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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

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    Friday Feb 19 Amihari

    Amihari is a pretty cool place. It is actually an Onsen resort with an attached ski field comprising of 3 double chair lifts. Day pass is only Y2500 (or Y2000 for over 50's). Food prices are low as well - nothing over Y550 - I had a bowl of Udon for that price. Very friendly little field. So a complete contrast to Appi.

    It snowed solidly all day. It was one of those 6 turns, quick goggle wipe, another few turns, goggle wipe, repeat. The number depending on how hard it was snowing.

    There was somewhere between 20-40cms of new snow on the pistes depending on when they last groomed it. Some would have been yesterday, some probably a couple of days ago. They did groom part of the lower slope this morning. Grooming is not a big thing here.

    Indicatively the only english signs about were warnings about not skiing out of bounds, in the trees and under the chairlifts - these were displayed everywhere.

    There wasn't that much completely untracked but that didn't matter that much. The powder wasn't superlight so the 40cm stuff on the edges wasn't that easy - needed a bit of work. The 20cms of somewhat chopped up powder in the middle though was fun, just the issue of visibility.

    Spent quite a bit of time having to brush snow off when riding the uncovered chairs. The storm hood on my new jacket has had a good workout this trip so far.

    Had a really nice run on the 3rd (top) chairlift around 2pm and was about to rerun when a patroller said it was being closed due to the thunder about - I had heard it - wasn't quite sure what it was at the time. It looked like it was going to be for the day, so after waiting a little while, I opted to pack up. Was then talking to some of the Aussies who were staying there, then they announced that the lifts would restart (the bottom one at least). I opted not to gear up again having just started to get stuff dry. It may not have been a bad thing in the end - I was a little tired and another hour and I think I would have been struggling.

    So got back to the hotel in Morioka a little earlier which meant I beat most of the business guys to the bath. I think my day at the office would probably have been better than theirs. A 14th floor city bath isn't quite the same as an Onsen but it's still nice. There is a bit of a view of Kitakami river - just have to peer through a slot in the glass frosting.
     
  2. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    As I suggested earlier pictures in these conditions will look much the same - not that interesting really - here are a few anyway.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    This is the base area - chairlift, base building on the right, Onsen resort behind and uphill from the chairlift on the left.
    [​IMG]
     
    #103 Heinz, Feb 19, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  4. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    don't know - they do apparently head up this way but normally start from Myoko don't they?

    These guys or some at least were heading to Central Hokkaido and doing a tour with HPG. One of them went to school with Chuck Olbery in Geelong. Said they had also given Niseko away.
    They had been around Tazawako, Shizukuishi, Hachhimantai in the last week and were heading to Appi.
     
  5. telenomore

    telenomore One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Great stuff so far Heinz. Look forward to some more pics. Hope the blow this weekend gives you some powder joy.
     
  6. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, doesnt sound like the group we ran into.
     
  7. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Saturday Feb 20 Shizukuishi

    Not much to be said for today. Looks like there was some rain overnight. Was raining lightly in Morioka in the morning and at the bottom of Shizukuishi but snowing/sleeting higher up. But damage had already been done. Runs from top lift were still ok, snow still heavy but being steeper made it reasonable. But on the lower part of the mountain with more flatter sections it was very sticky so spent most of time on top lift.

    There was an Austrian group practicing moguls on the top run, I am assuming in preparation for the World cup freestyle in Tazawako next weekend. Then there were a couple of Russians and their English guide on the first ropeway lift - didn't see them again, so I presumed they bailed. Apart from there were a couple groups of Japanese snowboarders a few families and that was about it.

    Only got a 4 hour ticket in and was happy to finish a bit after 1:30pm and catch the early bus back.
     
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  8. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Are you going to Hachimantai Heinz?
     
  9. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Yep, tomorrow.
     
  10. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    A few token poor pics from today.

    [​IMG]

    Both Iwate Snow Park and Amihari are not far away.

    View of Iwate Snow Park. I skied here in 2009.
    [​IMG]

    A rather indistinct view of Amihari Onsen just up the road from Iwate Snow Park.
    [​IMG]

    Only reasonable skiing of the day was up here
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Picked up a trail map for it but we didn't make it there. The Shimokura side looks the more interesting to me. Have you been there before?
     
  12. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    No, not yet, but staying there next couple of nights.
    Where are you now?
     
  13. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Back in Tokyo. Fly out tomorrow. We really did enjoy our time up there. Not just the skiing, we also loved the country vibe of the region. May post a few pics when we get home.
     
