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Japan 2020 - planning and stuff.

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Donzah, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Lamp is what struck my fancy with the area. I’ll look into Nojiri Lake Resort :thumbs:.
     
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  2. Amelia1810

    Amelia1810 One of Us

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    For our first trip to Japan we are planning to do the touristy stuff as well as skiing.
    We're locked into Xmas hols (as much as I wish we weren't) for 3-4 weeks. If I may ask some advice, do you think it would be better to do the skiing part first (Christmas/NY in a ski resort; probably looking at Nagano region unless I should look elsewhere, we're open to most places. Looking at about 10 days skiing) or the tourist bits (Universal Studios/Hiroshima/shrines etc) over Xmas/NY prior to skiing. I think either way it's gonna be super busy but are ski resort prices very inflated, availability hard to get for Christmas? Has anyone done this especially over holiday time, am I missing anything? Planning on using JR pass to get around, unlikely we'd get a hire car.
     
  3. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    We have done Xmas in Japan a few times - both in city and in ski resort.

    The better snow chances are later.
    So if it doesn’t matter to you which way you do it I’d do the touristy things first and give it an extra week for the snow to come before the ski
    portion.

    However a snowy Christmas is pretty special too.
     
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  4. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Christmas doesn't really exist in Japan.
    It's just a ordinary day.
    The crazy busy period is new year's eve on for near a week
     
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  5. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    And I assume Christmas will become less busy from this year. Till last year, December 23rd was a Japanese national holiday because it's Emperor Akihito of Japan's birthday. Emperor Akihito of Japan is set to abdicate on 30 April 2019, which will make him the first Japanese Emperor to do so in over two centuries. So December 23rd is no longer Emperor's birthday = not a national holiday. Till this season, 23 - 24 - 25 = National Holiday - Christmas Eve - Christmas and some Japanese went to ski resorts. Anyway, I don't recommend people are flying to Japan around Christmas unless they are going to ski in Hokkaido. I mainly ski in Tohoku and most major ski resorts had enough snow to open by December 15th this season even though it was a relatively slow start season, but it usually doesn't have enough snow for off piste / treerun around Christmas yet.
     
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  6. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    When's the new emperors birthday?
     
  7. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    February 23rd. February 23rd 2020 is Sunday, so Monday(24th) will become a holiday =it's a long weekend from Saturday to Monday, and the week might become busier.
     
    #157 Ramenman, Mar 17, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
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  8. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I'm looking at accommodation in Shiga Kogen and there a few pensions in Okushiga that look like they might be suitable. I know that there isn't really anything in the way of shops or restaurants in this area (apart from the hotels). I'll be getting accommodation with dinners included. For anyone who's stayed in this area how is it for access to the rest of the resort?

    Also, is it true that there are no ATMs in Shiga?
     
  9. nanami_JS

    nanami_JS Hard Yards

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    Booked our flights on JAL to Japan 2020 today!! Will be in Japan from 22 Jan to 28 Jan. CNY is Jan 25 & 26 so will get out of Japan b4 the influx of Chinese tourists. Now the question is where to ski...
     
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  10. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Only 1 ATM ...... at the Shiga Kogen Post Office.
    Can't help you with any info on the Pensions at Okushiga as we have only stayed in Ichinose.
    Edit: I did like being in Ichinose as a base to start the day from, and a few different dining options all close by for dinner. We have had breakfast at the hotel and then dinner out each night.
     
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  11. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Thanks

    Ichinose is the other area I'm looking at.
     
  12. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    This oddly doesn't make sense
    22nd to 28th jan (CNY is within these dates)
     
  13. nanami_JS

    nanami_JS Hard Yards

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    CNY is 25th Jan, so I am hoping to have a few quieter days before it gets super busy.
     
  14. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ichinose is still pretty quiet, but it does have a handful of restaurants and importantly, a convenience store.
    Okushiga is one of the better areas to ski in, but the restaurants, night life and transport options to other villages are pretty limited.
     
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  15. Amelia1810

    Amelia1810 One of Us

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    Thanks LMB, Donzah and Ramenman for your info
    Further looking today and found the JAL Explorer Pass air tickets could be useful, potentially opens up skiing Hokkaido which might be better for late Dec if we did it in that order. Lots to consider; and your knowledge proving very helpful :)
     
  16. Medicine_Shoes

    Medicine_Shoes Hard Yards

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    I was in Nozawa over CNY this year and there were still more Aussies than Chinese haha. May be somewhere to consider...
     
