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Trip Report Shiga Kogen & Myoko Kogen

Discussion in 'Japan' started by shepski, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Hi all, brief report of our planning and trip so far.

    I found some cheap Singapore airlines flights on Skyscanner back in June and got flight centre to price match as it was though a third party seller who I don't trust too much and booking direct through the airline was a fair bit more pricy. Cost was around $800 return from Perth.

    Accommodation booked through Michael Motosue at IXSM travel as he's been super helpful booking group trips previously. This year it is my wife Anna and I only, we're dearly missing our regular travel buddies!

    The lovely @LMB volunteered to help us with getting our boards ready, can't thank you enough, great to meet you and talk all things snow!

    Flights via Singapore were typical Singapore Airlines, great service, on time and decent food. We got into Tokyo (Narita) around 7.30 in the morning, then took the skyliner into Tokyo then the shinkansen to Nagano. Little bit of shopping and wandering around before getting on the Nagaden bus (east exit, stand 23, ¥2,000).
    20190121_174505.jpg 20190121_185807.jpg

    Staying at Prince hotel west, second time here. Cheap and cheerful, not fancy and certainly not fussed. Rooms are tidy and comfy, and cosy by Japanese standards.

    Sunny when we arrived and started lightly snowing late Sunday 21st. The picture is out our window looking back towards Ichinose.
    20190119_160252.jpg

    Up early monday, bit of snow around and a few crusty sections from Sunday's sun, stuck mainly to the groomers at Yaketebai to get our snowboard legs back. Lots of people about given it was a Sunday.
    Had lunch at the Chinese restaurant outside Prince West, nice food and quick service. Nice late afternoon onsen then off to the Nepalese restaurant for dinner, ¥3,000 for a shared dinner with two sorts of curry, shishkebab and chicken wings with two massive bits of delicious naan bread. Snowing hard by this stage with a forecast for heavy overnight snow.

    What a morning! Still snowing light flaky goodness. Spent the day at Yaketebai again. Groomers were ankle deep, just off piste knee deep or deeper. Lots of 'woo'ing' from everyone out there. One of the best days we've had!
    20190121_091745.jpg 20190121_104612.jpg 20190120_113323.jpg
     
  2. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    This was about 10am near the Quad lift at Prince south.

    The YouTube vid is Anna quickly finding her powder legs!
     

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  3. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Coolio, we’ll be there in 4 weeks, staying at Prince West.
    We’ll follow your TR with interest, haven’t been skiing in Japan since 87!
     
  4. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Go Anna!!
    Love that little squeal!
    :thumbs:
     
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  5. JoeKing

    JoeKing Old n' Thrusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  6. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hi all, brief report of our planning and trip so far.

    I found some cheap Singapore airlines flights on Skyscanner back in June and got flight centre to price match as it was though a third party seller who I don't trust too much and booking direct through the airline was a fair bit more pricy. Cost was around $800 return from Perth.

    Accommodation booked through Michael Motosue at IXSM travel as he's been super helpful booking group trips previously. This year it is my wife Anna and I only, we're dearly missing our regular travel buddies!

    The lovely @LMB volunteered to help us with getting our boards ready, can't thank you enough, great to meet you and talk all things snow!

    Flights via Singapore were typical Singapore Airlines, great service, on time and decent food. We got into Tokyo (Narita) around 7.30 in the morning, then took the skyliner into Tokyo then the shinkansen to Nagano. Little bit of shopping and wandering around before getting on the Nagaden bus (east exit, stand 23, ¥2,000).



    Staying at Prince hotel west, second time here. Cheap and cheerful, not fancy and certainly not fussed. Rooms are tidy and comfy, and cosy by Japanese standards.

    Sunny when we arrived and started lightly snowing late Sunday 21st. The picture is out our window looking back towards Ichinose.


    Up early monday, bit of snow around and a few crusty sections from Sunday's sun, stuck mainly to the groomers at Yaketebai to get our snowboard legs back. Lots of people about given it was a Sunday.
    Had lunch at the Chinese restaurant outside Prince West, nice food and quick service. Nice late afternoon onsen then off to the Nepalese restaurant for dinner, ¥3,000 for a shared dinner with two sorts of curry, shishkebab and chicken wings with two massive bits of delicious naan bread. Snowing hard by this stage with a forecast for heavy overnight snow.

    What a morning! Still snowing light flaky goodness. Spent the day at Yaketebai again. Groomers were ankle deep, just off piste knee deep or deeper. Lots of 'woo'ing' from everyone out there. One of the best days we've had!




    Click on the insert full image option rather than thumbnail so we can see the image more easily.
     
