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Japan 2020 / 2021 snow season planning

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Snowwww, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Cheers Sandy will take a gander - my wife will also want Covid ‘cover’ should she ever get to visit folks in the UK again?
     
  2. Kash

    Kash One of Us

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    It is generally first time visitors or those that dont know better. If I cant get the shink + short shuttle to the nagano resorts I'd rather not bother, although I havent tried the car option yet which I am thinking we will need for our Shiga trip.
     
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  3. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I've never met anyone that hired a car in Japan going "yeah nah, won't do that again.. we'll just use PT from now on"
     
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  4. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I have. We had some guests with a 2wd k car who repeatedly got stuck. Our neighbour convinced them to abandon the car and get the car company to collect it, rather than try to drive it out of our street. But to put this in perspective, they missed the Myoko Kogen exit on the toll road twice. The came over to Madarao and managed to drive down the dead end road beside the tourist office and got stuck. And I am pretty sure there were a few other "adventures".
     
  5. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah ... but they sound like they failed at life...
     
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  6. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Of all the places around Nagano & Niigata, Shiga Kogen is one of the places where a car is least needed.
    Unless you have "drop off / pick up", you need a car to make things easy in Hakuba & in Myoko and surrounds.
    At Shiga Kogen, once you're there, you don't need a car. The "13 resorts" at the northern end are all linked, and you just need a bus to get you to the southern end where there's "3 resorts".
     
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  7. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Agreed. It can be a bit full on the first bus over to Yokote, but other than that it's very convenient. And now with the new gondy up from the interchange you can just ski your way back from there in the afternoon.
     
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  8. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We usually use planes, trains and automobiles which works okay too. Horses for courses.
     
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  9. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, the new gondy changes a lot of things.
    (But you can ski back from near Yamanoeki, by getting off the bus from Yokoteyama, at the stop before Yamanoeki, and just drop straight onto Hasuike)
    It ALSO means that you should be able to ski across to Takamagahara, download to Yamanoeki and catch just one bus to Yokoteyama.
     
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  10. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    mmm they were happy. Saw it all as an adventure and learning experience.

    A bit nasty to comment that people "sound like have failed at life"
     
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  11. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I wonder what Shiga intra-resort shuttle buses are like? Especially space-wise?

    Bit of a tangent: I note my experience from Hakuba: once I became used to ‘how’ to read the TTs and locations it was easier (especially by day #15 when I left!). But as a solid, tall dude with 1.86 cm skis, I found many of the Mini buses a bit small and not totally fit for purpose - and certainly not suitable for accepting skis and boards regularly, nor frequent loading/unloading. Not easy with size 30 boots either.

    The experience was tolerable silo but couldn't be much fun with young kids. Perhaps if all buses had external ski racks - rather than ~ 20%, the situation would be more satisfactory. And the larger buses circulating Happo and Wadano where a lot more roomy & were fairly civilised, especially off peak.

    Would I use them again? Certainly. Would I consider a car if in a family/group at Hakuba or similar - very much so. Or try Shiga for less buses; quite likely. :cool:
     
  12. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you don't want to go to the southern end where there's "3 resorts", you NEVER have to use a shuttle bus. All the other "13 resorts" at the northern end are all linked.
    The bus to/from the southern end is a big bus, with just a handful of stops, but realistically, you only have to decide to get out at the last two stops.
     
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  13. Jacksong

    Jacksong Addicted

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    Shiga Kogen is the sketchiest area I have driven in Japan, especially departing the area in the afternoon back downhill. Off camber, blue ice. Couldn't touch the brakes, even with snow tyres and 4wd.

    I have been unlucky at Shiga. Miserable, rock hard Ice on the slopes both visits. With the height/freezing level, I thought it would be snowing, while light rain was forecast at lower resorts. I was wrong both times and it was wet snow/rain at Shiga, even worse at the highest spots. the wet snow was blowing horizontal. Pure sheet ice like I have never seen before.

    Friends from Australia seemed to enjoy it anyway, weaving between trees on sheet ice. I was terrified. If it's raining at Shiga, it's raining everywhere.

    Would like to return with better conditions.