  17. fennekeg

    fennekeg One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Opening hours of that ATM: weekdays 09:00~17:30, weekends and holidays 09:00~17:00
     
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  18. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    We have stayed at Villa Ichinose which is very central (right next to the first bus stop in Ichinose). I'd say it;s a 2/3 star ryokan. Certainly not swish, but clean and comfortable. One strange set up there is the reception is on the 3rd floor (with this huge staircase going up the middle from ground floor to 3rd floor). During the week they do a western style buffet breakfast then on weekends it's a Japanese breakfast (on the 2nd floor). I wouldn't book full board there as there are much better options close by for dinner. Downstairs on street level inside the building is a 3rd party restaurant (101) which has some great dishes at very reasonable prices. Also inside the building opposite restaurant 101 is the largest convenience store in Ichinose. Next door is the Nepalese curry restaurant and down the street are a number of options (Izakaya etc).
    We paid Y6,500 per night per person which included breakfast.
     
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  19. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Anyone with advice on where to stay central in Osaka...............
    Daughter wants to hit up USJ. Harry Potter nut
     
  20. skivet

    skivet Addicted

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    JAL from what city and how much if you don’t mind me asking. We are also playing with similar dates.
     
  21. japower

    japower Hard Yards

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    If you're considering Shiga Palace at the other end of Shiga Kogen (Yokoteyama), the amazingly helpful Zen is no longer there. Apparently she had a falling out with upper management. :(
     
  22. nanami_JS

    nanami_JS Hard Yards

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    I am based in Singapore. Used miles + cash (~SGD 400) for the flights.
     
  23. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The Post Office doesn’t look all that accessible on the map. Guess I’ll have to stock up in yen before I get there.
     
  24. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    The free shuttle bus will get you to the Post Office but just take cash, easy.
     
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  25. geeoff

    geeoff Hard Yards

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    We stayed in Hotel Montrrey Grasmere which was right near the OCAT and JR Namba. Can get bus direct to that terminal from Kansai IA. Close to Dotombori and looks reasonable close to USJ. Any hotel in the area near the 2 Namba stations would be in good position IMO.
     
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  26. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Check that the accommodation you choose accepts CC (they should now) and lift tickets can also go on CC. So the cash you'll need is for food, drinks and bus transport from and to Nagano Station.
     
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  27. NoSkillWill

    NoSkillWill Hard Yards

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    Hi Gang,

    I have been having some difficulty choosing accom for Japan 2020 (hakuba/niseko) mainly because I know nothing.

    Would love ski in / ski out accom but is it worth while in Japan?

    Does anyone with a few more seasons under their belt have any accom recommendations for hakuba an niseko?

    When should I be booking accom? Hard to tell if places are booked out or if they just aren't available to book yet.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  28. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    @Kimski ......... I noticed on another thread you said your also visiting Hakuba as well as Shiga Kogen. Not sure if you are aware but a new direct bus service started up a couple of seasons ago between the two areas.
    https://www.alpico.co.jp/traffic/en/express/hakuba/shigakogen/
    Only problem I can see with this service compared to the bus from Nagano Station is this bus doesn't go all the way to/from Okushiga passing all the possible accommodations. Looks like you would have to use the free local shuttle bus to get to / from accom from where this bus arrives/departs in Shiga.
     
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  29. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I would say 90% of local operations would have barely opened their booking.
    I'd say that the rest have, are more niche...and favour a western clientele.
    We like to book early.

    IMO ski in ski out ain't that grand in Japan in general terms. The resorts aren't designed to enhance this like they are in say North America. Most of the ski in ski out type hills are bubble resorts (self contained) that don't have the variety of food places and shops I like.

    Have a look at Furano . Good accomodation thats virtually ski in ski out. Good cold snow. Nice runs. Great town that introduces you to japan.
     
