Japan 2019 . Planning and stuff.

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Donzah, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Yeah I know I know. Some people haven't even gone yet. However i'm starting to see posts appear re next year.

    I'm getting keen as. This last season being put to the side as a result of injury, surgery and no $$$.

    Just doing some basic framework and ideas for a normal 14 day trip to Honshu. Which could potentially involve 3 families
    Few things I noticed.
    - Most hire car companies now offer a snowtyre "plan" from major airports/train stations in Tokyo and other non snow areas. With this in mind it might be more economical to drive to the destination rather than other methods like train, bus Chuo etc. Eg for us (2 adults 1 child) its roughly 43,000 yen return via trains... vs 7500 yen in tolls and a tank of gas or so (one way)
    -Karuizawa has the cheapest hire cars... A small Car is 3200 a day and a bigger corolla wagon around 4300 yen a day. Snow tyres inc. Karuizawa has a big DFO type thingy. Which may be a good or bad thing I guess.
     
  2. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    wrt to hiring cars this season has been an absolute eye opener for us. Three significant stories:

    The American couple who hired a k-car from Nagano. They left it at Chalet Myoko to be collected by the car company after a few to many adventures with it. These included:
    • managing to go to Joetsu after missing the Myoko Kogen exit, then missing the exit on the way back,
    • finding the MAdarao sewage farm and having to abandon the car and walk out,
    • then having the taxi they were in hit a snow bank on the way back to Chalet Myoko
    • not being able to get out of the street at Chalet Myoko when it snowed.
    Next was an Aussie who booked a 4wd car over 6 months in advance and was then given a 2wd. Chains helped a little in this case.
    Then there was the American couple who booked a 4wd car with snow tyres etc etc from Narita. The car they were given was 2wd, we doubt it had snow tyres and had none of the other extras they had booked. They arrived at Chalet Madarao11.30 pm and we abandoned the car in the middle of the street and hoped it did not snow overnight. Next morning we pushed the car inot a parking space. Then it snowed about 1 metre resulting in a completely buried car. After we dug it out they managed to back out into the street but got no further. We towed it up to the main road where they continued to struggle as soon as the wheels were turned at all to steer.

    So the moral is, you definitely need 4wd (which you know), but even when you book a 4wd way in advance, you may get given a 2wd. And if anyone finds the solution to this, pleas share it with the rest of us!
     
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  3. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    To be fair @skichanger many of the issues that first American couple had weren't the car's fault.

    I've driven a 2WD with snow tyres around Nagano/Niigata, including up to Madarao, on a few trips and never had problems. If they were sliding all over the place with a little snow on the road either they must have had summer tyres or they were terrible drivers.

    Were the cars rented from one of the majors or a small company ?
     
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  4. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Kind of agree with you wrt the first couple. The point was that for them a 2wd was not suitable. And in reality, staying at Chalet Myoko if you have a 2wd you need chains. The lodge is just below a little steep bit in the street that gives us great entertainment watching the 2wds trying to get out of the street. Parking is also tricky with a 2wd. And some of the issues they had were caused by some serious navigation mistakes. They were heading from Madarao to Myoko Kogen and went completely in the wrong direction. Our neighbour told me that the police were on the verge of sending out search parties for them.

    WRT driving up to Madarao in a 2wd, without chains, I wouldn't. And it doesn't matter which of the 5 possible roads you take this does not change. But just considering the 2 main ones I have personally expereinced or witnessed the following:
    via Tangram
    • we had a 4wd car put into a snow bank. They were on iceso unable to stop but they could steer. The road was blocked by 2 buses that could not get any further up the hill and had just stopped completely blocking the road while they put chains on. The emergency vehicle that came to help ran intomthe back of our other car. The driver of that emergency vehicle nearly slid into the blades of a snow blower coming up the hill.
    • we had a transformer fail an the emergency services people were unable to get to Madarao via Tangram for 12 hours.
    Via Iiyama
    • driving down when it was snowing there was a regular spacing of 2wds stopped unable to go any further towards Madarao. One of them did not even make it to the first corner.
    • car into the snowbank on the way down
    • car straight into the tunnel wall on the way down due to the ice in the tunnel.
    And the other thing we see regularly is people with 2wds stuck in our street. Admittedly a lot of them have no idea about driving in the snow. But many of them would be stuck regardless of who was driving. You either have enough snow to get bogged in or a sheet of ice after the grader has been. And that doesn't take into account the ones that drive onto the groomed run outside our place. We are wondering how long before we see someone really stuck there as it is a big drop that gets filled by snow. We saw our neighbour rollhis snow blower recently in similar conditions.

