Japan 2020 / 2021 snow season planning

Snowwww

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Hi everyone after two awesome skiing trips in Japan in December and March I’m HOOKED...

I’ve bought the epic pass and really hope that we can still have a season here in Australia and I will keep it and use it for Japan.

Don’t laugh at me but I hope I can fit in both Hakuba and Rusutsu in one trip. I’m only going to be in Rusutsu because I’ve seen Furano, Kiroro, Sapporo Teine and spent a total of 14 days in Niseko in this season already.

I’d love to see some other resorts in Nagano area this time including Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen and Myoko and the other areas. I have about 4 weeks starting from Christmas holiday.

Have any of you done Rusutsu and HAKUBA in one trip? Any suggestions and feedback is welcome.. I’m open to any ideas. These are the things I really like from my last trip:

- I had good skiing lessons in Niseko and I really enjoyed English group lessons for most of the days with some English private lessons as well.

- I loved that I could stay somewhere cheap but still so close to the night skiing area so I could just keep practice at night when the snow is hard and icy. I know this might not be achievable in Nagano because most of resorts don’t have skiing in skiing out budget accommodation and the night skiing is not included in the day ticket.

- I prefer the village vibe where I can walk to seicomart and buy food/small things over do everything in a hotel type of accommodation.

- I love using onsen after skiing. I was going to a public onsen nearly every night when was in Niseko.


I’m from Melbourne if that changes anything in terms of Airlines?

Thank you! And I hope everyone stay well and safe..
 

Heinz

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In light of the current circumstances it would difficult to plan anything at this stage.
But that aside if you have 4 weeks then there is no reason which you couldn't combine Rusutsu & Hakuba. You have the time to absorb the probable 2 day transfer. For a shorter 2 week trip I wouldn't bother.
You could also easily spend the 4 weeks just basing around Nagano/Niigata with Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Myoko & Nozawa. Then there is plenty more only slightly further afield.
You found somewhere cheap in Niseko? That is some achievement.
Plenty of places with onsens and convenience stores. Shiga Kogen is the biggest terrain wise but does lack convenience stores.
 
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M_G

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Agree with what Heinz says.

I'd be looking at accomm that doesn't need a deposit till later in the year. Try contacting the hotels direct and see if they'll offer you a deal rather than using booking.com or similar. Better for them to have that booking % potentially in their pocket.

I don't see any reason to NOT be planning, as long as you have a get out as part of the plan. In fact, I'm encouraging people to still get cracking on plans. As I've said before, the 2011 tsunami was devastating with lots of cancellations and people not booking early. However by later in the year things had settled down and the following season was great.

A good plan might be to rent a car and base yourself somewhere like Myoko which will give you access to the 7 immediate resorts within 5-30 minutes but also places like Nozawa, Shiga, Togakushi, Charmant, etc. within an hour (see map). If you like this idea make sure you book a place with free car parking (preferably next to the accomm).

Good luck!
 
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Lucky Pete

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Its great you are thinking about coming over! For sure start planning although personally I would hold off booking anything as you will most likely change your plans over the next 8 months and its better for accomm owners if you hold off if for no other reason then they may get excited about getting a booking that later gets cancelled :)

I have done Hokkaido/Honshu trips before and you have plenty of time over a month to do that, although if it was me personally I would rent a car for the month and do 10 days in 3 places (or 4 x a week) around Nagano or further north. That way you get some decent time in each place and also get to experience a regional approach.
 
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Crispy013

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Hi everyone after two awesome skiing trips in Japan in December and March I’m HOOKED...

I’ve bought the epic pass and really hope that we can still have a season here in Australia and I will keep it and use it for Japan.

Don’t laugh at me but I hope I can fit in both Hakuba and Rusutsu in one trip. I’m only going to be in Rusutsu because I’ve seen Furano, Kiroro, Sapporo Teine and spent a total of 14 days in Niseko in this season already.