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  30. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us

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    @Kimski if you like eating at a variety of places, more of a ski town feel and like piste skiing Ichinose is the best. It best placed (centrally) for wide variety of piste skiing both ways along the resort and good for buses etc. If like me it’s all about the POW access Okushiga is the go. Great gated access, lots of fresh tracks and no competition. You can still access the whole resort we did frequently it just takes longer on runs or buses. I stayed at the exp hotel there which is awesome however if you do stay in a pension you can actually eat very cheaply at the Izakaya style sports bar at the bottom of the ski runs. Good local craft beer, tasty morsels and nice Japanese staff. You can get a cheap wax at the ski shop there too
     
    #180 LDJ, Mar 19, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  31. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Welcome NoSkillWill

    Are you saying Hakuba/Niseko because they are the only two you’ve heard of? Or are you going with people who’ve said they want to go to one or the other or both?

    I have been to both Hakuba (1 week) and Niseko (1 week) in the one trip. It was a last minute decision and we went to see people in both places - I wouldn’t combine them in such a short trip just for the skiing. They’re a long way apart and you can do a couple of resorts close by each other if you want to move around.

    Depending on where you chose to go you most likely won’t need ski in ski out accomodation. A short walk to lifts, or a shuttle is highly likely.

    Let’s find a destination first. Then find the type of accomodation you might be interested in.
    Info that will help:
    How many people?
    Skiers/boarders/skill level - on piste? Backcountry? Need lessons? Have own gear or hiring?

    Do you want a cultural Japanese experience or rather easy western style stuff be available - or a mix.

    What level of accomodation are you after - backpackers, ryokan, hotel style, self catering apartment.

    Are you on a tight budget or the world is your oyster?

    Majority won’t be open for bookings yet.
    Some of the western style accomodations over peak periods in Niseko and Hakuba (and I believe Nozawa Onsen) are starting to book out already. Don’t panic. You’ve got time.
     
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  32. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us

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    have edited. Thanks for reminder :thumbs:
     
  33. Sandy

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

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    If you go to USJ, specifically Harry Potter, once in the park (get there early), go STRAIGHT to the Harry Potter line in the park (not at the Harry Potter entrance in the park) to get tickets.
     
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  34. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah we're talking 7/8am re this
    I was going to get tickets online?

    *i know usj is bonkers busy...but I hope 12th Jan or so will be ok
     
  35. Hagle

    Hagle Hard Yards

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    Location:
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    Straw-man 2020 itinerary
    • BNE to Narita on 19 Jan, drop ski gear at Black Cat, Kesei Skyliner to Ueno, Shink to Kanazawa & arrive ~10pm
    • Hire car and explore Kanazawa and Shirakawa area
    • Train to Kyoto/Osaka and explore for a couple of days
    • Osaka to Chitose and on to Furano for 7 days skiing
    • Chitose - Narita - BNE 1 Feb
    I am looking for thoughts on the itinerary and whether it is realistic. Also, your thoughts on Furano accommodation, whether Furano Is a good choice for intermediate/advanced skiiers who like to stay on piste and whether Chinese New Year will be an issue (if CNY could be an issue we could ski first week and sightsee second week). As much as we have enjoyed Honshu skiing over the past few years we would like to experience Hokkaido. For guidance, we are happy to pay more for ski-in / ski-out and English speaking is NOT a priority.
     
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  36. zarik

    zarik Addicted

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    Everything should still be available. It is very early.

    I never been to Niseko but for places that I enjoyed that were ski in/out. Hakuba Green Plaza Cortina, really an awesome deal. Kids and wife loved it, I liked it a lot. Awesome place, people talk about hordes on powder day(true) but actual resort is very nice even on normal days and you can always hit Norikura next door if you luck out with a powder dump.

    Hotel Berghaus at Tsugaike. Great room, great dinner(really creative awesome food). Only issue is that their breakfast is at 7:30 while lifts open at 8.
     
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  37. Hagle

    Hagle Hard Yards

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    Access across and between Shigakogen ski areas is relatively easy (excepting Yoketeyama area where access is by shuttle bus). There are four places where we haven’t found a better way and have to skate/walk up hill are:
    • Top of Okushigakogen No.4 pair to Yakebitaiyama ski area
    • Nishitateyama area to Giant pair
    • Takamagahara base over the “hump” bridge to Nishitateyama(?) ski area
    • Hasuike/Musuike/SunValley area back to Giant
    This year there was much more acceptance of credit cards, but still the odd ¥3,000 minimum. We have stayed at the Okushiga hotel and Chalet Shiga at Ichinose ski-jo and would definitely recommend both. I would recommend breakfast included as a minimum and given the sparsity of restaurants outside hotels, you might as well book dinner as well - it takes away the hassle of going out into the cold wintery evening to find another hotel restaurant...
     
