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Japan - A plan that works?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Booked flights last week for myself and Smygus Dyngus*
Better known as pigeondave but I think he deserves a name change
. Flying to Sapporo on 25th January (was limited by what dates I can have from work), so land around midday on Sunday 26th. Planning to hire a half decent car and get an AirBnB somewhere (Kutchan/Otaru/A.N Other town within reasonable striking distance of Niseko and other resorts), first day skiing on the Monday. Will probably only book accommodation for the first few days in advance, then try to see what conditions are like as to where we want to be. Would like to ski Niseko, Teine & Rusutsu, probably starting with Niseko as a bit more gradual intro to Japan as I understand it's a bit more 'Westernised' (or Antipodeanised, anyway). Effectively buying day passes dependent on where we want to be. If conditions look better then maybe move up to the Furano kind of area, but tbh I'd rather not spend too much of the holiday driving.

After 9 days skiing we'll fly to Tokyo on the 5th, spend a few days exploring there and fly back home on the Saturday.

So it's only really the bare bones of a plan, a little bit flexible according to how the weather pans out and if we like somewhere enough to stay for a bit longer. My main worry would be the ability to get accommodation at short notice on a reasonable budget, I was sort of allowing £75 a night for 2 of us, that's roughly assessed from what I've seen on airbnb, but tbh I have no real idea Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I'm not so sure about the Airb'n'b side of things, but I paid somewhere around €65 a night for a dorm bed in a hostel in Niseko, most places pretty booked up pretty early too. I think you might be better off picking a town (Otaru?) and driving daily. Furano was much quite than Niseko, and yes Rusutsu is definitely one to do.

I'm sure MikePow will be along to fill you in completely soon.
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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?
@rogg, when I spoke to admin about it he reckoned they didn't have much issue booking a few days ahead, but not sure he was on the same type of budget as me. Well keen on Rusutsu because nearly everyone I've spoken to said it was brilliant.

Only concern with being based in somewhere like Otaru is that it appears that it's quite a drive (circa 2 hours according to Google) from there to some resorts and I don't fancy doing that at the start and end of a day skiing. Although I know that Mike has recommended it as a good base previously. That's sort of why I was thinking about booking on the fly instead and can tailor it according to where we want to ski (and where is decent conditions).
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I’ll be doing a similar trip earlier in the season. Check out Kiroro near Otaru. Bigger than Sapporo Teine I believe. Could be ok for a couple of days.
Kutchan looks a good base for Niseko and Rusutsu.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I've only skied in Japan on organised tours, and on those Niseko, Otaru and Furano are considered as separate bases to ski from. Once there we then visited resorts around an hours drive from each.

Unfortunately I never got any powder at Niseko, Teine or Rusutsu, as I always visited last week of Feb, first week of March, and spring like conditions were in force. I always have my best/reliable powder skiing in and around the Furano area.
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@SnoodlesMcFlude, My only suggestion is to start your trip in Tokyo to get over the jet lag rather than finish there. When you arrive at Tokyo airport go straight to the luggage forwarding company and ship all your ski gear to your destination hotel keeping just a carryon bag to lug around Tokyo.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
johnE wrote:
@SnoodlesMcFlude, My only suggestion is to start your trip in Tokyo to get over the jet lag rather than finish there. When you arrive at Tokyo airport go straight to the luggage forwarding company and ship all your ski gear to your destination hotel keeping just a carryon bag to lug around Tokyo.


You can do that equally well in Sapporo. In 2018 I went straight to Niseko, and happy I did, without wasting days in megapolis Smile
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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!
@johnE, having already booked the flights, not really an option, but also not the way I want to do it. Reckon time of flights on the way out will work reasonably well to get past jet lag.
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Having stayed in both Otaru and Niseko my experience was:

Otaru:
- plentiful cheap, high quality accomodation
- excellent traditional food
- proper Japanese small city vibes
- 10-15mins from Tenguyama and Asari, which are both small, but quiet/cheap, and fun on a powder day
- 30-45mins from Kokusai and Kiroro which seem to be in a high altitude snow pocket - kokusai is good value - kiroro I found a bit expensive/resortified (i.e. pay extra to access the good slopes in the morning), but I didn't see it at its best as inbounds off piste areas were closed.
- 50mins - 1hr from Teine - good value and proper steep skiing.
- having a car is essential
- limited nightlife
- need a bit of local knowledge to get the best out of the nearby resorts, and guides are harder to come by than in Niseko - a fair bit off anti off piste signage, which is often ignored.

Niseko:
- the best place IMO for easy access, deep powder on a variety of terrains - few ropes and no anti off piste attitudes
- everybody knows it
- a lot of nice onsen within 20 mins drive from wherever you are in the area
- Accomodation very expensive and not great quality, unless you have serious cash - the good value places book up early
- Very over developed and expanding at a rate beyond what looks sustainable for the infrastructure, at least to me - hanazono has been good for quiet early morning powder, but they've just put in a monstrous hotel at the base, so that might have scuppered that. Think they're planning to expand the area though.
- have been twice and haven't had a problem with these 'bogans' that everybody talks about (maybe I am one - can you be an Irish bogan?) - did see a lot of very rude and entitled behaviour toward hotel/restaurant/onsen staff this year though - not from Japanese of course.