I’d love to see some other resorts in Nagano area this time including Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen and Myoko and the other areas. I have about 4 weeks starting from Christmas holiday.

Have any of you done Rusutsu and HAKUBA in one trip? Any suggestions and feedback is welcome.. I’m open to any ideas. These are the things I really like from my last trip:

- I had good skiing lessons in Niseko and I really enjoyed English group lessons for most of the days with some English private lessons as well.

- I loved that I could stay somewhere cheap but still so close to the night skiing area so I could just keep practice at night when the snow is hard and icy. I know this might not be achievable in Nagano because most of resorts don’t have skiing in skiing out budget accommodation and the night skiing is not included in the day ticket.

- I prefer the village vibe where I can walk to seicomart and buy food/small things over do everything in a hotel type of accommodation.

- I love using onsen after skiing. I was going to a public onsen nearly every night when was in Niseko.


I’m from Melbourne if that changes anything in terms of Airlines?

Thank you! And I hope everyone stay well and safe..
It looks like you’ve done a good sample of Hokkaido. But going back just for Rusutsu is a big stretch IMO. I would focus on Honshu and do Hakuba 10 days, Myoko 10 days, then maybe Yuzawa 10 days. With car.
 

BoofHead

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Welcome to the addiction @Snowwww .
When I read your OP I couldn’t help but be reminded of the parable of the old bull and the young bull.
I personally would only do one island or the other but doing both is certainly achievable.
You said you have been to Furano which is cool but does that includes hills close by? Maybe a Rusutsu + Furano and surrounds would be worth exploring. Probably wouldn’t tick the village vibe thing that you are after though.
As mentioned by the guys in the know above, heaps of options on Honshu and when you are ready to avoid the crowd and the village thing isn’t such a priority, even more options.
Punch a few options into hypedia.com to get an idea of costs and travel times if you haven’t done so.
Cheers
 
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Sandy

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Don't let the Epic Pass dictate going to both Hakuba & Rusutsu. Accommodation tends to be expensive in Rusutsu.
The lift tickets in central Japan are a lot cheaper than the bigger resorts in Hokkaido, particularly Niseko, so the cost of traveling from Nagano to Hokkaido will swamp the value you'll get from the Epic Pass.

There is budget ski in ski out in Nagano/Niigata.

Resorts:
- Shiga Kogen does have "sort of" convenience stores, but they just have only basics. And only one ATM at the post office at Maruike/Hasuike (next to the Yamanoeki bus station). It's very important to pick the right area of Shiga Kogen to stay, and the right area is the Ichinose area. This past season I've stayed at 3 different places around there. But there's lots of budget ski in ski out hotels at Shiga Kogen.
- Hakuba. 10 days minimum, since there are many mountains (Goryu/47, Happo, Iwatake, Tsugaike, Cortina/Norikura, and the smaller Kashimayari and Sanosaka, plus Jiigatake). You can also get discount lift tickets as cheap as 4000-4200yen/day on the larger mountains (but not Happo). It's very important to pick the right area of Hakuba to stay, if you intend to use shuttle buses. Otherwise, make sure you stay at a hotel that does "drop off, pick up" or you really need a car. If on your own, you need to factor in those costs: "drop off pick up" is cheaper for one person, 2-3 people, a car is cheaper.
- Myoko: As M_G says. And best to have a car, although some places do "drop off pick up".
- Nozawa. It's worthwhile staying there for a few days, just because of the traditional onsen town.
- Yuzawa. Lots of mountains around there. If you have a car, you can stay in Yuzawa town if you don't mind not staying at a resort. Naeba is a good place to stay close to the slopes.
 

Donza

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There's also no guarantee the Epic pass will work overseas next season.
Vail have already posted about it in their April statement.
 
