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Planning for Japan 2019

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I skied Hokkaido in 2015 + 2016, and Hokkaido and Honshu in 2017 (all late Jan/early Feb) but didn't go in 2018 - and regretted it as Hokkaido seemed to have a fantastic season last winter.

My last trip in 2017 I went with a friend and we hired a car and drove around various resorts, did a bit of ski touring, booked accommodation mostly last minute which worked out fantastically (along with the knowledge i'd gained from a previous guided trip!).

I think i'm unlikely to persuade any friends to come this time so will probably be looking at joining one of the guided tours. Did a trip with Black Diamond Tours in 2016 but they don't seem to be running much this winter. Many in the group were a similar age (early 30s) and a few older, and they were all strong and keen skiers. Whiteroom tours is a possibility but seems really expensive compared to the DIY trip!

Anyone else have plans for Japan in 2019?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@musehead, I’ll PM you as I’m really tempted by a Japan trip (it’d be my first). I was looking at Whiteroom tours, but DIY with a small group would be great too.
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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?
musehead wrote:
I skied Hokkaido in 2015 + 2016, and Hokkaido and Honshu in 2017 (all late Jan/early Feb) but didn't go in 2018 - and regretted it as Hokkaido seemed to have a fantastic season last winter.

My last trip in 2017 I went with a friend and we hired a car and drove around various resorts, did a bit of ski touring, booked accommodation mostly last minute which worked out fantastically (along with the knowledge i'd gained from a previous guided trip!).

I think i'm unlikely to persuade any friends to come this time so will probably be looking at joining one of the guided tours. Did a trip with Black Diamond Tours in 2016 but they don't seem to be running much this winter. Many in the group were a similar age (early 30s) and a few older, and they were all strong and keen skiers. Whiteroom tours is a possibility but seems really expensive compared to the DIY trip!

Anyone else have plans for Japan in 2019?


https://www.ski.com.au/xf/forums/japan.51/ ton of information her. Aussies are crazy about Japan. wink
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Hi all in this chat

We did Whiteroom last year at Furano base. You appear to be saying they are expensive compared with DIY. I can’t comment on that as we’ve never done DIY Japan. However We loved it so much we are doing two tours back to back this year. Reasons for this choice.... we’ve done caravan DIY to St Anton for five years and used Piste to powder for guiding (Cheap accommodation, but guiding and food/alcohol was crazy) I did comparisons of the service we had from whitetours and what we would pay in st Anton for the same. And Whitetours came out streets ahead, in fact it was crazy cheap. We had a very good balance of classmates. (Had some really crazy class mates in Europe, who thought nothing of endangering others in the group, against guide instructions) a very good but sensible social scene. Tour provided evenings out were well planned and great value, ecucational, just all round well planned.
For those who want to take the plunge, Whiteroom are extending their book early discount.
Should you book the same tours as we have.... see you in Furano!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Mountain tracks run a trip in January visiting several resorts, for off piste and touring. 4 of us all ready booked.
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I've toured Hokkaido the last 3 years with Whiteroom, and I'm going back again in February on their Powder Belt Backcountry Tour.

In my experience you get exactly what you pay for. Any organised tour with an experienced guide everyday is going to be more expensive than a DIY one.
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@PowderAdict, hi, where is this based?
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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!
Ok see that’s The Rising Sun. We stayed there last year. You’ll love it..the hosts are really nice, each breakfast is unique and whilst odd, to a European taste, extremely filling and tasty. A really cosy, relaxed, well appointed hotel. Though no central heating, so the bathroom in the morning can be somewhat chilly.
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@Suzi snowflake, @PowderAdict, Thanks for the feedback on Whiteroom. I've seen lots of good comments in my searches. It sounds like the overall package represents good value.

@PowderAdict, Have you done different tours with them each time?
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As the topic has come up and is drawing attention from people who know the deal - how feasible is it to ski in Japan without knowing any Japanese? What about things like equipment rental, where there is usually a non-trivial conversation to establish what type and skill level? Ordering food in restaurants? Aprés?
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86tomw wrote:
As the topic has come up and is drawing attention from people who know the deal - how feasible is it to ski in Japan without knowing any Japanese? What about things like equipment rental, where there is usually a non-trivial conversation to establish what type and skill level? Ordering food in restaurants? Aprés?


No problem. Madeye-Smiley

Start here to learn - and move on to the Australian forum

https://www.snowjapan.com/ (has become rather commercial over the years Sad )

And read this:

https://www.insidejapantours.com/blog/2015/02/17/japanese-etiquette-101-how-to-onsen/
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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.
@Suzi snowflake, The Powder Belt tour is based in Furano.

@musehead, I did the Hokkaido Explorer tour twice, which is based in 3 locations over 11 days. Last year I did a private tour which was based in Furano and Otaru.
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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
I just booked today, A week in Furano and 9 nights in Nisko mid to late Jan. I'm on a budget so I just did room only, flights etc. I'm going to wing it when i get there, but will do day trips as and when and hopefully a trip or two to Niseko Weiss.


