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Latest ski & tourism news

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Ramenman, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Most of the 12% would have been in Hakuba using their Australian "Epic Pass". LOL
    It would be interesting to see how many Australian visitors used their "Epic Pass" this season to ski for free in Hakuba.
    And then compare next season after Australian resorts Hotham and Falls also are included in the Epic Pass. Hakuba may be crazy crazy busy with Australians next year?
     
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  2. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow One of Us

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    From what I saw this was a combination of long-time visitors visiting without their kids.

    And then new/younger Australian families introducing their children to Hokkaido skiing.
     
  3. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Nekoma set a gate to Alts Bandai last weekend. Since Australian skiers / snowboarders got lost and got rescued several years ago, Hoshino Resorts kept saying "Don't hike / ski between Nekoma and Alts". Many local actually were still skiing / snowboarding there, though. Now it's officially okay to hike / ski / snowboard there.
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Is this a yes for future lift access?
     
  5. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Brilliant.
    At least now they can close the gate when conditions are concerning, I think people are more likely to pay attention to a closed gate than they are a permanently closed area.
     
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  7. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    It's a good sign, but the situation is a bit complicated. Both Nekoma and Alts Bandai are relatively new ski resorts opened in the bubble economy era(around 1990) . Now Hoshino Resorts own both of them, but they used to be owned by two different local companies. They went bankrupt and Hoshino Resorts bought the ski resorts. Since then, both Alts Bandai and Nekoma have lost many lifts and Nekoma lost a very important lift this season, the Red line to a peak. Hoshino Resorts haven't invested much in Alts & Nekoma. If they install a lift, it should be the Red one. Red goes to Purple, but there isn't Alts Bandai there. Alts Bandai is in Yellow, and Pink is the gate to Alts that Hoshino Resorts set last week. Hoshino Resorts are installing two lifts at Nekoma in the very near future?. Hmm, really?. I really want it to happen. Hoshino Resorts own many other hotels and resorts all over Japan, and thanks to the recent inbound tourism boom, Hoshino Resorts have been doing very well in recent years, and they have enough cash now.



    This is the number of the resorts & hotels(green) and sales(blue) of Hoshino Resorts between 2001 and 2015. As you can see, they've been growing rapidly and 2016, 2017 and 2018 are even better. So I assume they have enough cash. The problem is, Nekoma is not for first-timers = most Asian tourists. I mean, most runs are nicely steep for intermediate and advances skiers / snowboarders and Nekoma has great sidecountry treeruns, but they are not for beginners. So even when Alts have many Asian tourists, Nekoma is nearly empty.
    [​IMG]


    This picture was taken during Chinese New Year this year. There were Asian tourists at Alts Bandai on the day, but not at Nekoma. Hoshino Resorts kept saying "We want to link Alts and Nekoma", and I want to believe them, but having visited Nekoma during Chinese New Year holidays, I worried Nekoma would get closed, rather than they would install two new lifts. I saw some very big group of Australian tours and people from Europe and North America, which is a very good sign, though.
    [​IMG]

    Even on this kind of powder days, if it's a weekday, Nekoma is like your private ski resort;)









     
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  8. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was surprised the red lift was shut and deleted from the trial map this season. Big disappointment for me as it accessed a lot of fun terrain and trees. I decided to take matters into my own hands and hike up from the right-most lift. But the lifty spotted me and told me I couldn't proceed. WTF? Really. Anyway, I didn't argue. But, Nekoma, for me this time, was not as fun or special. I thought they were running the place down a bit.
     
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  9. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    This is 1am today(April 11th). It's been snowing quite hard in Tohoku tonight. JMA have a weather station in a village in Yamagata Prefecture at 330m above sea level and the weather station has had + 17cm snowdepth over the last 4 hours. Snowing at 330m asl means, all ski resorts in Tohoku are cold enough to snow now. Nekoma, Tengendai, etc had +20cm snowdepth yesterday(10th) and they might have another 20cm this morning(11th). Tengendai had 370cm snowdepth yesterday(around the top lift station), and at this rate, they might have 400cm snowdepth this morning. 350cm - 400cm in the last week of February - the first week of March is normal for Tengendai, but over 350cm on April 11th is rare. 18 - 19 season is quite strange for the region. The best late March - April came after the worst mid winter(Jan and Feb).


