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Advice needed Niseko tips

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

  1. Any

    Any One of Us

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    this year im planning on trying out the new shinkansen from tokyo all the way to kutchan (normal train from hakodate)
    itll be 6 hours tho.
    but when you take into account airport changes (1 hour?), waiting around in tokyo airport (1hour), the flight (2hours), baggage (1hour), and the bus to niseko (2hours) it seems like it might be viable.
     
  2. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    I've done the sleeper from Chitose down to Aomori, then the slow train to Hachinohe, then Shinkansen to Tokyo. This was broken up by a ski in Hakkoda. It's a great journey and doing more on the shinkansen would be great.
    I'd probably prefer to fly the route but would be more than happy to do the train on occassion. If you haven't done it before then for sure go the train because it's a great experience.
    You would have to catch the Nareda train to Tokyo then change to the Shinkansen, then change again at Hakodate and again at Otaru, none of which is difficult but with ski bags can be a bit painful as there is no real luggage holds for ski bags.
     
  3. Any

    Any One of Us

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    probably no different to dragging your bags through an airport and to / from the bus tho.
    the bags stand vertically in those areas at the end of the carriages too. until the train breaks suddenly. hehe.
    with the price of excess baggage and time wasted getting on/off flights i think its going to be quite on par in time cost and effort. just more scenic instead. but we'll see how i feel about it afterwards tho, maybe it really sucks instead :)

    i plan changing at oshamambe after hokadate and going directly to kutchan. why go all the way to otaru and then back again?
     
  4. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    In March the girls and I decided to head to Otaru for the day (after a quick stop for a breakfast of Whisky in Yoichi) because everything was shut. Horrid weather conditions, no buses getting through - the train nearly didn't run.
    On the way back we found the train packed by bus passengers who had been desperately trying to find a way through to Hirafu to their accomodation - some with small children who had been travelling for 2 days! No one had any idea how they were going to get to Hirafu from the welcome centre. And the taxis were taken by surprise by the huge number needing transport.
    I left the girls doing our grocery shopping and ferried a family with small kids to the door of thier accomodation, luggage and all. NEVER seen such thankful humans! :thumbs:
     
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  5. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Guess it would be more relevant if you're not flying into Narita though?
     
  6. Chondro

    Chondro One of Us

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    Might just stick to the bus then, or even get my car waiting at the airport and drive myself.

    Is it easy to purchase japanese GPS's with english on them ? ie input by phone number etc.
     
  7. Any

    Any One of Us

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    Breakfast whiskey sounds fantastic.
    A couple of seasons ago the whole town was cut off. Noting in or out. The alcohol ran out within 2 days. It was torture!

    Yeah. Usually I fly Korean Air straight into Sapporo and skip the mess of Tokyo.
    IMO the Bus is better than the train. You get dropped off only a few mins from your accom, and many pension owners will come pick you up no problems.
    But if you cant get a booking on the bus (theyre often booked out peak season) the train is 99% just as good. So I think people shouldn't be afraid to do either.
    But most people fly into Tokyo first and on paper the Shinkansen seems interesting. Somebody's gotta test it out right?

    fyi, KE have one of the best baggage weight policies. Never bring ski gear with Emirates or Jetstar.

    Probably easier to get a japanese data sim for your phone and use that instead of finding a gps. Google maps will sometimes try to direct you down summer only roads, but its been pretty good otherwise.
    Depending on your route I think there are some toll roads on the way tho. May need to organize with the rental agency? Dunno how that works.
     
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  8. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep. I found pre paid data sim in iPad more reliable that trying to workout the GPS in the fecking car LOL

    Bonus of that is you can look up your journey in wifi area before commencing journey, screen shot it, or progressive series of screen shots, so you only have to turn the data on for short bursts if at all, and to cover for any potential network failures.
     
  9. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Google maps (the app) actually stays with the maps and current location pre-loaded, as long as you don't specifically force close the app. So even after you leave wifi or other internet connection, as long as you keep the app open it will still tell you exactly where you are. Really handy for traveling (and kinda scary for Googles tracking purposes)
     
  10. Chondro

    Chondro One of Us

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    I've got one of those prepaid data mobile things sorted already, so thats not an issue, should be able to use my own phone in that case
     
  11. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    I hve successfully navigated around Hokkaido with google maps and rental wifi/4g router from here https://www.sakuramobile.jp/mobile-router/
     
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  12. Chondro

    Chondro One of Us

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    I've used econnect japan before for something similar.
    How was the reception with these guys? did you have many black spots?
     