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  7. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    He's not a full member , so may not have that ability to post full size images
     
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  8. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Dinner last night at Izakaya Time at Hotel Dairoku. Great food and service, sashimi was delicious, grilled chicken and rice hit the spot. Easy to find with the red lanterns out the front.

    Snowed hard overnight and into the morning, this video is from the breakfast dining hall shortly after 7am.

    First lift at 8.30, followed Anna down the groomer to the gondola (first youtube vid below), not that it looks much like a groomer, plenty of fresh snow everywhere. Much fun had under the quad lift from prince south (second vid below). We spent the morning at Yaketebai then headed to Okushiga Kogen, quick stop at restaurant St Christophe but a bit late and no apple pie left. Must be early for the tasty pastries.



    Lots of off piste fun through the trees off the zig zag family run, started to get very windy and almost whiteout for a while back up the top. Got a bit stuck in the knee deep! Second pic is from Anna, taken on the walk between Okushiga and Yaketebai top lifts.

     

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  9. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Got the full size pics sorted, thanks! Not sure about the small video so I've done the rest on YouTube.
     
  10. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Le Chamois at Okushiga Kogen is also very nice. Thumbs up for Dairoku; be sure to give Teppa Bar in Chalet Shiga a try too - good selection of food and very tasty local beer.
     
  11. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Also the Taco Bar in Shiga Grand is excellent. Quesadillas are huge!
     
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  12. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Booked in for Teppa bar tomorrow night :) Le chamois is on the list as we've not made it in there yet, maybe later on this week. So many areas to explore and we've barely scratched the surface.
     
  13. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We will be there in 3 weeks.. please just give me at least one day like that...be looking for some tips on locations to ski when were there, have no idea about the place, but excited..
     
  14. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yakebitaiyama was my favourite: large area, long runs, good variety, and easy connections to other areas (eg Okushiga Kogen, Ichinose). Take lots of time to explore though.
     
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  15. mannyk

    mannyk One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for the tip, we're staying In Ichinose..only there for 4 days so not sure how far we will explore..our 5th trip and never skied powder on groomers, im not much for the trees..
     
  16. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    You’ll be fine - lots of groomers at Shiga Kogen, where off-piste is very much frowned upon.
     
  17. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    That snowy pic is just stunning!
    And I loved seeing the rooster tails in the first vid! Pure joy happening right there :thumbs:
     
  18. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    We had a rest day yesterday (Wednesday) due to a combination of feeling like my body is falling to pieces, and being grumpy and tired as apparently stompy the elephant is staying in the room above ours and was parading around until 1am. Hotel hint: if you're a light sleeper, bring earplugs, the floors aren't thick. We slept in, had brekky, watched some NHL (internet is reasonably fast in the morning but slows down after about 4pm). It was a beautiful day, nice and sunny and very uncrowded, just a small amount of snow overnight Tues/Weds. Dinner at Teppa room, had the duck liver pate, ribs, dumplings and the dessert pizza, all delicious, would go back for sure. I'm not a beer drinker but they've got a large local range.

    Sun over Yaketebai

    A massive school group has arrived, all in matching gear


    Uncrowded slopes at Ichinose Diamond


    Uncrowded slopes at Ichinose Family


    Information centre


    Thursday - lots of snow overnight and coming down hard at breakfast time. Super windy and top lifts at Okushiga Kogen closed, Yaketebai top lifts running slow at times. Spent the day there, I think the weather must have put some people off as there were plenty of fresh lines to be had even after lunch. Dinner at 101 at Villa Ichinose, would go back for the ramen, not so much for the sweet and sour pork bowl. Super friendly service.


    Anna in knee deep on an ungroomed run

    Groomed run with plenty of deep stuff off to the sides

    After lunch fun in the trees
     
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  19. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Where is that school group of ski's taken. I'm struggling to pick the location that they set up like that. Is it out the front of Prince west in that circular bit next to the ramen/chinese place?
     
  20. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Its in the carpark out the front of the main entrance of all places! They had a production line set up inside to hand out all of their clothing, goggles etc, super organised. They spent the day in lessons at prince west, quite a few other hotels have similar sized groups.
     
  21. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow. We only ever saw the big groups of "Minions", as we call them, at Ichinose Family and Diamond, and then a few groups with a guide on the western side of the prince west.

    That "green" run off the quad by the prince west is not a very beginner friendly green. I hope they were not first timers!
     
  22. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    There were a couple of green looking groups that I saw struggling their way down that run, still had smiles going though.
     
  23. elSpike

    elSpike I am a Meat Popsicle Ski Pass: Gold

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    Baptism of fire! At least the snow is soft when they fall!
     
