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Trip Report Japan 2016 - Akita & Iwate

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Heinz, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Another Japan trip now 30 years after my first one. This time returning to the Tohoku region in northern Honshu for the 4th time in the last 8 years.

    Tohoku is a generic region, literally To(east), Hoku(north), comprising of 6* prefectures - Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi & Fukushima. Have until now skied at least once in all of them except Akita, so plan to address that this time.

    * I have on odd occasions seen Niigata also included in that definition. I did also ski there in the 80's, so have that covered anyway.
     
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  2. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Here is the region I am heading to in relation to Tokyo. It is roughly centered around the city of Morioka around 540km north of Tokyo which is covered in about 2 hours 15 mins on the Shinkansen.

     
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  3. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    A closer in view showing the areas I plan to get to.

     
  4. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Flying out tonight to Brisbane as a result of Qantas changing their Tokyo schedule after I booked so I could no longer connect on Saturday. On the plus side Qantas as a result are paying for the hotel and I get into Tokyo a little earlier on Saturday night.
     
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  5. Gimp

    Gimp One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Looking forward to your reports Heinz, safe travels
     
  6. Toto Warmlet

    Toto Warmlet One of Us

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    Cool dude.
    We are off on rampart heating.
    Landing at Aitik Yah Duns after next.
    It's the last sanctuary.
    And it's not 30 years ago anymore.
    Already have vermin in the region.
     
  7. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Looking forward to this report. Have been doing research about resorts in this area for a possible next trip.
     
  8. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Luggage on board
     
  9. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We're actually going to beat you somewhere Heinz. Lol. Like the look of Monday weatherwise.
     
    #9 PMG, Feb 12, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  10. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    In Brisbane now. A few reds made the flight quite pleasant. An Asahi then crash. Early start tommorow.
     
  11. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Actually my first time ever in Brisbane not that I will see anything.
    Airport hotel airport gone no great loss.
     
  12. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    If you had got here a little earlier I would have been happy to get together for a drink. Have a good flight tomorrow morning. :cheers:
     
  13. Toto Warmlet

    Toto Warmlet One of Us

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    OMG. I've had a thought.
    You are going to hire a car?
     
  14. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Good one - looking forward to reading. :froth::thumbs:
     
  15. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Arrived in Ueno. Seems quite mild - light drizzle.
     
  16. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm likewise looking forward to another Heinz trip report.:thumbs:
     
  17. Gimp

    Gimp One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Let the Heinz TR froth begin, again.
     
  18. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Rainy morning in Tokyo. Now on Shinkansen heading north.
     
  19. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Past Sendai now - quite thick fog.
     
  20. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Arrived at hotel at Tazawako on a grey rainy day. Onsen looks like a good bet now.
     
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  21. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Welcome to Japan Heinz, I would have passed you on the shink as I drove back down the expressway. It was gross in Zao this morning, but it should cool down tonight and begin snowing tomorrow. It will need it because there isnt much happening at the moment, and this rain and warm temps will wash away even more.
     
  22. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Feel much better after the onsen - nice to be back in Japan although it isn't quite as nice sitting outside in the rain than it is in the snow. Rained pretty steadily al the way up from Tokyo to Akita.

    Had to make a quick trip to Tokyo station to activate my JR pass as Ueno opened a bit late for me to make the Shinkansen I wanted. Quick sandwich and coffee breakfast, grabbed a bento to go, then on the Shinkansen to Tazawako. Countryside rolled past pretty quickly up until Morioka. A bit slower as it wound through a bit more mountain terrain and snow. Then bus up to the hotel in Mizusawa Onsen near the ski area. With the current murky weather I see no sign of it.

    Almost no English signage around here which does make it interesting. Japanese lady at the station was quite surprised to see a foreigner here. The hotel even labelled my storage shelf for house slippers by the entrance with my name.

    Hoping this weather will clear a bit tomorrow so I can see the ski hill for a start.
     
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  23. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Subbed in on this thread mate. Look forward to seeing this thread progress. I hear ya on the lack of English, if I didnt have a gaijin with me who spoke fluent Japanese i'd be in trouble.
     
  24. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Staying just up the hill from you I think. Doubt we'll ski tomorrow even if this rain turns to snow. It will take a bit of time and snow to repair the damage after this deluge.
     
  25. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    On the English signage from what I have seen so far it is pretty similar to Niseko ....... circa 1990.
    Will see how it is on the ski hill tomorrow.
     
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  26. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm at the Tazawako Kogen New Sky resort hotel. Have no idea in relation to anything else at this stage with this limited vis.
     
  27. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    How bad do you reckon it is up there @PMG ? I reckon 50cents lost at Zao from this event, and similar in Fukushima. Will take some repairing, especially considering the off-piste and treed areas had just enough snow to be confidently skied. I had 12C in Zao village this morning when i left, the snow was so soft it made it difficult to get traction out of the carpark. It was really sad seeing it all washed away and grey and gross.
     
  28. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The 9:14 Komachi to Akita.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  29. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Its hard to say. We checked out the bottom of the piste runs today from the carpark and they still had enough cover but that was about lunchtime and it still hasnt stopped raining yet. Car thermometer reached 11 degrees at one point today. There were some diehards out giving it a crack but fun it did not look. I would post some pics but I cant remember my Photobucket sign in.:doh:
     
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  30. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Best shinkansen I've been on. Can't comment on the one to Kanazawa as haven't had the pleasure.
    Edit. Sorry referring to the shink to Morioka.
     
