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Advice needed Niseko tips

Discussion in 'Japan' started by dmz, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    So we are off to Niseko on 15th Jan next year for about a week (with two older teenage boys). This will be my first time there and indeed my first time skiing outside of Australia. I'd be grateful if those in the know could share a few tips.
    Weather
    So what's minus 15-20 really like and what clothing is necessary other than the obvious i.e. thermal, fleecy and 20/20 jacket on top, thermal and 20/20 pants, normal gloves and socks, helmet, goggles,balaclava?
    Ski hire
    We don't have our own ski's and were looking to hire through the company that got us accommodation as they apparently have reduced rates. Does it really matter where you hire from?
    Ski Type
    Someone said fat skis. Is this a must? Doesnt everyone use fat skis?
    First day
    Someone also suggested as we have never been there to hire a guide/instructor for the four of us for the first day. Sounds like a good idea? Any recommendations?
    Food
    I only recently learned that Japanese food is regional. I thought I'd be enjoying sushi but apparently Niseko is in Ramen region. Someone suggested the best Ramen place is up the hill a bit below a souvenir shop? Anyone know of this one and what it might be called? I'm sure they have burger and pizza joints but that's something I'd prefer to avoid. And is there really vending machines everywhere including hot chocolate in a can?
    Transport
    We will take the bus there but as our flight from Sapporo is 4pm on the way out, I was thinking heading off early by train and maybe stopping into sapporo for lunch and a bit of sightseeing before going further to the airport. Anyone done something like that?
    Slip sliding away
    Is walking around the streets at night really icy and treacherous?
    Money
    I've heard its mostly a cash only place but are the number of ATMs really limited? Should one get most of the cash at the airport on the way in?
    Language
    I've got Konichiwa, Arigato and Sayonara down pat. I'll work on some more...
    Anything else
    Any other tips that may help please?

    Thanks heaps...
     
  2. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture

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    So many questions!

    I'll deal with the ones I remember.

    In terms of clothing I've found one extra layer over what I would wear on an average day in Australia works. That might simply mean doubling up on base layers, or wearing a fleece vest under an insulated jacket. Doubling up on base layers works best for me under insulated clothing. If wearing uninsulated gear a base and mid layer works fine but a wear a long sleeve fleece rather than a vest, for instance.

    There's a wide range of Japanese food and it's not just Ramen. I haven't noticed a profound difference in the food at Niseko over other Japanese resorts. All your favourites will be available somewhere.

    A guide is fine or a private or a series of group lessons if your family is of mixed ability. I'd suggest that as some of the better skiing is off the groomed and it would be better to have some expert knowledge on your side as you explore it.

    Cash is predominant although there are a few ATM's (Kutchan post office, a couple of convenience stores - forgot which). Bring enough in cash to tide you over at least a few days but you can too up with a modicum of inconvenience while there.

    In terms of skis the widest I've used were 78mm in 2008 and I enjoyed it but they were considered narrow then and ski fashion is wider now. If you plan to ski off piste it's sensible to suggest go wider but a lot depends on preference and how you like to ski powder. I prefer a little narrower than average as I like to get "in" the snow but I'm atypical there and "the vibe" will see you on 100mm+ skis at the waist.
     
  3. hatto

    hatto One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Weather
    Can be cold but as suggested, layering is the go - easier to regulate
    Ski Hire/Type
    Can't help - boarder
    First Day
    4 resorts around 1 mountain - plenty of trail maps - I never used a guide, easy to find way around
    Food
    Plenty of variety, plenty of places.
    Transport
    If booking through a company, they will prob have it sorted, remember transfers can take extra time if snowed lots
    Slips.
    Good boots with good grip needed, mostly walking in/on snow and ice all the time
    Money
    Take cash exchange here before you go - search these forums, plenty of info about exchange
    https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/yen.57515/
     
  4. Mercyrx3

    Mercyrx3 Hard Yards

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    [
    Weather
    1 extra layer over Aus is fine. some sort of facial cover is important!
    First day
    A guide or a local will do. helps avoid trial and error and get straight to the good bits.
    Food
    Almost anything you can think of is available in Niseko. There is a good local guide which lists almost all. read through and pick your favorites
    Transport
    weather plays a big part in how long the trip will take. be careful not to leave your run too late
    Slip sliding away
    can be slippery. I've never taken special shoes. just be aware and you should be fine. you can buy little spikes to attach to shoes if your really worried
    Money
    I take cash but Niseko has an international ATM. Get to KVB Kunlun and exchange at a good rate if you can.
    Language
    Language isn't a problem in Niseko, but Japanese people really seem to appreciate the effort when you try to speak even a little Japanese. Try and listen to some native speakers. I really hate hearing a bogan sounding Ahhreegahtoe
    Anything else
    Just have fun!!!!
     
