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Trip Report Japan 2018 - Akita & Iwate

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Heinz, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I planned to revisit some of the areas I skied a couple of years ago and earlier up this way. Arrived in Kitakami this afternoon.

    Due though to the recent passing of my mother it has been a very subdued lead up and start to this trip. Wasn't even sure if I could or should have gone ahead but things sort of worked out. I still rather went through the motions getting here but am here now and will see how we go.

    It is nice though to be back in Japan.
     
  2. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Flew Singapore airlines this time with a few hours in Singapore in between. Into Haneda early this morning. Was actually my first international arrival into Haneda. Obviously quite a few flights come in early morning so the queue at immigration was extremely long - took an hour to get through. I have seen big numbers arrive at Narita on previous occasions but there they always seemed to be able to open extra counters for foreign passports and short notice and still got through quite quickly. But this morning they only 5-6 counters open for foreign passports the whole time. There were about the same number of counters for Japanese but they had almost no wait at all. As a result the extra time almost negated the closer vicinity of Haneda over Narita to Tokyo. In the end effect though it made little difference. I had to wait for the first bus at 8:10 to Tokyo station.

    Bus was convenient but takes a bit longer as it has scheduled stops also at the domestic Haneda terminals. Also it drops you by the Yaesu exit at Tokyo station, while the JR East travel center is at the other end at the Maronouchi exit. JR East pass though was quickly arranged and then had a quiet trip on the Yamabiko Shinkansen to Kitakami.

    Kitakami is pretty quiet on a Sunday afternoon - didn't see much open - but then there is always Lawsons so a hot lunch and a Chuhai was no problem.
     
  3. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Interesting to hear about the long wait at Haneda. We had it at Narita and I had thought Haneda might be easier.
     
  4. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Sorry to hear of your mums passing.


    Look fwd to reading this as it unfolds.
     
  5. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The big difference was when I had it previously at Narita they quickly opened up several more counters so it was still quick - this morning though - nothing - when I first looked I counted 6, then they even closed one of those later. Something to note if you are planning to fly into Haneda early. Maybe a one off - don't know - was just used to quick times at Narita.
     
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  6. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Passing by Fukushima city this morning.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Sorry about your mums passing..............best wishes to you, have a great trip.
     
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  8. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    All the best Heinz, you know i'll be checking this thread daily.
     
  9. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Geto delivers ... again.
     
  10. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    More reliable than the lift line at Cortina on a powder day.
     
  11. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Perfect timing.....the gondola reopened on Saturday. Nice!
     
  12. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Firstly, my condolences for your loss. A tough decision, to go ahead with Japow, for sure. But now that you're here enjoy!

    I'm 5 days from take-off and while very excited, work and a lower back issue has put the damper on the final week before departure. I was at the point yesterday of cancelling. Today, however, I am past the "point of no return" with cancellation fees for the car rental and airline providing the incentive to go ahead on.

    Your short and simple TR for Geto does have me very excited and I am looking forward to exploring it this time, rather than sitting in the cafeteria, as I did last February, waiting for wind and rain to abate. Finger crossed.

    Re. the airport queues. My experience of Haneda was similar to yours. They do not seem to be able or willing to adjust to the influx of morning arrivals. By contrast, my afternoon arrival at Narita last year had me out of the airport 28 minutes after the airbridge docked. Nice and fast!!

    I'm looking forward to your trip report as it unfolds!
     
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  13. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mon Feb 5 - Geto Kogen

    Met up with a couple of friends today. Stewart is another long time Wanaka heliskiing regular and Andrew has also joined us in recent years. These guys have had it tough over the last 5 weeks. A few weeks cat-skiing in Canada followed by a couple of weeks in Nagano (Nozawa & Yuzawa). And Andrew is staying on into March heading to Hokkaido after I head back home.

    Got the free shuttle bus from Kitakami to Geto where it was snowing steadily. The main (A) gondola was back in action after being out the last month. As there were not many people around at all, that meant they closed the second (B) gondola again.

    So we started with several runs from the gondola and for the most part I was happy just skiing the fresh powder on the piste. Very difficult though to keep Stewart out from the trees, he is a tree skiing demon. We followed him a couple of times, but that was enough for me.

    There weren't too many people skiing the gondola, but then we did the somewhat tedious traverse over to the quad chair (C) where there were even fewer people and not surprisingly hardly any snowboarders, so there were plenty of fresh lines over there. Fortunately there was very little wind, so riding the unhooded chair was fine.