  13. Any

    Any One of Us

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    sakuramobile appear to use NTT Docomo. Analogous to Telstra's Oz coverage, ie, probably the best available.
    Softbank is probably the next biggest competitor, analogous to Optus's Oz coverage, ie, ok in major areas, but sometimes shoddy outside of that.

    in Niseko itself youll most likely have Softbank coverage at your accommodation, but rarely anywhere on the mountain does it work. NTT Docomo works on the mountain, so long as youre not in a gully, so its not perfect either.

    if you have an unlocked smartphone i recommend a prepaid data only sim instead. can get them over the counter at lawson / 711 / supermarkets / etc. those wifi things chew through battery much quicker.
    ive used an iijmio 2gb sim a couple of times now.

    in the past year it seems quite a bit of effort has been made to make wifi available at some of the mountain base lift areas, so you may not even need a sim if youre just coordinating meeting up with people.
     
  14. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    Very few black spots, excellent coverage. I've had another one that was useless outside of the city centres in Hokkaido.
     
  15. Eros C

    Eros C Hard Yards

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    Thanks everyone for your tips, much appreciated. Wouldn't mind a lesson or two to fine tune my technique in the powder and get a guided tour around the mountain to find my way around. Any recommendations?
     
  16. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow One of Us

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    Stops in Kutchan, Hirafu Station and Niseko. None of which are close to the ski base areas. All of which require a taxi to your accommodation.

    Done the bus and train from the airport. Prefer the train. Bus more convenient.
     
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  17. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you've got someone to collect you in Kutchan I think the train would be awesome.
    The buses are good - I've never felt unsafe on them. But the pick up and the Welcome Centre has been hit n miss for me.
    Private transfer to the door is exxy but so so easy!
     
  18. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Pretty much any company offering Ski instruction is up to that task. I personally use Hokkaido Mountain Experience.
     
  19. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    So it's a possibility that we will have friends staying in Niseko next season and therefore might bite the bullet and spend a week there to ski with them. I just did a quick accom search HOLY HELL is it expensive :cry:!!
    Considering staying in Kutchan and having a car to drive to the resort each day, has anyone done this before?
     
  20. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    People do, especially staff, it's only 10 minutes drive away.

    If your mates have a place in the village with parking it'll make it easier - leave the car there all day, and crash on their floor/couch if you have a few drinks. It's effectively a zero limit in Japan http://www.motoring.com.au/drink-driving-in-japan-is-serious-business-50586/
    But if you want to do dinner and drinks with your friends for the week you'd be better off getting accomodation in walking distance.
    (But yeah, it can be exxy - especially at peak times).
     
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  21. shabu_shabu

    shabu_shabu One of Us

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    Kutchan doesn't have much in the way of accommodation options. I'd consider heading West and look at the pensions and lesser hotels in Annupuri and Moiwa for value.
     
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  22. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for the tips guys, it was much easier (and cheaper) flying solo in Niseko last year. We are going to look at another resort :)
     
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  23. travelislife

    travelislife One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Annupuri or Moiwa is good for cheaper accom.
     
  24. Chillybin

    Chillybin Addicted

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    Shhhhhhh don't mention The m word. I wouldn't consider Moiwa. 3 lifts and 2 are in a kids area. I'd definitely stay in Niseko......... ;)
     
  25. geejay9

    geejay9 Hard Yards

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    Love the tips everyone, they are huge help in planning!

    I'm heading to Niseko for the first time in January and am curious as to the general cost of food/drink on the mountain and in the evenings. What would you recommend a decent budget per day for the average lunch & dinner?
     
  26. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    For Japan in general I have my own rule of thumb for this, but I'm fairly sure that has no longer applied for Niseko for quite some time. Suspect it may be more like double these days.
     
  27. geejay9

    geejay9 Hard Yards

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    That seems to be the case with it becoming increasingly international. What's your rule of thumb so I can then roughly double it? :confused:
     
  28. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is my rough rule of thumb for Japan which has hardly changed for probably 20 years. I have budgeted based on that and have I think always been under that at the end.

    Breakfast ¥1000, Lunch ¥1000, Dinner ¥2000, Drinks ¥1000 per day.

