1. SPECIAL NOTE TO NEW REGISTRATIONS

    If you recently registered and have not received a confirmation email - please check your 'Spam or Junk' folders. Especially if your email is Hotmail. More help with confirmation issues

    NOTE: This notice may be closed.

    Dismiss Notice
  2. There's more to this forum than meets the eye!

    We have a vibrant community here conversing about all sorts of non-snow topics such as music, sport, politics and technology. Simply register to reveal all our Après topics or continue browsing and reading as a guest.

    NOTE: This notice may be closed.

    Dismiss Notice

Japan 2020...first off...all of the questions

Discussion in 'Japan' started by tugboat, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    5,801
    Likes Received:
    2,034
    Location:
    赤倉
    Side question. Why has this necro thread from March be resurrected? OP hasn't been back since March.
     
  2. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2018
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    190
    Because we all miss Japan and grab any reason to read and talk about it? At least that's what I do, knowing that we won't be back until 2022 at the earliest
     
    Froff Life and nezumi like this.
  3. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    827
    Likes Received:
    520
    This is true but when the powder gods don’t provide then you find the positives where you can :D
     
  4. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    A lot of people talk about avalanche, but for the average person, terrain traps are more likely to be a problem....
    And most people are not even aware of what terrain traps are... Not just breaking through into a creek, or tree wells (which are not so common a hazard as they are in in NA), but unexpected cliffs/waterfalls.... and because it snows so quickly in Japan, a slope that yesterday was ok with 30cm on it, becomes a trap with 50cm on it... mainly gullies where you end up at the bottom and can't move, or skiing onto the "flat" where it takes you 30min or much much longer to get out. And of course, head planting in deep deep snow, making a big hole where you can't breathe because of swirling snow falling in on you. And of course, "glide cracks".
     
  5. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    12,446
    Likes Received:
    5,138
    Location:
    Sydney
    Yep, me @rugbyskier @Sandy at Norikura (sp?).
     
    Sandy and Tanuki like this.
  6. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2014
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    601
    Location:
    Hakuba
    Nori can be particularly bad and almost had an issue one day there myself a long time ago after ducking a rope....
     
  7. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    You need to understand the exact nature of Norikura. The open face on the southern end is particularly susceptible to big glide cracks. As I understand it, there's some thermal activity under there.
    It's best to scope it from the northern end of Tsugaike before hand:


     
    LMB likes this.
  8. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2014
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    601
    Location:
    Hakuba
    Even though my epic fail day was elsewhere there I know a lot more about the the place now after a few years here and that area in the photo is also very susceptible to slides and presents several classic terrain traps. Always blown away how many people hit it 1st thing after a lot of new snow overnight, rarely with any stability assessments or gear. Saw some ridiculous decision making there this year when the inbounds areas were gold. Its a classic 'its only a matter of time' place particularly with some of the gaijin lodge guests and owners now in Nori ....
     
    M_G likes this.
  9. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    5,801
    Likes Received:
    2,034
    Location:
    赤倉
    And you hate that feeling. I predicted it with Arai and it's already happened more than once.
     
    LMB and Lucky Pete like this.
  10. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2014
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    601
    Location:
    Hakuba
    Some pretty interesting terrain there that's for sure including lots of terrain traps inbounds. Will be spending time there this winter trying to get a feel for the place.
     
    LMB likes this.
  11. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Not sure, but I’m glad it was. Started planning in March, then life got in the way...I’m now back on my planning with a bit of extra reading material :)
     
    LMB likes this.
  12. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    So we have a rough itinerary down...

    Planning on 1/25/20 thru 2/8/2020
    Staying in Furano - 4 ski days - Resorts may or may not include Furano, Tomamu, Asahidake, Kamui
    Staying in Niseko - 2 ski days
    Shimamaki Cat Skiing - 2 ski days
    Rusutsu - 2 ski days
    Otaru - 2 ski days - Resorts may or may not include Kiroro, Sapporo Teine, Sapporo Kokusai, check out the Snow Festival (1/2 day)

    Anything on my list you think I should ditch? Am I missing any "must-do" mountains? Any opinions of the Furano or Otaru resorts, which is your favorite, which could we skip?
     
  13. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    I think it's too many places, if that's your first trip to Japan. Wastes days getting to other places.

