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Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, etc

Discussion in 'Japan' started by skiflat, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    nice one foxpuppet....you're getting me all excited.

    Not long now my precious....5 days to go!!!!
     
  2. pandk

    pandk Hard Yards

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Keept the photos coming people!!

    Have a good one Tonester, we're 30 last count! Just received our tix yesterday!!!
     
  3. foxpuppet

    foxpuppet One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    i was there today and it was epic...will edit post later with details but we nearly drowned...over a 1 metre to 1.5m deep easily in a lot of places!
     
    #353 foxpuppet, Feb 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  4. foxpuppet

    foxpuppet One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    well after first chair at rusutsu yesterday, a finnish couple in our lodge got me fired up and we walked from FSL to the gondola this morning....(any moosh members notice some grinnning boarders at the head of the line?) and we were in the very 1st car off the rank. epic turns till 1130. mihirashi, hano3 gully, pizza chairs etc. deep deep deep. sorry to those on swinging monkey who copped faceshots from my turns...haha not really...why does this trip have to be over. post pics later. cheers japan you have done it again.
     
  5. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    nice one fox...where is FSL??
     
  6. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Got Rusutsu awsome the last few days, but today i have been stuck all day in Chitose with cancelled flights and im going to miss my conecting flight on Brissy tonight.
    Happy Happy Joy Joy.
     
  7. pandk

    pandk Hard Yards

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    foxpuppet....you suck!!! (Kidding!!!) Sounds absolutely THE BEST!!! Can't wait to check the photos! Good one!!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    #357 pandk, Feb 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  8. gsuttor

    gsuttor Hard Yards

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Report: Went to Niseko, it was good fun.

    I'm not into reporting, and I suck at it so here is a small trip video... Jan25- Feb01, 2008.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uABlcyFRbME
     
    #358 gsuttor, Feb 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  9. Rush

    Rush Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Well, you may suck at reporting but you make a sweet ski video.. cheers! [​IMG]
     
    #359 Rush, Feb 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  10. foxpuppet

    foxpuppet One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    about a block lower than bus stop number 5
     
  11. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Im still in tokyo, missed the flight home and trying to book another today, got to heneda last night and the limosene had stoped got the mono and trian, but the train stoped we ended up in some random place and got told to move on by the mafia, so we got taxis to our hotel at narita that cost 21000yen.
    not a fun night
     
  12. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Looks like no flights today, possibly tomorrow, just read in the paper that 2 JAL planes nearly colliaded on the runway at Chitose yesterday while we were there, no hard to to as the vis was about 200m.
     
  13. Sarge

    Sarge First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    I flew into chitose yesterday and I think we were pretty lucky to land. The snow here in Niseko is DEEP. I shat my pants in the trees this morning. Was not sure whether I was going to drown in POW. It looks easy in all the videos, but it is hard at times.
     
  14. Charles

    Charles Addicted Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Yes, yesterday was mad.
     
  15. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    I managed to score a seat yesterday to brissy via cairns, stoked to be home.
     
  16. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Here are a few pics from my fun day at Chitose on Saturday.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    #366 Bato, Feb 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  17. kasto

    kasto First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Bato, that sucks enough that you were going home, but to get stuck at the airport because its dumping outsdie would kill me! Lucky for you that you got a flight home last night. Looking forward to the rest of your pics [​IMG]
     
    #367 kasto, Feb 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  18. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Yea i have a couple of pics ill try to get up soon. But im also waiting for a few to get sent to me but they are from people still stuck in japan untill tonight.
     
  19. Podlet

    Podlet Part of the Furniture

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Hey Bato, Did they let you sleep in the terminal, or were you kicked out [​IMG] (reference to the jetstar passengers forced to sleep on the street when the terminal closed)
     
    #369 Podlet, Feb 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  20. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    We didnt need to, as we left Chitose by 9pm, i think we could have slept at Heneda, but we had a hotel booked and one of the guys thought he could get us pretty close by the train, but we were a little to late so we finished the trip with taxis.
     
  21. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Just a couple of pics from my trip.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    #371 Bato, Feb 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  22. kieranskis

    kieranskis First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    got home from niseko yesterday and ony have good things to say about the trip. we spent two weeks skiing, and scored some epic powder days.
    we stayed at the blue bell, which was great, except for the bean bag pillows, but you got used to it after a couple of nights.
    yes there were heaps of aussies, but if you tried you could experiance a bit of the japanese culture.
    we noticed the difference in the politness of the people as soon as we steped aboard the qantas flight home from toyko
    the food was fantastic, hosts were great, even if they spoke minimal english. i think that meant we tried harder to work on our japanese so in the long run was a plus. onsens, at first were wierd, but after a couple of visits we were looking forward to it after a big day skiing.
    also if your thinking of going snowmobiling, DO IT!
    we went with NSA and had a fantastic time, highly reccomeded.
    we are going back to japan for sure, but not for two weeks in niseko again. a week in niseko and a week somewhere else, possibly shiga kogen or rusutsu.
    i will post a few pics if i can work out how to do it.
     