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Scoober

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We're planning (pending, post end of world everything) to go to Japan in the end of Jan 2021........... love all the home and away advice that you all provide. Was a weird experience to be in Japan during the world outbreak of Covid19 in March and watch Australia descend into craziness in 1 week. Got back to Oz no problem, can't wait to get back to Japan!!
 

blowfin

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re getting a car but wanting cheap accommodation, I struggle with this as you will be paying more for the car than your accommodation. If you are getting a car and driving to lots of resorts I would consider Madarao as well. Last season we had 2 guys who travelled as far as Hakuba and Yuzawa plus lots in between whilst based at Madarao.

Unless you get a horrible deal on car hire, or choose something that's way over the top, that's just not the case. i.e. The car averaged out at about 4700Y/day this year, and I didn't even ask my passenger for a few days to contribute to the bill. Accommodation averaged out somewhere between 6000-8000Y/night, mixed between an Otaru AirBnB, and Hotels in Aomori and Owani Onsen (Fujiya Ryokan).
 

Donza

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Ok perhaps I should have said may rather than will. My bad.

The OP did mention staying somewhere cheap and budget accommodation. I had assumed he would be looking at that level of accommodation again. There are places around that are below what you paid. From my experience, staying in a ryokan is not budget accommodation, but I may be wrong. The only Ryokan I have ever stayed in was over 20,000 yen per person per night.

When I hired a car it cost me about 10,000 yen per day. So in my experience hiring a car is more expensive than budget accommodation.
I hired a turbo charged Subaru levorg wagon this year for 9120 yen a day. From Osaka. With snowtyres. As extravagant as possible...
I paid 14,000 yen for a quad loft room in Hakuba.
 
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Lucky Pete

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Looking forward to Hakuba next year with high hopes. Has anybody here had any personal experience with either of the hotels linked below? I would be very interested in hearing your opinions if you have been.

https://www.mominokihotel.com/en/snow/


https://www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com/global/hakuba-h/

Tokyu is the nicest hotel in town in my opinion especially the rooms that were refurbed last year and more being done this year as I understand it. The Momonoki, whilst a little tired is run by absolute champs and we stayed there on our honeymoon. If I had to pick from those two I would go the Tokyu and head over to the Fireside Bar at the Momonoki for jazz and wine but either one will be good. As an aside I always stayed at the Whitehorse though as loved having the option of riding different resorts using their own cars etc rather than the public buses etc.
 
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sn0wbunny29

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We stayed at the Tokyu for out first 2 trips to Japan and loved it. We had B and B option. The breakfasts were great but eating in the evening could be expensive. We ate a big lunch on the mountain and then had something lighter in the evening. The bar has a log fire which makes for cosy evenings. The onsen is lovely too. A bonus is having the bus stop right outside the front door so we had no difficulty getting a seat!
The first year we were there saw a huge snowstorm on the morning we were due to head to the airport. The snow taxi never arrived but the manager was brilliant getting us to the station, helping us get bus and train tickets and waving us on our way.
Hearing that the rooms are being refurbished is making me want to return and have a look!
 

Ecstatic

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Because isolation is making me daydream, shall we converse about what the 2020/21 season will look like?

A vaccine is really the only way to get international travel going again I suppose, banning travel from high infection rate locations: US, CHN wouldn't really do much to contain the spread.

Assuming that happens and both AUS and JPN governments lift international travel restrictions and airlines haven't gone bust, I can imagine the slopes and restaurants will be sparse with foreigners, enough to close lifts...?

Dunno, too many unknowns to even really consider it at the moment.
 

Sandy

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Because isolation is making me daydream, shall we converse about what the 2020/21 season will look like?

A vaccine is really the only way to get international travel going again I suppose, banning travel from high infection rate locations: US, CHN wouldn't really do much to contain the spread.

Assuming that happens and both AUS and JPN governments lift international travel restrictions and airlines haven't gone bust, I can imagine the slopes and restaurants will be sparse with foreigners, enough to close lifts...?

