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Japan 2018 - when to go?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I am currently negotiating with the Boss for a 10 day trip to Japan in 2018. 2 potential dates to leave UK are 26th January or 9th March.

In terms of powder skiing, which of these dates is preferable?

Many thanks.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
100% January
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I'm in the same boat - i.e. organising but I'm flexible. I'm thinking last two weeks in jan and the first week in feb? Does that seem right?
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@1556garyt, Definitely January rather than March. I was in Niseko on 2nd March, and Spring had started to arrive.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
January - it's a no brainer..... imo
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I'll be there in late Jan and early Feb best time for sure
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
In a 'normal' Hokkaido winter you can expect

5-6 snow events per week in January with little sunshine, higher accommodation costs and greater competition for powder

3-4 snow events per week in March with far better visibility and bluebird days, lower accommodation costs and less competition for powder.

March, or 'Jarch' as we call it, is my favourite month on Hokkaido.

12 March


http://youtube.com/v/jePlfGa87Vo

But if it's your first visit then go in January to experience the non-stop dumpage.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
End of Feb.

Half Winter, half Spring.

Powda + sun.

Even a small puke in Japan is equivalent to a biggie in the European Alps.
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Hi guys, a couple of questions if I may?
When are the Aussie school holidays and does this have a big impact on how busy the slopes are in Japan?
We are also thinking of a trip to Japan next season after our 2nd trip to Canada without any snowfall at all! We are looking at a two week trip leaving either 20 Jan or 24 Feb possibly but are unltimately flexible and we don't like the hoards that descend on France during Feb.
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I might have the opportunity to go to Japan in October/November - is this too early?
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gixxerniknik wrote:
Hi guys, a couple of questions if I may?
When are the Aussie school holidays and does this have a big impact on how busy the slopes are in Japan?
We are also thinking of a trip to Japan next season after our 2nd trip to Canada without any snowfall at all! We are looking at a two week trip leaving either 20 Jan or 24 Feb possibly but are unltimately flexible and we don't like the hoards that descend on France during Feb.


Singapore holidays - early to mid December
Australian school holidays - 20 December to approx 20 January
Chinese New Year 2018 - around 16 February

From 24 February will be a lot quieter and cheaper
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Mike Pow,
Thanks Mike. I am now busy persuading my ski buddies that's where we are off to next year!
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
chaletgirl wrote:
I might have the opportunity to go to Japan in October/November - is this too early?


Not unheard of to have good powder from Mid-November onwards, but wouldn't head over specifically to ski/ride.

If you're coming anyway, then worth bringing kit just in case 👍
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
gixxerniknik wrote:
@Mike Pow,
Thanks Mike. I am now busy persuading my ski buddies that's where we are off to next year!


My pleasure. Hope it works out.

Historically Mid-January to mid-February gives more chance of deep powder days.

But this season for example, best days in Feb and March.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Mike Pow wrote:
chaletgirl wrote:
I might have the opportunity to go to Japan in October/November - is this too early?


Not unheard of to have good powder from Mid-November onwards, but wouldn't head over specifically to ski/ride.

If you're coming anyway, then worth bringing kit just in case 👍


Brilliant. TBF, I would probably have to (learn/improve) board as my friend doesn't ski, so would need to hire boots and board. But will take ski boots just in case Smile

Thank you
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My pleasure. Hope you get lucky
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Mike Pow, may I ask for some advice. My tentative plan is to travelmto Sapporo on 20 Jan 2018 and leave on 31 Jan. A few questions if you know answers from the top of your head:
Is it possible to book accomodation leaving mid-week, ie booking for 1.5 weeks?
How difficult are the transfers if diy?
Would it be better to stay in one area or explore two, each for circa 5 days?
Is it easy to rent longer skis on spot (I am 6ft3)?
How much are the lift passes approx?
Accomodation - hotels apprtments, what are the price brackets? Catered options?

What would you advice if the idea would be to split the trep in two, one part to embrase the local skiing experience and culture and one week to maximise skiing experience.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@mooney058, I did a first trip to Niseko and Sapporo for 2 weeks this January so can pitch in my experience. We had no problems booking midweek accomodation, but book early if booking in Niseko. We actually had to move accomodation midweek in Niseko as we couldnt get availability for our whole 11 night stay. Niseko accomodation is very expensive, but check out the small Pensions for better prices. We stayed in a Japanese family run pension called Ramina a few minutes walk from the main Niseko Hirafu centre (where most of the lifts/restaurants/bars/hire shops are) and I couldnt recommend it highly enough. The freshly cooked traditional dinner and breakfast were exceptional (if you dont mind fish for breakfast). We also stayed in an apartment booked through Holiday Niseko which was really good and well situated in Niseko Hirafu.