    In saying all of that, at Shiga I would feel too isolated without a car. With bad conditions like I experienced, I would be keen to drive somewhere else for tourism purposes. Not sure what I would do in Shiga, even if I still wanted to ski, would rather travel to another resort to ski at lower elevation in the rain without the death ice. Nozawa Onsen, I would say a car is not needed at all.
     
  14. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    Do return to Shiga - you can't not be that unlucky 3 times! It is a great place - no car needed.

    We came by car and went down to Shibuonsen by the bus, so no problem driving down. ;)

    Edit: Cross country?
     
  15. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    Staying in Hasuike, I can not see much use of the new gondle?
     
  16. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    When were you there (year and time of year)?
     
  17. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's useful from Hasuike. Ordinarily, from Shirakabaso hotel, you'd walk up the hill and onto the slopes of Hasuike, or downhill and onto the slopes of Maruike. From there, if you want to access anything apart from Hasuike, Maruike or Sun Valley, you need to climb the slope on the other side of the tunnel off Hasuike (where the rope tow used to be), or the tunnel at the bottom of Hasuike, around then across the road and walk across the carpark to Giant.
    With the new gondola, from Shirakabaso hotel, it's about the same distance to just walk to the gondola, and straight to the best slopes.
     
  18. Jacksong

    Jacksong Addicted

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    First trip I do not remember well it was quite a long time ago, between mid Jan and mid Feb.

    Second trip I am quite certain was February 21 or 22, 2016.

    Wanted to go last winter for a day trip but the whole ski area was closed due to wind, late Jan.
     
  19. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ok... so it sounds like you were doing day trips from elsewhere?
     
  20. Jacksong

    Jacksong Addicted

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    Yes. When it looked like Shiga was the best option for cold conditions and possible snow and other ski areas were looking to be slightly above zero and raining. I actually found a snow forecast screen shot from the day I went in 2016.

     
  21. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Doesn't say what elevation that weather was for, but I'm guessing top of Shiga. Unfortunately the night before the freezing level was very high (1,950m) so any of that precipitation would of been sleet or rain. You just got unlucky!
     
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  22. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes, I was going to say the same thing.
    What you need to do is look at around the highest elevation in the main area(say top of Yakebitaiyama), and at the lowest point (bottom of Bunadaira 1339m). If it's forecast to rain below 1500m, and temperature dropping, then probably best not to drive up and back down.
    Optimal time is when it's forecast to rain below 1000m.
     
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  23. chrisj

    chrisj A Local

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    You can buy Japanese-made futons in Australia from Japanache. I sleep on two futons which I bought from them and find them really comfortable. A single futon is really meant to be used on tatami, but using two compensates somewhat for hard wooden floors.
    https://www.japanache.com.au/contents/en-us/d143_Japanese_Futons.html
     
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  24. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    cheers thanks.
     
  25. Jacksong

    Jacksong Addicted

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    Great advice, will remember this and try getting back there next time.

    I don't remember the elevation of the forecast either, the screenshot of the forecast was cropped like that from 2016. Must have been from the top.

    I have to say with Shiga, so much was fenced off and overall felt like a lot of time was spent traversing or getting lost. In saying that, sideways snow, ice and cloud don't really help.
     
  26. hatto

    hatto One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    was one of the worst years for snow, so that may have been a reason for fences etc
     
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  27. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Shiga Kogen is huge, and yes it can be easy to get lost/separted when it's not sunny. But there's not so much traversing compared to a lot of other places.
    But a question: Your profile says "crosscountry". Is that what you were doing there?
    Where at Shiga did you ski?
     
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  28. Jacksong

    Jacksong Addicted

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    I am unsure why it's set to crosscountry.

    We covered a lot of ground at Shiga, more or less desperately trying to find some decent snow. We made it as far as Okushiga. From memory at least one trip we parked at the Hasuike area and started from there however could be wrong.

    Fondest memory is ringing the bell at Yakebitaiyama and being terrified on sheet ice down a weird cat track that switched back on itself what seemed like forever. I remember driving there especially to see if we could escape the rain and to at least say we skied the highest resort in Japan, at least we thought it was. The chairlifts looked amazing, all frozen over.

