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Advice needed Japan Dreaming

Discussion in 'Japan' started by wat17, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    Looking for some tips for our next Japan trip. We have been a couple of times (see below) and our next trip looking at spending 1-2 weeks in the one location in Hokkaido. Have 2 kids (youngest will be 4) so needs to have some kind of childcare/ski school attached. Prefer to stay in the one location and moving is hard!

    At the moment looking at Furano or Rutsusu. Will be travelling with a group with a number of kids tagging along so accommodation wise looking for a large house or smaller lodge. Really like Refre Hotel in Myoko Kogen, as kids can be in earshot while we still can hang out as adults in the evening in a common room. Also, the in house onsen was great. We love the onsens so one in house is a big tick! Being ski in and ski out (or close to) is important, as not much fun lugging around gear and children in the cold!

    Open to any specific accommodation options that people have experienced in these locations. Also open to any other resorts you would recommend that can cater for all abilities. Have picked Furano and Rutsusu as they offer a bit more advanced runs for the keener skiers of the group. We love the traditional side of Japan with the small restaurants/onsens and the like but appreciate we may have to sacrifice this.

    Our previous experiences which can hopefully assist someone in a similar boat:
    - Myoko Kogen: Resort was quite tame. Had to travel to some others like Seki after a dump to have a good day (highly recommend). The best part was the accommodation at Refre. Suited our group perfectly with a variety of rooms, common area close by, nice onsite onsen, good breakfast. Best accommodation we have stayed at for our purposes, just a shame about the hill!
    - Nozawa Onsen: Loved the traditional town and the street corner onsens. We stayed in a 4/5 bedroom house which was great for our group with young children. Mountain was only ok. We had conditions from blue bird, to rain, to dumping snow. Tip for dumping day is to ski the racecourse as most head to the top of the mountain leaving this area untouched. Also the rum shots in the coffee at the bottom of the mountain were tops. Would go back here.
    - Rutsusu: Was the best skiing we experienced. Good for advanced and intermediates. If it's windy seems to be more protected than Niseko which when I went was shut down rather quickly. The hotel is funky and modern (not much tradition here!) however lacked a common area for a group to hang out in (may have changed) for a couple of drinks at night. Also being hotel rooms means they can be scattered over a large area, so not suitable for us with young kids but would be fine for older kids. Had a look at the hotel's log cabins which have a number of rooms with common area however they are poison expensive. Not much other suitable accommodation in a ski in/out position. By the look of things, the whole place has shot up in price since we were there 5-6 years ago.
    - Niseko: Been twice now. If you like the developed side of things then this is a good place. Been roughly 7+ years since I last went so no doubt has changed even more. Not much tradition here and at the time I only found the skiing ok. A plus is the availability of gear and people who can fix things like ski boots. Worth visiting once as a family, but for now unless someone can talk me into it I don't see a reason to go back.

    Hopefully, you find some of my tips useful, and if anyone else has some good ideas for our family in the future please let me know. Happy to accept private messages if you want to keep it a secret. ;)
     
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  2. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    You should be able to find a house to rent in the lower section of Furano.

    I think Furano ticks you boxes plus more.

    I suggest making contact with @telenomore who runs a mixed bussiness in Furano.
     
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  3. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Got to ask about Myoko Kogen, you explicitly mentioned Seki Onsen but what other resorts did you ski there? There are actually 7 on Mt Myoko if you count the 2 single lift ones on the way up to Seki Onsen.
     
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  4. bluestick

    bluestick One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Look at tohoku...appi kogen pension area or hotel ? Shizakuishi? Zao? This is a major restriction/ opportunity :“ needs to have some kind of childcare/ski school attached.“ which limits you a bit to majors of which there are more choices on Honshu IMO. (Shiga, Hakuba, Nozawa, Myoko for eg) For Hokkaido: Furano, Niseko(arghh), Rusutsu , Tomamu ( did have very reasonable bnb options) , Sahoro, maybe Racey or get into bc and share the childcare and go to asahidake!
     
  5. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  6. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Furano sounds like the right fit. Should be able to find a lodge or whole place in the Kitomine side. It’s a short little uphill walk to the gondola but if you walked from Refre to the lifts it’s very similar.
    Skiing is solid.
     
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  7. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Agreed, Akakura Onsen resort itself is tame. You didn't go to Akakura Kanko or Myoko Suginohara?
     