    Obviously you need to adjust for when breakfasts are included with accommodation (which it is most of the time), and if you are staying in a pension you may also get dinners included. Dinners will vary depending how fancy you want to get. Will be much cheaper if you pick up stuff from the convenience store (more like ¥500). And drinks allows for a few vending machine beers. Cheaper if you stock up at supermarket and much more if you hit the bars.

    As I said I have no idea what prices are like these days in Niseko - haven't been there for 15 years - it sounds like a completely different place now. So no idea whether you need to double it there or not. But for most other spots in Japan it still holds true for me.
     
  29. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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  30. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are restaurants that are reasonable and restaurants that are crazy expensive.

    You can do it on the cheap buying in Kutchan and even meals from Lawson/Seico. Under 1000Y.

    On hill lunches have gone up in recent years. 1500-2500 I reckon.

    Dinner could be anything.
    You could do Ramen under 2000Y but if you want Pizza or a Wagyu steak be prepared to mortgage your house!

    Last season The Slippery Slope had decent generous pub meals, with a nightly special that was pretty good value.
     
  31. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    1000Y for drinks? Bro you are obviously not drinking 88Y chu hi from the donkey.
     
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  32. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow! So double is probably about right..
     
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  33. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    2000Y for ramen better be a bloody good ramen!
     
  34. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    That's aussie prices
     
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  35. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Obviously there is big variance depending on source (supermarket / vending machine / restaurant / bar).
    I can also get a 2L carton of Umeshu from the supermarket for Y800-1000 which is good for week.
    Like this.
    [​IMG]
     
    #635 Heinz, Sep 22, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
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  36. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    U could, but then you'd have to drink it. Like the night I bought a 3L carton of 7-11 sake for 700Y.
     
  37. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Been into the Umeshu last couple of trips, like it. Have had it back home a couple of times but it is just stupidly expensive.
    That sake must have been top shelf stuff. ;)
     
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  38. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I cant do the umeshu, it's just not me. Chu Hi all the way!

    The sake was, how do I put it, you know the really rank yakitori that's the chicken gizzards or whatever it is? It was about that enjoyable. Either that or the feral salted herring you get for breakfast at your ryokan. Yes, it wasnt good.
     
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  39. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    There is cheaper.
    I can't recall exact prices but you can definitely get a feed under that.

    I WAS surprised at how much the on hill prices had gone up. I spent a lot lower, but I don't eat a lot. What a guy would have as a side dish is my lunch.
     
  40. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Onigiri and conbini food is still a cheap option.
     
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  41. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    No kidding I dont go to Japan to eat only conbini food.
     
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  42. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Need a 'Katsucurry index'.
    In most Japanese ski-jos you'd pay somewhere between ¥900-¥1200. How much is a Katsucurry in Niseko?
     
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  43. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    I remember about Y1800-ish
     
  44. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Apparently Chisenupuri to open again next season?
     
  45. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    For 1200 I would be wanting either a really big dish or really good quality, although it's hard to stuff up katsucurry. It is the economy of food in Japan.

    Count me out.
     
  46. shabu_shabu

    shabu_shabu One of Us

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    This guide gives you a sense of the cost of dining in and around Hirafu. Each listing has a per head price Its produced by the Niseko Promotions Board (the local tourism authority) and so is pretty objective not just one that you find in a hotel lobby and pretty up to date.
    http://www.winedineniseko.com/niseko-restaurants

    This is a guide to where to eat in Kutchan again with indicative per head price. It is a couple of years old but the prices would not have changed much (this is Japan) though some places may no longer operate.
    www.niseko.co.jp/kutchanrestaurantguide.pdf

    Between the two guides I count roughly around 250 restaurants - lots of choices.
     
  47. shabu_shabu

    shabu_shabu One of Us

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    Cat skiing only by Black Diamond Lodge at this stage. It is mentioned on their Facebook site.
     
  48. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah ¥1200 was definitely at very upper end of the scale (outside of Niseko of course). Normally I'd expect it to be around ¥1000. Not sure, but I may have seen that ¥1200 at Appi which is probably the most expensive place in Tohoku.
     
  49. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    ridiculous
     
  50. Chondro

    Chondro One of Us

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    I've a spare room that am thinking of renting out, let me know your dates. 500mtr from ace chairlift, walking distance to hirafu, or bus stop just out front
     
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