Advice needed Niseko trip next week

Kanji Krafting

Early Days
Nov 29, 2021
10
33
13
Hi all,

I am lucky enough to have already made it into Japan, finished quarantine and am heading to Hokkaido early next week.

Understand a lot of people on here are disappointed/frustrated currently, but would really appreciate some advice. There’s obviously loads of info on here but after staying up for hours reading through threads, although entertained, not that much wiser. If you could help or point me in the right direction would really be appreciated.

I am an intermediate snowboarder, going by myself, staying in Kutchan (Kutchanbashi) for 10 days. As next week is still low season, I’ll be using local buses until the hotel shuttle bus starts at the weekend. I speak ok Japanese. Will be renting board/boots. Getting the white liner to grand hirafu welcome centre arriving 13:15 the first day. I don’t fancy hiring a car.
What would be your recommendations for the following:

  1. Board/boots rental - any tips to reduce cost? Is it just a matter of doing it once arrive at the welcome centre or are there better deals to be had elsewhere?
  2. Lift tickets - first time going to a place where you don’t necessarily get the one ticket for the resort you’re staying at. What are your thoughts on Niseko United vs individual areas and multiple day tickets vs 1 day tickets. Was thinking getting 4 day low season ticket then 5 day regular season but is there a better approach? Last time I looked, where areas were open there was only a couple of lifts operating. I’m hoping that’s going to improve…
  3. Onsen/rotemburo - love an outside soak, and Kutchan doesn’t seem to be the place for them. Any recommendations?
  4. Any other tips/recommendations?


Thanks again.
 
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warhol

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Dec 4, 2007
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Hi all,

I am lucky enough to have already made it into Japan, finished quarantine and am heading to Hokkaido early next week.

Understand a lot of people on here are disappointed/frustrated currently, but would really appreciate some advice. There’s obviously loads of info on here but after staying up for hours reading through threads, although entertained, not that much wiser. If you could help or point me in the right direction would really be appreciated.

I am an intermediate snowboarder, going by myself, staying in Kutchan (Kutchanbashi) for 10 days. As next week is still low season, I’ll be using local buses until the hotel shuttle bus starts at the weekend. I speak ok Japanese. Will be renting board/boots. Getting the white liner to grand hirafu welcome centre arriving 13:15 the first day. I don’t fancy hiring a car.
What would be your recommendations for the following:

  1. Board/boots rental - any tips to reduce cost? Is it just a matter of doing it once arrive at the welcome centre or are there better deals to be had elsewhere?
  2. Lift tickets - first time going to a place where you don’t necessarily get the one ticket for the resort you’re staying at. What are your thoughts on Niseko United vs individual areas and multiple day tickets vs 1 day tickets. Was thinking getting 4 day low season ticket then 5 day regular season but is there a better approach? Last time I looked, where areas were open there was only a couple of lifts operating. I’m hoping that’s going to improve…
  3. Onsen/rotemburo - love an outside soak, and Kutchan doesn’t seem to be the place for them. Any recommendations?
  4. Any other tips/recommendations?


Thanks again.
Yes, very well done in getting there. Number one suggestion, is hire a car. Having done that opens up so much more, in terms of accessing some remote onsens that are in the area, as well as restaurants too. Haven't been to it, but I believe there is a good onsen in Niseko town.
 
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Kanji Krafting

Early Days
Nov 29, 2021
10
33
13
Yes, very well done in getting there. Number one suggestion, is hire a car. Having done that opens up so much more, in terms of accessing some remote onsens that are in the area, as well as restaurants too. Haven't been to it, but I believe there is a good onsen in Niseko town.
Thanks. I’ve brought an international license along with my UK one, just in case, but not experienced driving in snowy conditions and being by myself, and being knackered after full days boarding is why I’m not so keen, but something to consider. I guess regardless of how i get to the resorts (and getting around later), what are your thoughts on lift tickets?
 
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Hyst

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Hi all,

I am lucky enough to have already made it into Japan, finished quarantine and am heading to Hokkaido early next week.

Understand a lot of people on here are disappointed/frustrated currently, but would really appreciate some advice. There’s obviously loads of info on here but after staying up for hours reading through threads, although entertained, not that much wiser. If you could help or point me in the right direction would really be appreciated.

