Question ski hire Zao Onsen and Appi Kogen

arthritiski

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Jun 28, 2016
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Hi guys. Planning our 8th trip to Japan, and, as always, going somewhere new. We have 4 nights in Zao and 4 nights in Appi. We always hire our ski gear once we arrive, and usually plan our accom to fit in with the ease of picking up from the most recommended ski hire place. This time I have found it difficult to figure out which hire place in Zao will be best. (Best = good quality, premium skis)

We are staying near Zao Base Centre Jupia - the Uwanodai area. I understand there is a ski hire place at the Base Centre. Has anyone tried it, or at lat least had a look in there?

Any feedback and advice would be much appreciated.

Cheers
 

Heinz

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Been to those places but can't help on ski hire. I always travel with my own skis.

Zao is actually a collection of ski areas each with their own set of shops, ski schools, hire etc. There were certainly a collection of shops in the Uwanodai area, probably a couple of ski hire places but know nothing about them. Nice village to walk through. Recommend visiting the wood carving shop with the Kokeshi dolls just down the road from where you will be staying.

Appi is completely different - one big base centre with just about everything in the one building.
 
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arthritiski

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Thanks Heinz. Appi Grand has a Salomon and Atomic deal at their ski rental place - hopefully they get new gear each season - looks OK on their website. Zao Onsen is more of a mystery. I guess we will just cross our fingers and hope the rental place at Uwanodai is OK.

I am old enough to remember skiing on "fence palings". I'm sure I'll manage. ;)

We live in Singapore where ski gear literally falls apart in the humidity (the list of items that we've thrown out due to disintegration is long and sad...). There is nowhere to buy gear here, and we have always been pretty happy with what we've hired in Japan. Having said that I always research first and try to know exactly which shop I am going to before I get to the resort!
 

Sandy

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Thanks Heinz. Appi Grand has a Salomon and Atomic deal at their ski rental place - hopefully they get new gear each season - looks OK on their website. Zao Onsen is more of a mystery. I guess we will just cross our fingers and hope the rental place at Uwanodai is OK.

I am old enough to remember skiing on "fence palings". I'm sure I'll manage. ;)

We live in Singapore where ski gear literally falls apart in the humidity (the list of items that we've thrown out due to disintegration is long and sad...). There is nowhere to buy gear here, and we have always been pretty happy with what we've hired in Japan. Having said that I always research first and try to know exactly which shop I am going to before I get to the resort!
It can almost be cheaper to buy skis, than to hire.
 

arthritiski

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Jun 28, 2016
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Then we have to bring them home with us and find somewhere to put them.....You are right though - it does get expensive.

Hubby still insists on owning ski boots, but mine disintegrated ages ago. I have had some really nice rental boots in recent years. Last year at Myoko Snowsports we got great gear! :)
 

arthritiski

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Jun 28, 2016
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Nozawaman, that is a good idea, except we are going to Zao first!

I have often wondered if there is a good ski hire place in Tokyo itself?
 

Dave.Ski

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Hi there. There is a place called Best Rental in your area and it has some good gear. Their boot range was new and varied and they had a range of powder skis. I asked to go behind the counter as it's hard to see what they have and that wasn't a problem. It's good to have an idea of what you are after. The base area at Appi has a great variety of ski styles by Salomon and Atomic as you have seen. They are happy for you to swap skis whenever you like so you can gear up for the conditions.
 

Heinz

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Then we have to bring them home with us and find somewhere to put them.....You are right though - it does get expensive.

Hubby still insists on owning ski boots, but mine disintegrated ages ago. I have had some really nice rental boots in recent years. Last year at Myoko Snowsports we got great gear! :)

I would agree with your Hubby. There are valid arguments for hiring skis rather than getting and taking your own - a short trip only, ease of travel and storage. Boots though are a different thing - a pair of good fitting boots is very important. I would want to be spending time on a trip trying to fit boots. And there isn't the same issue with travelling with boots as there is for skis. You may have been lucky so far with rental boots.
 