  24. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Friday was a ripper sunshiny day. As Okushiga Kogen was mostly closed on Thursday, we went straight over there in the morning, hardly any wind and plenty of deep powder. Off to the side of the steep olympic run was the pick of the day through the trees. Lunch was at the sports bar, nice curry with pork (a bit pricy at 1500 yen) and a big screen tv showing snowboarding movies.
    Burton demo boards

    From the lookout at the top of Okushiga Kogen. There is a diagram on a board pointing out the mountains in the area.

    From the top lift at Okushiga Kogen where you walk back over to Yaketebai. As you walk back, one of the backcountry gates is on your left. Not game enough to head in there without a guide and the proper gear.


    Today was awesome, heavy snow overnight and through the morning (little video from the lift) and eased off for a while and has been snowing solidly all afternoon and as I write this at 9.30 pm. Tomorrow is going to be huge. We are heading to Myoko tomorrow and were planning on spending most of the day in Nagano first but that has been quashed to get a few hours in here first.
    Didn't get many pics today but of interest was apples in the onsen.
     

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  25. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Our last day at Shiga Kogen was massive. Not really much time for photos but Yaketebai reported 50cm of snow and it was more up on the mountain for sure. Main quad lift opened 30 mins late as they needed time to dig it out.
    Might be hard to tell from this photo but they basically dug a groove down this run so you could make it through. Just off to the side of the run was waist deep as I found out very quickly before digging myself out.

    Book lessons via an ipad at prince west.


    We took the Nagaden bus to Nagano, had some lunch then on the train to Myoko Kogen station. Fyi, it is Shinano railway not JR so you buy your tickets at the little office in the middle of Nagano station at the bottom of the escalators, 830yen from memory. From the station we got the local bus in to Akakura Onsen as it lined up nicely with the train arrival.

    Madarao off in the distance, beautiful afternoon for a ski.

    Quick kebab for dinner, as good as I remember from last year. He's on the main street, 700yen with cheese and egg and your choice of sauce.

    Lots of snow, kudos to those who constantly clear the paths!

    Last year we stayed at Daimaru hotel which is now closed and looking very sad up the top of the hill, this year we're at Akakura park hotel. Smaller rooms but functional and clean, super helpful staff, big heated drying room is handy too. Monday we had a rest day as there was big snow forecast overnight, and boy did it deliver. 50cm+ so we spent the day at Akakura Onsen, towards Akakanko in the morning then the other side in the afternoon. The morning was blowing a gale, few of lifts open late while they dug them out and not many people around so had plenty of fresh tracks.

    Utopia course, not steep but fun on and off the run. Tree lines were fun.

    Rabbit course from the Kumado 2 pair lift

    The sun cleared in the afternoon, sensational weather.

    Haven't gone through todays vids but here is a quick on of the utopia b run following Anna.


    Dinner last night, can't remember name right now but at the T junction, downstairs. Lots of gyoza, very nice, will go back.

    We ate at Mr Burger tonight, little pricey for a burger but quite good. No snow forecast until Thursday so may head over to Suginohara in the morning.
     
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  26. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Wednesday we started at Akakura Onsen and worked our way over to Akakura Kanko. No new snow so it was more of an exploring trip to suss out some spots. We had lunch at restaurant maple, I think it was a teriyaki chicken and onion dish, was very nice.

    Photo taken from just below restaurant Maple, beautiful views.

    Groomers were nice. The sun was really out so conditions were a little sketchy later in the day. I think so much powder riding has made me a bit lazy and I struggle with technique on days where it gets a bit icy/hard. Saw a military jet fly over which was pretty cool, moving way too fast to get the phone out for a photo!


    Thursday we just spent around Akakura onsen, lots of crusty snow from the previous sunny day but big snow was forecast for Friday so we got up early and took the ski shuttle bus over to Suginohara (500yen each way, 25 mins). Relatively speaking, it was packed, lots of Aussies and European skiers and snowboarders. Got chatting with a Finnish lady who was on her second Japanese trip. Plenty of fresh snow, particularly mid mountain for the less adventurous of us who aren't really comfortable with the steeper stuff up higher. Lots of people ducking ropes but ski patrol seemed indifferent...Lunch was at the restaurant in the photo below, a sweet pork dish, delish. It was packed out but quick service.

    Search and rescue fees for those curious..local magazine had an article about a German Shepherd rescue dog called Charles (Sharuru) but we sadly didn't see him around.

    Steak sandwich at full circle Akakura Onsen, 1000yen, tasty. I'm in a steak sandwich group in Perth so if I see one somewhere I'm obligated to taste and report back. Good value for 1000yen.