    This pictures were filmed around 1370m above sea level at Tengendai Kogen the day before yesterday(on 9th). The top lift station is at 1820m asl and it was even better. After the pictures were taken, It snowed on 10th and it's snowing hard now(11th), so I assume it's even better this morning!.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Tengendai in December. Ski reason is long there, from late November to early May.




    Edit : Nekoma's official twitter says it's + 30cm over night! https://twitter.com/nekomapato
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #1259 Ramenman, Apr 11, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
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  10. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Gassan ski resort opened today. It's closed in winter due to too much snow and open between mid April and late June or early July. This video was filmed the day before yesterday(9th) before it officially got opened. It snowed a lot on 10th after it was filmed, so it must be fun there today.



    This is Gassan last April(2018 April)




    About Mount Gassan : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Gassan


    Edit : Gassan yesterday (April 11th)


    Gassan yesterday (April 11th)
     
    #1260 Ramenman, Apr 11, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  11. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Has the lift been removed altogether or just not operating?
     
  12. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not operating, but deleted from 2018-19 trail map. Big shame. Major reduction in fun.
     
  13. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    When I asked Nekoma about the lift last November(2018), they answered "We are preparing to renew the lift". But I think it's something they can do during green season. They could run the lift and can renew / replace it between mid May and October, when there isn't snow there. So, I guess it's just a cost reduction. Nekoma was open everyday last season, but Nekoma was closed on weekdays between mid January and March 5th this season. I assume it's another cost reduction because Nekoma is nearly empty even on super powder days if it's weekday.

    Having said that, it's not only cost reduction. I mean, Nekoma was open even on weekdays from mid Dec to mid Jan and from early March to May 6th. Why it's closed during mid season but open during early season and spring ski season?. It's because of labor shortage. Late Dec to mid January = winter vacation for students, and Nekoma can hire students. From March to the first week of April = spring vacation for students, so Nekoma can hire students. April and May = the road condition is better, so it gets easier to hire local retired people. Nekoma and Grandeco are on Urabandai Highalnd. Alts, Inawashiro, etc are on Lake Inawashiro side. Urabandai highalnd is about 850m above sea level, and Inawashiro is 500m+ asl. Aizu Wakamatsu is 200 - 300m asl. The base altitude of Nekoma and Grandeco is even higher, it's higher than 1000m asl. Local people working for Nekoma are living around Lake Inawashiro, Aizu Wakamatsu city, etc, and it's not very near Nekoma, plus, the base altitude of Nekoma is higher than 1000m asl, and the road condition can become very bad during mid season. In Japanese ski resorts, a lot of 70 years old or older people are working as seasonal workers, but they are not willing to drive on very snowy roads for an hour to earn just minimum wage as seasonal workers.

    Edit : I wrote Nekoma was closed weekdays, but "midweek = only Wednesday and Thursday" is correct. Nekoma was open on Monday, Tuesday and Friday(so we could enjoy weekday powder). I hope it'll be open everyday next season!
     
    #1263 Ramenman, Apr 15, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
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  14. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Japanese for, "Nah mate, that's gone for good."
     
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  15. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    This is a very recent Japanese tv program covering rapidly increasing number of foreigners to Hakuba(the video starts with Shiga Kogen, but most part of the tv program is about Hakuba) https://www.bilibili.com/video/av42302358/
     
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  16. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    This is the number of foreign tourists staying at major hotels / Ryokans in Tohoku between 2010 and 2018. H22 = Heisei 22nd year and it's 2010. H30 = 2018 = last year. Japan is Heisei 31st year now. Why the number dropped quite a lot in H23(2011)? It's because of the gigantic earthquake. The number was 526 in H27 = 2015 and 1214 in H30 = 2018, so more than double in 3 years. Not only that, I sensed a significant increase this year = 2019(still nowhere near crowded at all). Purple(506) is Taiwanese. As I mentioned some times in this thread, I sometimes see more Taiwanese than Japanese in Tohoku ski resorts on weekdays!. Pink = Australian. Australian was 12 in H27 = 2015 and 24 in H30 = 2018, so double in 3 years and I saw more Australian this season(2019)!. But still not enough to save ski resorts here in Tohoku!
    [​IMG]
     
    #1266 Ramenman, Apr 17, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
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  17. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    H30 is until end of December 2018?
    I expect H31 will be more Australians.
    We did our own thing in organising our own transport, accommodation etc., this season just gone. However I noticed (poking around on the internet to see what tour groups where doing dates wise so we could try to avoid them) that one tour group operator out of Australia had 4 fully booked 10 day tours in Tohoko between January and March 2019. Each group had maximum of 12 people (according to their website)...........so there's 48 Australians, plus us makes 50, + a few more from here...........maybe 60 or more in H31? :)
     
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  18. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for the explanation. It makes some kind of sense for Hoshino from this perspective. But as a skier, I was disappointed about the closed lift and no explanation (as well as the mid week closure). It certainly reduces the window for potential fun times at Nekoma for the time being.
     