I am an intermediate snowboarder, going by myself, staying in Kutchan (Kutchanbashi) for 10 days. As next week is still low season, I’ll be using local buses until the hotel shuttle bus starts at the weekend. I speak ok Japanese. Will be renting board/boots. Getting the white liner to grand hirafu welcome centre arriving 13:15 the first day. I don’t fancy hiring a car.
What would be your recommendations for the following:

  1. Board/boots rental - any tips to reduce cost? Is it just a matter of doing it once arrive at the welcome centre or are there better deals to be had elsewhere?
  2. Lift tickets - first time going to a place where you don’t necessarily get the one ticket for the resort you’re staying at. What are your thoughts on Niseko United vs individual areas and multiple day tickets vs 1 day tickets. Was thinking getting 4 day low season ticket then 5 day regular season but is there a better approach? Last time I looked, where areas were open there was only a couple of lifts operating. I’m hoping that’s going to improve…
  3. Onsen/rotemburo - love an outside soak, and Kutchan doesn’t seem to be the place for them. Any recommendations?
  4. Any other tips/recommendations?


Thanks again.
3. Find a friend with car!
If not of course the one in Hirafu downer is possible and might not be overfilled this year.
If you do not mind midday you can ski to Annupuri. https://niseko-iroha.com/sp/
That is very nice.
If you take a arranged trip to Rusutsu find one with stop over at Makkarai onsen.

Best I can think of witout car.
 
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Hyst

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4. Extra:

As you live in Kutchan, try a bit outside to go https://www.nisekosandwich.com/access/
and befriend the girls and talk about how you miss onsen, and you can't get there - you never know.:cool:

However I am not shure if they have changed only to takeaway.
(my daughter was "TAKEN" by them some years ago), and ended up working there. https://sliceofhokkaido.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/abducted-to-the-beach/

You chance is there will not be many from abroad, and as you speak Japanese you newer know.
 
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Kanji Krafting

Early Days
Nov 29, 2021
10
33
13
4. Extra:

As you live in Kutchan, try a bit outside to go https://www.nisekosandwich.com/access/
and befriend the girls and talk about how you miss onsen, and you can't get there - you never know.:cool:

However I am not shure if they have changed only to takeaway.
(my daughter was "TAKEN" by them some years ago), and ended up working there. https://sliceofhokkaido.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/abducted-to-the-beach/

You chance is there will not be many from abroad, and as you speak Japanese you newer know.
Great read! Despite being told how delicious uni are, I can’t remember ever liking them, but sounds like one of those adventure days you can have when you’re young. Don’t think the opening hours of the sandwich shop will work if I’m on the slopes all day (hopefully), but great point; make friends and see what happens!
 
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LMB

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Hi Kanji-san
Great work managing to get in. Supremely jelly!

Bus stop at Kutchan Train Station takes you to Hirafu Resort - it’s certainly doable once you work out where the stops are and what the timetable is.

Driving is the best option. There is a hire car place right next to Lawsons on the Main Street if you change your mind. But do be aware, there’s been a few accidents and a fatality recently - early season ice in Niseko is deadly. Drive it like it’s a fish tank full of water and you don’t want to spill any.

Lift tix
Not worth All Mountain unless the top lifts are open so you can go across. Just get Grand Hirafu which includes Hanazono. If you find yourselves over at Annupuri or Niseko Village by accident you can always purchase an All Mountain Points pass to get back.

If you want to do Annupuri or Niseko Village get a pass there and stay the day. My advice would be different if the entire mountain was open.

Onsen - sorry not my thing - allergic to the sulphur so I don’t know.

Have fun.
And SHARE pics!!!
We hate you. (But in a nice way)
 
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Kanji Krafting

Early Days
Nov 29, 2021
10
33
13
Hi Kanji-san
Great work managing to get in. Supremely jelly!

Bus stop at Kutchan Train Station takes you to Hirafu Resort - it’s certainly doable once you work out where the stops are and what the timetable is.

Driving is the best option. There is a hire car place right next to Lawsons on the Main Street if you change your mind. But do be aware, there’s been a few accidents and a fatality recently - early season ice in Niseko is deadly. Drive it like it’s a fish tank full of water and you don’t want to spill any.