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  38. japower

    japower Hard Yards

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    Furano is great for intermediate skiers. It's divided into two zones: Furano and Kitanomine. Furano has narrower and steeper runs (intermediate) and Kitanomine's upper half is all intermediate (steep but wide) and its bottom half has mostly wide beginner runs. The most challenging area is the Premium Zone off to skier's right from the top of Kitanomine, but it's often closed. For intermediate/advanced skiers, I suggest staying at the New Furano Prince, a ski in/out hotel at the bottom of the Furano Zone. You'll get easy access to the top via the fast ropeway as well as some BC through the gates at the top.
     
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  39. NoSkillWill

    NoSkillWill Hard Yards

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    Ok,

    Like everyone else, I want to take advantage of the possible Epic Pass with Falls/Hotham. I'll be going for a ski trip to japan whether it happens or not though. I am interested in Hakuba for the size and Niseko for the night skiing. Was also considering Rusutzu, again with the epic pass.
    We are planning on a two week trip dates flexible but want to lock in flights soon. return flights to NAR-CTS seem reasonable at a little under $300 return last i checked.
    I have stayed in Ski in/out once in Aus and loved it. It's quite hard as you have to book so far in advance. Doing it on a ski holiday makes the most sense as I'll have to book everything early either way. Having said that if it is majorly more expensive I can deal without.

    Myself and another guy are 100% committed. Another is super keen but only if it can be over some of the New Years work shutdown (I am not keen on this as it will be more expensive and lines). We have a couple of others that are 'keen'. I hope it will be a group of 4-6 all said and done.
    Mix of both. The other 100% and I are top end intermediate. By the end of 2019 Aus season should be calling ourselves advanced. others interested are beginner/intermediate. They might need/want lessons. I'll have boots but think it would be better if I hire the right skis for the conditions (I am 200cm 100kgs), others will need to hire all except snow clothes.
    Would love cultural Japanese, happy for a mix at minimum. I know Niseko doesnt fit this but as mentioned the powder nights are a big sell there for me.
    Honestly depends what is available and recommended. If it is a group of 4-6 guys backpackers would be fine. self contained apartment would be great but I imagine expensive.
    I don't think we would want an above average priced place. Cheap but nice is probably our target.

    Sorry if my quoting is a mess.

    Thank you so much for your advice!
     
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  40. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    That is very helpful Will,

    Everyone here will have a different opinion. And as a regular in Niseko I won’t be discouraging you from going to Niseko.

    For those needs and that time frame my recommendation would be a week in Rusutsu first up and then a week in Niseko. The extra cost to get to Hakuba will eat up the savings of the Epic Pass. And it’ll be a mission with a larger group, especially the lower level people, who’ll feel happy and settled where they are.

    May be an unpopular opinion, but there you go.

    Rusutsu gives you ski in ski out if you stay at the hotel and it is definitely “unique” with its animatronic entertainments littered around the foyers. I’ve watched lessons there and they seem very organised. There is something for everyone from gentle well groomed slopes to some bombing tree runs for the more advanced in the group. You can also stay cheaper in accomodation nearby I believe (I’ve never stayed there - just day trips) - I’m sure someone will be able to suggest some.

    Hokkaido is more likely to have snow in that Christmas New Year shut down period - so erring on the side of safety by heading North.

    Niseko will be busy at the time you go which is why I suggest going there second. Find your ski legs in Rusutsu first (although that won’t be abandoned either) and then head over to experience things like the “Nighta” that Niseko offers.

    Consider doing a day trip to a smaller hill Moiwa might do it for you (although it’s not really the unknown hill next to Niseko anymore) to experience what they’re like.

    Personally I like to take lower skilled friends to Asahigoaka Park in Kutchan. Costs about a dollar a lift ride on an 11 ride punch card ticket, one pair lift, 3 routes down - tiny little local ski hill - but you’ve usually got it to yourself. It’s my pic for a playful half day with friends when Niseko is crazy busy or the lifts go on wind/weather hold. Everyone else hits the bars - we do Asahigoaka, late lunch in Kutchan, a grocery shop and then home for a drink or two.