  31. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dinners in traditional Japanese resort hotels, pensions, ryokans is often an intriguing thing. There's always a cross section of various dishes comprising some familiar stuff, some you have little idea of but find tasty, other things quite different to what you expect. I enjoy them mostly but there is usually one dish you decide you can pass on.

    Tonight was no different. Below is just part of it. A few pickled things, rice but this time with few vegies and I think bits of chestnuts included rather than plain, some chicken, various fish and something I suspect was horse sashimi which was actually quite nice, very tender. That was on the blue dish under the pile of daikon back right. Then there was the little mushrooms and vegies in some kind of jelly (little closed bowl on the left) which I opted to leave.

    [​IMG]
     
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  32. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Very nice ride but was a bit short of luggage space. No rack at the end of the carriage. I put my skis in the overhead rack and my bag next to me. Fortunately it wasn't busy so plenty of spare seats. Would be a problem though if you had a bunch of skiers on a busy day. Don't know if there was a luggage space in other cars - didn't look.
     
  33. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I cant do the fish cake. I really like the flavour it adds to the food, but man, fish isnt supposed to be turned into paste and dyed green on the outside.

    PS - I had sushi train for dinner, so you're the winner.
     
  34. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There was a small space near the toilets that would fit a couple of bags but thst was it. I had to lay our skis on the floor near the toilets after getting the okay from the conductor. Bit of a shortcoming as you say. Nice train though.
     
  35. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Gee that's tough, never seen that little space on a shink before.
     
  36. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Monday Feb 15 Tazawako

    Didn't have high expectations today after all the rain yesterday, but turned out reasonably ok. It certainly did get colder and was snowing in the morning but wasn't much new on the ground. It continued to snow in flurries off and on through the day but mostly cleared up later in the afternoon.

    Stayed on the piste mostly skiing 'dust on crust', little pockets of windblown. Otherwise it was hard and often crunchy underneath - though at least the crunch was refrozen snow rather than rock - there were patches of exposed ground - an indication of the snow lost in the rain.

    There was quite a brisk wind which was in your face skiing down, so not that pleasant. Opted to have a couple extra breaks to warm up.

    Tazawako Kogen is smallish but still has a bit of nice terrain. No gondolas but 2 hooded quads - slow though and a couple of doubles. Stayed with the quads, although wind going up was less of an issue than coming down.

    Was actually a few people about - quite a lot of juniors on race clinics. Cafeteria was fairly busy at lunch but uncrowded on the slopes and never more than 2 chairloads queued at the lift. Did see 2 other foreigners.

    English on the mountain was slightly more prevalent than around the station and hotel. The cafeteria had signs of all the meals in english - although I hardly needed that to recognise a Katsucurry. A couple of other signs with the ticket prices if you looked hard but again that wasn't hard to work out anyway. Y4000 for a day ticket including a Y500 lunch discount.
     
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  37. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Looks like some other geigin will be staying at this hotel judging from the names on the shoe racks. Doesn't appear that they have arrived yet - weren't at dinner.
     
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  38. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    View early morning - there is meant to be a lake somewhere down there.
    [​IMG]

    This run wasn't open. They have a world cup freestyle event here later this month - could be for that?
    [​IMG]

    A few other views.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  39. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Katsucurry lunch.
    [​IMG]

    Later in the afternoon the lake finally came into view.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  40. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    This place looks a lot like Takatsue from your pics. Nice looking little place.
     
  41. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Is there any other option (ever) for lunch at the snow in Japan?
     
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  42. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Always a good go to - was sold immediately. I saw a spicy Yakisoba which I might have a go at tomorrow. Then there are the other usual ski resort options - Ramen, Donburis, Udon generally in the Y800-1000 range.

    Breakfast is another issue. One thing with traditional Japanese resort hotels, dinners are usually 90% fine, but breakfasts can be a bit more challenging. No soft bland western options here. I left the Natto, raw egg, pickled plum on the tray - went extra rice.
     
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  43. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    It has a reasonable vert. Forgot to mention there was another double chair above one of the quads. It was spinning but they weren't letting anyone on. It did look a bit exposed though and wouldn't have ben pleasant in that wind. There was also another slope further out which looked like it was being prepared for race action.
     
  44. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    With the traditional dinners I find there is usually 1 thing that's a no-go for me, with the breakfasts, I find it's the opposite, usually 1 thing I really like and the rest are questionable. Raw egg over the rice is something i've grown to accept.
     
  45. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah that sounds a lot like Takatsue, with a single j-lift to the top section which accesses the best trees and a cat track down. It has about 700m vert too, so not too shabby. Compared to the resort I was at today which might have had 300m you cant complain.
     
  46. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    #46 Ramenman, Feb 15, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
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  47. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    That looks mint.
     
  48. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah that's about it. If there is an easy bland option for breakfast I have no hesitation in going for it. Dinners I am happy to go with most stuff bar maybe one dish.
    I've done the raw egg over rice and seaweed paper a few times and it's not too bad, but I haven't quite grown to accept it.
     
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  49. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, that one is a bit further up the road from here (Mizusawa Onsen). I've been happy enough to use the hotel one - not quite as speccy as those but still quite nice and I just have to head down the elevator.
     
  50. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I had awesome ramen and karage for dinner tonight, so cant complain. The benefits of basing yourself in a city and not being at the mercy of the ryokan.