Lift tix
Not worth All Mountain unless the top lifts are open so you can go across. Just get Grand Hirafu which includes Hanazono. If you find yourselves over at Annupuri or Niseko Village by accident you can always purchase an All Mountain Points pass to get back.

If you want to do Annupuri or Niseko Village get a pass there and stay the day. My advice would be different if the entire mountain was open.

Onsen - sorry not my thing - allergic to the sulphur so I don’t know.

Have fun.
And SHARE pics!!!
We hate you. (But in a nice way)
Great, thanks so much! (Enjoyed reading about your instructor course experience on a Niseko thread. Very jealous of that!!).
 
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Annabuzzy

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Yes, very well done in getting there. Number one suggestion, is hire a car. Having done that opens up so much more, in terms of accessing some remote onsens that are in the area, as well as restaurants too. Haven't been to it, but I believe there is a good onsen in Niseko town.
You could hire a car. Or just get a cab when you need to get to an onsen. Ordering a cab as you need one will be much cheaper than hiring a car. Plus you don’t need to put your boots on in a frozen ski resort car park.

Public transport is very good there. And with visitation likely to be 25% of normal, Niseko will be offering ski conditions like it was 2004.
 
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skifree

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Thanks. I’ve brought an international license along with my UK one, just in case, but not experienced driving in snowy conditions and being by myself, and being knackered after full days boarding is why I’m not so keen, but something to consider. I guess regardless of how i get to the resorts (and getting around later), what are your thoughts on lift tickets?

Don’t panic, enjoy the car.
 
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Lucky Pete

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Public transport is very good there. And with visitation likely to be 25% of normal, Niseko will be offering ski conditions like it was 2004.
Based on what we are seeing in Hakuba I reckon thats a very optimistic number and we have a much bigger domestic market. This will defineitely be the year to be up there though. Even a few of us from Hakuba are going to venture north for the 1st time in years. Looking forward to seeing how much its changed.
 
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Nemps20

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Based on what we are seeing in Hakuba I reckon thats a very optimistic number and we have a much bigger domestic market. This will defineitely be the year to be up there though. Even a few of us from Hakuba are going to venture north for the 1st time in years. Looking forward to seeing how much its changed.
you'll think you have landed in another country @Lucky Pete from what I have seen :)
 
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LMB

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Looking forward to seeing how much its changed.
It’s been a few years for you now, you won’t recognise the place. Every year we wander through town after the construction of summer and are amazed at what they’ve done in a few short months.

But the changes at Hanazono, Gondie Base and a few other big buildings around town have really blown my mind regarding the SCALE.
Said to PB just yesterday that it was always a mind twist arriving each year, but coming back after missing 2 Winters I’ll get lost!
 
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Kanji Krafting

Early Days
Nov 29, 2021
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A few photos from last few days (if I’ve done it correctly). Snowing decently today and hoping the rest of the lifts open tomorrow. For reference, bussing it has been fine, bus stops outside the hotel helps. Got board rental through the White Liner company (Good Sports) and therefore got a discount and ended up about half the cost of that listed on the Hirafu site (and they kindly gave me a lift to my hotel after arriving). Kutchan town isn’t very busy at all, local businesses are struggling, had a chat with the gentleman at J’s grill. Slopes are quiet but getting busier I think. We’ll see what the weekend is like (if my knee holds up). Wish you were here!
 
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Annabuzzy

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A few photos from last few days (if I’ve done it correctly). Snowing decently today and hoping the rest of the lifts open tomorrow. For reference, bussing it has been fine, bus stops outside the hotel helps. Got board rental through the White Liner company (Good Sports) and therefore got a discount and ended up about half the cost of that listed on the Hirafu site (and they kindly gave me a lift to my hotel after arriving). Kutchan town isn’t very busy at all, local businesses are struggling, had a chat with the gentleman at J’s grill. Slopes are quiet but getting busier I think. We’ll see what the weekend is like (if my knee holds up). Wish you were here!
Photos haven’t worked so far but I’m glad it’s all panning out, and more than a little bit jealous!
 
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Kanji Krafting

Early Days
Nov 29, 2021
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Try again… here’s a live pic from Hanazono Edge

image.jpg
 
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dcx3

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Why didn't they extend the number 1 lift replacing the number 2 lift at Hanazono? or better yet make a gondola replacing the number 1 and 2 lift?
 
