a lot of them are taken by experienced guys who know what they are doing in Japan and have the knowledge and gear on board.
     
  6. Sandy

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

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    There's only one place I can think of that fits this bill, and that's Karuizawa. It has the largest outlet shopping mall in Japan, open 10am-7pm.
    From what I hear though, the skiing's not much chop and they don't get much natural powder!!!!! [​IMG]

    Nozawa Onsen has shops open until late-ish, but we're talking small shops, not shopping malls.
     
    #56 Sandy, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013
  7. Sandy

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

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    Then you'd better go to TWO places (i.e. 12 days!!!!!) [​IMG]
     
    #57 Sandy, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013
  8. damian

    damian A Local

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    Sandy, are you being serious? Vail...Karuizawa...Nightlife????

    OP should avoid Japan, or change expectations.
     
    #58 damian, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013
  9. Witchery

    Witchery First Runs

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    Thanks again everyone.

    Will reset my expectations. This holiday is mostly for my husband for his birthday, so my expectations aren't very important. I just want him to have a good holiday. He's dead keen to go to Japan, so i'm chilled.

    I'll get my shopping fix in Tokyo :)

    As for guides I was thinking off piste and a bit of on piste. Everywhere i've skied i've found the locals always know some great skiing that most of us would miss. We found some great skiing in Vail that we would have otherwise missed if it wasn't for a couple of locals guys wanting to show us around. I'm not sure of the terrain in Japan, but I was thinking we would more than likely do a bit of off piste skiing. I would like a guide that can show us some off piste skiing, but also help me with my technique with deep powder skiing. I had this with the guys at Extremely Canadian in Whistler and they were excellent. They took my skiing from nervous blue to confident black in only a few hours. So maybe I shouldn't call them a guide so much as an instructor that can also guide?

    I wouldn't do off piste without doing an avalanche course. I was going to do one in Whistler last season but I ended up with Ciguatera Fish Poisioning before I left and wasn't really 100% so skied like crap. It was my 40th birthday and it really spoilt the trip :( In saying that because my thermostat was in reverse I could wander around in minus 15 with a long sleeve t-shirt on!!
     
  10. damian

    damian A Local

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    There is nothing like Extremely Canadian in Japan, but try Evergreen in Hakuba for on/off-piste and instruction.

    Or a guy called Mike in Niseko. I think you would like Niseko the most.
     
    #60 damian, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013
  11. Sandy

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

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    READ what witchery said.....

    "I love getting out at night time for a walk, some food and a bit of shopping"
    " I went to Vail/Beaver Creek and was a bit disappointed that most of the shops shut by the time you're down for the day, so was hoping to find a bit more life at night time that doesn't just include food and drink"

    Judging from what witchery said, she is looking for a walk, food and some shopping.... she didn't mention nightclubs.
     
    #61 Sandy, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  12. Witchery

    Witchery First Runs

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    Thanks

    I was just on your webpage looking at your Avalanche Course :)
     
  13. ojisan

    ojisan station master Ski Pass: Gold

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    I would also put my hand up for Zao, as it is on my to go list as well.
    If you want to know what some of the lesser known resorts are like, apart from Sandy's assistance, I would recommend having a browse at the snowjapan web site.
    Although I might get my knuckles wrapped for suggesting another web site, I found them useful in choosing where I wanted to board this year in Gifu.
    We spent 3 days (boarding at 3 separate resorts) in a 'central' area (just off the Hide interchange) in a town I think was called takatsu, same name as one of the close resorts, and had the choice of 7 or 8 ski fields within 30 minute drive.
    The resorts we chose needed to have enough beginner areas for my wife that also allowed her to ski down from the top of the resort together with enough steeper areas and powder fields to keep me happy.
    Where we went, I was able to find knee deep powder till last lifts, didn't have to wait more than 1 or 2 minutes for the lift and I didn't see one other foreigner in all the time I was there.
    It is really something of a unique experience about being the only 'gajin' in a place.
     
    #63 ojisan, Apr 8, 2013
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  14. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    My bro gets to do that if not every weekend then every 2nd weekend. It makes me so jelly [​IMG]
     
    #64 Vermillion, Apr 8, 2013
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  15. Witchery

    Witchery First Runs

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    Hi Sandy, yes definitely no nightclubbing for me :) I just like to get out for a wander, browse a few shops. We normally walk/wander for a few hours a night. It's the best way to get to see the local area and it's great for the legs :)
     
  16. Sandy

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

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    Really, if you are looking at wandering around, then that opens up a lot more options for you in Japanese resort towns...
     
    #66 Sandy, Apr 8, 2013
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  17. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us

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    Nozawa Onsen would be an option for a 'village' where you can walk around in the evening and soak up the vibe (and the onsens.) Not sure if they have guiding there or not.
     
  18. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    Noz or Hakuba for mine.
    Nozawa village is pretty cool
    Wadano area of Hakuba is pretty cool.
     
    #68 Donza, Apr 8, 2013
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  19. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    You can only wander around Nozawa village for so long. Having said that we spent quite a bit of time wandering from one full restaurant to the next this year. It sure was busy.
     
