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Japan: General tips for when and where to go for snow

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Sandy, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Happo?
    I can't comment as I only visited Hakuba once & we stayed in a pension near the 7-11 & the big onsen which was central to most mountains & not far from a shuttle bus stop
     
  2. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    I am in the early stages of planning a return trip to Japan (Honshu) in late Dec 2018-Jan 2019 (again, the tedious restriction of school holidays). Whereas we previously visited Nozawa and Hakuba in 2016 during one of the less memorable Japanese/Honshu snow seasons, on this occasion we are considering Nozawa once again and then most likely Myoko (with Shiga Kogen as a wild card alternative to the latter). Given the fact that it will still be relatively early in the season (and January 2016 with its lack of snow is still fresh in our minds), I am seeking advice on the best time to go to each resort. I was thinking Nozawa first (say 2 - 9 January) so as to avoid the Fire Festival and associated crowds on 15 January, then Myoko Kogen during the second week and a bit of January. However, if Nozawa is likely to receive less snow than Myoko earlier in January, we may need to consider reversing this. I will be going with a friend who has a distinct preference for traditional Japanese accommodation and culture, hence the hesitation about Shiga Kogen. All up, there will be 8 of us (3 adults, 3 children, and 2 teenagers).
     
  3. chriscross

    chriscross One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hotel de Laile in Wadano area will be just fine, 2ESki. Short walk to gentle slopes of Sakka area, then quad lift will take you up to the park area ( inter) and Skyline area with a range of terrain to suit most. From the top of Sakka 2 it's an easy ski down to Shirakaba area with access to restaurants, the Central lift and gondola to the top of Panorama. You'll have a great time. Wish I was going!
     
  4. Sandy

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

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    Shiga Kogen is about as Japanese as a resort can get!!!! Would be pretty boring for 2 teenagers though..... ;)

    Jan 13,14,15th is a long weekend, so that may have some influence on things.
    Have you been to the Nozawa Fire Festival(15th) before? Well worth it for your friend if you haven't.

    If in the unlikely event that the season is late, I'd go for the higher base elevation first(to allow more time for the base to get deeper.)
    Most of the Myoko hills have elevations above 730m, while Nozawa is 565m. Both places can get big dumps of snow in a real hurry.
     
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  5. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Fire festival is fun!
     
  6. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I don't think you can draw comparisons for snow depth for Myoko vs Nozawa at that time of year.
    They both usually kick off at the same time (usually) That being somewhere around the 15th to 20th december. They get snow from pretty much the same type of system.
     
  7. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nozawa, for reasons I can't fathom, kicks off a couple of weeks earlier (late Nov - early Dec) than Myoko (mid-Dec).
     
  8. Sandy

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

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    Nozawa has a greater range of good wind directions than Myoko, but the bottom can be thinner early on, due to low elevation. The earlier winds are more westerly.

     
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  9. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Plus Nozowa isn't in the shadow of a big mountain like Myoko.
     
  10. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah but "where" in Nozawa?
    They have that Yamabiko area right up the top. That they open earlier
    Does Myoko have anywhere like that?
     
  11. 2ESki

    2ESki Addicted

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    Thanks "Chriscross" we got back 3 weeks ago :) , and it was easy getting around :thumbs:
     
  12. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nope. That said, we have had top to bottom earlier than Hakuba or Nozawa the last 2-3 seasons.
     
  13. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hmm, thanks everyone. @Sandy, I should clarify - we loved Nozawa with its older traditional feel and many options for eating out - we also were fortunate in witnessing the Fire Festival when we were last there. I remember it was also very crowded at this time, hence the thought that we’d visit Nozawa first and leave room at the inn for others on 15 January while we are at our next destination. From the little I’ve read about Shiga Kogen there seem to be a number of villages scattered throughout the area; if we went there we’d be keen to stay somewhere relatively traditional (a ryokan or small hotel, rather than say the Prince which sounds ... large) while still having a few options for meals. As for it being quiet - our teenage girls will cope just fine as long as they have access to wi-fi and phones ;). My friend’s children will also need English language ski lessons, as they haven’t actually skied since we were last in Japan 2 years ago when they were beginners. I understand that these are available in Shiga Kogen as well as Myoko and Nozawa. Anyway, we’re probably leaning more towards Myoko than Shiga, although if it were just me going the choice may be a little different ... (I’d be skiing Shiga and Hakuba :D).
     