  23. foxpuppet

    foxpuppet One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    ok well i managed to get out on the slopes on saturday and finish off an incredible stay over there with a great morning with to incredible finnish boarders staying in our lodge. best riding of my life hands down. then just got the bus in time to get to sapporo, stayed sat nite flew out sunday nite from narita...got food poisoning and spent about 7 hours of the flight sleeping/vomiting in the back of a 747. (sorry if you had to wait on the toilet...i wasnt going anywhere though) awesome trip fantastic mind blowing snow, met great people and had a ball. back next year? HELL YEAH
     
  24. Charles

    Charles Addicted Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    [​IMG]
    Mt Yotei on the 19th of February.

    [​IMG]
    Intersection on the 15th of February.

    [​IMG]
    Sasayaki Ave some time around the 16th or 17th of February.

    REPORT
    Arriving in Tokyo on the Wednesday morning the temperature hit home as soon as I headed out to catch the transfer bus to Haneda. The transfer was painless after the check in and soon I was on my way to Chitose airport. After the landing I was greeted by a staff member of Ski Japan who arranged the transfer to Niseko. The weather had made a turn for the worse and as soon as we came close to the half way point (Mushroom stop), the tour operator refused to stand at the front of the bus.

    [​IMG]

    Made it to Niseko in the afternoon where I checked in at Lodge Koropokkuru. The location of the lodge is fantastic and the view of my room was great.

    [​IMG]

    From the 14th to the 18th of February the conditions were fantastic; it just didn’t know how to stop snowing. Being 6 foot 2 and around the 95 kg mark, I was worried that my 161 wide would struggle in the powder. It was fine, in fact it was perfect, and all that was needed was a little extra speed in the deep sections. The first experience of powder was fantastic, I couldn’t stop laughing down the hill and stacking it at high speed was even more fun. When at higher speeds hitting bumps, you just lean back a little and ride it out, a bit like wake boarding I guess.

    [​IMG]

    There are plenty of places to get food when required during the night if you can’t get into a restaurant which range from the lovely café at the intersection called Downtown Café which also has Internet if required. There is a pizza van across from B’s Café that can get you out of trouble after a night session.

    Anyhow, back to the snow, on the 18th to the 20th the snow eased back and the sun came out. The powder had made its way to the tree lines and the groomed runs became packed. Crashing now at speed was not so much fun so I held back a little and went hunting for the soft stuff. I changed my bindings though around this time which was causing all sorts of grief but had met up with some excellent people from the MINI Sic and that made the morning session a lot better. The horrid part was me loosing them by taking a wrong turn early then spending the next 2 hours looking fruitlessly for them. Now I know why people on this forum were asking about two way communication devices etc. It is a big place.

    Good points:
    Powder
    Locals
    Night snow sessions
    More powder
    Lift lines not being that bad
    MINI SIC

    Bad Points:
    My bindings which I just couldn’t get right.
    There were only a few occasions when drunken Australians were just disrespected everything. I mean by vomiting in the hotels is one thing, but walking around with alcohol in the streets at lunch time, not good. Saying that though, many were well behaved.
    2 hours at Sydney airport trying to get through customs. Total idiots system that I have not seen since LA in 98.

    Still, all up it was a fantastic trip and highly recommended.
     
    #374 Charles, Feb 23, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  25. Sarge

    Sarge First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Well, there are going to be a few aussies in tokyo tonight that are not very happy. I am stuck here in Sapporo waiting to get out of Chitose. We arrived Saturday morning and left the airport this afternoon for a hotel after spending 24 hours in the airport with about 5000 other people. As far as I know, no plane has landed or taken off since about 3PM saturday afternoon. We have been told by JAL that we will be flying out tomorrow, so fingers crossed. Not a good way to finish a great holiday.
     
  26. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Geez that sound familiar hahahhaha
     
  27. filbert_da_frog

    filbert_da_frog One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    I have been a little slack, but finally got some photos of my trip up from the end of January. Spent 4 days in Niseko and 4 days in Rusutsu. Enjoyed both, but I found Rusutsu to be more enjoyable. Not a lot more can be said.
    Niseko 1st:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Rusutsu:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    #377 filbert_da_frog, Feb 24, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  28. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Well, what a day yesterday turned out to be.....all but the bottom lifts were closed. The weather was feral. Winds were extreme....you needed goggles just to walk around in the Hirafu village. What lifts were open were slow and had long queues. So, reluctantly, I had a day off.

    We took ourselves into Kutchan to kill some time. I came away with (another) pair of skis for Little Miss tonester....at a great price of course.

    I was sitting around contemplating the huge crowds that would descend upon the freshly fallen snow once the lifts open today...it was not something I would be looking forward to (the crowds have seemed to increase again this year). It was then that we thought to try Moiwa today in the hope of getting fewer skiers to compete with.