Dunno, too many unknowns to even really consider it at the moment.
Some resorts are STILL open in Japan right now.
Normally, during mid week, a lot of the less well known ski hills have very few people anyway.

i.e. The resorts in Japan depend on weekend visits by Japanese people, not on foreign visitors, midweek. Lifts will open like normal next season. The biggest pressure on this past Japanese season was the very late start, due to unusually high freeze levels in January, and may have forced some smaller hills to close for good.
 

TJ

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Because isolation is making me daydream, shall we converse about what the 2020/21 season will look like?

A vaccine is really the only way to get international travel going again I suppose, banning travel from high infection rate locations: US, CHN wouldn't really do much to contain the spread.

Assuming that happens and both AUS and JPN governments lift international travel restrictions and airlines haven't gone bust, I can imagine the slopes and restaurants will be sparse with foreigners, enough to close lifts...?

Dunno, too many unknowns to even really consider it at the moment.
There is a possibility of no international travel but who knows at this stage. We are 90% regulars now so if they can get here they will come. Same as the season after Fukushima. If no one can travel then I'll just be riding more. If the lifts don't open then I will finally get a splitty. You might have to get a touring kit Sandy :)
 
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hatto

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I really cant see OS travel happening next season, we might be in a good space in Aus but the destination will be the issue. So many places are in such a bad way. Japan is now starting to get more infections and not a whole lot is being done for areas outside Tokyo.
I was chatting with Bobgnarly over the weekend, Nakano has some cases and yet he is still seeing lots of cars from outside the area around Kiji and Iiyama, some restrictions but alot of business as usual going on in the small areas.
 

Sandy

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I really cant see OS travel happening next season, we might be in a good space in Aus but the destination will be the issue. So many places are in such a bad way. Japan is now starting to get more infections and not a whole lot is being done for areas outside Tokyo.
I was chatting with Bobgnarly over the weekend, Nakano has some cases and yet he is still seeing lots of cars from outside the area around Kiji and Iiyama, some restrictions but a lot of business as usual going on in the small areas.
More infections?

More infections, but the number per day is decreasing:
Graph 2020-04-28 Japan new cases.jpg


Daily deaths is a good indication of the number of infections. There's a time lag of 1.5-2 weeks.
Graph 2020-04-28 Japan new deaths.jpg
 
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Sandy

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In order for Aussies to ride snow in Japan, there needs to be some ability to travel between Australia & Japan.
Update of the situation in Japan, for the coming 2020/2021 snow season.

Graph 2020-05-26 Japan new cases.jpg


Graph 2020-05-26 Australia new cases3.jpg


Notice how the current situation is very similar between the two. (or will be in the next few weeks)
The daily infection rate is very similar right now (both less than 0.50%)

I think it's probable that Australia & Japan (along with New Zealand, Taiwan & South Korea) will create a travel bubble, with direct flights between, where possible. If this happens, then I think Aussies traveling to Japan for the 2020/2021 season is a distinct possibility.
 

Ecstatic

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I think it's probable that Australia & Japan (along with New Zealand, Taiwan & South Korea) will create a travel bubble, with direct flights between, where possible. If this happens, then I think Aussies traveling to Japan for the 2020/2021 season is a distinct possibility.

If I had to guess, I think most countries are going to trend to opening up with protocols (masks, social distancing, testing) by years end. The travel restrictions are likely going to be too devastating to tourism based economies that minimal infections and resulting sickness and death is likely going to be seen as the cost of doing business.

I don't think the problem will lie in Japan accepting travelers, I think the sticking point will be the restrictions Australians face on returning home.
 
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skichanger

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I think it's probable that Australia & Japan (along with New Zealand, Taiwan & South Korea) will create a travel bubble, with direct flights between, where possible. If this happens, then I think Aussies traveling to Japan for the 2020/2021 season is a distinct possibility.
I sure hope so!
 

Sandy

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If I had to guess, I think most countries are going to trend to opening up with protocols (masks, social distancing, testing) by years end. The travel restrictions are likely going to be too devastating to tourism based economies that minimal infections and resulting sickness and death is likely going to be seen as the cost of doing business.