  5. blutek

    blutek One of Us

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    I avoid January, so I'm only guessing the small restaurants will be fully booked each night.
    Ski hire shops include Rhythm and Larry Adler & Inski (?).
    The only international ATM is in the Shiki building between Seico Mart & Lawsons. Bring Visa & Mastercard in case one fails. Small to medium business's only take cash.
    Take a daytrip to Rusutsu. There are daytrip buses to Rusutsu & Kiroro.
    Don't buy a seven day lift pass, there will be days when many/most lifts are closed due to wind & you may not want to venture out.
     
    #5 blutek, Aug 4, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  6. Olgreg

    Olgreg One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The ramen place is Tozanko half way up the hill. Excellent, loud, cheap and quick but get there early or be prepared to line up. Niseko Ramen down the hill a bit is also great. But there are so many options you will just scratch the surface.
    I agree with all the other advice.
    Rhythm seems t have the biggest range of skis, and will swap them so you can try different widths. I reckon around 115 waist works best.
    A guide ?? First time I went I did a private lesson each morning and he showed me not only how to ski deep powder but a few in bounds tree runs I might not have found myself. I have gone regularly in January and most days have been powder days.
     
  7. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    So most days are mostly unskiable? That's doesnt sound promising....
     
  8. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture

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    In my two trips across 6 weeks I can't recall any days the mountain was closed. It certainly wasn't common.
     
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  9. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Most days are absolutely skiable.

    Tip: unless you are big time sure you will want to be across the entire Niseko united every day it can be worth buying a Grand Hirafu Pass (Hirafu and Hanazono) and then getting an all mountain points pass and wrapping it in foil in another pocket in case you end up in Higashiyama or Annapuri. The lady at the ticket office will even foil it for you. Getting top lifts open to access the other areas can be hit and miss. I have been there for 2 weeks where top lifts were running only on a handful of days.

    Other advice above is good.

    Bookings will be tough at that time of year...try and lock some in on day one.

    If you do the premium ski hire at Rhythm they are happy for you to come in and swap them over at any time.

    You don't NEED a guide, but having someone who knows the mountain show you around saves wasted ski time. Lesson, guide, rent-a-friend ...whatever :)

    Have fun!
     
  10. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Won't repeat what others have said - all seemed fine.

    Clothing - make sure you have some form of face covering for those cold windy days and a spare pair of goggles is handy if you have a few powder falls.

    Sapporo - I don't recall specifically but I would think there would be lockers somewhere in Sapporo station to store gear. As you have skis this should be easier. The train from Sapporo to New Chitose airport is about 3/4 hr, so you should have a couple of hours. In Sapporo you can either walk around above ground or via the very extensive underground arcades (esp if weather is bad).
     
  11. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wake early. Get bus to Hanazono. Ski for about 30mins before the bogans come over. Or get a car and drive yourself over. Alternatively, stay in Annapuri and get the morning and afternoon to yourself.

    Give night skiing a go. Powder shots at 8pm is something you wont get to experience at many other places around the world, you wont forgot that for a long time.

    For clothing, I wore a fleece jumper on top of the normal gear I wear. I dont wear a helmet, and I dont wear thermals. I sweat a lot though, so my clothing recommendations probably should be taken with a grain of salt. I just wore a beanie and pulled my hood over if it go too cold, but there are enough hooded chairs and gondolas in Niseko to help you out. To be honest the coldest body part I had in Niseko was my feet and that was because there was so much deep fresh snow my boots spent the majority of their time under snow, freezing them up. I second Heinz on the fresh goggles, although I would add put a small towel in your backpack to help clean snow off fallen goggles/face etc.
     
  12. Salacious Crumb

    Salacious Crumb Hard Yards

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    recommend a good ski mask - flying down the hill with no face mask at -10 to -15 is unbearable without a mask.
     
  13. essjaywhy

    essjaywhy One of Us

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    dont byo duty free,
    Scotch & french wine are low taxed so very affordable.
     
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  14. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly One of Us

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    get low light lenses for your goggles
     
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  15. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly One of Us

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    And super warm gloves/mitts. I often change mitts after lunch
     
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  16. Presto

    Presto Addicted

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    I wore my low light lenses everyday bar 1, the last day was bluebird.
    Found an awesome place under a place called "The Potato Chip" no idea what it was called..anyone else know? Fridge door entry.
     