  14. Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    We went to Myoko about 5 years back. Myoko Snowsports were amazing. They looked after us really well and they run english-language lessons (most of them were Australians and the others were fluent in English anyway). If it's still the same team as when we were there they come highly recommended.
     
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  15. Mils

    Mils One of Us

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    Looking to be in Japan Dec 21 till 2nd Jan.

    I am wondering where to go, I plan to go to Hakuba for a bit to use up some of that perisher epic pass savings but other than that its open to when and where ever.

    ideas?

    One thing my GF has asked for is a white Christmas as such so not Tokyo for the Christmas period if anyone knows of a great place for Christmas day we're open to ideas too!
     
  16. Sandy

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

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    Hokkaido is a better bet then. Go to Sapporo or Otaru for Christmas.
     
  17. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Dont get seduced by the epic pass. Skiing is cheap in Japan, go where the snow is not where you'll get a discount on your lift ticket. At that time of year the further north you go the better chance you have of good snow.
     
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  18. Mils

    Mils One of Us

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    what's the best way to get to Hokkaido from Tokyo? just fly?
     
  19. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Fly is the quickest and cheapest. If you have time you can take the Shinkansen (bullet train) but it takes a whole day.
     
  20. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    My only experience of Japan is Niseko - twice. Toying with the idea of Hakuba or Nozawa or back to Niseko again. Apparently Ive left it too late and Ive heard that accom at Nozawa is just about impossible - we are mid range budget people. At Niseko we stayed mid Hirafu. Have no idea whether Nozawa or Hakuba accom can be close to lifts or whether you have to wait ages for a shuttle. Would like to be able to walk to some restaurants/bars. Do NOT want to hire a car. Interested in your thoughts...
     
  21. Sandy

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

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    When?
     
  22. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Go to Naeba
     
  23. Mils

    Mils One of Us

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    Would it have snow around 24-28th December?
     
  24. Eros C

    Eros C Hard Yards

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    Visited Shiga Kogen followed by Nozawa in Jan this year. Yes Nozawa was a special looking town but skiing was so so and limited. Town is special but number of westerns like In Nesiko didn’t give me a feel I was in Japan. Very tourist driven. Shiga Kogen on the other hand did. Massive ski area and being around locals on lifts, runs made it special. Great skiing and advantage skiing from town to town.Jump on bus to monkeys and smaller towns nearby that you can explore and test your Japanese. Food was amazing in our hotel which served traditional sitting every dinner. Wins hands down over Nozawa and Nesiko for on piste skiing. No night life or many options to eat at night. Very quite and calm.
     
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  25. Sandy

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

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    Naeba is 900m-1789m, and Kagura is 620m-1845m (with the bottom 200m not usually ridden because the ropeway (aerial tram) is more just access from Mitsumata)
    Plus they are linked with a 5.5km gondola (if it's running at that time)
    they have a better chance of snow than most places closer to Yuzawa, as those are much lower (bottoms 300-400m, tops around 1000m)
    Kagura is often one of the first places to open in central Japan.

    (and read earlier in the thread for WHEN to go)
     
  26. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    Last two weeks Jan next year.
     
  27. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Historical they get snow earlier there than other places. worst case would be the plaz snow would not be completely covered.
     
  28. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    At Nozawa there is a range of accommodation. Because it is popular it may be a bit late to get what you want for the last 2 weeks of January but you never know till you look.
    At Hakuba there are about 9? differetn resorts. They are spread down a valley. There are shuttles that run between them. Some of the resorts have accommodation that is walking distance to the slopes. Some don't. Some may be close to restuarants. Some isn't. So there is a huge spectrum of options. To pick the best for you prioritise the things that are most important. Price v walking distance to ski slopes v walking distance to restaurants v closeness to shuttles etc.
     
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  29. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    I should have been clearer...
    Ive heard that if you are not near lifts or restaurants then you wont get anywhere without a car. Shuttles may go past full one after the other so cannot be relied on.
    With Niseko you can get a bus from Annapuri to Hirafu but it takes way too long. Can you ski across the resorts in Hakuba?
    I guess im after stuff that is within walking distance but dont know the areas in Nozawa or Hakuba to know what is near or not.
     
  30. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    No you can't ski between the Hakuba resorts but the shuttle buses are very good (as far as buses go). Nozawa you wont need a bus as it's just the 1 mountain.
     
