Resource Japan 2018 thread

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telenomore

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I just looked it up. I see what you mean.
The local town Yubari is famous as a microcosm of everything that was economically wrong with Japan in the lost decades. To see some actual investment going on now would be pleasing.
There are lots of "shuttered" towns in Hokkaido, but the reasons vary @M_G. Yubari mostly suffered due to the low cost of, for example, Australian coal. It was a coal mining town and basically couldn't compete and went broke in the 80's and if you go up the valley from Mt Racey you'll see a lot of that disused infrastructure. Of course you have to add the aging rural population and the movement of youth to the cities to the big picture but in Yubari's case, its mostly about the loss of coal mining.

Locals did a really good job of reinventing the place though, with a well regarded international film festival, which still runs annually. In fact, with the local council on board, they even put up eye catching classic posters on some of the old buildings that were 2 to 3 stories high, the posters that is. It was (and possibly still is, I haven't had a look for a few years) an incredible site to see these huge 1950 American movie posters on aging buildings, against a back drop of rusting, towering mine equipment slowly being swallowed by deep grass and shrubs. Mt Racey is well worth a skiing visit. Gets the good cold Hokkaido snow so maybe some investment will help the resort and the town.
 

M_G

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Without trying to derail the thread. From my previous readings I understand that there were attempts to diversify that went horribly wrong, like so many others after the bubble economy. And that landed them with huge debt that was unable to be repaid. Apparently a younger mayor came along, very rare in Japan, and that has led to some better decision making. Great to see them moving ahead.
 

Ramenman

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404m vertical....hmmm :confused:.

It's a small resort, but the skiable acres is more than 330 acres, so not very tiny in Japanese standard. Anyway, I think it's the accessibility why the Chinese company chose Mt Racey over many other dying ski resorts in Japan. It's the nearest ski resort with a gondola from the Hokkaido's international airport and it has a train station very near the bottom lift station and hotels. Most Chinese people don't need big mountains, considering most of them are beginners and most Chinese people stay in a ski resort only for a few days. So accessibility is more important than the size of the ski resort. Beijing to Mt Racey can be within 5 hours by plane + train or by plane + bus/car.
 
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Any

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That actually looks half decent from the trail map.
ive had plenty of people really excited to go ski rusutsu. they've seen the trial map online and its so well drawn it makes it look as big as whistler. then they're quite shocked to discover how small it really is.
i thought it was just a once off, but its happened at least 4 times now.
makes me cautious about using trial maps for anything other than getting around once there ;)
 

telenomore

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It's a small resort, but the skiable acres is more than 330 acres, so not very tiny in Japanese standard. Anyway, I think it's the accessibility why the Chinese company chose Mt Racey over many other dying ski resorts in Japan. It's the nearest ski resort with a gondola from the Hokkaido's international airport and it has a train station very near the bottom lift station and hotels. Most Chinese people don't need big mountains, considering most of them are beginners and most Chinese people stay in a ski resort only for a few days. So accessibility is more important than the size of the ski resort. Beijing to Mt Racey can be within 5 hours by plane + train or by plane + bus/car.
And if you take the Doto Expressway from Chitose, the Chinese owned resorts now all line up. Mt Racey. Tomamu and Sahoro. The Doto making them all very accessible. Still not seeing crowds though, but its early days yet IMO for the coming Chinese ski boom.
 

Ramenman

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And if you take the Doto Expressway from Chitose, the Chinese owned resorts now all line up. Mt Racey. Tomamu and Sahoro. The Doto making them all very accessible. Still not seeing crowds though, but its early days yet IMO for the coming Chinese ski boom.


And If another ski-bubble happens in Japan, it'll be caused by Asian tourists, mainly Chinese, not by Japanese people.

The population of East Asia + South East Asia is about 2.2 billion:eek:. Basically it doesn't snow in South East Asia. China and South Korea don't have the sea effect heavy snow that Japan has. Basically, Northern China is very dry all year around, so is South Korea in winter. So if East Asian and South East Asian people want to experience snow activities, Japan is the first option. The number of foreign tourists to Japan reached 10 millions for the first time in 2013 and it reached 24 millions in 2016. It will be around 30 millions in 2017 and 40 millions by 2020.

Most countries in East Asia and South East Asia are developing countries, and the number of the middle classes will keep increasing rapidly till 2030 and the new middle classes will start travelling abroad. Foreigners account for about 10% of visitors to ski resorts in Japan in 2016, and I think it can be 30% by 2030. Winter Olympics 2022 is held in China, which will make more Chinese people get interested in skiing / snowboarding, I think.