    It looks like it's going to turn into one of those epic bluebird days. The winds have died down, the sky looks clear and the pow will be deep!

    Will report back later...I'm off for some of that sweet nippon pow!
     
  29. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    It's about 7.00 pm and we just got back from a huge day. Moiwa was very sweet. About 50-60 people out there. We found LOTS of untracked. The snow was somehwat on the heavy side and up top the snow was very wind afected from yesterdays blizzard. All up, I think it was the best decision.....the crowds in Niseko United would have all been fighting for the fresh.

    We then headed over to Annupuri...very wind affected and the off piste had lots of sastrugi..still all up a hell of a day. Off to the onsen now for a very long soak.

    Pics to follow when I get back home.
     
  30. cheekie

    cheekie A Local

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    We were offloaded from our 3pm flight out of Chitose, sat in departures for 3hrs until they decided to cancel all flights. Stood in a line for 2hrs and found the loveliest JAL staff member who went out of his way to book us on any available flights to get back to Melb urgently as I need to see ortho surgeon for dislocated shoulder! Tour of Chitose concentration camp trying to find somewhere to sleep, vending machines run out of food, airport ran out of bento boxes which they bought in to feed the hoards, hotels fully booked out.

    Qued from 5.45am at check in counter for booked flight when JAL man from previous night appeared and made us follow him. Told us all flights were being cancelled until 3pm and had got us standby tickets. Our saviour. Had us on a flight out of Chitose at 2.30pm - 1st flight out of there! He also arranged upgrade and use of Sakura lounge had shower, food and lots of alcohol. Thankyou Sakimata.

    I think this will be the only time I ever wished it would stop snowing.

    Oh and we also were on the last flight to arrive into Chitose on the 16th before they closed the airport.
     
    #380 cheekie, Feb 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  31. Charles

    Charles Addicted Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    It has been a tough trip for you Cheekie. Still, you will have some stories to tell the people back home [​IMG]
     
    #381 Charles, Feb 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  32. j.s.3

    j.s.3 First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    What is the current consensus on the upcoming Niseko weather? I have been watching Snowforecast.com and the 10 day GFSX models. It looks like doom-and-gloom for the short term with some fairly high temperatures for the lower mountain.

    However; I am wondering whether late on Monday 10/3 and Friday-Saturday (14/3-15/3) the weather patterns might allow for a moderate fall of snow? I have a vague understanding of Siberian snow bearing systems hitting Japan, but I'm hoping that some of you with more experience can give me your take on the scenario.
     
  33. Sandy

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

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Monday won't be super cold, but looks ok. Tue/Wed just looks warm to me. Fri/Sat look colder
     
  34. 10legs

    10legs One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    heehee.

    you were on the last flight in Cheekie. We were on the last flight out! Five hours lying around with 3 tiny tots was great fun (lol not, but JAL staff were very helpful once we got to Tokyo. They pulled five seats out of their hats to get us on a late flight to Sydney via Cairns...better than finding a hotel late at night!). I'd do it all again for such a great holiday...might pack a few less kids this time [​IMG]
     
    #384 10legs, Mar 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  35. Flagpole

    Flagpole First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Hi all! Thought I'll add to this thread. Just flew back to Sydney on Tuesday morning after my first trip to Japan.

    This time around it was only two of us traveling- my brother and I. We decided to break our trip into a week in Niseko and second part spent in Kyoto and Tokyo with maybe some side trips. Unfortunately we ended up staying in those two cities alone but that couldn't be helped by weather.

    Edit Looks like I've deleted this section by mistake

    We flew out of Sydney on Saturday 16th of February and arrived in Tokyo in the evening. As we had a connecting flight in the morning the JAL were kind enough to put us up in the JAL Haneda Hotel for the night. It was a pleasant stay and the hotel has free shuttles from/to airport so it was a breeze to get to the airport in the morning. Catching an Airport Limousine and transferring to Haneda at night one doesn't quite see the sheer size of Tokyo but it is a nice drive around the bay area.

    Next morning on 17th we flew into New Chitose and after locating our bus ride finally were on the way to Hirafu. Unfortunately the IXSM travel rep was late and failed to meet us there (we had no idea he would be coming) so we decided to drag our bags to the hotel which luckily wasn't far from the car park. We were staying at Niseko Park Hotel which is just above the Family Ace Pair which meant a small commute each day. Once we arrived at the hotel we had our first surprise as it seemed the hotel didn't have any western room left and we would have to be put into japanese room. We would then need to be moved into another room in 2 days time. At least we had an ensuite [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We left our gear at the hotel and went to Rhythms&Beats to pick up our gear. The service was fine even if the range of snowboarding gear was not all that high. One Burton board for hire and the rest was nothing flash. Gear sorted it was back to the hotel and then dinner time. We dropped into a ramen place next to souvenir shop and had a good meal there.