    Plus the order is not quite right. Better flow: Chitose Airport -> Shimamaki -> Rusutsu -> Niseko -> Otaru -> Sapporo (Ice Festival runs from 31st - 11th) => Furano -> Chitose Airport. Or reverse the Sapporo and Furano.
     
    Froff Life, grantn and M_G like this.
  14. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    The only day that really seems like it would be "wasted" would be getting from Furano to Niseko, other than that, it seems like all of the travel would be all within a few hours, which could be done early morning before skiing or late evening after skiing.

    If we trimmed down the number of locations, what would you cut out? Which would you extend?

    I know the order listed isn't ideal, but I didn't think it would be a huge hindrance either? The Shimamaki dates are dictated by the availability of the tour. We wouldn't be driving to Shimamaki, we'd be doing the full tour that goes out of Niseko (picks up and drops off there). So it makes sense to ski Niseko, then Shimamaki next to each other.
     
  15. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    It can take longer than you think. Big snow, slow vehicles on small snowy roads...
     
  16. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Understandable. If we stick with going to Shimamaki, there's not a ton we can do with the order of locations. But we definitely have the possibility of trimming the number of locations down. Which places would you recommend removing from the list? Which would you extend?
     
    grantn likes this.
  17. grantn

    grantn Addicted

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    232
    Likes Received:
    121
    I agree with Sandy, you are moving around a lot for a short trip. When you are based in Niseko you can easily do Rusutsu or even Kiroro as a day trip, if you have a hire car. If it were me I would base myself in Niseko for longer, and hire a car for a period (you can get one from Niseko) and use that to do day trips to Rusutsu/Kiroro or even Otaru as you need. That way you could get rid of staying in Rusutsu or even Otaru. If you did that, you could also take the weather into account, and use Rusutsu or Kiroro/Otaru when you need to. In my experience Rusutsu is a good option when high winds are forecast.
     
    Mike Pow and tugboat like this.
  18. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2014
    Messages:
    529
    Likes Received:
    601
    Location:
    Hakuba
    Dont forget generally speaking the best conditions are in the morning, you would be wasting too many pow mornings. For that amount of days I would only move once.
     
  19. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,208
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Brisbane
    I’m with the others who have said that you are cramming too much in to too short a time.
    1 normally go to Japan for 2-3 weeks, some times lucky enough to go twice in a season.
    This year I spent 3 weeks in the Furano area only skiing 3 different locations. Not enough time particularly if you have a car and intend exploring out gates and such.
    I also think that there is more than enough to keep you busy if you base yourself in Hirafu or (or Kutchan if wanting to save some money)
    3 weeks banging around the North Honshu resorts would be an option also but for a first time I think Furano and surrounds or Hirafu and surrounds would keep you froffing for a couple of weeks.
     
    Any likes this.
  20. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    6,787
    Likes Received:
    3,084
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Same as above, too many locations. Part of the fun is skiing the same resorts for a 2nd or 3rd day and knowing where to go to first thing to get fresh tracks.
    I'd combine the Rusutsu-Otaru part and stay in Otaru the whole time. As you know, from Otaru you can ski 3 resorts (Kiroro, Teine and Kokusai), giving you the 4th day to revisit your fave.

    Driving in Hokkadio can often take a lot longer than what Google Maps indicates if there is a snow storm. Factor that in.
     
    LMB and tugboat like this.
  21. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2002
    Messages:
    6,338
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    Gold Coast/Nozawa Onsen
    Sorry but with 5-8 people and that much movement a recipe for disaster .
    I have seen how groups that size try to negotiate a timetable good luck .
     
    M_G, LMB, BoofHead and 1 other person like this.
  22. Any

    Any One of Us

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    640
    Location:
    oz/japan/usa
    in addition to what's mentioned, 2-4 days somewhere isn't long enough if you happen upon unlucky weather.
    in mid jan/fen you're often sitting around for 1-2 days a week with everything closed (except maybe 1 beginner lift), waiting for the weather pass.

    also imo Otaru to Rusutsu is a huge drive in winter. you've got traffic jams every morning and afternoon. plus a 2-3 hour drive when youre tired and wet at the end of every day skiing is just dangerous.