They won't make Japanese ski resorts crowded on weekdays. I assume they will ski during CNY + weekends mainly. So if we ski on weekdays, I think Japanese ski resorts will be as sparse as now. I mean, even in the ski bubble era in early 90's, Japanese ski resorts were not crowded at all on weekdays, I heard. Anyway, if Japanese ski resorts can attract a lot more tourists from abroad, dying ski resorts like Mount Racey can keep running and some ski resorts might be able to expand their skiable areas, so I want China to keep investing in Japanese ski resortsLOL
 
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Sandy

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ive had plenty of people really excited to go ski rusutsu. they've seen the trial map online and its so well drawn it makes it look as big as whistler. then they're quite shocked to discover how small it really is.
i thought it was just a once off, but its happened at least 4 times now.
makes me cautious about using trial maps for anything other than getting around once there ;)
Nevertheless, if there's powder at Rusutsu, you can still be making tracks in the trees at 3pm (mid week)
 
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Ramenman

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ive had plenty of people really excited to go ski rusutsu. they've seen the trial map online and its so well drawn it makes it look as big as whistler. then they're quite shocked to discover how small it really is.
i thought it was just a once off, but its happened at least 4 times now.
makes me cautious about using trial maps for anything other than getting around once there ;)

I don't think Rusutsu is small as long as staying for 3 - 4 days or less than a week. I mean, yes, Whistler is veeeeery big but I think we can't make the most of the big size of Whistler unless we stay there for a month, or at least three weeks. Most Japanese ski resorts were designed for local Japanese people to enjoy staying during weekends = 2 or 3 days from Friday to Sunday or from Saturday to Monday. Some big Japanese resorts such as Niseko United and Hakuba Valley are for two week stay, though. As long as we stay there only for several days, Rusutsu can be better than big ski resorts like Whistler for many people.

And most Asian people can't take a vacation longer than a week unfortunately, so Japanese ski resorts are not too small for most of them. For the people who can take a long vacation, visiting several ski resorts in Japan is better, considering most Japanese ski resorts are too small for more than 5 days.
 

Tanuki

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ive had plenty of people really excited to go ski rusutsu. they've seen the trial map online and its so well drawn it makes it look as big as whistler. then they're quite shocked to discover how small it really is.
i thought it was just a once off, but its happened at least 4 times now.
makes me cautious about using trial maps for anything other than getting around once there ;)
I had the same experience 2yrs ago. In reality it's a hill, not a mountain. Still had a great time though. Have a look at Hotham trail maps from the early 2000's; totes had a triangular peak at the summit
 

Heinz

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I mean, even in the ski bubble era in early 90's, Japanese ski resorts were not crowded at all on weekdays, I heard.

I can confirm this to be true.

Naeba on the weekends in the late 80's was just chaos, had to try and ski in the trees as it was much safer than on the crowded piste (though ski patrol weren't buying that argument). Weekdays though it was ok. Shiga Kogen was a bit further to get to, so the only real crowds to navigate where all the ski school kids.

Likewise Niseko in the early 90's had big crowds of people from Sapporo on the weekends, but was very quiet mid week.
 

Heinz

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The big thing back in those days was for everyone to look the part. Groups of friends would all buy matching ski suits (Descente, Phenix were very popular). They would also get race team jackets also (Austrian, Italian, Norge, US etc), so they looked like professional teams (until you saw them actually ski).

The ski schools and associated hire business did massive business with all the boys being decked out in blue ski suits and the girls in red. There was little individuality back in those days.
 

Heinz

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Naeba on a weekend in 1986.
p118_Naeba.jpg


Naeba mid week in 1987.
p110_Naeba.jpg
 

Ramenman

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Naeba on a weekend in 1986.
p118_Naeba.jpg

Very Sugoi & coooooooooool:cool:!. Heinz-san was skiing in Japan even before I was born:D. I assume it was quite uncommon to visit Japan for skiing back in 80's. Now Heinz-san is a legendary skier for me:nerd:
 
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Heinz

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Ski trips to Japan weren't common back then. I went with a tour company run by a couple of brothers (Price travel) doing trips to Naeba & Shiga Kogen who were just about the only ones doing it in those days. Soon after that @telenomore started organising trips to Hokkaido. Going to Japan in those days was to experience Japan and ski. Getting powder was a bonus, rather than the later trend of just simply chasing powder.

People then, including regular skiers were genuinely surprised that you could ski in Japan. The term 'Japow' was still a long way off. In fact many people would take the option of flights to Europe or North America that went via Tokyo without even considering the possibility of skiing in Japan. Things changed quickly in the 2000's though.
 

shabu_shabu

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ive had plenty of people really excited to go ski rusutsu. they've seen the trial map online and its so well drawn it makes it look as big as whistler. then they're quite shocked to discover how small it really is.
i thought it was just a once off, but its happened at least 4 times now.
makes me cautious about using trial maps for anything other than getting around once there ;)
I agree. The courses are short and not much vertical. Kind of like skiing Smiggins on a good day. Quality of the snow is about equivalent.
 