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  8. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    Did the two local ones of Onsen and Kanko, then travelled to Lotte Arai and Seki. The issue for us was with dropping the kids off at childcare/ski school limits the time to then spend travelling to another resort. Unfortunately missed out on Suginohara as there were issues with the bus that day. For those without kids do consider Myoko if you are happy with to jump on the buses (easy to do). Just with the kids makes life a bit harder, so we need everything to be a bit closer. Myoko also fine for you beginner/intermediate, but not much in the local two resorts for the advanced.
     
  9. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    Yes we are limited a bit for the next decade or so. Then we can go off the beated track again. Tomamu and Sahoro seem like good options, but similar issue to Rutsusu where the kids can be in earshot in an evening.

    Sounds like Furano may be the go this time.
     
  10. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I thought that might be the case. In 8 years doing seasons there we have never skied Akakura Onsen. We tell people that it is a good beginner/intermediate area. Kanko actually has some great areas but because of the dumb things people do they may be more restrictive than they used to be. Having management of tour operators post videos of themselves skiing under chairs does not help. Suginohara also has some great areas. And also it is worth staying somewhere that will shuttle you to the local resorts. ;)
     
  11. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    Refre were very helpful in shuttling us around when we did travel. Just got unlucky with Sugi and the normal buses one day. That’s travelling it happens! Was a real shame to miss Sugi on what seemed a good day.

    Half (possibly all! :p) the problem was with the kids. You waste a bit of time with getting them to child care and ski school. To then have to get a bus or shuttle somewhere else just starts eating into your day.

    I can see you are from Myoko, so apologies if I sounded a bit negative. The town is good, and accomodation was tops. Just the local skiing only suited beginner to intermediate. Catching buses/shuttles to other resorts isn’t everyone’s cup of tea depending on their situation. Works for some but not everyone. When we did travel to Seki and Arai we had great days.
     
  12. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    All good. I was just interested in why Mt Myoko did not work for you. If we don't learn about the problems it is hard to solve them. Skiing/boarding with kids has its challenges. In hindsight I think we were lucky. But we also chose to spend a lot of time on snow with them as well as putting them into ski school. By the time they were about 12 they were leaving us behind. We still have lots of fun on snow with them though.

    You might want to consider Msdarao as well. Let me know if you do.
     
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  13. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    I always tell people if you're looking for steeps then Myoko is not your place. It's more about the powder and the off piste opportunities. If Akakura Kanko is tame for you then you are indeed in the wrong neighbourhood. Have you considered Hakuba? Might also tick a lot of boxes.

    FYI I used to run Red Warehouse behind Refre.
     
  14. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, but they’re also trying to combine young family and perhaps closer to ski in ski out.

    Hakuba would tick your boxes for more challenging terrain on Honshu.

    Furano would be my pick for Hokkaido.

    There is some good family friendly chalet or lodge accomodations, we had a 2 bedroom/4 bed unit a short walk from the lift when we stayed, it had a twin duplex next door (that we also rented for the boys) - if you had a max 8 something like that might work. But plenty of other options within a walk to the lifts/ski school. Decent enough terrain, especially out of gates. If some in your group were after an extra challenge and happy to earn their own turns then a trip to Tokachidake could be fun.
     
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  15. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

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    If you want steeps , go to Europe or US/Canada ..... not Japan
     
  16. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    We love Japanese powder (and everything else!) so can't go past that. We get that the steeps are hard to find.

    Furano seems to to be the place to go. Any specific recommendations for lodging suitable for a group, or anything to avoid? Feel free to PM me if you would prefer.
     
  17. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Accommodation wise in Furano there are plenty of options, but location is important. IMO there are 3 main areas to stay in:



    Red = Kitanomine side, nearer the gondola the better. Best place to stay as you can walk to the lifts, onsens and restaurants/bars in the area
    Green = Furano side, dominated by the Prince Hotel. Could be an option to stay in if you were after proper hotel accommodation - but restaurant options are limited to the hotel and it's in a quieter area
    Blue = Downtown Furano near the station. This is the town proper and has lots of authentic places to eat. I wouldn't stay here unless you had a hire car as the trip up to the gondola each morning is too far to walk. Definitely venture down into town for meals though, there is a shuttle bus service.

    Are you after western or Japanese bedding? and a private place all to yourselves, or happy to share communal facilities?
     
  18. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the tips. Bedding wise we are not fussed. Japanese bedding is always a fun experience.

    Happy to share communal facilities expescially if its a good onsen!
     
  19. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is good info. Thanks.
    I have Furano on my radar if ever we get to holiday again.
    I would most certainly have a car. Would the accommodation in the town itself be more reasonably priced than nearer the ski area? I assume so. What would be a reasonable average price per night for lodging for a family of four? Japanese or western style is fine.
     