    My new favourite icecream. No idea how I haven't seen these beforw but I'll eat as many as I can before coming home. God help me if I find them in Perth as I have no self control.

    Saturday we spent at Akakura Onsen, still some fresh lines to be found, I'd say it wasn't as busy as Suginohara the day before.


    Piece of cake at the restaurant above the start of the Akakura Onsen quad.

    Views for miles...

    I'm writing this on the Shinkansen heading towards Tokyo, we left a day early as conditions in Myoko are looking average today with rain forecast. Hopefully that doesn't happen and it turns into snow instead. Thought I'd talk gear too. I'm on a Burton Custom, Flying V 158w. Anna is on a Burton Dejavu 152. Both good all rounders but next time were back I'm planning on going a couple of guided tours and hiring a powder board, there have been more than a few times on this trip I think I could have used one and I'm curious what they're like. I love Myoko Kogen but it was a bit sad to see the bogan Aussie element this week with some people carrying on like pork chops on the streets. I like a drink and a good time but seeing people being disrespectful to the locals is embarrassing.


    More to come from Tokyo if anyone is interested, few things to see including Disneyland!
     

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  27. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    I hope you are not headed to Disney over the long weekend.... :)

    Pro tip, no alcoholic drinks and Disneyland but they sell beer as Disney Sea ;)
     
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  28. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Nope, we went on Tuesday. Still packed, we did wonder how it would be crowd wise over a long weekend and also in better weather. Disney Sea was the choice as the rides looked better but the Indiana Jones one was closed as well as the Toy Story (I think) one which was a bummer but we still saw plenty.
     
  29. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    We may have taken a detour onto the wrong train at the station (I think it was Omiya?) on the way back to Tokyo but the train we were on went through Ueno so I thought that'd be a good place to get off and get our bearings.
    Luggage rack on the Shinkansen with straps for board bags makes things easy.


    As it was early, we decided to store the bags (Board bag and big suitcase were sent from Myoko to the Airport so we just had a little suitcase) and head to Ueno Zoo. Quite cheap at 600yen for an adult ticket. Anna and I both love zoo's and make a point of visiting one in most cities we visit, Ueno zoo has a bit more concrete than I'd like to see in most of the enclosures. I'm sure the animals are well looked after but I think they could do to upgrade some of the older sections. The panda exhibit had a line about an hour long so if you're keen to see them, try and get there early as nothing else there seemed to have a line at all.
    Happy little Lemur.
    Storks which don't quite look real, I assure you they are.

    The parklands around the Zoo are nice too, plenty going on with food vans, street entertainers and musicians.


    Just across from the Yamashita entrance to Ueno station is a little store selling steamed buns with chocolate filling (and other types too). Hopefully this link works, the store in the picture has a display with the delicious treat in the pic below :) https://www.google.com/maps/@35.712...4!1sVdzXGLbeufgJ2mUS19fTLg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192


    Back on the train to our hotel, APA Higashi Shinjuku Kabukicho. We've stayed across the other side of Shinjuku before as well as Yoyogi, enjoyed it so figured we'd stick to the area. Closest train station about 200 metres away so very convenient, lots of restaurants and other entertainment choices. Absolutely starving by this stage, we ended up in Shibuya at Uobei which is one of the Genki Sushi restaurants where you order on an ipad and the food comes out on a little conveyor belt. Cheap and cheerful. After eating our body weight in sushi, we wandered around checking out the eclectic fashion of the locals, trucks driving around playing loud music and selling something which I have no idea about and high end cars, I've never seen so many AMG G Wagons in one area.

    Murasaki sports have a sale on, didn't spend too much time looking as we didn't need any more gear but some of the prices on clothing seemed pretty reasonable.


    The next day we went to the Samurai Museum (https://www.samuraimuseum.jp/en/) which is worth a visit. The guide was knowledgeable and spoke English well as he'd lived in the US for 5 years or so and they've got exhibits 300+ years old which are very interesting.


    Next up was a trip to the Oslo batting centre as we'd seen this walking around Shinjuku previously but not had the time to visit. A few games turned into many games, its very addictive. A game is 20 balls and depending on how many you buy vary between about 300 yen to 200 yen. Speeds are from 80kph to about 125kph https://www.google.com/maps/place/O...xf1afd7bfabc7a2f0!8m2!3d35.69692!4d139.702574
    No photos from the batting itself but this looked a little dodgy from the claw machine...


    I've lost track of which days we did what activity but we walked through Yoyogo park to Harajuku to visit the Harry hedgehog cafe http://www.harinezumi-cafe.com/en/. We ended up visiting two of their cafe's, one was hedgehogs only which you can hold and feed, the other also had otters (feed only) and chinchillas & rabbits (hold and feed).