Heinz

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I don't think I would bother with Takkyubinning rental skis from one resort to the other. You would need to allow a couple of days for it and I just don't think it would be worth it. I'm sure you will find some reasonable rental skis in Zao. Even if not directly where you are staying somewhere else in the village.

Also I think your plan of Zao then Appi would be fine. They are completely different terrain wise. Zao has lots of shortish fall line runs over a fairly wide area. You can stay on one side and do short laps for a while, so you get more regular breaks. If it is fine definitely head up to the top for the Juyho. Appi though is generally very long fall line runs if you ride the gondolas.
 

arthritiski

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Jun 28, 2016
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Thanks for all the great feedback guys. I had seen the "Best Rental" website and had planned to check them out - thanks for the heads up Dave. Is this the same one that Powderhound mentions, that is in the Zao Base Centre Jupia?

JoeKing - don't tempt me to buy new boots! My last pair turned to mush in the humidity here - it was heartbreaking!

Heinz - hubby is very particular about his boots for the reasons you give. I actually own a pair of personalised boot liners which I take with me, and use the rental shell, although the last couple of trips I got brand new hire boots which were so comfy that I didn't bother swapping the liners over.

We picked Zao + Appi for the reasons you suggest - they are both different. Plus we have friends joining us who have never been to a "bubble era" style resort or a true onsen town. Hubby is a keen photographer so the Juyho are another attraction. (Although we got lucky years ago at Shiga and saw the ones at the top on a beautiful bluebird day!)

Cheers. :)
 

Heinz

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I guess you are staying at the Grand hotel in Appi? Convenient but a bit expensive for a single. First time I stayed at the Pension village down the road and this year I just did a day trip from Morioka. Actually found a few smaller ski areas more to my liking.
 
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arthritiski

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Yes Heinz, we are at the Appi Grand Tower - bit of a splurge ( we are celebrating 25 years of skiing together). I too am "old and crusty" and prefer ski in/out these days. Can't carry my skis very far - in fact hubby or son carry my skis and I carry their poles these days. Would be interested in doing one day at one of the smaller resorts if transport can be arranged. Hubby likes the chance to get off piste (I do too if there are no trees!), and we both like cruising, exploring, different scenery. Hubby ex ski patroller - still a strong skier. I am a very experienced skier - probably call myself advanced rather than expert though. Is there a particular resort near Appi you would recommend?
 

Heinz

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Is there a particular resort near Appi you would recommend?

Checked out a few this year (see thread below). Shimokura is a small quiet field not far away. Several more not far from Morioka (Amihari was fun, low key & cheap compared to Appi). There is a nice designated powder area at Appi (Nishimori). Unfortunately it was closed the day I went there this year for the winter sports festival.

https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/japan-2016-akita-iwate.74021/
 

arthritiski

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Jun 28, 2016
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Thanks Heinz - very helpful!

Currently packing for NZ. We have one day, where, if we are lucky, we will "Ski the Tasman". Very excited. Fingers crossed the weather will be on our side - otherwise bushwalking it is. ;) I will post some photos and a review if we get to do it.
 

Heinz

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Having said that I think 4 days at Zao and 4 at Appi is a good balance. Enough to keep you interested at both so you are probably not likely to want to head off elsewhere. And without a car it would be difficult to day trip from Appi to another resort, except maybe Shimokura. I did my day trips by bus from Morioka. But just something to keep in mind.

Enjoy the Tasman. It is an easy ski, more sight skiing especially the bottom 2 thrirds, but spectacular and certainly worthwhile. They only fly up if it is fine and the landing on the Saddle is clear.
 

Vermillion

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Heinz you're all over this one. 4 days is plenty at Zao when the weather is 1 - bad or 2 - good, so it's a decent balance. It can get really average up the top, but then you can get spectacular days like I did this year (see trip report). IMO there isnt that much interesting terrain there, and if I was just skiing I would get bored after a couple of days max. But there's a bit to do in town, and there are obviously heaps of onsen and as Heinz said above the wood carving dolls, plus if you are driving Yamagata is about 30mins down the road (on a good day). In the times i've been to Zao it's been a really relaxed couple of days skiing, either up early and hitting the snow until about lunchtime, or ease into it and ski through the middle of the day. It's certainly not like a Hakuba or Niseko where it's go go go from first lifts type of ski area. I dont know if you have accom sorted but i've stayed at 2 lodges there, the last being Scole, which was OK but was very stuck in the 80s, like most of Japan.