    Next 3 days the weather proved to be quite nice to get a good look at most of the resort. Clear blue skies, no snow but plenty of terrain to explore. Mainly staying on groomed runs with occasional look between the trees was a good way to dial the legs in.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We got moved to a new room which was much better compared to the old one. The view out was great [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    For anyone considering where to stay I would recommend Niseko Park Hotel for another reason. It has it's own onsen with hot pool and an outside pool which is a nice way to unwind after a day on the slopes.

    The weather got worst during our last 2 days with visibility getting to very low level and strong winds on the last day. Anything above Ace Pair 3 was a hazard to ski/snowboard due to low visibility. We ended up spending Day 5 mainly at Hanazono before heading back to the hotel.
    [​IMG]
    The next day was even worst and we ended up just doing 2-3 runs before calling it off for the trip. The weather got so bad that even a walk to get something to eat proved a challenge. We ran into a UK couple later who ended up not being able to get back to their hotel and having to book into another hotel overnight after going to dinner.

    Sunday morning 24th was the departure day. Looking out of the window it didn't look good:
    [​IMG]

    The IXSM travel rep Yoshi who was picking us up to get us to Welcome Centre wasn't all that optimistic. No flights out of Chitose till midday and no buses getting through. Once we made it to Welcome Centre it was a 2 hour wait for the bus to leave as it couldn't get through to the Hirafu.

    Welcome Centre carpark on Sunday 24th:
    [​IMG]

    So we were 2 hours late already and we haven't even made it to the airport. It wasn't looking good for us to make it to our 2:25pm flight in time. At least it wasn't canceled [​IMG]

    Anyhow we didn't end up making it in time as there was a road accident on the way to the airport and we only arrived at 3pm. The airport was chocker block full with no check-in counters available so we joined a queue of people for 2 hours only to be sent to another counter to queue up for another 4 [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Thats only half the length of the queue to Counter 21 where replacement tickets were being issued.

    Once we got to the JAL person at 9pm she wasn't really helpful at first. Apparently since our flight wasn't canceled we could not get another until room becomes available which will be on the 26th at the earliest and there was no guarantees of us getting any seats. We would need to come back tomorrow and queue up again and go on to stand by for any available seats to go to Kansai or Kobe. [​IMG] We weren't too thrilled with that so we tried to explain that it just wasn't an option. Eventually she came up with a flight after 15-20 minutes or so us trying to persuade her that we needed something within next 24 hours. She could find us a couple of seats to Kobe in different classes leaving at 7pm tomorrow but we would still need to be there in the morning to see if those were available. It would cost us 1000 yen!!!!!!(we thought she was jocking and meant 10000 yen but it happened to be right) to get an upgrade between business and economy seat. At least we now had a fall back option so it was time to see what we can do for the night.

    The sight of people gathering flattened cardboard boxes and getting ready to spend a night at the airport didn't inspire us with much fun so we thought we check out the JR counter downstairs as we got JR Rail passes in Sydney to commute between Kyoto and Tokyo and for any day trips. At first we thought we get to Sapporo and spend a night and a day there if possible but then we decided to check if there was a way to get to Tokyo overnight. Let me tell you that it sounded good at the time but proved a real adventure.

    We got to the counter where a young and very helpful attendant got our passes stamped and gave us a piece of paper from which we incorrectly deciphered that we can get to Tokyo at 9am by changing 4 trains in the process. So we hastily agreed.
    Apparently there was ONE train left going to Minami-Chitose where we would need to change to a train heading to Hakodate. Once at Hakodate we would need to catch a train to Aomori where we would need to catch another train to shinkansen station and then shinkansen to Tokyo. If we did all that we could be at Kyoto around 1pm and save ourselves at least 10 hours or so. It sounded like a great plan as it would save as money on hotel room and get us to Kyoto only a day late.

    The whole thing hinged on us getting to the first train and traveling for 5 min before changing to the second train at 10.37pm. The consultant whisked us to the front of the queue however the trains didn’t leave until 10.40pm. So by the time we got to the first interchange we figured out that the train has left. So here we are at Minami at 10:45pm in the middle of the platform with no person in sight but a couple of Japanese ladies trying to stay warm in the unheated waiting room. We figured out that we probably missed the train and it left before we arrived. So we went up to the train station office and with some difficulties were able to get one of the attendants with nothing but a few words of english to confirm to us that there was a train going to Hakodate later that night. It started with there being "no train". After a little while we got through that there was a train (it happened to be the 10:40pm train running late which was the only piece of luck we had for the day) but there were no tickets for it. He confirmed it adamantly by waving his hands and saying "no tickets" 3-4 times. Eventually we were able to understand that what he meant was that there weren't any "reserved" tickets left and we just have to try and get an unreserved seat or stand the whole way there.
    We now realized what the Japanese ladies were doing in the unheated waiting room. They were trying to beat anyone to the unreserved seats on the next train.

    Minami platform at 11:40pm [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After spending 3 hours waiting the train it arrived at 1.25am. By that stage we already regretted choosing this option as we spent 40 min in the unheated waiting room on the platform. This feeling became even worse when a train out 1950s pulled up, and that was supposed to be express! And of cause we didn’t manage to get any sits as train was full of people trying to get out Chitose plus the usual locals.

