Opinion Newby to japan in 2019. Where would you recommend to go?

Discussion in 'Japan' started by LilaGris, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Hi All
    There have probably been a million threads like this one but since I looked at the forums and saw 119 different threads, I thought I would take advantage of you good natured people and ask anyway.
    In january 2019, I will be hopefully heading from the UK on my first on my first skiing experience to Japan.
    You all seem like very savvy people, so I would like to ask you all which is your favourite place to go Skiing in Japan, why you like to ski there and when you would recommend going,
    if you please

    Thanks in advance :)

    Er..I have just seen, this may be in the wrong place (i.e. ski travel) and I have noooo clue how to move it. I just saw snow tak and thought hey hey!
    My Apologies
     
  2. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    5,549
    Likes Received:
    2,210
    We need more info about you and what you want out of your Japan ski trip.

    Where have you skied before and what type of skier are you?
    Will you be doing site seeing as well, or just a ski trip?
    How long are you going for?

    I've got different resorts in Japan that I prefer for different reasons. That's the thing that keeps me coming back each year; there are just so many resorts!
     
  3. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Hi Froff life, thanks for the reply. I am the type of skier that will give things a go no matter what my ability. As for my ability, I would say I am more to an advanced skier, not an intermediate but not an expert skier either.

    Places skied would be Austria, Solden, Obergurgl, Hopgurgl, Sweden (several resorts) and Fernie in Canada (which was great by the way)
    We would be going for 14 days. No site seeing planned for this trip except maybe a day in Tokyo, unless we go somewhere like Myoko Kogen. Maybe next time. We were thinking about Niseko for around 10 days then Rusutsu the last four.

    The main aim for going to Japan is to experience the famed powder. Might spoil it for any other ski trip after that if the powder skiing is as good as people say.

    Does that help?:)
     
  4. bengarden

    bengarden Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    196
    For famed Japow, your best bet is Hokkaido. Bit further North, and snow is usually a bit lighter and drier. Not that Honshu doesn't have powder or anything.......but Hokkaido is ground zero for the stuff. You would not be disappointed with Niseko as an introduction to Japan skiing. I mean its not traditional Japanese and highly westernised but for a starting point its great. Rusutsu also has superb tree skiing. Might be a good idea to do a day or two Cat skiing to get away from the hordes in Niseko though and have fresh lines to yourselves.....Also hit up Kiroro for a day trip while in Niseko.
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  5. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2000
    Messages:
    13,251
    Likes Received:
    373
    I always suggest nozawa as the best place to experience Japan for the first time
    Combine with madaro for variety
    I know a great place to stay there btw
    Pm me if required
     
    LilaGris and Froff Life like this.
  6. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    5,549
    Likes Received:
    2,210
    14 days is too long to spend at any Japanese resort IMO as even the bigger ones would only be interesting for a week or so. Niseko does get a lot of snow, but it has definitely lost a lot of its Japanese charm, I wouldn't revisit.
    A good combo for 2 weeks is to use the Nagano area as a base and do a week and two of the larger resorts there:

    * Nozawa: Beautiful traditional onsen village, decent sized mountain
    * Myoko Kogen: Made up of 4-5 resorts, they get A LOT of snow, staying in Akakura Onsen is a nice village
    *Hakuba: Staying in Happo-One
    *Shiga Kogen: Huge resort by Japanese standards, come here to ski not for the night-life though
    *Madaro: Not as big as the others but still an option

    Or you could hit up the north Island of Hokkaido and do a week at Niseko and a week at Furano. It would be interesting to see how you compare the two.

    Amazing resource for your research: powerhounds.com
     
    JA2340 and nfip like this.
  7. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Thanks for all the replies.
    I have been researching Powderhounds a lot. Until my my eyes fell out of my head. I have also been emailing greg from Powderhounds who has offered some suggestions.
    Myoko Kogen is on my radar too. Is it a long drive to the different resorts if you have Nagano area as a base? Where would you suggest to stay there?
    The thing that put is making me hold off on Shiga Kogen is the lack of off piste (apart from Okushiga Kogen). Now I am not an off piste expert but I after experiencing it in Canada this year I want more! :nerd:
    I am toying with the idea with a week in Niseko and a week in Furano. My partner is Swedish and whilst reading the swedish forums, she commented that Furano is fast becoming a Mecca for Swedish skiers. Thats always a good recommendation if the swedes like it :D My only concern would be the transfer from Niseko to Furano and then the transfer to the airport from Furano at the end of the trip. Any advice on that or should we hire a car?
     