I cant comment on Appi as I havent been there, but Heinz has covered it pretty well. It's on my list. Good luck and enjoy!
 

arthritiski

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Jun 28, 2016
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Thanks for the feedback Vermillion. Yeah, we figured 3 days of skiing at Zao would be enough. I tend to ski to about 2 pm and then call it quits - relaxed is my style. Time for a nanna nap and then an onsen! (No more "go go go" for me!) We always think of these trips as being about exploring Japan as well as skiing, and chose Zao because we hadn't been there before, and liked the idea of the village. We are staying at Takamiya Hotel Jurin - ski in, ski out. I am guessing the top at Zao will be like the top at Shiga Kogen, which can be super feral (but fun to visit for the bakery!). Appi seemed like a good contrast to Zao. I might do a trip report from the perspective of someone who is not a true powderhound (I like to play in the freshies in between coffee breaks and relaxing on the groomers whilst enjoying the view). God I sound old! Cheers ;)
 

Vermillion

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I hope you get a day like this:
12657403_10153264897386126_3324201943387258657_o.jpg
 

Friedrais

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Consider swapping. 'Warm-up' at Appi.


Gawd. Don't do that. Just buy at Tokyo and you won't need to worry about returning them.

Any advice between buying in Tokyo where you can't try the skis on, vs. buying from a resort/shop on mountain where you can try skis out first?

Raging newbie, so sorry if it's a dumb Q, cheers
 

Sandy

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Any advice between buying in Tokyo where you can't try the skis on, vs. buying from a resort/shop on mountain where you can try skis out first?

Raging newbie, so sorry if it's a dumb Q, cheers
It's the difference between buying a basic beginners set (skis, bindings, boots, poles) in London Sports(tokyo) for $300, vs a resort/shop on mountain for $900.
 
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M_G

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Then we have to bring them home with us and find somewhere to put them.....You are right though - it does get expensive.

Hubby still insists on owning ski boots, but mine disintegrated ages ago. I have had some really nice rental boots in recent years. Last year at Myoko Snowsports we got great gear! :)

I know well the hassle with humidity and gear. We lived in Penang for 7 years. If you are always coming to Japan why not buy some cheap gear, then ask your last hotel if they can keep it for you and forward it on next season.

We have one set of gear that is awaiting the return of it's owner(s) this season and another that is going to be takkyubinned up to Hokkaido in December.
 
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Froff Life

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When are you heading to Zao @arthritiski? We have 4 of us that need to hire skis from Jan 29. If you get there before us please let me know what the hire quality was like and where you chose to rent from :)
 

arthritiski

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When are you heading to Zao @arthritiski? We have 4 of us that need to hire skis from Jan 29. If you get there before us please let me know what the hire quality was like and where you chose to rent from :)
You will be there a few days before us. However, I plan to ring the hire shop in December, once the season starts, and find out what the go is. If needs be, I will get our travel agent to email or ring them, if English is an issue. I will try to remember to post here. Currently sitting by pool in Siem Reap, and skiing not on my mind!
 
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Vermillion

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You will be there a few days before us. However, I plan to ring the hire shop in December, once the season starts, and find out what the go is. If needs be, I will get our travel agent to email or ring them, if English is an issue. I will try to remember to post here. Currently sitting by pool in Siem Reap, and skiing not on my mind!

Not the Shinta Mani is it?

Man, there are some people going to Zao this coming season. I hope they know what they're in for :p
 

Froff Life

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Not the Shinta Mani is it?