    We ended up next to a UK couple who had a horror weekend by coming down to Niseko on Saturday and coping the worst of the weather then having to miss the flight and now having to train it to Tokyo. After about an hour standing and trying not to fall asleep the train attendant decided to kindly move my brother and I, the UK guy and a 3 Japanese guys into another area. It happened to be an unheated bar area with a couple of small tables and 8 bar stools. My guess however is that it would hardly fit 4 standard Europeans. The next five hours consisted of trying to stay warm, get some sleep without dislocating any joints and not to fall over in frequently jerking train traveling at 60km/h. At about 7 am we finally crossed into Honshu from Hokkaido and then arrived at Aomori. After changing for the 2nd time in Aomori we got to the Shikansen (bullet train) station just 5 min before the departure of the first train to Tokyo. This time we had the seats and the train left on time. Three hours later we were in Tokyo and 3 hours later in Kyoto. As we staying at the hotel right in the railway station we did not had to go far. We still beat the flight by about 6 hours and travelled around 1400km in the process by train [​IMG]
    One great thing we did not count on was some great views out of the window around Hakodate and crossing Tsugaru straight in one of the longest tunnels in the world. So if anything it will be something worth remembering.

    Some more random images from the trip. If anyone wants to see others from Niseko part go HERE

    Some of the local cuisine on offer:
    [​IMG]

    The ice bar:
    [​IMG]

    I may post Kyoto and Tokyo parts later if anyone is interested.
     
    #385 Flagpole, Mar 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2013
  36. skiflat

    skiflat Old n' Crusty

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    WOW - Sounds like a nice adventure

    Yes the Niseko Park Hotel has a wonderful "onsen"/spa area and we never used the bathroom in the room as we would just go downstairs each morning and have a shower on the stools! [​IMG]

    Also the breakfast at the Niseko Park Hotel was very nice, not 5 Star standards but very very nice !!!

    I still miss Niseko and the +1 is bugging me to go back there, but next year is a USA roadtrip, so Niseko will have to wait until 2010 [​IMG]
     
    #386 skiflat, Mar 7, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  37. Fastlaner

    Fastlaner Hard Yards

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Yes, a great story, It brought back many memories of the Hokkaido rail system and all the things that can go wrong.

    If you'd known about the chaos at Chitose you could have got the train from Niseko straight to the Oshamambe where you could then pick up the train to Hakodate and so on down to Tokyo and beyond.

    We spent quite a few hours standing at the end of carriages with our luggage (or sitting on it) just because we didn't reserve a seat, which we could have done at no cost using our JR passes.
    It all added to the adventure but it was very cold and we were getting in the road of passengers going to the toilets.

    Your tale does highlight the fact that Hokkaido gets some horrific snow storms at times during which everything grinds to a halt. You need plan B, C and D sometimes.
     
  38. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    I guess even in Japan things can get a bit chaotic at times, but if you want REALLY chaotic try doing the same thing in India.
     
  39. Sarge

    Sarge First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Hey Flagpole. Me and 2 mates were on that train at Chitose, but because it was running late we decided that we had probably missed the connecting train and got off. We ended up sleeping on the floor of the airport that night and stayed in Sapporro the next before flying out to Tokyo the next day. What an adventure!
     
  40. Charles

    Charles Addicted Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    I can say I was lucky going in with the slip n slide bus and the smooth bus home. The train sounds interesting though but I think I will give that a miss [​IMG]

    Here is another photo stitch I did taken Mid Feb 08.

    [​IMG]
     
    #390 Charles, Mar 12, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  41. Poppy

    Poppy Hard Yards

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Hi all,
    Im new to the forums but have been watching them for quite a while and I finally went on my first skiing trip OS with my partner you may know him as twoheads...we had a great time and I definately want to go back in the future.

    Just thought I would upload a couple of pics we took on the trip of Furano and Niseko in mid feb....enjoy!!
    Sea of Japan
    [​IMG]

    Night View from our room
    [​IMG]

    Ningle terrace at Furano
    [​IMG]


    Kitaichigara Cafe in Otaru

    [​IMG]
     
    #391 Poppy, Mar 12, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  42. pandk

    pandk Hard Yards

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Charles...oh yeah! Sweet dreams tonight! Awesome photo!!

    Poppy & Twoheads, fantastic shots too!

    Thanks! Love 'em!
     
  43. Tommymitch

    Tommymitch Early Days

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Sorry, just posted a report in the main forum, should have just put it here:

    Just got back from my first time in Niseko so thought I would post a little report...

    Arrived about 4pm on the 18th - Checked in at Kiraku and dumped the bags, got changed, and was riding by 4:15pm!