I don't think the problem will lie in Japan accepting travelers, I think the sticking point will be the restrictions Australians face on returning home.
The idea of a travel bubble, is that you don't need those restrictions in either direction.
Look at the number of new positive COVID cases per day, for the last week:
Australia: 11, 2, 14, 16, 3, 4, 14
Japan: 30, 27, 30, 30, 26, 42, 21

Compare:
Singapore: 451, 570, 448, 614, 642, 548, 344
USA: 20841, 21232, 28261, 25163, 19049, 21963, 20550
 
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sn0wbunny29

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In order for Aussies to ride snow in Japan, there needs to be some ability to travel between Australia & Japan.
Update of the situation in Japan, for the coming 2020/2021 snow season.
Please, please, please, please!

Graph 2020-05-26 Japan new cases.jpg


Graph 2020-05-26 Australia new cases3.jpg


Notice how the current situation is very similar between the two. (or will be in the next few weeks)
The daily infection rate is very similar right now (both less than 0.50%)

I think it's probable that Australia & Japan (along with New Zealand, Taiwan & South Korea) will create a travel bubble, with direct flights between, where possible. If this happens, then I think Aussies traveling to Japan for the 2020/2021 season is a distinct possibility.
 

elSpike

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Singapore: 451, 570, 448, 614, 642, 548, 344
Apologies for off topic, but it's worth mentioning.
Some context. We had 1 community case in SG yesterday, and 300+ from the known clusters in foreign worker dorms that are all now isolated from the general public and being aggressively tested and managed. It's significant in that we will leave our circuit breaker period on the 2nd June due to the single digits of community cases.
 
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Ecstatic

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The idea of a travel bubble, is that you don't need those restrictions in either direction.

Travel bubble would be awesome, I can't see the Aus gov taking the risk, if infections are introduced by people going on holiday the FB Karen brigade will be relentless in their finger waving. Gov would take a whole heap of political risk for very little potential gain.
 

gaz35

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Travel bubble would be awesome, I can't see the Aus gov taking the risk, if infections are introduced by people going on holiday the FB Karen brigade will be relentless in their finger waving. Gov would take a whole heap of political risk for very little potential gain.
Australia can't sort their internal borders let alone international ones
 

Zimbooo

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I saw something today about japan potentially subsidising tourists to come as wary of boosting their tourism industry
I’m pretty sure it’s a definite that the Japanese Gov will be providing free travel vouchers for domestic travel for Japanese residents to use, don’t know if it will happen for international visitors?
 

Sandy

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In order for Aussies to ride snow in Japan, there needs to be some ability to travel between Australia & Japan.
Update of the situation in Japan, for the coming 2020/2021 snow season.

Graph 2020-05-26 Japan new cases.jpg


Graph 2020-05-26 Australia new cases3.jpg


Notice how the current situation is very similar between the two. (or will be in the next few weeks)
The daily infection rate is very similar right now (both less than 0.50%)

I think it's probable that Australia & Japan (along with New Zealand, Taiwan & South Korea) will create a travel bubble, with direct flights between, where possible. If this happens, then I think Aussies traveling to Japan for the 2020/2021 season is a distinct possibility.
From the tourism thread:
It is reported that Japanese government are planning to accept people from 4 foreign countries firstly. The 4 countries are Australia, NZ, Vietnam and Thailand. All 4 countries are TPP (= Trans-Pacific Partnership) countries with currently relatively small number of infected people. They say there will be a high officials meeting between TPP countries and they will talk about the idea. Edit : Ah, Thailand is not a TPP country. Anyway, reportedly, they'll talk about it when they gather for a TPP meeting too. Japan may reopen the border to those countries as early as July or August. Reportedly, China, Korea, Taiwan, etc will come after those 4 countries.
 