  20. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I know I am stating the obvious but being flexible, like this, will open up lots more options.

    Repeatedly hear that people say futons on tatami mats will be fine but they then complain.
     
  21. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Simplistic, but it’s kinda one or the other...steep or deep. If you have both your risks of a slide are probably more than the recreational skier is keen to take. I do like a bit of both, but happy to get my steeps somewhere a bit less snowy.
     
  22. grantn

    grantn Addicted

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    Chalet Burlap Furanui has some cottages that sleep 5, and Villas that sleep up to 8. You get a communal area downstairs with a small kitchenette and sleeping upstairs, all brand new. 5 minutes walk to the gondola. Our family of three stayed in a cottage last year and we all thought it was great. https://burlapfuranui.com/cottage/
     
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  23. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep staying in town is significantly cheaper, and it's an easy as 5 min drive up the the Kit gondola. For accom check out Furano Natulux Hotel for something more up-market, has great reviews and our friends stayed there and loved it. Onsite onsen and restaurant with big family apartments for around $500 a night AUD.

    We had another friend stay at Hostel Tomar and it was cheap, clean and and quiet, quad bunk rooms were around $200 from memory.
     
  24. Kash

    Kash One of Us

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    Based on where you have been and what you are looking for, I'm surprised Hakuba hasnt made it to your list? You can stay near where the kids will be with western ski schools (I only met aus/kiwi euro instructors at Evergreen), ski in ski out is plentiful and there are plenty of steeps (not America/Euro steeps but good for Japan).

    The steeper Hakuba resorts I experienced included in my two weeks there included Happo, 47/Goryu and Tsugaki. I'm sure ive missed one. Some loved Cortina. I thought it was too busy, particularly on powder days.

    If you go back to Myoko area: Madarao and Suginohara are epic but needs a bus trip so tough to go after doing kids ski school drop off. Needs a generous partner ;)
     
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  25. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I agree that Hakuba would be a top pick for english speaking childcare/ski-school and steep skiing. Shuttle buses to get around can be painful though.
     
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  26. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks. So 'hostel' would not imply backpacker style accommodation? We're good with cheap and cheerful as long as it's clean and quiet. We would prefer to be within walking distance of authentic Japanese restaurants etc. The town sounds our style. (We liked Otaru and preferred Kutchan to Niseko).
     
  27. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I’m also looking at Furano for my next trip. I did a bit of research on the area when the dodgy snow in Honshu had me researching a plan B earlier this year.

    Have you considered Shiga Kogen? It’s big and it’s high and also has a ski school with English speaking instructors (although I have’t used it myself). There are some smaller lodge options around the Okushiga area. There isn’t a ‘town’ as such as it’s an old school Japanese resort.
     
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  28. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hakuba has the same issues as Mt Myoko wrt kids and going to some of the resorts.

    To be honest with both areas either get a car or stay at the right places. ;) I kinda got confused by the OP's comments about being shuttled by their accommodation but needing to catch the shuttle bus. :confused: Surely if your accommodation shuttles you to the local resorts you don't need to catch the shuttle bus.
     
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  29. Kash

    Kash One of Us

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    True, but I guess Happo One's terrain can keep people entertained for a week pretty easily if stuck there. Its also only a very short shuttle to Goryu/47.
     
  30. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    We like Hakuba 47. Well I do. Could watch my mogul skier competing without needing to put my ski boots on. Lol, The weird reasons we like one place over another.
     
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  31. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I wouldn't want to spend more than 2 days skiing Happo-One unless venturing into the BC. Probably my least favourite resort in the Hakuba valley
     
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  32. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think you, me and @Donzah agree on that one.
     
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  33. Kash

    Kash One of Us

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    I certainly wouldnt be rushing back to it, but when you cant drop kids off to ski school until 9.30, and need to collect by 3pm your options are limited...
     
  34. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you have a car it opens up the possibilities for sure.
     
  35. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Its a terrible annoying spot to ride
     
  36. wat17

    wat17 Hard Yards

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    Have stayed on tatami mats more than regular beds. Don't mind them at all. Might be a shock for some though.

    Agree with comments on Hakuba. While the English speaking ski school is a good option, a lot of smaller mountains isn't what we are looking for at this stage in our life.

    In regards to the bus/shuttle, we used both. As you know the childcare and ski school are straight across the road from where the public busses go. We also left our gear there as well some days. So it was a matter of who is going where and when and with who. The glories of group travel. Used a mix of both depending on the day.

    Have added to my list to research tonight.
     