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  19. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Unfortunately every business has to turn a profit....it's all about the numbers. Thus the drive from Ramenman in this forum to get more people into his area. Keep going Ramenman .... it will happen!!!! Japan is the new cool for young Australians.... just gotta get em out of Nagano with english speaking backpacker hosts. :)
    Still, looks like all the numbers are coming from emerging business from Asia, just have to get them more into skiing / snowboarding instead of sightseeing and shopping.
     
  20. Skipet

    Skipet First Runs

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    Well this is my first post after being a long time learner.
    I've only had 3 trips to Japan and 2 of those were through the Tohoku region. Both were simply fantastic experiences all done by train and usually about 3-4 days at each ski field.
    First trip was to Hakuba, Myoko, Nozawa areas.
    Second trip and first Tohoku visit was to Rusutsu then on to Hakkoda, Aomori Spring, Appi & Geto.
    Third trip and second Tohoku visit was to Geto, Tazawako and Ani.
    And there are plenty more resorts in Tohoku to try!

    We have been very fortunate to have fresh snow at each place... sometimes lots. The good & bad thing has been that on weekdays these places can have very few skiers so it feels somewhat empty. Tohoku only seems hard to get to, but in fact it can be easier than you think. However, the rewards are high for your effort. Tohoku has heaps of resorts, heaps of snow and heaps of room for more visitors. In fact Tohoku needs more visitors who ski or board. If ski resorts are to remain viable and to avoid this dreaded lift closure creep then we need to go. I know people say don't tell them about your secrets 'cause they won't remain secrets and they won't remain empty... but this won't help at all.
    I have found the info on this forum very valuable and I thank members for their insights and Ramenman for her dedication to the Tohoku cause because it inspires us. We are happy to spend our money there and enjoy Tohoku's treasures. Amongst our group there is a lot of ski trip experience in Japan and elsewhere, and even in planning for our next trip we again find ourselves being drawn back to Tohoku.
     
  21. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Yep, H30 is until end of December 2018. Speaking of 2019, some Fukushima's local media were reporting last month that the number of foreign tourists staying at major hotels in Fukushima in January 2019 grew by 130% compared to January 2018. 130% growth in a year is crazy. 130% growth means 100 becomes 230, more than double in a year!.

    By the way, 12 in the graph above is 12 "thousands"(the unit is thousand) and it's the number of the people who stayed at major hotels / ryokans in Tohoku, so it's not the actual number of foreigners coming to Tohoku, but it helps us to know how rapidly the number of foreigners to Tohoku is growing recently. But we need a lot more. I mean, supposing a chair lift consists of 100 seats, 90 of them are unoccupied weekdays even now(2019). It's not sustainable at all. If last season was 100 Japanese + 4 foreigner = 104 in total, this season was like 100 Japanese + 8 foreigners = 108 in total. And I heard it was like 400 Japanese + 0 foreigner = 400 in the bubble economy era(30 years ago). 400 is too much and I don't want it to happen(and I'm veeeery sure it will never happen), but I think at least 150 ( = 50% growth from 2019) is needed for ski resorts in Tohoku to be sustainable. The number of Japanese skiers won't increase, so 100 Japanese + 50 foreigners = 150 needs to happen. Now, foreigner is 8. From 8 to 50 means more than 6 times:rolleyes:(but believe me, even if the number of foreigners grow by 500% = 6 times, it's still not crowded at all with 70% - 80% lifts unoccupied weekdays).
     
  22. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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  23. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    One thing I wish JR East would do is increase the time that a 5 and or 6 day pass can be used. Currently the 5 or 6 days train travel must be used within 14 days. If Japan wants foreign tourists to stay longer and spend more money on accommodation / restaurants / lift tickets at ski resorts, hire cars, etc., (in the regions outside the cities), it would be better to have the 5 or 6 day JR passes valid for 1 month.
     
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  24. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yes, even 3 weeks would be great. My trips for the last couple of years have been 16 days... from Saturday to Sunday, so the 14 day pass is just a little bit too short to get the last day in Tokyo included.
     