It's always a compromise, but you can't really lose. I can't speak for Furano or Rusutsu.
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@element, thanks for that. Definitely makes me happier that the idea of starting the trip somewhere towards Niseko is a good way to get a lie of the land.

I’m trying to approach the trip from the mindset that I’ve always wanted to go to Japan (long before I started skiing) so in the event of getting a dud (have spoken to people that have managed a 2 week trip with no snow) then it’s still going to be an awesome experience.

I’m sure nearer the time I’ll have many more practical queries and a bit on etiquette (both in resort and generally).
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@element, is pretty much on the money for Niseko, except personally I would say Rusutsu is better for off-piste. It's also a lot less busy on the slopes and feels more Japanese. The no off-piste signs are still there but only because they haven't bothered to remove them. It is very much a resort base though so not sure how many, if any, Airbnb options.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

I’m trying to approach the trip from the mindset that I’ve always wanted to go to Japan (long before I started skiing) so in the event of getting a dud (have spoken to people that have managed a 2 week trip with no snow) then it’s still going to be an awesome experience.


That's the attitude. Whatever happens weather wise, it is an absolute feast for the senses. And it'll probably dump anyways.
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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
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
SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:


I’m sure nearer the time I’ll have many more practical queries and a bit on etiquette (both in resort and generally).


For @Smygus Dyngus I'm sure that the hosing down young ladies and getting the pussy willow out is accomodated in specialist clubs but probably frowned upon on the the street wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Dave of the Marmottes, thanks for the tip! Surprisingly enough, it's the onsens and young ladies that he seems to be most looking forward to.

@Nickski, there are a few about if you don't mind being 30-40 minutes away, which I think should be about okay. It's once the travelling starts being more than an hour drive each way that I'm less keen on. Not restricted to AirBnB type stuff either, just that it's quite simple and good for a budget. It's not like either of us need it to be an absolute bargain of a trip, just don't particularly like spending money...oh and if I keep it cheap enough then I might still be able to tag the EoSB onto the season.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otaru -Kiroro is an easy drive in good conditions. When it is dumping - not so much, sometimes difficult to see more than 10 m ahead of you ...
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Get some Oakley Prizm hi-pink goggles as it's either snowing or it's flat light, or both Toofy Grin
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@spyderjon, what’s the betting that whaddayaknow, you’ve got just the pair that would fit perfectly Laughing
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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?
spyderjon wrote:
Get some Oakley Prizm hi-pink goggles as it's either snowing or it's flat light, or both Toofy Grin


Do they do it for hondas and toyotas? Smile
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Scarlet wrote:
@spyderjon, what’s the betting that whaddayaknow, you’ve got just the pair that would fit perfectly Laughing


Wouldn't that just be the darnedest coincidence?! Luckily the Smith goggles that I've got are pretty damn good and I've got a clear lens for if it's really bad. Or I can send Dave first and the tracks of his fall will provide enough definition.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Scarlet wrote:
@spyderjon, what’s the betting that whaddayaknow, you’ve got just the pair that would fit perfectly Laughing

Nope, I don't sell 'em NehNeh

But the two of 'em are gonna need bigger skis wink
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@spyderjon, you'll be lucky, took me two seasons to flog those skis to Dave and he was still moaning about the price.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
@spyderjon, you'll be lucky, took me two seasons to flog those skis to Dave and he was still moaning about the price.

If he stopped spending on pussywillow.com he'd have more cash to spend Toofy Grin
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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!
spyderjon wrote:
Nope, I don't sell 'em NehNeh

Never let a minor detail like that stop you before wink
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Is it easy enough to pick up a PAYG Sim card? Like in a machine at the airport or something? Vodafone charge £6/day for roaming and I'd prefer not to spend that money unless I have to. Have seen somewhere online that I can purchase a card that provides unlimited data for 16 days, but it's unclear when that 16 days starts.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
Is it easy enough to pick up a PAYG Sim card? Like in a machine at the airport or something? Vodafone charge £6/day for roaming and I'd prefer not to spend that money unless I have to. Have seen somewhere online that I can purchase a card that provides unlimited data for 16 days, but it's unclear when that 16 days starts.


Yep a machine at the airport.
Easy peasy
One of the options:
http://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/service/internet_fax_copy/sim_card/
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@mooney058, perfect, thank you. I really should have thought about looking on the airport website rolling eyes Embarassed
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@SnoodlesMcFlude, no worries, that link is from 2017 but still seems to work. It was a 5-6 min trek with luggage to get to the machine, but nothing too difficult
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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
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
@SnoodlesMcFlude, I bought one from a person at a desk in Chitose. Ended up not using it though as pretty much everywhere you go has good free WiFi.
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