    To be honest this is just ONE of hundreds of options open to you. But based on the questions you answered above I think it’s the kind of scenario you are looking for. And it’s a good start into the world of skiing and boarding in Japan.
     
  41. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    LMB nails it @NoSkillWill. The time and cost factors associated with travelling from Hakuba - Niseko far outweigh the value of the pass. Rututsu and then Niseko will give you a great 1st trip to Japan, and much more snow sure during the early season. During the 2 weeks you're very very likely to have multiple pow days
     
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  42. NoSkillWill

    NoSkillWill Hard Yards

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    Thanks @LMB. The insight is certainly helpful. I should probably have emphasised more that Dec-Jan is that one friends preference. Everyone else involved is far more flexible. Would your advice differ if we were to be travelling for two weeks in Feb? I've read a few blogs that state that is probably the best time to go for sun/pow/lines.
     
  43. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    I arrived on Valentines Day this year - should’ve been Peak pow. Wasn’t. Got skunked for the whole month. Weather, huh! Having said that, when I am rejoining in the thick heavy powder falling there are people whinging that they can’t see anything and wish it would stop snowing so they can go out and ski... each to their own.

    Generally, if you are going from early Jan to end Feb your options for powder are endless. Starting on Honshu and right up through Hokkaido - it’s all awesome. The cheaper passes at resorts other than Niseko will save you more than your epic pass.

    My brother did a first timers trip to Club Med Sahoro for ridiculously cheap given the inclusions. The package deal holiday is not for me, but it was astounding value for them - including lessons every day. Ski in ski out. His wife and fussy eater teenager loved it.

    You need to have a catch up with your travel companions and throw a few ideas around. Because the options truly are endless.
     
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  44. skipperlee

    skipperlee Hard Yards

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    so ive been blessed with a around 4 weeks pass in japan next jan/feb and im starting to put a plan together - has anyone been to gunma ? ive been doing a bit of research and looks like a few resorts off the beaten track - kawaba city, oguna hotaka , tambara to name a few - are they any good ? anyone been ? ill be looking to spend a week in this area after being in iwate and aizu areas. tia
     
  45. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm not familiar with the region, but If I were you, I would choose Kawaba, Hotaka, Oze Iwakura and Marunuma Kogen in the region. There are big enough(vertical is bigger than 600m) and base altitude is higher too. There are many other ski resorts in Gunnma(closer to Joetsu Line), but they are a bit far if you go to Marunuma Kogen. I've been to Kawaba in the worst road condition. I mean, the base altitude of Kawaba ski resort is about 1300m, you need to drive on a narrow steep road up to 1300m asl from 800m asl. It was dumping and it was scary!
     
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  46. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Beware the Tokyo traffic with these resorts. i.e. avoid weekends. They are also generally further east and sometimes don't receive the amount of snowfall that the resorts closer to the western coastline (i.e. Myoko, etc) receive on weaker winds. That said, also have a look at the Minakami area (Tenjindaira). Big, big terrain that seems to cop huge amounts of snow.
     
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  47. coobiella

    coobiella Hard Yards

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    Hi all,
    longtime lurker, first time poster. I'm looking to book flights for 30th Dec to 18th Jan on JAL from melbourne before the price goes up. Going to Furano with sister and her family and then trip to Tokyo before leaving. Second trip to Japan, first was to niseko in 2018.
    I have a question about booking JAL online. I don't know if I'll be bringing a ski bag but if I do, do I have to change the booking before leaving or just rock up with the bag and hope for the best? I've read all the threads about the tape measuring staff...
     
  48. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Update your booking later online if you're planning on bringing a ski bag, doesn't take long and can't hurt! I flew JAL earlier this year with a 190cm double ski bag with no troubles
     
  49. nanami_JS

    nanami_JS Hard Yards

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    A ski bag is part of your baggage allowance. Should be fine. We took our snowboard and ski bags to Japan plenty of times with ANA and SQ.
    https://www.jal.co.jp/jba/ay/GB/GB/baggage/Sportsequipment_jba.html
    https://www.jal.co.jp/en/inter/baggage/checked/#Route
     
  50. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Just stay under weight and should* be fine.