    A few more runs there then a late Katsucurry lunch and just in time as they closed the one open cafeteria window not long after. A little bit sad as the base complex including the dining area is huge, but was almost deserted (Not what @Ramenman wants to hear).

    A few more runs from the gondola until lift closing at 4pm, but just one on the powder mogul run was enough for me. Was getting dark around 4pm. Was pretty tired by then, but a very good first day.
     
  14. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dinner tonight was at my regular Kitakami Izakaya where I went back to my go to Okonomiyaki which was as good as always. The other guys had chicken and seafood hotpots and they were also very good. With beers we still only paid Y4800 between us - good value. This will continue to be my regular in Kitakami.
     
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  15. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    what are these lift lines you speak of?
     
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  16. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Haha, I never expect ski resorts here in Tohoku are crowded on weekdays:p. I love quiet ski resorts, but too quiet is a big problem for their sustainability.

    By the way, did you see some Taiwanese in Geto today?. I mean, I saw a lot of Taiwnanese last weekend. This winter, 14 direct flights per month between Taiwan and Yamagata airport, and there are some between Hanamaki Airport = Iwate and Taiwan. Since last year, direct flights between Taiwan and Tohoku in wintertime have been increasing a lot and I saw many of them this winter. It's almost Chinese new year holiday season now, so I wonder if you see many of them at Geto Kogen too. I heard Shizukuishi ski resort in Iwate newly hired 3 Taiwanese staff this season, and visitors from abroad to Shisuzukushi ski resort accounts for nearly 20% of all this season, and most of them are from Taiwan.
     
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  17. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    View from hotel in Kitakami
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Geto

    Stewart & Andrew
    [​IMG]

    nothing really to see here
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    My regular in Kitakami
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Can't say I could pick them. With everyone covered up, hard to tell origin. Though most of the people on the gondola and quad chair seemed to know what they were doing and were generally on fat skis plus a few snowboarders, so I'm guessing mostly locals. I didn't really take any notice of the few people on the 2 small chairlifts as we didn't bother with those. Didn't notice any particularly large groups either, so I don't know where they might have been.
     
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  21. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    I also like the Izakaya "いろはにほへと". It's a Hokkaido origin izakaya, and there are many in Hokkaido and Tohoku, and some in Ibaraki pref, including very near Mito station, the capital of Ibaraki Pref. I like their ヨーグルトカクテル = Yogurt cocktails. Well, I like almost all foods they have:D
     
  22. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The same thing happened to me on the Saturday morning I got in (20th of Jan). Flights from Singapore and presumably Auckland at the same time. It took about 45 minutes to get through at around 6am, as mentioned they just didn't seem to have enough staff to open up more counters.
     
  23. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    My experience there last year too. They had two windows open. I went for the non ramen window, for something different. I reckon I made the right decision. It was delish![​IMG]
     
  24. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I dont know, i've heard about them though.
     
  25. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    We also experienced an 1+hr wait at immigration at Haneda this year, huge lines of people and only 4 counters open. Almost missed the last train from the airport!
     
  26. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    It's actually quite normal for Geto Kogen. Even on weekends and holidays, the base complex including the dining area is often deserted, so I'm worried. I feel sorry for the first owner of Geto Kogen. I mean, Geto Kogen opened in 1993 - 1994 season, which means, soon after it opened, the crazy ski boom in Japan came to an end. So the first owner invested a lot but couldn't gain any return at all. Grandeco in Fukushima also opened in 1993. 25 years old ski resorts are considered "very new" in Japan:p.
     
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  27. bluestick

    bluestick One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for another tr Heinz always enjoy them.
     
  28. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Looks a lot like a Negitoro Don, although the fish isn't diced.
     
  29. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Tue Feb 6 - Geto Kogen

    Snowing off and on throughout the day with the occasional fine break. In the morning on the way up it looked clear, but was snowing once we got there. Snowing quite heavily late afternoon. Quite windy up top.

    Snow off in the trees was quite deep, but my confidence level wasn't up to too much of that at this stage so for the most part I was happy with skiing the bit of fresh and chopped up powder on the pistes. Nothing though was standing between Stewart and some fresh powder on his last day. Couldn't keep him out of the trees all day. A true powder pig - he put me to shame.

    We skied the gondola area in the morning, then after lunch the quad chair area. Snow was pretty good everywhere.

    Noticed a few foreigners about today including an Australian/Austrian couple that I spoke to briefly when I heard a bit of German.
     