    Had a good look around the mountain so I would get my bearings ready if the weather closed in and we got some snow in the next few days (probably wishful thinking, as high temps and clear conditions were forecast) - Unfortunately that wasn't to be, but managed to have 5 glorious bluebird days out of 7 on the snow. Things are really starting to wind down over there - snow is being cleared everywhere and it looks like winter is all but over - Some of the locals were commenting that the conditions were very "May Like", as opposed to March - But hey, you can't control the weather! Still had a great time and got to ride practically every rideable run across the 4 areas. This has got me a lot more hungry to come back next year (perhaps with days elsewhere at Rusutsu etc. also) in Dec/Jan/Feb and really see the place pumping in waist deep powder!

    Some tips for new players;

    Things I would do again;
    - Snowmobiling Tour: This was absolutely awesome, and I would highly recommend it!

    - Eat / Drink / Socialise at the local Japanese places. The language barrier is hard to overcome at fist, especially when you are on your own, but it is very rewarding and a much better experience than spag bol, vegemite toast and bourbon and coke.

    - Use skijapan.com bookings & services: They were very good, and everything was very smoothly done! If I can not do it cheaper booking it all my self next year, I would definitely use them again.


    Things I will do differently next time;

    - Not fly Melb>Syd>Narita>Haneda>Chitose!
    Enough said on that, nightmare! Last minute booking cost me!
    Apparently Melb>Osaka>Sapporo is the go, or even Melb>Taipei>Sapporo.

    - Not catch the bus from Hirafu to Annupuri on a clear day!
    I did this on about day 5 after lifting it/riding/traversing on the previous days. The bus is slow, and stops at every corner!


    A few pics:

    Full depth avalanches waiting to happen to the skiers right of Ace hill: [​IMG]

    Terrain park @ Hirafu:
    [​IMG]

    Overnight slide under the ace & quad chairs that took out a lightpole:
    A)
    [​IMG]
    B)
    [​IMG]
    C)
    [​IMG]

    Yotei:
    [​IMG]

    My first lift up in Niseko:
    [​IMG]

    View from my bedroom:
    [​IMG]

    Up the gondola from Higashiyama:
    [​IMG]

    Nightime:
    [​IMG]

    View to the top from Higashiyama gondola:
    [​IMG]

    The trees underneath Hirafu gondola:
    [​IMG]

    Engrish:
    [​IMG]

    The view out my window with some light snow falling:
    [​IMG]

    The obligatory "yahoo" pic with Yotei in the background:
    [​IMG]

    All in all, a great trip - I will be back to Japan next year, maybe not Niseko, but I will be back! [​IMG]
     
    #393 Tommymitch, Mar 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  44. junior pumps

    junior pumps First Runs

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Here's some of my pics from the 11th to the 16th of Feb (better late than never!)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #394 junior pumps, Apr 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  45. Sandy

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

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    April 6th 2008

    [​IMG]
     
    #395 Sandy, Apr 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  46. Charles

    Charles Addicted Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    hehe.. Another Sandy Kodak moment.

    Still looking very skiable. [​IMG]
     
    #396 Charles, Apr 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  47. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    I had plans of writing a full TR, but there's no prospect I will ever get it done in the foreseeable future, so here goes a mini TR.

    * Two weeks in Japan 2008 - mid to late Feb. This was my first "real" visit to Japan (I'd been to Tokyo on business for a couple of days a few years previously, but didn't really leave the confines of my hotel and the business offices to which I had to go).

    * Flew MEL-CNS-NRT (it was on FF points, and that was what I could get), then had a car booked to go over to Haneda where we stayed overnight before taking a flight the following day to Sapporo. It took two days to get to Niseko as the MEL-CNS-NRT flight basically took the whole of the first day, and then I'd booked a midday flight to Sapporo so we didn't have to get up too early. Some would say this is a waste of time, but +1 and I work very long hours and have a very busy life, and we didn't want to push ourselves too hard at the beginning of the holiday - we wanted to take our time.

    * I made a punter mistake with the hotel at Haneda - I booked one in the wrong terminal! This meant we had an interesting time pushing our trolley through the underground train station and passages from one terminal to another, but all part of the adventure so hey ho!

    * Everything went well with the transfer from Sapporo to Niseko (we'd booked accommodation and transfers only through Deep Powder Tours and I recommend them. We had excellent and flawless service in every respect).

    * Once we started heading up the hill from Sapporo we became very excited about the amount of snow! It started snowing as we were going up the hill and DID NOT STOP SNOWING FOR FOUR DAYS!!!!!!!!!

    * Deep Powder picked us up on arrival in Niseko (it was puking down at the time) and check in at the Niseko Park Hotel was perfect. Highly recommend the Niseko Park Hotel. Reasonably conveniently located (though not as conveniently located as the Niskeo Alpen Hotel right at the ski lifts where some friends were staying!), a great (if ever so slightly Japanese-y idiosyncratic) breakfast (great selection of food, but with that wonderful thing the Japanese do with Western food like serving spaghetti bolognaise at breakfast - which was consumed with gusto by the Japanese guests, less enthusiastically by the Western guests!), a good lounge area in which to read English language papers and meet up for drinks and a fabulous onsen (more on that below). The rooms were clean and comfortable (if smallish). Like AndDee mentions above, we gave up on the tiny modular bathroom in our room for anything other than loo trips, brushing teeth and drying clothes, and used the spacious and great facilities in the onsen for showering and bathing.