Man, there are some people going to Zao this coming season. I hope they know what they're in for :p
Elaborate Verm? I chose it because of its intermediate terrain for our group, the traditional village that isn't too westernized (loved Noz but been there twice now) and size of the resort meaning we don't need to hire a car to explore.
 

Heinz

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Verm hasn't had a great deal of joy with the weather there.
 

Froff Life

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Isn't that what causes the snow monster to form? LOL
We have a full week so fingers crossed we get a good mix of snow storms for the Monsters and fine weather for some photos.
It does seem like Zao is popping up a bit more on the gaijin radar
 

Heinz

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Isn't that what causes the snow monster to form? LOL
We have a full week so fingers crossed we get a good mix of snow storms for the Monsters and fine weather for some photos.
It does seem like Zao is popping up a bit more on the gaijin radar

Partially my fault, sorry.

With a full week you should hopefully get a couple of fine days - head up top then.
 
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Vermillion

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Buller and Zao have a lot in common. Both isolated peaks, both with shoddy weather. You cant really say i've had a bad shot with the weather there, as this year I had one of the most perfect days you'll ever see up there. It was that good there were 3 separate helicopters flying around most of the day taking promo shots. But that was 1 day. The next day it was 12C and pouring rain. Being an isolated peak that cops all kinds of weather you're going to have to cop that on the chin. If it was me, i'd only head to Zao for a day trip if I knew it was going to be good weather, otherwise i'd just ski like Inawashiro or something.

The flat sections suck. They suck even more on really slow and heavy rain-affected snow. There are some good areas to ski, but there's a lot of straight-lining to get to them. In the past few years a lot of the good areas have had solid glide cracks somewhere on the slope too, closing them off. I havent seen anything to suggest this is an isolated incident either, seems kinda common up there.

With that said, I absolutely recommend you go to Zao for the views on a clear day. Just dont expect that to happen the majority of the time you are there.
 
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blowfin

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I'm really just going there for a bit of a warm up for a couple of days, decent weather and snow will be a bonus. Our 3rd day is the public holiday anyway so we may not even ride. The Ryokan looks pretty swish, looking forward to it. Did you get out wide left of the top lift @Vermillion?
 

Froff Life

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12C and rain? What time of the season was that? We are at the start of Feb so hopefully the snow quality will still be decent.
The flat spots aren't too much of a concern for us, we are all skiers and could use the extra exercise to work off the excess chu-hai LOL
 

Froff Life

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Partially my fault, sorry.

With a full week you should hopefully get a couple of fine days - head up top then.
It's also popping up in a lot of the Australian ski publications/websites. I saw it in a Mountain Watch write up yesterday too.
 

Vermillion

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I'm really just going there for a bit of a warm up for a couple of days, decent weather and snow will be a bonus. Our 3rd day is the public holiday anyway so we may not even ride. The Ryokan looks pretty swish, looking forward to it. Did you get out wide left of the top lift @Vermillion?

On the good day I had we hit everything. To be honest riding through the juhyo is a little over-rated, but there are some good steeper sections OOB, the only problem is the mountain is 1 big frigging terrain trap.
 
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Vermillion

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12C and rain? What time of the season was that? We are at the start of Feb so hopefully the snow quality will still be decent.
The flat spots aren't too much of a concern for us, we are all skiers and could use the extra exercise to work off the excess chu-hai LOL

Around Feb 10.

Flat spots are ok....initially. Then it becomes a pain in the ass. Waiting for the gondola on a good day is also a pain in the ass, take a ticket and wait because of all the Chinese tourists coming up to see the juyho. If you dont take the gondy you need to take 4 lifts to get up to the top gondola station. It takes about 45mins, which is about how long the wait for the gondy was.
 
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Froff Life

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You will be there a few days before us. However, I plan to ring the hire shop in December, once the season starts, and find out what the go is. If needs be, I will get our travel agent to email or ring them, if English is an issue. I will try to remember to post here. Currently sitting by pool in Siem Reap, and skiing not on my mind!
Did you end up calling the rental shop mate? How did you go? :)
 

arthritiski

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Did you end up calling the rental shop mate? How did you go? :)
Hi Froff, Just got back from some unexpected travel and realised I had not done this yet! I have just rung them and spoke to a fellow who spoke a little English. He has asked me to send a Facebook message with our requirements. Cannot find the Facebook page and am waiting for an email back from the tourism association. Will post again if I get anywhere!
 