  31. skichanger

    skichanger A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    At Hakuba, if you stay near where the shuttles start from you should get on them. I have a car so not an issue for me and there are others who say you must have a car for Hakuba. But there are plenty of people who go to Hakuba without a car and have a great time. It is about managing your expectations.

    Many of the resorts in Hakuba are not linked. They are actually on separate hills and quite some distance apart. It is not one mountain like Niseko.

    Have a look on google maps. Have alook on some of the Hakuba resort websites. I am sure there must be a tourist association website as well.
     
  32. Sandy

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

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    Timing wise both places will be ok then.
    This thread is more about which mountains to go to and when, not so much about accommodation. More usefult to ask in the Japan 2018-2019 thread where the info will be more specific to places to stay.
     
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  33. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks - will do.
     
  34. gaz35

    gaz35 One of Us

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    I've done Hakuba with a car and without. Definitely better with, but certainly doable without
     
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  35. Slowpony

    Slowpony Addicted

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    1st time hiring a van after coming in a few times & taking normal transport to Nagano area
    Will be driving from Narita to Yuzawa.
    Any advice best route & for getting to Hakkaisan & Tenjindaira from Yuzawa
    Thanks
     
  36. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think there is really only the one way ..
     
  37. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    They're in opposite directions but the Kan-etsu Expressway will be the quickest. Especially to Tenjindaira as it's a fair way from Yuzawa.
     
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  38. Sandy

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

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    They're both about the same distance from central Yuzawa.
    To Tenjindaira, take the Kan-etsu south back through the tunnel(11km long), and off just after the tunnel (iirc, it's the Minakami interchange). It's about 40km all up to Tenjin.
    Hakkaisan is north along the Kan-etsu, total about 35km. (Muikamachi interchange, iirc)
     
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  39. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you make it up there and you like sake Slowpony, there is a great brewery on the way to Hakkaisan. That area is renowned for the quality of it's rice and Hakkaisan brewery makes some excellent sakes. Bought a beauty there a couple of years ago. Need to get back there and pick up another one.
    https://www.urbansake.com/sake-guide/sake-breweries/hakkaisan-sake-brewery/
     
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  40. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Echigo Yuzawa station is an awesome place to taste/buy local sake
     
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  41. Slowpony

    Slowpony Addicted

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    Had a couple or three tastings there over the last few trips, it's certainly a unique wall of Sake
     
  42. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I've bought the best sake I've ever tasted from there... it was milky white & they were bottling it straight from the barrel.
    Of course, I tired a couple of times before I purchased... after the first try, I had to go back twice to make sure what I was tasting was the bees knees.. LOL
     
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  43. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We will by trying Shiga Kogan for the first time in Feb. Looking forward to it, thanks for the report.
     
  44. telemarx

    telemarx A Local

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    I'm planning a trip to Hakuba in the second half of February. I've been to Niseko a couple of times but this is my first time to ski Honshu resorts. I was tempted to just take the easy option & go back to Niseko but feel there is so many options I should get some variety. The snow has always been unbelievable on my other trips. I assume the end of Feb is pretty safe for reliable snow in Hakuba? I haven't sorted out exactly where we want to base ourselves yet but I'll go to the other thread as @Sandy suggested above.
     
  45. Sandy

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

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    Reliable base the last two weeks in Feb, but it's more reliable snowfall in the first two weeks.
    http://www.steepdeepjapan.com/
    If you look at the first graph, there's general upward trend in the first two weeks of Feb, but downward in the second half.
     
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  46. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don’t assume nothin when it comes to weather! But yeah end of jan/start of feb is the most reliable. I would go end of feb though, you would be pretty unlucky to get no fresh snow over 2 weeks (however it can happen, as it can anywhere).
     
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  47. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Perfect time to visit IMO! Quieter as the Australian school holidays are finished, and it's after Chinese New Year. You will also probably get some kinder weather too with a few more sunny days in amongst the powder days. Get excited!
     
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  48. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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  49. almontyrat

    almontyrat One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    So looking at a possible two week jaunt in early April (trying to mend a broken heart...…). Powder would be lovely but I know I am dreaming is Zao Onsen a reasonable bet for some decent groomers? I am an intermediate telemarker so don't need steeps or off piste to keep myself amused. Other suggestions welcome, prefer Honshu as I have already done two trips to Hokkaido and would like something a different.
     
  50. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Shiga Kogen.
     
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