    * The staff at the Niseko Park Hotel were also very helpful and put up with my attempts to speak Japanese as much as possible in good humour (more on that below). I had to receive and send faxes for work (yes, it haunts me 24/7 365, and the coin operated internet was a lot of trouble for accessing my VPN, so I gave up and reverted to the old technology) and it was all done incredibly efficiently and unbelieveably cheaply - a couple of hundred yen a pop, in comparison to some Western hotels which charge oodles of US dollars per page!

    * The skiing was amazing. We had four days of constant snow and fresh powder every morning. The first day the lifts other than at Niseko base were on hold because of wind and snow. We didn't see Niseko properly until our second last day of skiing when the weather cleared a bit, but we still had a wonderful time in all that fresh snow. My +1 gets annoyed by bad visibility, so I had to put up with a bit of whining now and then... On the last two days we did "ski safaris" and as the weather had cleared and we could see where we were going we skied from one end of Annupuri to the other end of Hanazono and everywhere in between.

    * We loved the Japanese food on and off the mountain. We had lunch every day (except for one, when we went to the Hanazono place for crab ramen, which was good but the ambience of that place was down on the place we ate the other days - smoking inside and way too many bogans!!!) at the restaurant at the base of the King Pair lifts (I think it is called Pilka). Great ramen, udon, soba and curry and draught beer. Complimentary chilled drinking water and glasses. No smoking inside. Compared to Australia, incredible value for money for lunch on a ski mountain (our typical noodle soup lunch with a beer and coffee was about 1,400 yen).

    * Based on the tips here, I'd booked restaurants like Senchou, Abu Cha and Yawaraya about two weeks in advance. Even then they were filling up and we didn't have much of a choice of times. Lots of people we spoke to said they tried to eat at those places and had trouble getting in. Of those, Yawaraya won. We tried to eat there a second night and couldn't get in! We ate at Senchou 2 one night, and also at the little place in the demountable building opposite the building where the Rhythm & Beats store in the posh new complex is. We became addicted to the grilled hokke fish! All of the food was fresh, high quality and delicious.

    * The Deep Powder tour office recommended a place in Kutchan which turned out to be the most incredible value for money I have EVER eaten anywhere in the world (I cannot remember the name - the card is written in a lot of Kanji which I cannot read!). It was tiny (5 tables) and clearly family run. The son picked us up from and dropped us back to the Niseko Park Hotel (incredible service) and then we ate an exquisite 7 course Japanese-Western fusion tasting menu. The food had distinct Japanese notes (flavourings, cooking techniques) but used some western ingredients and was presented Western style. The price made me fall off my chair - 3,000 yen a head for the food. We ordered a bottle of bordeaux which was the same price! We couldn't believe it, and we did a lot of deep bowing to the chef and if I said "gochisosama deshita" once I said it about 20 times.

    * Onsen. I've become ADDICTED! I'd read up on them before coming over, and was curious as I didn't really know what to expect. We booked an onsen trip through the Deep Powder office for the second night in Niseko and were taken to an onsen in Annupuri. It was AMAZING - the outdoor pool was built into rocks, with the volcanic hot water (only a very very faint whiff of sulphur) coming straight out of the side of the mountain. The water was hot, but not "cooking temperature". It was snowing heavily that night and sitting outside with the snow falling and my hair freezing after a day's skiing (and drinking a cold beer) was heavenly. We enjoyed that onsen so much that we took ourselves off to it again later in our trip. The second time the night was clear and the stars twinkled and again, it was perfect.

    * The onsen at the Niseko Park was also great, although the temperature of the indoor bath was "cooking temperature" and a bit hot for me. I used the outside one mostly. Again, coming in from a day's skiing and hitting the water was great. It took all soreness out of the muscles and just "zenned" me out. Going to onsen (or sento more accurately once we were in Kyoto and Tokyo) became a bit of a pilgrimage for us - we really wanted to see this part of Japanese life, and we were well rewarded. The sento we visited in Kyoto was more "down home" and clearly a Japanese meeting/socialising place. But all of the basic elements were the same - the stool showers, the "cooking temperature" bath, the cold bath, the sauna, the outdoor bath etc. The sento in Tokyo (Finland in Shinjuku) was very different - a huge complex with rows and rows of massage chairs and lots of Japanese relaxing and resting communally. After our first onsen visit in Annupuri with Deep Powder the ettiquette became second nature (the Deep Powder folks gave a good and detailed ettiquette lecture before we went in) and although we'd dutifully bought a little "modesty" towel at the Annupuri onsen to use (and as a souvenir), we didn't use them after the first visit because virtually none of the Japanese we saw (and only a few Westerners) used them other than to put on their head or wipe their face. I guess I was so amazed by the onsen because with the water situation in Victoria so dire, I never take baths (the 2-3 minute shower is a way of life) and the idea of plentiful water in which to soak away the aches and pains of skiing (or pounding the pavements in Kyoto and Tokyo) and bliss out was just so decadent.