  8. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    I will thanks
     
  9. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    26,931
    Likes Received:
    7,277
    one of my kinfolks has just come back from 3 weeks at Nozawa
    I was surprised - I thought he was doing Hakuba too
    it does seem a long time to stay at one place
     
  10. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    Messages:
    1,147
    Likes Received:
    1,161
    There's a lot of positives in staying in one spot for a extended period...............make life long friends.
     
    munja, billykate and Chaeron like this.
  11. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    61,485
    Likes Received:
    8,215
    Where did you get this idea from?
    The place is so deserted mid week, that you often have power on the regular runs. If there was not powder to ski there, I wouldn't bother going there.
     
  12. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Powderhounds :D They mentioned that off piste is frowned upon at Shiga Kogen. Is this not the case? I am interested to go somewhere else than Niseko due to the apparent crowds there and obviously more expense.
    Ofc Sandy with you being a Dark Sith Lord I appreciate your input :)
    So Later January (around the 20th) would be a good time to go there and experience this then?
     
  13. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    61,485
    Likes Received:
    8,215
    IMO, the period you stay in a particular resort area is dependent mostly on the size of the single area, or the number of resorts in that area.
    IMO, the optimum time for a first timer for various places, just from the skiing point of view is:
    - Shiga Kogen is big: 4-7 days
    - Hakuba. 5 main resorts (7 main resorts, including two twin linked resorts). Minimum 6 days, optimum 9 days.
    - Myoko: 4 main resorts. Minimum 5 days, optimum 7 days. (with car, optimum 8-9 days, to visit other places nearby)
    - Nozawa Onsen: Minimum 4 days, optimum 6 days
    - Madarao/Tangram: Minimum 2 days, optimum 4 days
     
  14. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    61,485
    Likes Received:
    8,215
    This mean ducking the ropes. But you can find plenty of powder, if it snows, due to the lack of people mid week.

    If you do a scale of skier/boarder numbers mid week, it looks like this, IMO (1-10, 1=nobody, 10=long wait on crowded lift lines, or very congested on the runs, not including school groups):
    - Shiga Kogen: 3
    - Hakuba. 5
    - Myoko: 5
    - Nozawa Onsen: 6
    - Madarao/Tangram: 5
    To ski powder, go where the crowds are not!!

    Key point: The Aussie schools go back at the end of January, so some of the midweek crowds start to thin about 25th JAn.
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  15. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    So a good 10 days before Chinese new year. 20th is looking a good bet then for a 2 week stay.
     
  16. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    So travel between the different resorts? Coming from the UK it seems a long way to go just for 7-10 days.
     
  17. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    61,485
    Likes Received:
    8,215
    No you don't need to. You can choose any time you like. But all I'm indicating is the comparative periods you can consider minimum, optimal or too much. For example, I wouldn't spend 18 days at Hakuba, or 7 days only at Madarao/Tangram.
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  18. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Ah got you thanks. I will take this very good advice and then book accordingly :)
     
  19. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    What is the best time to go then for better skiing good snow etc?
     
  20. Sandy

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

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 1998
    Messages:
    61,485
    Likes Received:
    8,215
    LilaGris likes this.
  21. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22,485
    Likes Received:
    9,763
    I did that drive this past season.

    Hire a car.
    The roads are good (mostly) and a car gives you outstanding freedom. I assume you have experience driving on snowy roads...

    You need a pile of yen in small notes and coins to deal with the toll gates but it’s pretty straight forward.

    The GPS in our car was next to useless but we had data so just used maps to navigate and it was simple.
     
  22. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    I do have experience on snowy roads. I drive in Sweden most Januarys and the roads can either be snowy, snowy with inches thick of ice on them or just plain ice. I find ice easier to drive on, seems less slippy than snowy roads but swedish rental firms give you 'dubs' on the tyres if you request them also. I assume a four wheel drive would be the right type of car to get, although apparently 2WD is better on snowy roads except for hills. Did you hire the car from Niseko or did you hire it from Sappora airport?
     
  23. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22,485
    Likes Received:
    9,763
    Snow tyres and AWD/4WD is the best option. 2WD is ok though. All cars in Hokkaido come with snow tyres.

    We hired from Niseko (actually in Hirafu itself), but you can collect in Sapporo if you like.

    My preference after a long series of flights is to get a transfer to my apartment rather than drive. I may change my opinion about that after numerous airport to Hirafu runs and regularly driving in horrendous conditions this past season, however. Pretty sure I could do it without GPS or a map now.

    Might be worth investigating if you can get a car in Hirafu and drop it in Furano. That would allow you to fly into Chitose and out of Asahikawa.
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  24. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    How long is the drive from Hirafu to Furano? I checked car hire in Niseko a week or so ago.
    Did you drive back to Niseko with the car from Furano btw?
     
  25. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22,485
    Likes Received:
    9,763
    Depends on stops, weather and traffic.
    4-5hrs...

    Yes we drove both ways as we were in Hirafu all season and just in Furano for a week.
     