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  37. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Look at staying basing yourselves in Ichinose village, biggest collection of places to eat out. Not a massive selection but enough for a week. The ski area is one of the largest in Japan and majority is all lift connected, yay for no shuttle buses! There are group ski lessons in English with a ski school based at Okushiga Kogen village
     
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  38. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    With a group of kids of similar levels it may even be cost effective to get a private lesson for your group of kids. Most of the ski schools in Shiga will have the instructor meet you wherever you like. We always get ours to meet us outside our accomodation or at the Quad outside Prince West. Too easy. +1 on Ichinose as a base. You will have to find a lodge, but most of them are pretty inexpensive. I can highly recommend Chalet Shiga. @Sandy has stayed at pretty much all of them though. He might have a better option for a larger group.
     
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  39. Sandy

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

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    If you're assuming that Hakuba is a lot of smaller mountains, then you'd be wrong. However, given your kids situation, you'd be better off with a car at Hakuba (just as you would with Myoko)
     
  40. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah I did think the same?
    I reckon most of the hills in Hakuba are above average for a skijo.

    I guess the other area not mentioned that may suit is Naeba.
     
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  41. Goski

    Goski One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    After years of bushwalking and snow camping with sleeping on thin thermarests in hiking tents on the groung a futon on tatami mats in a warm room is fine for me. When there are extra futons sleeping on two futons os even finer. Good luck with the near future trips with the kids @wat17. Mine are sixteen now so the next trip will be a lot easier, hopefully in Jan 2021. I do think the restrictions and difficulties you may have with the kids will be outweighed by the memories of the good days you will have being on holidays with them along.
     
  42. Sandy

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

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    Shiga Kogen is ideal if you have kids in lessons.
    I haven't stayed at Chalet Shiga, but I've stayed at 6 different places at Shiga Kogen.
    At other times a while ago, I've stayed at Prince Hotel West (Yakebitaiyama), Shiga Highlands Hotel (Maruike), and Shiga Palace hotel (Yokoteyama).

    Most recently, Diamond Shiga, Villa Ichinose, and Hotel Japan Shiga, all in the Ichinose area. (as is Chalet Shiga, a couple of doors from Diamond)
    Diamond is located at Ichinose Ski Jo, opposite the Ichinose Diamond lift, while Villa Ichinose is in central Ichinose, and two doors down is Hotel Japan Shiga. Best to stay around the Ichinose area.
    Any of those places would be ok for 4 people. Villa Ichinose is less stars than Diamond, Hotel Japan Shiga, and Chalet Shiga.

    Shiga Kogen is the largest linked resort complex in Japan. It's actually a series of connected small resorts.

    It also has elevation, so it doesn't often have problems with rain. (lowest 1350m, highest 2307m) (but no fall line vertical for that.
     
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  43. Sandy

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

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    Naeba & Kagura are linked, so you have about 40 lifts. (linked by a 20min, 5.5km gondola)
    Naeba itself is not huge, but very convenient if you have kids in lessons.
    It takes a while to work your way across to Kagura, and it means that if you need to hurry back for your kids and you're at the Mitsumata end of Kagura, it can take you an hour.
     
  44. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I found some condos that were well priced . Had the advantage of kitchen facilities.
    Thats what puts me off about Shiga.
    We prefer to eat at home on the snow portion of our trip away.
     
  45. Sandy

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

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    If Shiga wants to attract more foreigners, I think that will come. They've recently demolish some old hotels.
     
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  46. Kimski

    Kimski One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    That elevation is a big selling point. This season was pretty dire for snow (on Honshu anyway). Lots of grass at valley level at Hakuba and plenty of lower runs closed at the end of January. Pretty much everything was open at Shiga Kogen with just a few patchy bits. I even got some dumps while I was there. :)

    While it was an unusually bad at Hakuba it’s not unusual to get heavy rain at Hakuba and snow at Shiga. If only the terrain of Hakuba were on Hokkaido :D
     
  47. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    *Hakuba is more than Happo
    This is late Jan ... 24th I think. Lunchtime.
    People were grass skiing at happo down low...
    We weren't .
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  48. Sandy

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

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    Yes, it goes to show how location in the valley is so important. Norikura is 700m at the bottom (maybe 715m at that location), and Happo is 760m, and yet Norikura was covered.
     
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  49. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    A Japanese friend of mine looked into Shiga Kogen and bought in Yuzawa instead. The problem with Shiga Kogen is that it is leasehold land and there are only 9 pensions. At least that is what he told me. So great resort/s but issues with having anything but the big or existing hotels.
     
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