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Froff Life

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Hi Froff, Just got back from some unexpected travel and realised I had not done this yet! I have just rung them and spoke to a fellow who spoke a little English. He has asked me to send a Facebook message with our requirements. Cannot find the Facebook page and am waiting for an email back from the tourism association. Will post again if I get anywhere!
No worries mate, let me know what they say
 

Froff Life

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I'm in Zao now & hired gear from Best Rental, next to the Zao Sky Cable. Whilst it was a little expensive (I paid 24,000 for a week for some decent powder skis & poles) the quality of the gear is great. My friend has big feet (size 32.5 boots) and they were able to accommodate him.
 
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arthritiski

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I'm in Zao now & hired gear from Best Rental, next to the Zao Sky Cable. Whilst it was a little expensive (I paid 24,000 for a week for some decent powder skis & poles) the quality of the gear is great. My friend has big feet (size 32.5 boots) and they were able to accommodate him.
Hi Froff. That's good feedback. I messaged them on Facebook, but have not yet had a reply. I was really only wanting to know if you needed to book your gear in advance. Sounds like you didn't need to. Hiring is never cheap in Japan, but we are usually happy with the gear and service, as we research which rental shop to go to beforehand! Hope you are having a great time. We are excited, and will arrive on Saturday. Thanks for following up on this thread! :)
 
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Coutta

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Hey Froff, what are the conditions like in Zao ATM? It's pretty hard to get an accurate picture? Are the snow monsters formed and worth seeing? We arrive on Sunday for a week and hope to get reasonable conditions.
 
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Vermillion

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Hey Froff, what are the conditions like in Zao ATM? It's pretty hard to get an accurate picture? Are the snow monsters formed and worth seeing? We arrive on Sunday for a week and hope to get reasonable conditions.
Zao is like Mt Buller. It'll be nice for a couple of days a year. If it's been snowing the juhyo would have formed, it's seeing them that's the issue. You could get a day like this:
12657403_10153264897386126_3324201943387258657_o.jpg

or one when you cant see 2 fee it front of u, it's -15C and blowing a gale. The latter occurs much more often than the former.
 

blowfin

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Hey Froff, what are the conditions like in Zao ATM? It's pretty hard to get an accurate picture? Are the snow monsters formed and worth seeing? We arrive on Sunday for a week and hope to get reasonable conditions.

I'm there with a mate for 4 nights from the 8th. Looks pretty windy at the moment.

The Facebook page has had infrequent updates. Snow monsters are well and truly there by now.
https://www.facebook.com/zaoonsen/
 

Froff Life

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Hey Froff, what are the conditions like in Zao ATM? It's pretty hard to get an accurate picture? Are the snow monsters formed and worth seeing? We arrive on Sunday for a week and hope to get reasonable conditions.
We had a decent day of snowfall today, around 30-40cms which has improved conditions a lot. No one here skis off piste, so there's powder for all. But visability has been a big issue, with white outs common 3 out of 4 days. We did have a nice bluebird morning yesterday which we used to see the snow monsters, they are there but not super big. Definitely worth checking out though!

The mountain has legit the worst lift layout I've ever skied (yes even worse than Hotham haha). Definitely pick a side you want to ski and stay there. There are numerous flat spots that are a big drainer.
Other than that, the village is really cute which plenty of restaurants to try!
Yep the only snow report I can find is on SnowJapan and it's usually posted at 11am which is useless, or sometimes like today it doesn't get posted at all. Conditions should be good for your visit, but a week is probably too long unless it snows a lot. Hope I've helped! Ask any more questions you might have
 
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Froff Life

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IMG_0518.JPG
Ps there are some amazing Onsens! The public free ones are good, and there's multiple private ones you can reserve which are magical!
 
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