    And I don't know who the cars were rented from but I would assume one of the majors as they were all from Nagano or Narita.
     
  5. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    We got a 2WD car for Myoko also, no 4WD available at time of booking. Had a few adventures getting up ski changers street, but nothing we couldn’t handle with a bit of a run up and lightening the load by taking no passengers to the top of the street.

    However we did have snow tyres and both Kev and I are pretty clued in drivers. We decided against a 2nd trip to Madarao after a snowfall due to only having a 2WD and knowing the road from the previous trip earlier in the week, and went to Ikenotaira instead.

    I’ve seen a lot of unbelievable driving and stuck/wrecked cars up here in Hokkaido this season also. I think a lot of people get cars thinking driving on snow is just like driving at home....you might be able to get away with crap driving on dry roads in good conditions, but snow covered or icy roads in a white out will highlight all your driving flaws.
     
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  6. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    I've driven on snow covered roads across Japan, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada over the years and these would be my priorities in a rental car.

    1. Snow tyres. All season tyres in the USA are OK, but summer tyres by themselves are hopeless.
    2. Engine size. Must be at least 1200cc. Smaller motors like the 600cc in the Japanese k-cars combined with little narrow tyres are asking for trouble on winter mountain roads.
    3. 4WD. While 4WD is helpful getting you up a steep hill with deep snow it does nothing to help braking going down the hill.

    And yes you must change your driving style. You can't drive the car the same as you do on a dry summer road, even if it is 4WD.
     
  7. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Most of the k-cars/trucks around here are 4wd. The thing that causes them problems is the lack of clearance. So when the snow on the road is deep enough they push it along in front of them. They get to a point where they don't have the power to push the accumulated snow along and stop. You get out and clear the snow and then drive on. How often you need to clear the snow depends on the depth. One day we helped one of my tradies. We cleared the snow from in front of his car 5 times before he got out of our street.
     
  8. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
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    I had a Nissan Wingroad for this trip. It had winter tyres but was 2WD. I picked it up in Koriyama and dropped it off up in Shin-Aomori. So I managed to drive well over 1000 kms in it. This included easy expressway driving, very difficult expressway driving and treacherous mountain road driving. There were a couple scary moments, but that was more due to the viz than the road conditions. The only time I got welland truly stuck was in the car park at Nekoma on my second day. It had snowed hard all night (so the drive up was slow and scary) and when I got to the car park I was directed to an area had too much snow for such a low car and I got bogged in it. Three people pushing got me out of strife. Other than that, I thought 2WD was OK. But next time I would go the 4WD option. You know...just in case.
     
  9. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    This trip we had 2WD Serena van with snow tyres from Toocoo.
    Pick up and drop at Nisssan Iiyama station straight off the shink for the win.
    Had some horrendous conditions over 2 weeks Myoko / Madarao and beyond and it did the biz.
    Perfect for 4 blokes plus bags plus skis.
    Day trips with 5 plus packs n skis was manageable.
    It would struggle with anything requiring a bit of clearance and where needed traction other than on rear wheels tho.
    4WD for the win as above.
     
  10. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture
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    Last year, I had a Yaris 4WD with snowtyres... I had no problem with that.

    Although, most the time I was parking overnight in the public carpark in Myoko which was cleared on a regular basic.
     