Niseko Hirafu is convenient and quite westernised. You would have no problem hiring skis to suit you there, but it'll cost a premium. People on here recommended it as a good first stop in Japan and I would agree. The ski area is big and the terrain is varied and fun. There are plenty of guiding and instructing operations. You can also get buses to nearby kiroro and rusutsu which i would definitely recommend. However the downsides to Niseko are that its relatively busy, expensive, and gets tracked out quickly in the obvious places. It also doesnt feel overly Japanese.

We spent a further 3 nights in Sapporo city. We stayed in a business hotel which was well situated, clean and very cheap (think Premier Inn). We paid around £30 a head per night. There is a lift ticket/bus deal on the Teine Express which will take you to Teine ski area from the city centre for around £45, but we didnt use it as there was no new snow and we were blown away by the city itself. Major culture shock and plenty to see for at least a few days.

Another option which I'll do when I return is to stay in Otaru city and either bus or drive to ski at Kiroro, Sapporo Kokusai and other local ski areas. Accomodation is much cheaper there than Niseko and I assume it would be a more authentic Japanese experience. Kiroro was also much quieter than Niseko when we visited so there should be a lot less competition for the goods.

For transfers we used the White Liner and Skybus and both were super efficient and cheap.

Splitting between Niseko Hirafu and Otaru or Sapporo would give you plenty of options. Im not sure how easy it would be to rent larger skis at some of the smaller ski areas but others might be able to inform about this. However, given the extortionate rental prices in Niseko and the uncertainty over availability in other places, plus the faff of having to queue to hire skis on a powder morning, bringing your own might be easier. Check out the price of Scott Punishers on Sport Bittl at the minute!

Im sure the more experienced snowheads will chip in soon, but whatever way you work it out, you'll have an awesome time. Im only just beginning to let go now and I've been home for 2 months.
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mooney058 wrote:
@Mike Pow, may I ask for some advice. My tentative plan is to travelmto Sapporo on 20 Jan 2018 and leave on 31 Jan. A few questions if you know answers from the top of your head:
Is it possible to book accomodation leaving mid-week, ie booking for 1.5 weeks?
How difficult are the transfers if diy?
Would it be better to stay in one area or explore two, each for circa 5 days?
Is it easy to rent longer skis on spot (I am 6ft3)?
How much are the lift passes approx?
Accomodation - hotels apprtments, what are the price brackets? Catered options?

What would you advice if the idea would be to split the trep in two, one part to embrase the local skiing experience and culture and one week to maximise skiing experience.


@Element pretty much nailed it.

For you and others, New Chitose Airport (airline code CTS) is the major international gateway to Hokkaido. Some websites pitch this airport as Sapporo, but it's a good hour from the airport to the centre of Sapporo.

Bus transfers from the airport to Sapporo, Otaru, Niseko Hirafu and Rusutsu are easy, convenient, cheap, hassle free.

You can also get the train to Sapporo and Otaru.

Your choice of one base and day trip, or two bases. Both work.

If you're not bothered about being in a ski town and seeing the slopes and lifts, then Otaru can't be beaten.

Small, safe town. Plenty going on. Very Japanese. Five very different ski areas on 'your doorstep' - well within a 45 minute radius.

Otaru Tenguyama (15 mins); Asarigawa (20 mins); Sapporo Kokusai (30 mins); Kiroro (45 mins); Sapporo Teine (45 mins).

All serviced by public transport 👍
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Never having organised a trip before, having relied heavily on tour ops I'm not sure of the hows and whens.

I'm looking at flights and accommodation and notice that some websites either have sold out for the weeks we want, or are not taking bookings yet for those weeks. Europe's not a problem as things only really sell out close to the event but not sure about the long haul flights etc. Would you advise booking flights &/or accommodation as early as possible, or waiting for a few months?
There'll only be two of now but we don't really want to stay in dorm style lodges.

Also, can anyone in the know recommend pensions that speak english but have a distinctly Japanese flavour? We want to spend a few days in/around Niseko then get a different base either Otaru or Furano area maybe.
Thanks in advance!

Love this skiing thing, this season's not over yet & already I'm getting excited about the next!
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Thank you all for your advice. 26th January it will be as I want to give myself the best chance for the deep powder on this trip.

So because I am lazy, don't speak Japanese and want the whole trip to go smoothly (flights, transfers, hotels, guides, gear etc) I would prefer to book with an UK/Japanese tour operator who can sort everything out from start to finish.... any recommendations please?
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'@1556garyt,
ive had nothing but good service from skisafari going to usa and canada. But japan is so much more that i feel i can do it much cheaper by organising it myself.
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