    * Pretty much all the other Aussies we spoke to had similar epiphanies with onsen. We had several discussions about how we could seal and flood the backyard to make our own at home (if only there would ever be enough water in Victoria again to do that...).

    * Aussies in Niseko: yes, there are lots (and lots and lots). We saw and heard about some very bad behaviour (public drunkeness, urinating in the street, loud and loutish behaviour). We also saw lots of no attempts at Japanese and evident frustration at "why don't these people understand English". And so we cringed a fair bit (and I tried to work out how to say "I apologise for my countrymen" in Japanese). That said, these were the exception rather than the rule and the investment and economic contribution that Australians are making in Niseko is certainly evident.

    * The benefits of speaking Japanese (or at least trying to): I had three months of Japanese lessons before travelling to Japan, and had learned to read and write hiragana, had started to learn katakana (and could recognise about four kanji (man, woman, tempura and don (as in the rice dish)). My spoken Japanese was pretty excreble in my own assessment (my Japanese teacher, being a very polite Japanese person, kept telling me otherwise...) but I'd mastered the basic niceties and basic travelling transactional phrases. I tried to speak Japanese exclusively to Japanese people, even if I sounded either ludicrously over-polite or infantile (when I couldn't remember/didn't know words or get the proper forms right when in a hurry (I often mix up my wa, ga, no and o...)).

    * The result was everywhere we went in Japan we had smiles, laughter and delight in our interactions with Japanese people. At Senchou on our first night the couple seated next to us insisted that we try some of their hokke fish (which got us addicted) after we'd exchanged pleasantries in Japanese. In restaurants we were often given extra little treats with compliments of the proprietor, in taxis the drivers were great fun, and in the shop that we bought a new digital camera (and that wasn't until we got to Kyoto, so that's why there's no photos of our ski trip, but they would have been the same as everyone else's above, so no one has missed out on seeing anything different from my trip) we were given a free disposable camera to use until the battery in the new camera had charged. I had a fun afternoon skiing with a young Japanese woman who had learned some English in high school (her English was better than my Japanese!) and having conversations in two languages. So I highly recommend trying to learn some Japanese before visiting Japan - it really adds to the experience, makes things go more smoothly and helps to create a favourable impression of Australians in Japanese eyes.

    * After a week in Niseko, we flew from Sapporo to Kyoto and had a few days there sightseeing and temple-hopping. We also had an amazing kaiseki meal at a very traditional kaiseki house called Tsuruya. Again, my excreble but enthusiastic Japanese led to a wonderful experience. I had been writing down the dishes we'd had in hiragana so I could report to my Japanese teacher and the waitress noticed and helped me. At the end of the meal, we were presented to the proprietress who brought out her photograph albums of visits to her restaurant by those notable Australians Malcolm Fraser, and Queen Elizabeth II (well, she is the Queen of Australia). The proprietress then took us on a guided tour of the restaurant (which was an amazing complex of tatami rooms and clever sliding screens) and the beautiful, beautiful garden. The luncheon ended with an invitation to sign the guest book and all of the staff farewelling us with bows and smiles and laughter.

    * After a few days in Kyoto we took the bullet train to Tokyo for a couple of days before heading home. As a treat to ourselves we stayed at the Park Hyatt (of "Lost in Translation" fame). It was absolutely fantastic (and would want to be at those prices!). Tokyo is amazing - all colour and crowds and crazy but fascinating in every respect. The best out of the great big cities of the world to which I've been (I'm comparing to London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Hong Kong and Shanghai (I don't include Cairo and Jakata as "great" megacities).

    * The flight home was on an overnight NRT-SYD (not our usual practice but that was all we could get on FF points). The entire worst part of the trip was making the international to domestic connection in Sydney - slow, frustrating, crowded and generally pretty poor all round. QF needs to lift its game there.

    * We'll certainly be going to Japan again. If we went with friends or family, we'd probably return to Niseko (it is an easy destination), but our next trip will be to somewhere else - maybe somewhere on Honshu. I highly recommend Niseko - yes it has its drawbacks but overall it was fantastic, with great snow, great food and great experiences for the first time visitor.
     
  48. fattwins

    fattwins One of Us

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Japanese men piss where ever and when ever they want to.

    Deep Powder is not a very good company!
     
  49. skiflat

    skiflat Old n' Crusty

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Chalkie: Nice report [​IMG]
     
    #399 skiflat, Apr 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  50. Sandy

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

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    Re: Niseko & Hokkaido 07/08 Trip Reports, Info, et

    Yes, it was a nice report. [​IMG]
     
    #400 Sandy, Apr 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013