  26. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Right so we would need to find a car hire company that is local to both places then like Nissan etc.
    Can you get a train from Niseko to Furano?
     
  27. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22,485
    Likes Received:
    9,763
    Train is possible - few changes are required. And bus is possible (back to Chitose in between).

    I’d suggest Toyota.
    I believe they have an office in Furano, and a brand new one in town in Hirafu.
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  28. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    23,775
    Likes Received:
    5,752
    Yes, pretty easy but need a few transfers. Best schedule a day for it. Check on Hyperida
    eg.


    Can also do it by bus via Sapporo or Chitose.
     
  29. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    wow that seems a lot of hassle especially for a first time. Car it is then :D
     
  30. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49

    Boo!
     
  31. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    5,549
    Likes Received:
    2,210
    Car is king in Hokkaido.
    Have you decided on there over Nagano?
     
  32. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    11,976
  33. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    No Not yet. Trying to pull all the details together and then chose the better option, cost, experience etc. I have some more reading to do on this forum too on Nozawa
     
  34. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    I see they ask you to chose between JR Eki, Honda, Nippon, Nissan and Orix?
    What is the benefit to using these guys? Is it a one stop rental place?
     
  35. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    11,976
    If I was going to Japan for "experience culture " I'd go to Honshu.
    If I was keen on being immersed in a cold snowy experience. I'd go to Hokkaido.
     
    JA2340, skichanger and LilaGris like this.
  36. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    11,976
    Yeah it's like a booking engine for Hokkaido. Has good rates. Discounts on the majors.
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  37. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Ok thanks for that :)
    And thanks again to everyone. I love these forums!
     
    Froff Life likes this.
  38. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Just to make it easier LOL
    My original reason for going was to experience the famous powder. I guess that makes the snowy experience the first reason. But the more I read these forums and other resources, the more I see the experience is part of the journey.
     
    Kimski, JA2340 and Hyst like this.
  39. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    5,689
    Likes Received:
    8,464
    Lots of fun planning out these trips too.
     
    Froff Life and LilaGris like this.
  40. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Yeah, not something you do in 5 minutes. The more you do it the easier it becomes :)
     
  41. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Would you complete the request a quote using each dealer, or just do it once and it will show you all options (even though it asks you to chose the car company)
     
  42. SkiBeach

    SkiBeach Hard Yards

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    31
    You can get a Resortliner bus from Niseko to Chitose domestic terminal, change buses, then onto Furano, about 6'ish hours depending on the Chitose change. Easier on the bus than the train if you have a bit of luggage/skis.
    Toyota has a rent a car office open in winter near the Furano train station and it's not a prob to drop off elsewhere but obviously with a surcharge.
     
  43. LilaGris

    LilaGris Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    49
    Yeah I looked into these. it could be tight to get the Liner when our flight gets in. otherwise a 2 hour wait for the next one. I will check Toyota again as it originally said no drop off elsewhere when I looked.
     
  44. travelislife

    travelislife One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,931
    Likes Received:
    725
    100% this. Have done multiple times booked through these guys. Very helpful on the email too.
     
  45. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    May 7, 2010
    Messages:
    6,751
    Likes Received:
    3,364
    Car is fun even on the longer drives. You can stop en route at some of the smaller local resorts for a ski, some even have single run passes.

    This year we based in Myoko with a car, so did the myoko resorts, Madarao/Tangaram and then. A day in shiga Kogan (about an hour drive). It would also be doable to get to Nozawa for the day
     
    LilaGris likes this.
  46. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    11,976
    I've never understood the push back I get from people when I suggest a car for Japan. I know it's daunting ..but I've found Japan to be the easiest country to drive in.
     
    Budgiesmuggler, LMB and travelislife like this.
  47. travelislife

    travelislife One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,931
    Likes Received:
    725
    Shouldn't be daunting, it's even on the 'right' side of the road which is better than going somewhere like the States where a lot of people seem happy to hire cars.
     
    LMB likes this.
  48. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    11,976
    Well Canada and the states kinda sucked to drive TBH. Hectic freeways in snow.. Big Arse trucks hauling...
    Japan is mellow. Nothing happens in a hurry. Just potter along.
    Even driving in Tokyo was surprisingly easy.
     
  49. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    5,660
    Likes Received:
    2,172
    I think it is one of those things you have to experience to believe, like many things in Japan. But if you stick to the main roads, have snow tyres, 4wd and drive at a sensible speed :thumbs:

    I do wonder if the amount of snow we get is one of the things that put people off. I have had a few occasions where visability was .... not much. Only 5 times where I was driving by looking out the window at the side of the road. But 3 of those were due to fog.
     
    Donzah likes this.
  50. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    11,976
    Pretty much.
    Oh and learn how to use your hazard lights.
     
    LMB likes this.