    #113 PMG, Feb 20, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  14. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Vey nice dinner last night an Izakaya with @seefarr and co who happened to be staying in the same hotel in Morioka. Also bumped into a couple of guys I saw at Amihari who were at the next table.
     
    #114 Heinz, Feb 21, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
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  15. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Sunday Feb 21 Hachimantai Shimokura

    Left Morioka early this morning on bus for Hachimantai. There are two ski areas at Hachimantai - Panorama & Shimokura which are on the same ticket but not linked. The resort hotel I am staying at is in between the two. There is a regular shuttle bus that runs between the two via the hotel.

    Opted to get a 5 hour ticket (Y2800 seniors price) and skied Shimokura. This consists of 3 chairlifts - the proper skiing is on the top 2. Was snowing through most of the day just varying degrees, sometimes more sleet, so fairly wet. And as usual visibility varied from poor to ok.

    Later in the day wind picked up and it seemed to get colder and it was snowing properly. Snow on the groomed was quite reasonable - certainly much better than yesterday at Shizukuishi and it did get better through the day with the new snow.

    The old chopped up stuff from previous day though was pretty ugly - once was enough for that.

    Eventually had enough of riding the uncovered chairs so was happy to get 3pm shuttle back to hotel and checkin. Large hotel - I'm on 10th floor and room is bigger than what I am used to for a Japanese hotel, especially coming from a business hotel - don't know what to do with all the space..

    And Onsen is great as well - huge and nice outdoor pool - had nice session sitting out with the snow falling and by then it was snowing properly. Also a nice change from the small bath in Morioka.
     
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  16. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Monday Feb 22 Hachimantai Panorama & Shimokura

    Not much new snow overnight. Was snowing lightly early, but later cloud cover broke up just a little and sun was occasionally able to peek through.

    Started off with a look at Panorama - this has 2 chairs one of which at least is a hooded quad. Runs are pretty mellow and were groomed the full width. So it was easy corduroy skiing which was ok for a while but after a couple of hours it was time to catch the shuttle over to Shimokura where the runs are a bit more interesting. Even had some sun lit slopes for just about the first time this trip. Stayed there for the afternoon.

    Bumped into a Powder Recon group of 10 - probably the ones @PMG saw earlier. They had also stayed at Amihari Onsen. Said they normally started at Myoko but with the poor conditions there opted to start further north this time.
     
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  17. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Hachimantai Panorama

    [​IMG]

    Corduroy paradise
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Hachimantai Shimokura

    a sun lit slope!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    view of hotel and Panorama behind that
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Hard to go past another Katsucurry
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    This like Amihari is very much an Onsen resort presumably more popular in summer. The skiing is secondary. I'm guessing only about a quarter of those staying at the hotel here now are skiing.

    The hotel here is 12 floors with restaurants on about 4 of them including a panorama bar on the 12th floor. Except now only 2 restaurants on the 2nd floor are open - the banquet room with a buffet and an a la carte one. I just went the a la carte as after a buffet breakfast and a Katsucurry lunch I wasn't interested in paying Y3000 for the buffet.
     
  21. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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  22. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    i think I need katsu curry without the curry
    for my daughter.
     
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  23. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Katsudon
     
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  24. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    Nup egg..
    Yes I know
    LOVES rice and katsu.
    not a fan of egg and demi glace.
     
  25. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    pickled onions.

    Have had the raw egg a few times over rice for breakfast in the past - ok, but not my favourite - opted to leave it when served that at Tazawako. Never had them with a curry.
     
  26. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    That's a very good looking Katsu. Could do with more Cabbage (always the case)
     
  27. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Good work Heinz, sorry the updates have been slow, i've had poor internet but im back in AUS now. Great to see you checking out these resorts.
     
  28. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Tuesday Feb 23 Hachimantai Shimokura

    Overcast skies and light snowfall seems to be the continuing theme. But being very light it is not actually accumulating anything worthwhile. Headed to Shimokura again, not bothering with Panorama. Ski the now familiar pistes. They had a few easy gates set up for general use so had a bit fun with that occasionally. Were set pretty straight so you could tuck pretty much all the way and I'm certainly no racer.

    Had a brief period of concern late morning. The chairs here come though pretty low and fast and I got into the habit of grabbing the back of the seat with one hand so stop if banging into my legs. This time though it managed to catch a ring finger awkwardly and dislocate it. Went back to base and took off glove, didn't look great but managed to straighten it out and I could bend it normally again. It is fine now, just a little sore. I did get out of the habit of grabbing the back of the chair after that though.