  11. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    If I go to ski resorts like Kawaba ski resort in Gunma Pref, I'll never have 2WD. There is a long steep road to Kawaba ski resort, and it can be a nightmare if you have 2WD after a big snowfall overnight. We always use 4WD to go to Urabandai as well. It's a very snowy highlands where there are only ski related lodges and hotels, so population is small = snow is less frequently cleared.
     
  12. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    I'd say most roads in Hakuba would be fine with a 2wd @smackies
     
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  13. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    started airfares as well...$1070 for JAL ex syd nrt
     
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  14. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Best airfares I've seen for January are in the $800 range with Singapore Air. That's Brisbane to Sapporo.

    Air China has some $600 return fares in November but nothing in Jan yet.
     
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  15. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    I'm keeping an eye on Canberra/tokyo on Singapore fares as well.
     
  16. bluestick

    bluestick Addicted
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    On cars, have got by with 2wd + snow tires but ended up having to buy chains ( fitted twice in a month) ... just get 4wd. Used Toyota from karuizawa this time all ok $50 a day for a month. Hokkaido is always 4wd anda bit cheaper. Stupidly got stuck in the appi car park this time just trying to dive into a car park with 1 foot of snow required a bit of digging to get out too proud to get a tow.
     
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  17. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    You could look at flying into Toyama or Niigata instead of Tokyo.
     
  18. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Yeah I was thinking that as well .
    I may include a trip to Cambodia to see the old man. Singapore is a good hub for that.
     
  19. billykate

    billykate Hard Yards

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    I'll happily post in this thread! I've been suffering too long looking at the 2018 one, watching everyone else having fun.

    We'll be there at our little shack but this time we're bringing kids, which will be a whooooole lot different. 3 year old and a 6 month old.

    Hubby got a car this season subaru impreza with snow tyres/roof racks and all insurance, but I think he paid just under 60AUD a day... will be watching with interest for cheapest cars to hire... We also hired a hiace through a friend in the past, but similar price and it was old enough to vote and some. Did the job though!

    Anyone ever been to Japow with such a young baby? Any tips? I'm just worried about our kerosine heater (being inside all the time with it) ... it's brand new and ventilated to outside
     
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  20. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Ha.
    I was born in rural NZ where a kero heater burned every day in my room.
    I ended up OK.
    Where did he get the subie from? Usually subies and Honda's are a premium car
     
  21. billykate

    billykate Hard Yards

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    LOL:thumbs: Got my carbon monoxide alarm anyhoo, such a wally. :nerd:

    He got lucky, actually. Was supposed to get a slightly smaller car from Nippon Rent a Car at the Alpen but they gave him that. So I guess the price I said is irrelevant. LOL
     
  22. JA2340

    JA2340 Part of the Furniture
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    Some (not me ... ) might suggest that is a matter of opinion ... ROFL
    :out:
     
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  23. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    If it is a flued heater it should be fine.
     
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  24. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    I had 3 trips to Niigata airport this season. So easy compared with the big airports.Customs and immigration was pretty funny. About 3 lines, one was giving all the Koreans a hard time so the queue there disappeared. Had a very superficial look in my bag and I was on my way. And I was definitely the only westerner there. I expect Toyamam would be similar.

    Other 2 trips were with a guest and to pick up something I had imported. 6 customs officers helping me. That was pretty funny as well. So much apologising when I was actually the one causing them a problem.
     
  25. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
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    Ahhh......kindred spirit! I got stuck in the Nekoma car park. Not too proud, however. I ended up getting three Japanese guys to push me out.;):whistle:
     
  26. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    What time of the year are you flying, Donzah? Out of curiosity I plugged in 27 Dec Cba-Tokyo, returning 18 January and saw some truly eye-watering fares: Qantas starting at just over $2000 return (via Melbourne), and ANA (Sydney - Haneda return) around $1600 return. I am stuck with school holidays, though ....
     
  27. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    11th Jan... Two weeks
     
  28. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
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    Ahh..I can feel the excitement and anticipation.
     
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  29. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Moreso my plus 1
     
  30. SnowFlow

    SnowFlow First Runs

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    having a look around, I've noticed that you cant select Dec-Jan dates in Japan.
    Does anyone have a general idea when companies will actually allow you to book accommodation and stuff?
     