  17. ODNT

    ODNT Part of the Furniture

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  18. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    LOL
    'The Fridge!
     
  19. Presto

    Presto Addicted

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    I got a map somewhere..give me some time and I'll find it :p
     
  20. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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  21. StuckinQld

    StuckinQld Addicted

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    So the Fridge bar has another name!! This year we re staying very close to there.. could be dangerous, the boys really liked it there.
     
  22. Presto

    Presto Addicted

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    THAT'S IT!! thanks LMB
    No that's not it..maybe I was too drunk that night..we drank there..i'll find the pic LOL
     
  23. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Does this help folks ??

    [​IMG]

    Edit : I remember going in but can't say I remember leaving.
     
  24. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    Its always been called gyu.

    RIP hanks
     
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  25. Mercyrx3

    Mercyrx3 Hard Yards

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    It's the last place I remember on my birthday a few years ago. I ended back at my apartment but not sure how I got there......:confused::D
     
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  26. hatto

    hatto One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great bar that one. Gets very busy
     
  27. Presto

    Presto Addicted

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    [​IMG]
    This Place.
    And..
    [​IMG]
     
  28. Presto

    Presto Addicted

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    [​IMG]
    :yum::yum::yum:
     
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  29. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hanks was a great little place. But then the hoards arrived... and it is apparently long gone as am I (from Niseko).
     
  30. hotsaki

    hotsaki One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Remember please,two people never made it home.They are no longer with us.A sobering thought.
     
  31. hotsaki

    hotsaki One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Dont know why sobering came out like that.
     
  32. hotsaki

    hotsaki One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    It did it again.I`ll try this.S-o-b-e-r-i-n-g.
     
  33. MickeyE

    MickeyE Hard Yards

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    Hey it did it to me in another recent thread.
    ***Note to mods*** - please remove .S-o-b-e-r-i-n-g. from list of verbotten words.
    It really makes it look like you've been very naughty, even disrespectful - when the reverse is true. (did make me laugh though)
     
  34. MickeyE

    MickeyE Hard Yards

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    Oh - back to OP & guide question. I'm getting to Niseko (Moiwa) on 17th Jan with my 18 & 20 year old sons. Thanks for this & other posts - all been very helpful!

    I've had strong recommendations for a guide from friends who have used them & have booked for orientation/powder skills/safety reasons. Happy to share via PM.
     
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  35. Mercyrx3

    Mercyrx3 Hard Yards

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    Yeah I was not alone and was definetely steered home by my mates ( who are the reason I was in that state) I guess you have to trust who your with and I know I was in good hands.
     
  36. azzski

    azzski Should know better Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    We were advised the best Ramen place was (imaginatively) called Niseko Ramen, as mentioned by Olgreg. Ate there and it was certainly very good. No bookings, rock up and queue. Earlier the better.

    Re: night skiing - be prepared to rug up, even if it isn't windy. Great fun, but you will need good gloves/inners, good layers and at least a partial face mask (I got by with a beanie/half mask for the trip, others opted for an airhole/balaclava arrangement).

    As said above, the international ATM is in the Shiki building, but that's about 100m from the main stop in town, not tough to find. Anywhere that seems at least partially Western will accept a credit card, but the smaller and more authentically Japanese you get, the more cash is king.

    As for fat skis, if you're just skiing the groomers you can get by just fine with normal skis. The more you venture off the groomed (or if you're there for a big dump) the more value wider skis represent. You're not going to need something real narrow underfoot though, the amount of ice and hardpack is minimal.

    Vis up the top of the mountain can be variable, so low-light lens for your goggles will be very helpful.
     
  37. FatBoyDave

    FatBoyDave One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Went to Niseko for 10 days. in Feb this year, (first time to Japan).

    Everything above is correct:
    Clothing: Take 1 extra mid layer and make sure you have something to cover your face and exposed skin.
    There are some distinct weather zones on the mountain. I was dubious before I got there but if you go up the top it can get very cold. If you stay around the mid level on the mountain you'll be fine. Using the Gondolas on super cold days will help keep you warm but the best snow we found was at the top. There are a number of small cafe's on the mountain to drop in and warm up. That said, we didn't really get cold days and mostly had bluebird days. Lenses for low light are a good idea, when it did snow, the light was very flat.