    you could remove Furano, and with a car you could base yourself anywhere in the Niseko region (Hirafu/Niseko Town/Kutchan/Kombu/Rankoshi/Makkari), stay for the whole 11 days, and hit Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Shimamaki quite easily from there. you can wing it on the day, chase the best weather and make the most of your trip. and be 1000% more comfortable and relaxed and recovered after every day. not to mention your gear will be dry. Hirafu and Kutchan are quite expensive (hideously so if you dont shop around), but the other options are't much more than Otaru (which has become a shitty tourist trap btw).

    you have zero chance at getting bored in that time if that's what you're concerned about.
    for reference, each season i do about 7 days at kiroro before i think im getting bored, 5 at rustsu before bored. and, well, um 70+ at niseko/slackcountry lol. lots of pure backcountry nearby if you want to spend some energy too.
    note, those numbers of days would be much much more if i didnt already know those resorts off by heart (16 seasons here). plus you're considerably less efficient at covering ground when with a group or family.
     
    Kimski, LMB, Donzah and 2 others like this.
  23. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thank you everyone for your feedback. I was already thinking about extending Niseko and Otaru, skipping Rusutsu (or taking it as a day trip from Niseko)....I think all of your feedback solidified that.

    Not worried about getting board at all...I grew up with a tiny hill and never got bored with it. The reason for so many stops is mainly because I read about so many amazing places and I want to experience them all.

    I completely understand this thought. The group that I’m going with would be the only people that I would ever consider moving around this much with. I’ve been on plenty of trips with other people that take hours to get out of the house to do anything....brutal
     
    blowfin likes this.
  24. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    Just further to this..... Anybody who has not been to Hokkaido might ask "why would I be wet?"
    When you're riding powder, and it's billowing and getting into every little nook and cranny, it melts, and wets you underneath !!!
     
    LMB likes this.
  25. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    733
    Thank the lord for that clarification. I was thinking 'wet' was referring to a frequent high chance of r*in.
     
  26. Any

    Any One of Us

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    640
    Location:
    oz/japan/usa
    i love the obfuscation of the r word. its the devil's word. maybe @Sandy should officially make it a banned word on the forum :p
     
    tugboat, LMB and Sandy like this.
  27. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    7,532
    Likes Received:
    13,133
    Location:
    Canberra, ACT
    Hey, it almost gets to 10C in Hokkaido at that time of the year... In the middle of a road tunnel in the middle of the mountain ;)
     
    Mike Pow and Any like this.
  28. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    Or 10F degrees
     
    DidSurfNowSki likes this.
  29. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Messages:
    25,831
    Likes Received:
    15,181
    Location:
    Perth
    Listen to this guy.
    Does know the region like the back of his hand and not afraid of driving around in search of fun times - so if he’s saying it’s too much, it’s too much.

    Personally I wouldn’t do any more than 2 locations. You’ll get a feel for the place being there more than a single day, and you can plan to come back to do other areas. I’ve been coming for 14 years now and there is still so many places I want to try.
     
    Any and Kimski like this.
  30. Ecstatic

    Ecstatic Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2017
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    24
    Interesting, skiers, shoppers or something else? I wondered how long it would take until the word was out Teine or Kockusai
     
  31. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Messages:
    827
    Likes Received:
    520
    Don't forget that weather can make a major dent in plans. Last trip for me to Niseko it was completely closed one day due to strong wind and the next day only had a couple of lift open.
     
  32. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    6,787
    Likes Received:
    3,084
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I found Otaru quaint and charming, each to their own I guess.
     
    Mike Pow, Born2skii and tugboat like this.
  33. Any

    Any One of Us

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    640
    Location:
    oz/japan/usa
    not so much targeting us westerners, they're going strong for the Koreans.
    they must have some deals with tourist bus companies. causing every single restaurant, shop, seating area, food court to be packed with tourists shopping or filling in time.
    there are 20+ minute delays because of traffic during rush hours and restaurant and accommodation pricing are quickly increasing to adapt to the demand too.
    thankfully Koreans make for not so bad and respectful enough tourists, so its not super terrible, it just doesn't feel like a quaint little Japanese fishing village anymore (@Froff Life 's description is very apt for old Otaru).
     
  34. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    I don’t think basing myself in Niseko sounds like what I really want. Mainly based off of all of the feedback I got regarding how touristy and crowded it can get. I’m looking for much more low key, and cultural experience. I like to get off the beaten path a bit. Basically the same reasons I’ve never visited Vail or Whistler in North America.
     