    When I mentioned traversing, not in the traditional sense of traversing, but the feeling like we were constantly trying to get somewhere else. It felt like we would only take x lift because it would get us to x gondola, which you only take to get to another gondola. Because it's huge, I understand it takes a while to get to know it.

    I remember thinking that next time I go somewhere big and I don't have time I will try to find a guide in advance.
     
  29. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is what they are like if you get on the first bus from the first stop in Ichinose.



    This is what it is like when you reach the interchange!

     
  30. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Do you reckon we can date the 2nd photo by the number of Japanese wearing helmets? Must be relatively recent because we have spent a lot of years playing spot the westerner - as in the person wearing a helmet.
     
  31. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    This was last season. Early January. Pretty much everyone under 50 who didn't spend 80% of their time sitting on the slopes (borders) had a helmet that trip. It was surreal.
     
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  32. Jacksong

    Jacksong Addicted

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    At Ryuoo you aren't allowed to ski down the black slope without one.
     
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  33. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We caught the bus to Nagano, wasnt sure which bus to get on, ended on the right one with a bit of luck, are they different?
     
  34. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Just that at the interchange you need to get on the correct one. Same bus type. I strongly prefer the nagaden bus to/from Nagano though as it is a proper coach and they put your luggage underneath. I always feel bad taking luggage on the local shuttle service unless that is the only option and it is off peak times.
     
  35. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    The direct Nagano bus is a coach, not a commuter bus.
     
  36. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thats the one we ended on.. Im not sure if its available but a tour group to get an idea of where things are and how to get around would be helpful and a bit of a earner, you could have beginner, Intermediates and expert tours. The only way seems to be with lessons.
     
  37. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    So the others ones are like at Myoko?
     
  38. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow! I would expect that is recent. And not a bad thing.

    I think we have reached the point where you can mention helmets on here without it degenerating to a total shit fight.
     
  39. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I've never used a bus at Myoko!!! ;)
     
  40. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The direct coach Happo to Nagano was great, On Time, Comfy for 1.90 cm legs and solid frame!! efficient, warm not too hot, direct to meet the Nagano Shinkansen (Following quick stop in downtown Hakuba).

    Only issue was a slight misting of the eyes almost at the end of my first Japanese ski (Any) trip And not knowing when I’d return? {Big softy confession time!}
     
  41. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    You can "ski" most of the area on steet map.
    Safes the guide.
    And after that you can impress you friends/family how well you know the area.:clown:
    And Sandy gives help as well. :clap:
     
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  42. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not the thread for it I suppose but on this topic - Niseko was supposed to be implementing mandatory Helmet and Beacon for venturing out of the gates from this coming Winter. I wonder if they’ll go ahead with this given the restrictions (less lifts running for example). Can’t see them employing more people to man the bc gates when they’re not hiring even the regular number of lifties. But yes you’re right a change is coming to Japan regarding helmets.
     
  43. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Only did it once when it was still free, wasnt pleasant, hot and crowded. :thumbs:
     
  44. Tanuki

    Tanuki Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah it's not great.
     
  45. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Im not sure if its available at Shiga Kogan but a tour guide group to get an idea of where things are and how to get around would be helpful and a bit of a earner, you could have beginner, Intermediates and expert tours. The only other way seems to be with lessons. Its a bit daunting the first time, hopefully getting another trip to explore further.
     
  46. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Myoko and Hakuba are really only properly skied with your own wheels IMO. It blows my mind how many people ski these two 'resorts' (separate ski areas) relying on the buses! There are plenty of other resorts that are far better suited to not having a car, Nozawa, Naeba, Madaro and Shiga.
     
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  47. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    When are you there?
     
  48. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Or for Myoko and Hakuba, drop off/pick up.
     
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  49. blueandwhite

    blueandwhite One of Us

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    We did Myoko just using a combination of the local buses and the lodge drop-off/pick-up van last year. Worked fine for us. Also got the bus from Myoko to Madarao with all of our boards, skis and suitcases and that was very simple as well. You obviously don't get the flexibility of going exactly when you want to the very minute but as long as you plan ahead just very slightly it works fine.
     
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  50. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hopefully from the 4th to the 11th.Feb Booked Shiga Grand. Its still a long shot at this stage but the bookings in.