Sandy

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I agree. The courses are short and not much vertical. Kind of like skiing Smiggins on a good day. Quality of the snow is about equivalent.
Quality of the snow at Rusutsu is better than anything in Australia.....
But if you're not finding finding a bit of powder there even the day after a powder fall, you are not doing it right!!!!!
 
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shabu_shabu

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Quality of the snow at Rusutsu is better than anything in Australia.....
But if you're not finding finding a bit of powder there even the day after a powder fall, you are not doing it right!!!!!
I don't do emojis because I'm incapable of it but if I did I would have used a sarcasm one. "better than anything in Australia" . Nah. Better than anything at a whole lot of other places.
 
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Any

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I don't think Rusutsu is small as long as staying for 3 - 4 days or less than a week. I mean, yes, Whistler is veeeeery big but I think we can't make the most of the big size of Whistler unless we stay there for a month, or at least three weeks. Most Japanese ski resorts were designed for local Japanese people to enjoy staying during weekends = 2 or 3 days from Friday to Sunday or from Saturday to Monday. Some big Japanese resorts such as Niseko United and Hakuba Valley are for two week stay, though. As long as we stay there only for several days, Rusutsu can be better than big ski resorts like Whistler for many people.

And most Asian people can't take a vacation longer than a week unfortunately, so Japanese ski resorts are not too small for most of them. For the people who can take a long vacation, visiting several ski resorts in Japan is better, considering most Japanese ski resorts are too small for more than 5 days.
dont get me wrong, rusutsu is a great place a couple days. I personally do about 10 days there each year.
just that the trail map can be very misleading. these friends had very high expectations, like they'd they'd be able to spend 4 months there and never hit the same snow twice.
 
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M_G

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I can't recall Naeba being like that on weekends these days!!!!
We have to remember, at its peak, there were around 15 million skiers in Japan, now there's only 5-6 million.

18 million at the peak. 3 million now but finally slowly rising again after falling for 25 years.
 

LMB

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18 million at the peak. 3 million now but finally slowly rising again after falling for 25 years.
You'd think SOME of the hundreds of school kids that go every season might catch the bug!!!
 
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Tanuki

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Ski trips to Japan weren't common back then. I went with a tour company run by a couple of brothers (Price travel) doing trips to Naeba & Shiga Kogen who were just about the only ones doing it in those days. Soon after that @telenomore started organising trips to Hokkaido. Going to Japan in those days was to experience Japan and ski. Getting powder was a bonus, rather than the later trend of just simply chasing powder.

People then, including regular skiers were genuinely surprised that you could ski in Japan. The term 'Japow' was still a long way off. In fact many people would take the option of flights to Europe or North America that went via Tokyo without even considering the possibility of skiing in Japan. Things changed quickly in the 2000's though.
When did Niseko take off?
 

Heinz

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When did Niseko take off?

I first went in 1990 for 8 days and met one foreigner - a swedish guy Pär Dahlin (who is still there now). Skied with him a couple of times. Was busy on the weekend with people from Sapporo but otherwise fantastic. It only really started to take off in the mid 90's when Dale & Glenn Goulding arrived and started Deep Powder tours.
 

telenomore

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I first went in 1990 for 8 days and met one foreigner - a swedish guy Pär Dahlin (who is still there now). Skied with him a couple of times. Was busy on the weekend with people from Sapporo but otherwise fantastic. It only really started to take off in the mid 90's when Dale & Glenn Goulding arrived and started Deep Powder tours.
Second that @Heinz The Gouldings got the Niseko ball rolling between 1995 and 1999 and I think many more in the late 90's. I first skied their in 1982 for some telemark racing which was in its infancy back then. I wasn't really interested in resorts and it didn't stack up against central Hokkaido for backcountry, Tokachi being the absolute best, so I didn't hang around much in Niseko after that, although ran some tours there in 1986 and 1987 before the different areas were on the same ticket. Used to stay in Yukiyama Sanso, a great little Inn in Hirafu which is now a bakery I think. The owner was an early Japanese telemarker and he named his son Kazama! Not sure if many are familiar but that was a Japanese ski brand that did really well in the 80's as a telemark racing ski, also had a big following in the USA. I think the Price brothers also may have run some Niseko tours pre 1980 but they mostly focused on Shiga Heights.
 

Heinz

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Second that @Heinz The Gouldings got the Niseko ball rolling between 1995 and 1999 and I think many more in the late 90's. I first skied their in 1982 for some telemark racing which was in its infancy back then. I wasn't really interested in resorts and it didn't stack up against central Hokkaido for backcountry, Tokachi being the absolute best, so I didn't hang around much in Niseko after that, although ran some tours there in 1986 and 1987 before the different areas were on the same ticket. Used to stay in Yukiyama Sanso, a great little Inn in Hirafu which is now a bakery I think. The owner was an early Japanese telemarker and he named his son Kazama! Not sure if many are familiar but that was a Japanese ski brand that did really well in the 80's as a telemark racing ski, also had a big following in the USA. I think the Price brothers also may have run some Niseko tours pre 1980 but they mostly focused on Shiga Heights.