Tanuki

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Apologies for off topic, but it's worth mentioning.
Some context. We had 1 community case in SG yesterday, and 300+ from the known clusters in foreign worker dorms that are all now isolated from the general public and being aggressively tested and managed. It's significant in that we will leave our circuit breaker period on the 2nd June due to the single digits of community cases.
Perhaps we should take better care of the 'workers' then. Better pay and conditions maybe?
 

skifree

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Problem is arriving back in Australia .

Will require a massive change in sentiment to open borders to anyone beyond NZ imo.

That's just the vibe.
That change is already well and truly happening Mr Doom & Gloom. Might not be locked in until to later in the year but should be well in time for Japow.
 
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Sandy

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Problem is arriving back in Australia .

Will require a massive change in sentiment to open borders to anyone beyond NZ imo.

That's just the vibe.
That change is already well and truly happening Mr Doom & Gloom. Might not be locked in until to later in the year but should be well in time for Japow.
The other aspect, if you work from home, then 14 day quarantine back in Australia won't be such a big deal, IF Australia is still locked in by then.
 
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Heinz

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The other aspect, if you work from home, then 14 day quarantine back in Australia won't be such a big deal, IF Australia is still locked in by then.

Depends on whether you can actually get home or put in a hotel room somewhere as is still currently the case.
 
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Sandy

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The other aspect, if you work from home, then 14 day quarantine back in Australia won't be such a big deal, IF Australia is still locked in by then.
Depends on whether you can actually get home or put in a hotel room somewhere as is still currently the case.
That's true, but in another 7 months, I'm assuming that with other "bubble" destinations, the worst case would be self isolation at home..... and that flights will be running long before then, otherwise most airlines will be bankrupt.
 

skichanger

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Depends on whether you can actually get home or put in a hotel room somewhere as is still currently the case.
There is talk about changing that. To be honest it is absurd for anyone living out side a city. I am more of a risk and at risk in a hotel in Sydney than I am where I live.
 

elSpike

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We jumped onboard the optimism train and booked our Jan 1-14 trip on SQ into HND. SQ is helpfully offering complimentary flight changes on any tickets bought now, regardless of fare class, so it was a no brainer.
 

LMB

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Hmmm...
Might talk to PB about making a commitment this week for post Xmas departure.

The issue coming home for me will be arriving directly into Perth, so we don’t get banged up in a quarantine hotel in Sydney.

If we arrive in Perth we can get one of our boys to drive our car to the airport, accompanied by a second boy in a second car. Leave key on wheel, parked next to each other, wave at each other as we find the cars, drive home into our garage below our home. No contact.

Maybe Perth-Sydney-Sapporo so there are no hold up Japan side moving from International to domestic. Then Sapporo to Tokyo to Perth (ANA) home in March. Worth a thought.
 

Sandy

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Hmmm...
Might talk to PB about making a commitment this week for post Xmas departure.

The issue coming home for me will be arriving directly into Perth, so we don’t get banged up in a quarantine hotel in Sydney.

If we arrive in Perth we can get one of our boys to drive our car to the airport, accompanied by a second boy in a second car. Leave key on wheel, parked next to each other, wave at each other as we find the cars, drive home into our garage below our home. No contact.

Maybe Perth-Sydney-Sapporo so there are no hold up Japan side moving from International to domestic. Then Sapporo to Tokyo to Perth (ANA) home in March. Worth a thought.
Because of the way things are, I'm doubting that there will be Sydney-Sapporo flights at that stage. IMO, by Dec/Jan, flights will only be into Tokyo & Osaka, because that's where the main traffic is. (remember Sydney-Sapporo flights have only come back in the last couple of years in winter).
If that's the case, I'd be looking at flights via bubble countries, which then go on to Sapporo. Need to be more imaginative.
e.g.
China Airlines: Perth - Taipei. ANA: Taipei - Sapporo (both Star Alliance)
Korean Airlines: Perth - Seoul - Sapporo (Skypass)
 
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