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  25. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  26. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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  27. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Or Brisvegas, but I suppose if it gets popular they will add flights.
     
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  28. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Now it's official. They held a press conference on it.
    [​IMG]
     
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  29. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Yep, we would have stayed extra days in Tohoku but the pass dictated that we departed Kitakami on the 14th day of the pass to get back to Tokyo. So we spent the last couple of days spending money in Tokyo instead of a regional area. Silly really, as the pass holder only occupies a seat on the 5 days you can travel on the train weather its in a 14 day period or a 1 month period. So why restrict the validity period...makes no sense (only in Japan thread)?
     
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  30. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes that is a bit disappointing especially as it used to be 5 days in a month 10 years ago. Now you have to make the trip back to Tokyo on the 14th day.
     
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  31. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Local media are reporting that more overnight buses will start running between Tokyo Disney Resort and major cities in Tohoku, targeting foreign tourists. I think it's very good for the people who want to visit both Tokyo Disney Resort and ski resorts in Tohoku economically. I'm looking at the booking website now, and the cheapest ticket between Tokyo Disney Resort and Morioka station(Iwate Pref) is 2900 Yen. Appi has a shuttle bus service between Appi and Morioka station and it's 1100 Yen, so Tokyo Disney Resort to Appi can be only 4000 Yen. Not only that, it's overnight bus, so you can omit the expense of accommodation of the night;). 2900 Yen is a midweek price. Friday night is the most expensive, 6000 Yen or 7000 Yen, still very reasonable, though:).

    Morioka(Iwate Prefecture) is just one of many cases and there are many other overnight buses between Tokyo Disney Resort and major cities in Tohoku.
     
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  32. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    I was thinking about this option for travel from Tokyo to Morioka and then after a weeks skiing the resorts around Morioka, collect/start the JR East Tohoku rail Pass from Morioka. That way I can stay longer than 14 days in Tohoku and maybe even fit in a few days in Yuzawa on the way back. I looked up bus options from Tokyo (departing Ikebukuro 11.40pm - arriving Morioka 6.35am) = 6500 Yen with Night Bus Dream Morioka Liner. If I could find a bus ticket for 2900 Yen it would great!!! Where did you see the 2900 Yen ticket @Ramenman? Is it just for travel to / from Disney?
     
  33. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    I use a Japanese website バス比較ナビ(Bus Comparison Navigation) and Tokyo(the new Shinjuku highway bus terminal) to Morioka station is 2370 Yen, the cheapest midweek one. It leaves Shinjuku at 10:50pm and arrives in Morioka at 6am. Appi's shuttle bus leaves Morioka Station at 7:40am(the earliest one), so drinking at an Izakaya in Shinjuku till 10:30pm, leaving Shinjuku at 10:50pm and sleeping in the bus till it arrives in Morioka at 6am, then having breakfast(I think some restaurants are open around Morioka station in early morning too) till Appi's shuttle bus comes;)

    This is the one : https://www.bushikaku.net/bus/232604/next_month29/

    There is overnight highway bus between Tokyo and Kitakami station(the cheapest one is 2900 Yen) and Geto Kogen has free shuttle bus between Kitakami station and Geto Kogen. So Tokyo to Geto Kogen ski resort can be less than 3000 Yen!.

    I'm "working" now, so I can't google now to find useful websites written in English. If you want, I'll try to find them later.
     
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  34. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Yes, it would be great if you know of english websites that offer the fares you have shown from Japanese sites.
    I'm sure it would be useful for not only me. (until JR East makes their rail pass valid for 1 month).
    I have used this highway bus site in the past from Shinjuku to Nagano and Hakuba = https://highway-buses.jp/
    Nothing I can see on that site to Morioka or Kitakami?
    Searching other sites that I have found https://japanbusonline.com/en/CourseSearch/10300010001
    or
    http://shinjuku-busterminal.co.jp/en/search/list/?area=tohoku
    Edit: These don't seem to provide all the bus company options available by the looks of it, as the best price is 6500Yen?
     
    #1284 Zimbooo, Apr 24, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  35. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    It seems those English highway bus booking websites don't have bus lines of minor low cost highway bus companies. It's because they are less reliable?. Anyway, you fly all the way to Japan from Australia, so 6000 Yen is also cheap, so choosing bus companies through the English booking websites might be better to avoid troubles.