  35. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    28,566
    Likes Received:
    24,045
    Location:
    woonona
    Stay in kutchan then
     
    tugboat and grantn like this.
  36. grantn

    grantn Addicted

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    232
    Likes Received:
    121
    Fair enough. BUT - Niseko is made up of a wide variety of resorts (Moiwa/Annupuri/Niseko Village/Hirafu/Hanazono). These all have a very different feel. Whenever we stay in "Niseko" we stay in a low key area, in a Japanese owned pension with Japanese people who speak no English, in accom with no westerners, for the most part. Every night they host you and drive to a different local onsen every night. I am similar to you and like to get "off the beaten path". Happy to share details with you if you P.M me. In my experience there will be little difference with going to Furano or Rusutsu. On the ski hill, in Niseko or Furano, or Rusutsu etc there will be loads of westerners, and crowds, depending on the day.
     
  37. Any

    Any One of Us

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    640
    Location:
    oz/japan/usa
    "Niseko" is the name of an area. Like a 100km x 100km region of Hokkaido.
    If you want Rusutsu, Moiwa, Shimamaki Cat Skiing, Kiroro and the 4 ski resorts on Mt Annupuri (aka the Niseko United ski resort) within 1 hour drive, then you stay in the Niseko area.
     
    BoofHead, LMB and grantn like this.
  38. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Hadn’t heard of that one...I’ll look it up. Thanks!
     
  39. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Thanks for the clarification, and yes, it sounds like we are very similar in what we would be looking for. I’d love to hear more about the details of the place you’ve stayed and how to find something similar...sending a PM
     
  40. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    Depends what is wanted.....
    Is it that you want "off the beaten track" locality wise where you're staying, or mountain wise? Annupuri/Niseko Village/Hirafu/Hanazono have heaps of foreigners on the mountains.
     
  41. Any

    Any One of Us

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    640
    Location:
    oz/japan/usa
    ps: there were a couple of hints in there for you.
     
    LMB and tugboat like this.
  42. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    Both. I don’t need it to be so far down the beaten track that I never see another person from another country. But I’d rather ski a smaller mountain with no crowds, than a large one with large crowds. I want to experience a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Japan (i.e. no Hilton or Marriott hotels). Where I’ve travelled in the past, I enjoy staying at bed and breakfasts or small Inns rather than hotels. I like to interact with local people...I don’t go places to interact with other foreigners (although that part generally happens anyways, and does end up being a good time). I don’t really plan on staying or skiing much of the Niseko United resorts unless I receive a compelling reason to do so.
     
  43. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2002
    Messages:
    6,338
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    Gold Coast/Nozawa Onsen
    Honshu is where you should be then ?
     
    Sandy and DidSurfNowSki like this.
  44. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    63,508
    Likes Received:
    10,669
    Location:
    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    I suppose you can say that Hokkaido is more spread out. Nagano/Niigata have a lot of mountains within a short distance wiht better road conditions.
     
  45. tugboat

    tugboat Early Days

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2019
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    11
    I'll have to wait until the next trip for Honshu. We started the planning for Hokkaido, and at this point, we're way too far down the rabbit hole to switch it up.
     
  46. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2014
    Messages:
    701
    Likes Received:
    851
    Posted this on a different forum

    Go to this page

    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts


    Scroll down to the 'Ski Resorts by Prefecture' section.

    Click on the prefecture you're thinking of visiting, for example

    Hokkaido
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/prefecture/hokkaido


    Then click on the individual resorts / ski areas you like the look of.

    On that particular page find the official web site link and click it, for example

    Katsurazawa Kokusetsu
    https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hokkaido/mikasa/katsurazawa-kokusetsu
    https://www.city.mikasa.hokkaido.jp/sightseeing/category/122.html

    If the web site is in Japanese with no or very basic English translation then you will most certainly be in Japan if you visit it.

    And there are scores of ski areas like this on Hokkaido, hundreds across Honshu.

    PS the smaller more Japanese ski areas offer up lift accessed no hiking conditions like this all day

     
    Hyst, tugboat and Any like this.
  47. Any

    Any One of Us

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    640
    Location:
    oz/japan/usa
    its funny how so many people see this as a negative.
    its like a big flashing 'come visit me' sign to me.
     
    Hyst, Mitchthewitch, fennekeg and 3 others like this.