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  30. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Cleared up briefly early afternoon.
    [​IMG]
     
  31. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's considered ultra new in Australia.
     
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  32. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    What’s the mountain like? Fall line, ease of trees etc?
     
  33. winter

    winter One of Us Ski Pass: 30 Day

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  34. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    We were super quick at Haneda - through in about 10 mins
     
  35. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The lift layout isn't the best. There is a bit of traverse from one side of the resort to the other top and bottom, hence there tend to be fewer snowboarders on the quad chair side. The second (B) gondola only operates on weekends.

    The trees are easy to get in to and have marked gates, but you need to know what you are doing as the resort basically take no responsibility.
     
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  36. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    what time of day?
     
  37. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    About 6am - the qantas flight
     
  38. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    That doesn't count!
     
  39. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wed Feb 7 - Geto Kogen

    Started off looking clear, but again that didn't last long. Clouded over again and started snowing lightly. The bit of new snow overnight was quite a bit heavier, needed more effort once tracked so got lazy and was content to mostly ski the pistes. Skied the chair side in the morning and gondola side after lunch. Called it quits a bit after 3pm.

    A sprinkling of other Australians about, as far I could tell independent travellers rather than tour groups. Chatted with some that were staying at Semi Onsen while they were waiting for their pickup, including the Austrian couple I saw yesterday.
     
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  40. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Skiing tomorrow Heinz?
     
  41. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Heading to Tazawako.
     
  42. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Will try to catch up in Morioka.
     
  43. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thu Feb 8 - Tazawako

    Early start for 7:30 Shinkansen to Tazawako, then bus up to our hotel at Mizusawa Onsen, who then dropped us off at the resort, so we were skiing before 10am. A fair bit of fresh snow overnight and snowing heavily when we arrived. Visibility generally limited, cold with a fresh breeze, so we opted to stick initially with the right side hooded chair and ski the fresh lines on piste which was very pleasant. Eventually opt to try the left side quad chair which I recall from 2 years ago was without hood, but was now hooded, so stayed there for the next hour or so, finding plenty more fresh lines.

    Upper chair cleared partially briefly so hit that for a nice long run, but closed in again so we returned to the left side where we continued to find nice untracked lines. Called it quits around 3pm when I was getting tired.

    Then back to hotel for a very nice onsen. Only properly feel like I am in Japan once I have been in an onsen. Business hotels serve a purpose and are ok for a short time but resort hotels are certainly much nicer. Excellent dinner included also.
     
  44. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    We will be there Sunday, Monday & Tuesday night. Staying at the Route Inn opposite the station.
     
  45. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Friday Feb 9 - Tazawako

    Not much new snow overnight but we still found plenty of powder to ski through the morning. Started Dwith a couple on Kuromori which I didn't get to ski last time as it was closed. Then to Kamoshika where there were still plenty of fresh lines. Did a run from the Ginrei double down the Mizusawa champion course which was very good but needed a bit more word. Best of all though were the runs from the Ginrei double down to Kamoshiki - plenty untouched so we did that circuit several times to lunch. Did it again after lunch but by then was starting to get tracked out and my legs were starting to feel the pinch. A couple more on Kamoshiki then went back to groomers on Ginrei for a bit, but by not long after 2pm I was pretty much done. This doesn't seem to be as easy as it used to be. Still a very good day.
     
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  46. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Had an interesting experience in the onsen tonight. The onsen has a small shelter over it and had a fair bit of snow piled on it. It avalanched into the onsen while I was sitting there- I had only just moved to under the shelter a matter of seconds earlier so didn't get hit, but it certainly cooled the onsen down. I had also just before looked up at the meter of snow on the main roof - that would have been an even bigger impact.

    Also early this morning a big chunk came off the roof with a huge crash - a nice wake up call!
     
    #46 Heinz, Feb 9, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  47. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Saw a bunch of gaijin on the mountain today. Looked very much like a tour group. Later chatted to one of them in the cafeteria - turns out he was one of the tour guides from some group called Whiteroom tours (I hadn't heard of them). It looks like they have jumped into the Tohoku game. They were currently day tripping from Morioka. Had a group of 12 Aussies with him. Later travelling to Semi Onsen to ski Geto.
     
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  48. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah I follow them on instagram.. ..
    Mint tours will be there next week
     
  49. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hmm...I'll be at Semi next week.
     
  50. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Tazawako

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The lake even made a brief appearance
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]