    If you book through English booking websites, this one is the cheapest, 3,800 Yen(from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station)
    https://japanbusonline.com/en/CourseSearch/10300070001

    Willer = one of major highway bus companies have a lot of very cheap overnight bus lines. Willer has an English website as well. I think the cheapest way between Tokyo and Appi is, Willer's overnight bus between Tokyo and Sendai station + Appi's official free shuttle bus service between Appi and Sendai station. Sendai is actually far from Appi, but Sendai is the biggest city of Tohoku region, so a lot of major ski resorts have shuttle bus services from / to Sendai station. If you stay at the Appi's ski in ski out hotel, the shuttle bus between Sendai and Appi is for free. Willer's overnight bus from Tokyo to Sendai is 2400 Yen, so it's only 2400 Yen from Tokyo to Appi (if you stay at the Appi's hotel).

    This is the one : http://willerexpress.com/en/?mid=1270&mkwid=sLoVUrAVQ&pcrid=308885269666&pmt=e&pkw=willer bus&gclid=Cj0KCQjwkoDmBRCcARIsAG3xzl-KNab04wtWYB0rv09ybrG_QvxATRdfMG7HF9HynyEh_GIwL2hdQyYaAqb-EALw_wcB

    It leaves Shinjuku at 00:35am(midnight) and arrives in Sendai at 7:20am. I don't recommend it much, though because you might get tired after a long bus travel from Tokyo to Sendai and Sendai to Appi.

    By the way, all highway bus lines are the most expensive this week and next week because it's Japanese longest national holidays (it's 10 consecutive holidays called "Golden Week"), so if the bus line looks more expensive, it might be because you are looking at the prices of the most expensive period of the year.
     
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  36. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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  37. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Property Perfect, the Thai company that own Kiroro have released "MASTER PLAN FOR KIRORO RESORT DEVELOPMENT". I wrote about Yu Kiroro(= Green = the new luxury ski-in ski-out condo hotel opening in 2019 -2020 season) and the new Chondola (= Red opening in 2019 - 2020) in this thread several times, but it's only 10% - 20% of investment that Property Perfect are planning?. Black area is the current ski slopes with lifts. So not only Red, but also Blue and Purple are new lifts / gondolas. Pinks are new condo hotels, shops, restaurants, and villas?


    Red will start running next season but it's only between the new luxury condo hotel "Yu Kiroro" and the bottom lift. Blue and Purple will make new ski slopes. Blue can go up to 800 or 900m asl from 500m asl( = a new 300 - 400m vertical drop area?). Purple can go up to 1000m asl from 520m asl ( = a new 480m vertical drop area?). Now Property Perfect say they will invest 1 billion USD or more in Kiroro!
     
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  38. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    I've got even a lot better images of "New / Future Kiroro"
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #1288 Ramenman, Apr 25, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  39. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow One of Us

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    Don't hold your breath re Kiroro

    Plans and action are two different animals.

    My guess is they've made an 'announcement' because sales of Yu Kiroro have been poor.
     
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  40. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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  41. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    All sounds/looks a bit 'bubble' to me.
     
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  42. Dumphfish

    Dumphfish Hard Yards

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  43. azzski

    azzski Should know better Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Depending on when they got this data, given the amounts are in USD, that could be about right.
     
  44. shabu_shabu

    shabu_shabu One of Us

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    There is an article on an internet news site (GOAT, never heard of it, don’t know how much traffic it gets) on ski holidays on a 3 point cost scale with Japan the mid point. Anyway this is an excerpt re suggested resorts:

    “There’s no shortage of fantastic slopes, with places like Furano, Hakuba, and Zao Onsen offering some of the best skiing ...”
    No mention of Niseko and I think Ramenman would be pleased with the reference to Zao Onsen.
     
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  45. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    All year or winter population?
     
  46. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Sorry, I deleted the original post. I think about half is winter population, considering about half of them are living in Japan with Working Holiday Visa or similar short-term Visas(according to Hokkaido Shimbun = Hokkaido's local news paper)
     
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  47. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Oldest Japanese jail to reopen as luxury hotel in 2021
    http://www.theweekendleader.com/Hea...e-jail-to-reopen-as-luxury-hotel-in-2021.html





    UNWIND HOTEL & BAR opens in Otaru
    https://japantoday.com/category/features/travel/UNWIND-HOTEL-BAR-opens-in-Otaru
     
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  48. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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  49. Melskius

    Melskius Addicted

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    Saw this amazing deal for Aizu. But sucks that those of us up north can't access it. Brisbane gets no good snow love. Not even a decent snow travel expo.
     
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