    Outside the cafe a few cool cars rolled past then this bloke drew quite a crowd, a couple of days later this article popped up on my news feed, has a photo of the same car below as well as some very nice other cars. Next time we'll try and check out one of the meets if we can time it right. https://jalopnik.com/welcome-to-the-wild-world-of-tokyos-underground-lowride-1826096379


    Next was a trip to Akihabara including the obligatory visit to play vintage video games on the top floor for as long as we can stand the cigarette smoke. We went to the shooting range (http://www.akiba.target-1.com/) to have a go with the pellet guns, they've got knock down type targets, paper targets and also a timed challenge where you have 6 targets to hit. The record is just under 6 seconds, it's bloody hard and Anna beat me with a sub 9 second time. The guns can go full auto if that's your thing!


    Quick walk down to Kanda, noticed the One Make shop had a decent range of second hand gear, mostly boards but some bindings too which may be good for someone on a first trip.
     

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  30. shepski

    shepski Addicted

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    Next up, Tokyo Disneysea. Didn't get many photos as I was just doing my best to not run into the massive crowds. I think we stuffed up and thought it opened at 8.30 so go there really early but tickets weren't on sale until 9. Learnings from the day:
    Pre purchase tickets and print them out. We didn't and it sucked.
    If you don't pre purchase tickets, get someone to line up in the ticket line, and someone else to line up in the entry line, as by the time you've got your tickets you are waaaay back in the entry line.
    The opening of the park is a civil version of a black Friday sale. People running everywhere with staff holding signs to try and slow them down.
    Get a fast pass for a ride straight away, then go and do something else before the lines get too big. Only two of the rides have the 'single user' line, so use that if you're not fussed about sitting next to a friend on the ride. I think if you've got kids, either Disney Land or Disney Sea is a must visit.
    A full day of walking left us knackered and I managed to lose my Pasmo card between leaving the park, and the exit from the monorail. We got some takeaway food and ate in our hotel room as physically moving was no longer an option.


    Back in Perth, a few of my friends and I have a group which is searching for the best steak sandwich, anywhere. Two rooms Tokyo http://www.tworooms.jp/en/ has one on their menu, seemingly expensive at 3,400yen but delicious, a solid 9.5/10. Service was amazing and the outdoor deck would be a great place for a drink and lunch if the weather allows.

    We spent the afternoon in Harajuku, lots of second hand stores and funky places to check out. If you've got kids who want stickers for their boards/skis, check out https://bside-label.com/ store.

    Long walk over to Akasaka past all the fancy car dealerships
    Lexus LFA
    Honda NSX being driven in the wet. There was the new model in the Honda dealership not far from here.

    I couldn't even afford this much Mclaren

    I could probably afford the coolest looking police van ever though

    Dinner was at Ninja Asaka as recommended by @LMB . There are a few surprises and the food is amazing. We had the Yamato Spirit course (10 courses, 6,999 yen) and it was fantastic. I think most theme restaurants are let down by the food but that isn't the case here. Book early as it is popular. http://www.ninjaakasaka.com/



    Just around the corner from our hotel was the Ninja Trick House - http://ninja-trick-house.com/en/
    If you've got kids, take them. Its fun, you learn a bit about the differences between Ninja and Samurai, get to throw ninja stars and hit things with swords.

    This ended our trip, train back to Haneda to pick up the bags, if you've used Black Cat service and are wondering where to go, its the desk between the K & L check in areas. Flight back was non eventful, the Tokyo to Singapore leg was on the A350, great plane, comfy seats and cool entertainment system. Second leg from Singapore to Perth was on one of the older planes but the service is still great, would fly with them again. They did get the tape measure out for the snowboard bag but no issues with size or weight fortunately.

    Back at work tomorrow, then the planning begins for next year's adventure. Thanks to all who have provided advice on these forums, it's been invaluable and I hope I can give back where possible. Any questions, feel free to ask here or flick me a PM.
    Thanks again to @LMB for your help with the boards before we left, they performed flawlessly by the way!
     
    elSpike, fennekeg, Hyst and 4 others like this.
  31. skivet

    skivet Addicted

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    Thanks for the trip report Shepski! Loved the photos and commentary, may your trips to Japan be many!
     
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  32. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ah I’m so glad you got to go.
    The food really is lovely isn’t it. Never been disappointed yet.

    It was my absolute pleasure to pay it forward, I’ve been the recipient of much help and advice and friendship from these forums in the past, and it was great to meet you and the lovely Anna also.
     
    shepski and elSpike like this.