You actually booked me in to the Yukiyama Sanso in 1990. It was a nice little place. Remember the owner and saw him a couple of times out skiing also. I had a room on my own most of the time , but on the weekend shared a 4 double bunk room with a bunch of guys from Sapporo who brought along plenty of drinks and snacks to party in the room. Later found that just across from there was Hanks bar where we enjoyed some nice evenings in later years.

I do recall Warren Price saying they did once go to Hokkaido but figured it was just too cold for most of their clients so they stuck mostly with Shiga Kogen.
 

Ramenman

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I assume internet was not available yet in 80's and early 90's. I wonder how people like Heinz-san & Telenomore-san gathered information about Japanese ski resorts and booked accommodations in Japan back then. You are legends:cool:
 
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Heinz

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In those days I relied on people like the Price brothers, @telenomore and later the Gouldings who went over and established contacts over there and I booked through them via old school mail. Not legendary on my part.
 
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Tonester

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When did Niseko take off?
I had read a few articles in the late 90s/early 2000s about skiing in Japan. I remember thinking it would be an odd thing to do and gave it not much more thought until my first visit in 2004. It was already on the gaijin radar by then, but in retrospect, not by much.
To give you an example, anecdotal as it may be:
I used a well know tour operator for my first trip. The owner had just four staff. They were busy, for sure. The following year, in 2005 when I returned, that same business had grown to a staff of 28! It was still mainly low rise pensions and old style hotels.
I then returned once again in 2007 and, wow, the change was remarkable. Medium density, western style, accommodation had sprung everywhere. I remember thinking to myself: "there goes the neighbourhood!"
During that first trip on 2004, I remember sitting up at the King Hut one arvo and a couple Aussies came up to us and gave us real estate flyers for western accommodation they had just recently built and were looking to sell. They were asking about $300K for 3 bedrooms. Too pricey for me back then.
So, I would say the place really started to take off back then. Others may have a different take on it, though.
 

Any

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When did Niseko take off?
while there certainly a few gaijin blazing the trail to niseko in the super early days, i believe the combination of the 4 resorts onto the one pass was the primary catalyst.
without niseko united it was just 4 separate mediocre resorts on a mediocre hill, and doesn't stand out from any other options. the combination turns all 360 degrees of the mountain into a playground, more than doubling the combined terrain.
after skiing almost 15 resorts my first time in japan, this is the key reason why i chose to return to niseko after my first time 2004, and is the reason why i keep coming back.
 
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Any

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while there certainly a few gaijin blazing the trail to niseko in the super early days, i believe the combination of the 4 resorts onto the one pass was the primary catalyst.
without niseko united it was just 4 separate mediocre resorts on a mediocre hill, and doesn't stand out from any other options. the combination turns all 360 degrees of the mountain into a playground, more than doubling the combined terrain.
after skiing almost 15 resorts my first time in japan, this is the key reason why i chose to return to niseko after my first time 2004, and is the reason why i keep coming back.
tldr; to me size matters. lol :p
 

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I first went in 1990 for 8 days and met one foreigner - a swedish guy Pär Dahlin (who is still there now). Skied with him a couple of times. Was busy on the weekend with people from Sapporo but otherwise fantastic. It only really started to take off in the mid 90's when Dale & Glenn Goulding arrived and started Deep Powder tours.
That's about the time I first went there , booked through an Aussie guy called Ben . Ross Findlay was there also , still is with NAC.
Wish my ex wife let me buy the 24 bed pension for 200K I wanted to get .
Oh well I am happy where I ended up.
 

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Donza

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I had read a few articles in the late 90s/early 2000s about skiing in Japan. I remember thinking it would be an odd thing to do and gave it not much more thought until my first visit in 2004. It was already on the gaijin radar by then, but in retrospect, not by much.
To give you an example, anecdotal as it may be:
I used a well know tour operator for my first trip. The owner had just four staff. They were busy, for sure. The following year, in 2005 when I returned, that same business had grown to a staff of 28! It was still mainly low rise pensions and old style hotels.
I then returned once again in 2007 and, wow, the change was remarkable. Medium density, western style, accommodation had sprung everywhere. I remember thinking to myself: "there goes the neighbourhood!"
During that first trip on 2004, I remember sitting up at the King Hut one arvo and a couple Aussies came up to us and gave us real estate flyers for western accommodation they had just recently built and were looking to sell. They were asking about $300K for 3 bedrooms. Too pricey for me back then.
So, I would say the place really started to take off back then. Others may have a different take on it, though.
Thats pretty much our experience as well.
 
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