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LMB

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Why didn't they extend the number 1 lift replacing the number 2 lift at Hanazono? or better yet make a gondola replacing the number 1 and 2 lift?
I’m not privy to the back room debates on these things but here is my thoughts on why…

1. The terrain accessed from the top station of Hana1 is good, a lot of people will lap Strawberry Fields/ Blueberries or Stairway to Heaven on repeat. Bypassing it would annoy a lot of people.

2. The Green Flat bit that runs alongside the Hana2 lift (I see they’ve now named it Mango Salad LOL) sucks. If you had to ride that bit before hitting Strawberries each time, ooofff, people would either be jumping off lifts of just avoiding it after a while. Always struck me as an awesome pitch to learn how to ski lapped over and over, but then you’ve gotta get down Silver Dream at the end!

3. That lift line gets quite wind effected. It is the one in the middle that doesn’t have a bubble hood, 1 and 3 do - 2 doesn’t. That has to be due to cross winds and going on windhold. So if you had the choice of a hooded chairlift that went that high but went on windhold a lot, or a shorter hooded chairlift that rarely went on hold with a smaller open chair that occasionally went on hold - which would you choose.

4. For the sheer comfort factor I hope they find a chair design for Hana2 that can run in winds, because that lift can be awfully chilly! Even if that means building wind barriers the length of the lift.
 
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Annabuzzy

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I’m not privy to the back room debates on these things but here is my thoughts on why…

1. The terrain accessed from the top station of Hana1 is good, a lot of people will lap Strawberry Fields/ Blueberries or Stairway to Heaven on repeat. Bypassing it would annoy a lot of people.

2. The Green Flat bit that runs alongside the Hana2 lift (I see they’ve now named it Mango Salad LOL) sucks. If you had to ride that bit before hitting Strawberries each time, ooofff, people would either be jumping off lifts of just avoiding it after a while. Always struck me as an awesome pitch to learn how to ski lapped over and over, but then you’ve gotta get down Silver Dream at the end!

3. That lift line gets quite wind effected. It is the one in the middle that doesn’t have a bubble hood, 1 and 3 do - 2 doesn’t. That has to be due to cross winds and going on windhold. So if you had the choice of a hooded chairlift that went that high but went on windhold a lot, or a shorter hooded chairlift that rarely went on hold with a smaller open chair that occasionally went on hold - which would you choose.

4. For the sheer comfort factor I hope they find a chair design for Hana2 that can run in winds, because that lift can be awfully chilly! Even if that means building wind barriers the length of the lift.
It’s one of the big decisions of a first run of the day from Hanazono…powder through strawberry fields or raspberry (?) fields, or even an open standard trail if ungroomed from the top of Hana1? Or keep going up and ski one of left or right ball at the top of Hana3? I reckon I’d be 50/50 on that each time.

I will on occasion though just lap the lower half, occasionally throwing in a waterfall, until my first coffee.
 
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dcx3

Hard Yards
Nov 13, 2015
49
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Osaka
I’m not privy to the back room debates on these things but here is my thoughts on why…

1. The terrain accessed from the top station of Hana1 is good, a lot of people will lap Strawberry Fields/ Blueberries or Stairway to Heaven on repeat. Bypassing it would annoy a lot of people.

2. The Green Flat bit that runs alongside the Hana2 lift (I see they’ve now named it Mango Salad LOL) sucks. If you had to ride that bit before hitting Strawberries each time, ooofff, people would either be jumping off lifts of just avoiding it after a while. Always struck me as an awesome pitch to learn how to ski lapped over and over, but then you’ve gotta get down Silver Dream at the end!

3. That lift line gets quite wind effected. It is the one in the middle that doesn’t have a bubble hood, 1 and 3 do - 2 doesn’t. That has to be due to cross winds and going on windhold. So if you had the choice of a hooded chairlift that went that high but went on windhold a lot, or a shorter hooded chairlift that rarely went on hold with a smaller open chair that occasionally went on hold - which would you choose.

4. For the sheer comfort factor I hope they find a chair design for Hana2 that can run in winds, because that lift can be awfully chilly! Even if that means building wind barriers the length of the lift.
I agree with all your points especially the terrain sucks bit, on a heavy snow day sooo many people struggle especially snowboarders. Hana 2 is a necessary cold evil and also would like them to find a way to improve that lift.
 
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