  20. Pat42

    Pat42 One of Us

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    Anyone been to Ryuoo ski park?
     
  21. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    On the list..
    some peeps on here have
    some hated it..some loved it.
    Looks decent on a snowy deep day. legit fall line and steep.
    Huge ropeway.
     
    #71 Donza, Apr 8, 2013
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  22. Pat42

    Pat42 One of Us

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    Yeah 1000 + meter vert, good aspect and top elevation of 1900 meters got me excited. Its on the same side of the range as nozawa as well so technically should get more snow than shiga?
     
  23. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I kept an eye on it last season...got some legit falls...but it seemed to pick up alot of 20-30cm when Noz got 50-60

    I think, if you have wheels..that whole part of the world is a goer.
    They have some decent lift and accomodation specials for midweek there..
    Like 6500 a night..pass, accomodation with breakfast.
    The lodges are actually on their way up the hill.
     
  24. damian

    damian A Local

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    I didn't say nightclub either.

    It just amazed me that you would recommend a small beginner ski resort with very little snow and a huge outlet mall in the same context as Vail, Whistler etc. I thought the difference was so huge I had to ask if you were serious. That was all.
     
    #74 damian, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  25. Sandy

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

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    #75 Sandy, Apr 8, 2013
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  26. damian

    damian A Local

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    "I went to Vail/Beaver Creek and was a bit disappointed that most of the shops shut by the time you're down for the day..."

    "There's only one place I can think of that fits this bill, and that's Karuizawa."

    You are technically correct, but I still had to ask if you were serious in mentioning an outlet mall alongside the other places mentioned. Others may have been disastrously mislead by that post, despite your stated negative view on the actual skiing.

    Don't worry yourself about it.
     
  27. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Geez, I'm glad we cleared that up!
     
  28. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    needs donki and uniqlo....only
     
    #78 Donza, Apr 8, 2013
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  29. tr+h

    tr+h One of Us

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    Any concerns about North Korea? +1 is nervous and excited!
     
  30. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dont worry about it. Paper planes and sparklers wont make it that far.
     
  31. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    For a first timer and given some of the initial thoughts Niseko would be best for a Japan intro. Nozawa as others have suggested though does have a great village for wandering.

    I'm going to spend some time next season exploring some of the less travelled resorts such as Ryuoo, Kurohime, Kijimadaira, etc. Will try to get some TR's up.

    BTW I have a 5 car garage at my new place in Myoko - no digging out needed. [​IMG]
     
    #81 M_G, Apr 13, 2013
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  32. MarkGC

    MarkGC One of Youse Ski Pass: Gold

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    Has anyone gone to Mt Fuji in jan or feb?

    I was thinking of taking the kids for sightseeing, but is it all closed up except for the bit of skiing they have there?
     
  33. Sandy

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

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    I drive past Mt Fuji when I go to Nagano in the winter. It's the best time of year to see Fuji, as it's the time most likely to not be covered with cloud. (the Pacific coast side of Japan is generally in a rain shadow in winter, so it's usually cold and clear)

    There is no lifted skiing on Mt Fuji. The Fujiten snow resort is about 10km away, and has a 200m vertical and 4 chairs.

    Of more interest to your kids while you're there may be Fuji-Q. It is an amusement park with some of the most thrilling rides in the world.
    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6918.html

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One ride is restricted to taller than 130cm and age LOWER than 55!!!!!

    It's closed the second Tuesday of the month.
     
    #83 Sandy, Apr 14, 2013
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  34. Snorkler

    Snorkler Part of the Furniture

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    Snorkler is thinking that Snorkler might have to settle for Japan next year.
     
  35. Sandy

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

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    Snorks, ever skied in Japan? If not, you're in for a treat!!! [​IMG]
     
    #85 Sandy, Apr 14, 2013
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  36. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    no hot tubs though snorks
     
  37. MarkGC

    MarkGC One of Youse Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks Sandy.

    Working out a basic itinerary for sightseeing from arriving Wednesday at 8pm, with idea of being at Naeba on Sunday.

    Plan looks like catching NEX back to Tokyo, then maybe a train towards Fuji on Wednesday night. Fuji area on Thursday. Then make our way to Hiroshima on the shink (we have seen Kyoto and Tokyo). Maybe a brief stop somewhere on the way back to Tokyo, either to show the kids Nijo castle in Kyoto, or something else we all haven't seen that's along the way.

    Japan for 2014 was off the cards, but recent changes to frequent flyer policies means we have enough points to fly over all six of us on points. [​IMG]

    Looking at Naeba, because that massive hotel looks like it will be a little simpler (interconnecting rooms, food choices and the like) with four kids than Shiga, which was the other option we were toying with.

    Or we could go back to Myoko, but I think I like exploring too much.
     
    #87 MarkGC, Apr 14, 2013
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  38. Pat42

    Pat42 One of Us

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    #88 Pat42, Apr 14, 2013
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  39. MarkGC

    MarkGC One of Youse Ski Pass: Gold

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    OK so looking into it a little the Fuji-Q Highland park is quite a ways from Shin-Fuji.