    Ski hire: If you're going through the gates most of the time (off piste areas and back country) then rent some fat skis, otherwise your run of the mill hire skis are fine. They groom quite a large area of the trails. My friend rented there and they gave him some Atomic rentals ~75mm waist, so definitely not a fat ski. He's a low level Advanced skier.

    Guide: I would only bother if you intended on going through the gates and back country. You can do a lot of side country through the gates without a guide, (skiing within easy sight of the resort and access lifts).

    There are so many restaurants and Ramen houses there you won't be able to go to even half of them. We didn't find a bad one and we ate out every night and for lunch. Niseko Ramen is a great place to start though. Beer and Ramen for ~$20 AUD. You can get lunch on mountain with a beverage for under $20 AUD per person. It's a bit cheaper than in Oz. There is Western food restaurants but you may as well eat local. (The snow crab is AMAZING).

    Given the amount of snow and temps the streets can be VERY icy and slippery, (just like any resort).

    We honestly had trouble finding genuine Japanese in Niseko other than core service providers, (police, council workers, etc...)
    There are so many Australian, Kiwis and Canadian tourists or people working there it was a bit embarrassing but can be a nice easy foray into Japan as a first trip. When you do find a Japanese person, a genuine attempt at some local language goes a long way.
     
  38. FatBoyDave

    FatBoyDave One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I almost forgot, the hike up to the top is worth the view if it's a clear day.
     
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  39. azzski

    azzski Should know better Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    The one-seater duplex bucket chair (Wonderland) with no safety chain at the top of the Niseko Village area is an experience :)
     
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  40. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Ahhh...the 'pizza box' lift!
     
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  41. freddy

    freddy One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    meathook
     
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  42. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Parrot perch
     
  43. Presto

    Presto Addicted

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    Hike to the top is worth it for sure!
     
  44. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    Spikey's ~$20 from ski shops or you may be able to borrow some from your lodge. Some boot treads need them more than others. Highly recommended if you get a dreaded freeze-thaw weather cycle (which does happen, even in January).
    [​IMG]
     
  45. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    Get the local restaurant guide, pick a few out - most are excellent. Wander around town, pop in and book a day or two ahead or you may find it hard to get into anywhere in central Hirafu. There's always Yummy's Pizza that do delivery http://360niseko.com/location/yummys-pizza

    If you want to get out of town, head to Kutchan (15mins on the bus) for more local Japanese style eats. Try Enya or Torimatsu. The local restaurant guides will list for here also.

    Yes, warm/ hot stuff and even red wine in cans from vending machines, yawn.
     
  46. dmz

    dmz More cheeeese Gromit Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for all this stuff. I hope it helps other first timers.
    I had one more question re: ski gear. Are there ski gear shops with big ranges of stuff and how do the prices compare to Australia?
     
  47. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I just screwed some short thread high width knob head screws into my tread on my boots. Cost sixty cents from bunnings
     
  48. FatBoyDave

    FatBoyDave One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    There's about dozen or so ski shops in Niseko. I did a cursory look in a few of them but didn't really check the prices.

    If you want big ranges, try Tokyo. It will blow your mind. Most of the stores have 5 to 6 floors stocked full of ski gear. I spent a full day browsing the stores (they're nearly all in the same locations) and still didn't go to all of the shops.

    As for prices, marginally better than Australia but not as cheap as online bargains at least for the high end stuff. It depends what you are after though. There are plenty of bargains to be had if that's what you're looking for.
     
  49. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture

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    Once upon a time real deals were available down the road at Kutchan (with generous stock ). Those days have long gone. Maybe Sapporo would have cheap gear? Not sure.

    There are buckets of Aussie based ski stores in Niseko (Inski, Larry Adler, Rhythm Sports) at around the same price as in Oz.
     
  50. FatBoyDave

    FatBoyDave One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Location:
    Melbourne
    Rhythm Snow Sports Niseko is probably the biggest in Niseko. Have a look at their website to get a bit of an idea:
    http://skihirejapan.com/rhythm-niseko/rhythm-niseko/

    or there is Niseko Sports:
    http://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/niseko-sports-rental-and-retail

    Or if you want specifically back country stuff there is the Niseko Adventure Centre (they do a decent burger too):
    http://www.nisekoskischool.net/

    There are of course the usual little stores on Mountain for souvenir T-shirts, balaclavas, gloves and other emergency stuff.

    The 3 places listed above are in the Grand Hirafu region (which is the main town). You haven't specified where you are staying, so I assume you are in this area? If not, it's a short bus ride from the other areas.