    Went out and skied another couple of hours, weather closed in a bit more so figured I'd had enough, headed back to hotel, repacked gear and got on the local bus back to Morioka. This one did a bit of a school run as well.
     
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  29. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was in the habit of doing the same thing as you Heinz, but usually because the chair was so low to the ground and it helped me sit down. Lucky I didnt have an injury like you did. Hope it doesnt blow up overnight.
     
  30. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Wednesday Feb 25 Amihari

    Last day in Morioka. Had this day originally pencilled in for Appi, but after what I saw last week decided to return to Amihari. Was happy with the choice. Day was reasonably stormy with snow heavy at times and also windy at times. In between the sun made a few very brief appearances.

    There was a little snow overnight, there was maybe about 5cm on the groomed piste and 20-30cm on top of the weekend rain crust off the side of the pistes. They did groom quite a bit, but there was still plenty of fresh lines available, so generally pretty good skiing.

    It was though the 10th consecutive ski day and I was starting to feel it. Was quite happy to get a 5 hour seniors pass for Y1700 - not bad at all.

    Did a few runs off the left side of the top chair which I didn't get to last week - first part of trail is a bit flat, but then you get quite a long run to the base with a few easy powder opportunities.

    No geigin at all spotted today - I guess the Powder Recon guys have moved on?

    Got bus back to Morioka, quick trip back to hotel to pick up bag, repack, then back to station and a very short Shinkansen trip south to Kitakami.
     
    #130 Heinz, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
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  31. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Note @Vermillion there was no Katsucurry on the menu at Amihari. There was a curry rice for Y700 or various Ramen/Soba/Udon dishes for Y450-Y550 - cheaper than other places I have been.

    It is a pretty friendly unpretentious place - I am liking it.
    No lockers just leave stuff in the café - all good,
     
    #131 Heinz, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
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  32. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    A collection of Kokeshi dolls at the hotel in Hachimantai.
    [​IMG]
     
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  33. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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  34. bluestick

    bluestick One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks heaps for the reports Heinz always informative and worth reading ..it is interesting seeing the different snow conditions in Japan ...a little snow here at Pippu but looked pretty socked in higher up...we found Amihari a real treat 2 years ago ...lovely place ...good tree skiing but discouraged ...
     
  35. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I like it Heinz. Makes me feel a little better sitting back here at work in Melbourne.

    PS - I would boycott any resort that didnt offer katsucurry, unless they had tomato ramen.
     
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  36. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Off to Geto Kogen now
     
  37. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Geto has Katsucurry. looked impressive but I went the Gyodon.
     
  38. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    oh yeah snow is pretty good as well
     
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  39. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    TRAITOR
     
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  40. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We skied through lunch one day and when we came in about 2.00 they had closed up shop! Can get pretty quiet there in the afternoon. Got a crepe downstairs but didn't really fill the hole in our stomachs.
     
  41. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    I came in for lunch just after 1.
    It does get quiet in the afternoon in general not that it was busy today.
     
  42. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Thursday Feb 27 Geto Kogen

    Geto was a place I visited for a day back in 2010 on a weekend - I thought it was very good but a bit busier than I would have liked. I thought back then that I should revisit one time on a weekday.

    So 6 years later the day came. Wasn't quite as much new snow as back then, but was still very good. Weather was pretty much same, same. I can see some sunshine next week at home.

    Got the free shuttle bus service from Kitakami. Full day ticket was Y4600 (Seniors rates only kick in at 60 here).

    Geto has expanded somewhat since then, not in the lift infrastructure, but firstly in the terrain allowed. There are now 3 designated tree skiing areas 2 of which were open today - a welcome change for Japan. The other expansion was in the base building - the big dome was there before but now they have added a new section of basic on mountain accommodation including a public bath and I think they expanded the other side as well.

    Skiing was very good. They did do a fair bit of grooming but left a reasonable amount on the side ungroomed. There would have been a couple of cms of fresh on the groomed, probably 20cm just off that and 20-30cm in the trees. Had a bit of a play in the 2 open designated tree areas - Summit entering from the side and Rabbit - quite nice. Found a few other nice lines on the sides of the runs and other trees. But apart from that was happy to be a little lazy and ski a fair bit of the groomed as well with the couple of cms on top which was quite nice as well.

    Was thankfull for the gondola here which made things considerably more comfortable after most of the last couple of weeks freezing on slow open chairs. Getting soft I know.. It did get me through the day more comfortably.
     