    Before I looked at maps I had an idea that we would catch a shink from Tokyo, get off and go to see something in the Mt Fuji area and then make our way back to a shink station and continue on to Hiroshima. That looks a little more complicated if we head to Fuji-Q.

    What is worth seeing on the shink line side of Fuji?
     
  40. Sandy

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

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    Either Naeba Prince Hotel or Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel is easy, but Naeba is easier to get to, and the Hotel is less confusing (You can easily go the wrong way on the slopes to the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel East wing, when you intended to go to the west wing)



    Nijo Castle at Kyoto has only the palace, walls, and ancillary buildings, as the actual Keep burned down in around 1750.
    Himeji Castle has usually been the pick of all castles in Japan particularly if traveling between Hiroshima & Kyoto. However it currently covered with scaffolding until about mid 2014.

    A very good option is Hikone Castle, which is only about 30 minutes out of Kyoto. It is one of the 12 original castles still surviving, and one of the "National Treasure" castles (Himeji, Hikone, Matsumoto & Inuyama) It has a small keep, but very nice, and very fine moats and walls.
     
    #90 Sandy, Apr 14, 2013
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  41. Sandy

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

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    Fuji city (where Shin-Fuji is) is just a city. You can see Mt Fuji, but that's it!!! It's not very interesting around there.

    The usual mode is to catch the Shinkansen to Odawara, then head up through Hakone (there is a steaming volcano at the top, and a lake), then through Gotemba to Kawaguchi. Fuji-Q is located near by at Fuji-Yoshida.
    If you stay at Fuji city overnight, just hire a car for the day, then take the Tomei Expressway to Gotemba, then up along the eastern foot of Mt Fuji on the Higashi Fuji Goko toll road.
     
    #91 Sandy, Apr 14, 2013
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  42. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes indeedy Pat42. Was a great place although it had a really annoying flat spot in the middle for boarders. I was offered a job there in 2005 which in hindsight I should've taken as it closed down the following year.

    I went up there during summer 2011 and took some photos. There's a gallery here but there's a problem with the link. Just getting the tech guy to have a look at it but should be accessible soon I hope.

    Some other vids and pics here
     
    #92 M_G, Apr 14, 2013
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  43. Snorkler

    Snorkler Part of the Furniture

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    I've heard Japan has one better, Onsens. Moar sausage than a Bavarian Beer Garden.
     
    #93 Snorkler, Apr 14, 2013
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  44. Pat42

    Pat42 One of Us

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    Plan starting to come together for 2014.

    Looking like spending 10 days or so in Nozawa then getting a car and going mobile for a couple of weeks.

    I was thinking about hiring a car in Nakano to save going all the way back to nagano, would this work?

    Also keen on hitting up Minakami and surrounding resorts plus that massive outdoor onsen! Anyone know if it would be worth staying in the town itself and then driving to various resorts? or would basing yourself somewhere like Tenjin Lodge be better?
     
  45. Sandy

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

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    Tenjin Lodge is at the top of the ropeway at Tenjindaira. So if you base yourself there, but want to go to other places around Minakami, you will have to take you ski/snowboard gear DOWN the ropeway to your car.

    You'd be better to spend a night or two there, and stay down in Minakami the rest of the time(I guess somewhere near the station) This is also not far from the Expressway interchange, so you are also only 30km from Yuzawa.

    I'd hire the car at Nagano. that way, when you finish up your trip, you can jump straight on the shinkansen with all your gear, and not have to hump it from Nakano.
     
  46. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Iiyama would probably be more simple than Nakano. If getting the car from Nagano I can recommend Budget who are associated with Chuo Taxi. Got a great deal from them recently - 10 days on a large car for less than 50,000.

    Agree with Sandy re the plans. You could also explore some of the smaller resorts near Nozawa such as Kijimadaira, Togari Onsen, etc.

    I'd also say that 10 days in Nozawa is a bit long, although others may disagree with me. If you stay somewhere like Villa Nozawa which has car parking available it leaves an option open to pick up a car and explore nearby.
     
    #96 M_G, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  47. smackies

    smackies A Local

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    First day back in the office and already trying to sort out my next leave.

    [​IMG]
     
    #97 smackies, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  48. Pat42

    Pat42 One of Us

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    Thanks for the input guys.

    If you incorporate all the sidecountry (i have the gear and experience) i think Nozawa has plenty to keep you occupied. I admit if you stayed inbounds it would get boring fast though.

    I am thinking after Nozawa about basing myself in Myoko with a car and hitting Myoko, Madarao, Togakushi, Ryuoo. Then going to Minakami after that.

    I am probably overreaching, will be doing a full month so hopefully will have enough time for it all.

    Also there is going to be four of us so was thinking of probably getting a van, any tips on which would be best for a ski trip?
     
  49. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Elgrand. With snow tyres and roof racks. Look, it might be a bit big for everything but it cant be beat for comfort and space. For four of you I wouldnt recommend a wagon or cube-like vehicle, just not enough space (especially if 4 blokes).
     
  50. smackies

    smackies A Local

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    This.

    One year we hired through Nissan (Nagano pickup) and though you get snow tires for free, they don't do roof racks.
     
    #100 smackies, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013