  31. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    Everyone is different. Traditional Japanese places usually don't start advertising or opening up their bookings until about 3 months out. But this is slowly changing as us Westerners like to book much further in advance. Try emailing the accommodations directly first.

    But keep in mind this years season isn't over yet!
     
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  32. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    Yeah we are starting to get enquiries for next season. Had one who has already booked elsewhere because replying the next day for next season was being to slow to respond. Happy with that!;)

    But most places have yet to work out what they are doing for next season as this season is not over and they have not had the chance to review this seasons bookings etc.
     
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  33. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Some accommodation has started taking bookings but many Japanese owned places won't start taking bookings until around September.
     
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  34. billykate

    billykate Hard Yards

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    The Alpen isn't taking child care bookings till Sept/Oct... our dates aren't available for flights yet
     
  35. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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  36. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture

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    Late next week I’ll try to lock away accomodation and flights for a 3 week trip to Niseko, which will be a second attempt at the holiday we originally had planned for January just passed.

    This will be super vanilla. 3 weeks in Niseko. Most direct flights with shortest connections (within reason). Get there, unpack, and aside from the occasional day trip to nearby resorts or CAT skiing, go nowhere.
     
  37. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    Too late for us. Oh well, I suppose there’s always Jetstar :eek:
     
  38. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Malaysian is cheaper than jstar... As is Asiana
     
  39. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    Nothing wrong with Vanilla.
    Classic inoffensive and consistent.
     
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  40. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    Umm ... I’m also considering the crash/lost plane ratio here (although to be fair Malaysian Airlines could be considered unlucky for losing one plane and having another shot out of the air)
     
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  41. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local
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    yep, we flew exactly the same route with Thai Air a week before. I remember when the onboard map showed us over the Ukraine and I though WTF are we doing flying over a war zone. Well.......
     
  42. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    More likely to get run down by the shuttle bus between terminals in Sydney.... ;)
     
  43. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    That is so true!
     
  44. SnowFlow

    SnowFlow First Runs

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    All the planning pieces are coming together, I can see some reasonably priced tickets now that I'll prob pull the trigger on.
    How do you handle your snowboard/ski bags for transit while sightseeing? I'm going to be spending about 7-10 days sightseeing before I go snowfields.
    1. Drag it along, the logistics of this and other luggage is going to be quite annoying
    2. Use Takkyubin, the only information I can really see if they need 48 hours for delivery. Can I delay the delivery?
    3. Don't bring it, I could just bring the boots and bindings and rent the boards
    Thoughts?
     
  45. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    2. Use the Ta-Q-Bin. Send the bags when you arrive and your accomodation should store it for you.
     
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  46. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    1. Don't drag it around, there's no need.
    2. You can delay takkyubin, to be delivered on a particular day. If you inform your hotel before sending, they can hold it for maybe 7 days before you arrive. Check first.
    3. Rental skis/snowboard can be expensive. But check the policy for skis/snowboard on your flights... some charge extra.
     
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  47. churchy

    churchy One of Us

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    I like this concept. Last trip we did we tried to do too much. Too many trains, too many different airbnbs, got expensive real fast. Next trip we will just land, transfer to the snow cheaply and avoid hopping between cities for sight-seeing.
     
  48. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    Still early planning days at this stage, but I've got my eye on 2-3 weeks in Hokkaido, with a week or so at Furano and the rest with a car exploring the smaller resorts. Might have issues with how much time I can get off work though...
     
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  49. SnowFlow

    SnowFlow First Runs

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    Yeah... I think I was planning on using an AirBnB for my first day. But given the advice, it seems a hotel would be a much wiser choice to avoid option 3

    The idea of going through a smorgasbord of boards is appealing but it does add up :cry:
    Yeah I'm having a read of JAL thread now actually
     
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  50. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local
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    JAL is easy, we've flown them two times direct Melb -> Tokyo. Great planes, excellent service, no problems with equipment.