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  43. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Some views of Geto

    Down to the right is Geto Onsen which is closed for the winter - road has a metre of snow on it.
    [​IMG]

    Looking towards the expanded base building.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Run A3 (ungroomed) - yes the run names are very imaginative...
    [​IMG]

    Base
    [​IMG]
     
  44. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Rabbit area
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Inside the dome
    [​IMG]

    View with the town of Kitakami in the distance
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  45. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    The food on this trip like always in Japan has been great (apart from some of the traditional breakfasts).

    But... one thing you don't get in the hotels, ryokans & pensions or at the ski resorts is ... Okonomiyaki.
    So at this point of the trip as for previous ones, I was keen to get my Okonomiyaki fix.

    As it happens though when I was last in Kitakami in 2010 I recalled this Izakaya that did a really nice Okonomiyaki along with excellent service. When I arrived this time I saw it was still there, so had to go again. So went tonight and even got the same table/booth that I had 6 years ago.

    The place is opposite the station. If you are ever in Kitakami I can recommend it (although it has to be said that I am not aware of any reason to come to Kitakami other than to ski Geto).

    This is the place.
    [​IMG]

    It is an Ikakaya so they serve the usual variety of stuff like yakitori, fish etc. But I went immediately for the Modanyaki (which is a variation including noodles as well as the cabbage etc).

    Sugoi!!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #145 Heinz, Feb 25, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
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  46. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    So, tomorrow returning to Geto for my last ski day of the trip.
     
  47. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I like it Heinz, tree spacing looks excellent.
     
  48. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    Here is my report on Kitakami/Geto from 2010 including the Okonomiyaki - looks very familiar.

    https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/japan-trip-reports-other-than-niseko-hakuba.35497/page-2

    =========

    Jan 29,30 - Kitakami, Geto Kogen (Iwate)

    Continuing north, original idea was to leave early and ski Geto, but for a number of reasons (the previous days rain, feeliing tired, not wanting to misss breakfast at the Ryokan etc) decided to ease up a bit, leave later and have a quiet day in Kitakami. Stay at a business hotel near the station. Business hotels certainly lack the charm of a Ryokan or a Pension, but are practical and fairly cheap. ie close the the station and ski bus stop. Though they don't really cater very well for ski gear.

    Kitakami seemed a fairly quiet sort of town, not much apparent on the street although sometimes that can be a little deceptive. There was a bit of a warrior theme around - not sure exactly what that was about.

    Looking for something to eat in the evening - didn't appear much obvious. Looked in one place with a sliding door behind a mural - no sense of anyone there - another door then greeted by waitress and shown small room - then realise place was quite busy. Also looking at pictures on menu - saw that amongst other stuff they did Okonomiyaki so immediately ordered that. Very nice! You pressed tyhe egg shaped buzzer to get attention and 2 seconds later someone would appear. For some reason left a small tip on the plate when leaving but of course being Japan the guy chased me to the door to give it back.

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    Was quite impressed with Geto. About 40mins by bus from Kitakami. It is a reasonable size and has quite modern infrastructure. A couple of gondolas and a quad and an excellent base facility - good space to get organised and a big food hall.

    Also helped that the had 30+cm of fresh powder so fresh lines everywhere. Being a Saturday though while it wasn't a big crowd the obvious stuff on the trails did get tracked fairly quickly. Another great spot to catch though midweek with fresh powder. The lift/run system is very simple to understand if a bit unimaginative. The 3 main lift areas are named A (gondola), B (gondola) and C (quad chair) and the runs from them are number relative to where they end up eg. A1, A2 .. A5, B1, B2 .. C1, C2 etc. I found though the traverse across the top from A to B a bit flat and tedious - easier to walk across from the bottom. There were pretty much no restrictions on where you could ski. A little disconcerting though was that the 30cm of powder was on top of an old rain layer and it was sliding very easy on rollovers - saw a nummber if people cutting slabs on gully walls. Made a point to avoid these aspects, but otherwise plenty of nice skiing, including a few in the trees between B1 and B2 (No bananas in sight). Had a chat with a japanese lifty wearing a Treble Cone top who had spent a season there.
     
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  49. Rabid K9

    Rabid K9 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Very nice Heinz, I looked everywhere for okonomiyaki this trip, but no luck. My Italian partner began to think it was some mythical food that my oily fish breakfast overdosed brain had cooked up!!
     
  50. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty

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    They are out there, but unless you are in Osaka you have to seek them out or stumble onto them as I did.