Last edited by 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 on Mon 3-09-18 20:53; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@rogg, Very Happy
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
rogg wrote:
I just booked today, A week in Furano and 9 nights in Nisko mid to late Jan. I'm on a budget so I just did room only, flights etc. I'm going to wing it then i get ther, but will do day trips as and when and hopefully a trip or two to Niseko Weiss.


Have you been before?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Mike Pow, Nope. Really looking forward to it. Thanks for all the advice and answering p-ms.

Any further tips for a newbie would be fully appreciated, bearing in mind I'm going to be relying on public transport.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@rogg, I went Feb 2018 as DIY following good advices on here and especially from @Mike Pow, . The best decision I made was to ski with @Mike Pow, for two days. It was the best possible intro into JPN skiing I could dream off.
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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 wrote:
@Mike Pow, Nope. Really looking forward to it. Thanks for all the advice and answering p-ms.

Any further tips for a newbie would be fully appreciated, bearing in mind I'm going to be relying on public transport.


Sorry Rogg, oldtimers kicked in there.

PM me your current plan and I'll do my best to advise 👍
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snowHead will do.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I went to Japan for the first time during the second week of March this year to coincide with a business trip and am seriously thing of going back end of Jan, beginning of Feb next year. I managed to do Hakuba/Happo One and Nozawa Onsen and would probably go back to the same areas again and try to do some of the smaller resorts now I now my way round. I travelled solo and it was all diy using Booking .com to book accomodation a few days before I arrived at a resort. One thing I do need to get is the right International Drivers Permit as I was told when I returned the car after 7-8 days I had the wrong one Confused
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Quote:

One thing I do need to get is the right International Drivers Permit as I was told when I returned the car after 7-8 days I had the wrong one

What was the wrong one? I'm off over Xmas and New year this year with my OH and we'll be hiring a car. I was planning on getting one of these https://www.postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit

We're staying a couple of nights in Tokyo, then flying on to Chitose and picking up the car, with 5 nights in Niseko and 7 in Otaru. Visited for the first time in mid Jan 17 and stayed in Niseko, with a few days in Sapporo. Definitely keen to explore the other south west Hokkaido resorts a bit more.

It'll be interesting to see how the xmas/NY crowds compare to mid Jan crowds in Niseko.

@rogg, one tip I have if you are planning on busing to Hanazono or Annupuri for first lifts is to check the bus map and wait at the first stop. Watching a full bus drive past on a powder morning is the most painful first world problem I have ever experienced Laughing
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I bought one off the Internet, I believe the International Driving Permit from the Post Office is the right one. I live a long way from a main post office which is why I resorted to the web.
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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!
element wrote:
@rogg, one tip I have if you are planning on busing to Hanazono or Annupuri for first lifts is to check the bus map and wait at the first stop. Watching a full bus drive past on a powder morning is the most painful first world problem I have ever experienced Laughing


Mentally logged......... Cool
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
rogg wrote:
I just booked today, A week in Furano and 9 nights in Nisko mid to late Jan. I'm on a budget so I just did room only, flights etc. I'm going to wing it when i get there, but will do day trips as and when and hopefully a trip or two to Niseko Weiss.

Please report back.Smile

I'm considering doing something similar a year or two down the road. Would be interested in how your trip work out, as I'll also be going solo and DIY.
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element wrote:
Quote:

One thing I do need to get is the right International Drivers Permit as I was told when I returned the car after 7-8 days I had the wrong one

What was the wrong one? I'm off over Xmas and New year this year with my OH and we'll be hiring a car. I was planning on getting one of these https://www.postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit

We're staying a couple of nights in Tokyo, then flying on to Chitose and picking up the car, with 5 nights in Niseko and 7 in Otaru. Visited for the first time in mid Jan 17 and stayed in Niseko, with a few days in Sapporo. Definitely keen to explore the other south west Hokkaido resorts a bit more.

It'll be interesting to see how the xmas/NY crowds compare to mid Jan crowds in Niseko.

@rogg, one tip I have if you are planning on busing to Hanazono or Annupuri for first lifts is to check the bus map and wait at the first stop. Watching a full bus drive past on a powder morning is the most painful first world problem I have ever experienced Laughing


Re driver's permit - there are two international conventions according to which International Drivers Permits are issued (one is Vienna Convention, the other is Geneva Convention IRC). JPN only recognise international drivers permits issued under the Geneva Convention. Check carefully before you book a car! I did book a car first while waiting for my international drivers permit, which in Belgium is issued according to Vienna convention ... had to make other arrangements, luckily it all worked out, but it looked trivial at the beginning Embarassed
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For those who have gone DIY and solo, did you ever have trouble finding people to ski with? I'm tempted to do this, but i'm worried i'd end up skiing, touring and eating alone rather a lot!
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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.
musehead wrote:
For those who have gone DIY and solo, did you ever have trouble finding people to ski with? I'm tempted to do this, but i'm worried i'd end up skiing, touring and eating alone rather a lot!

Finding people to ski with is the easiest. I say hello once everyone is properly settled on the chair lift, followed by a comment about the weather/ski condition (great, terrible or just ok). That usually breaks the ice and got a light conversation going. Once I think my chair-mate(s) are skiing something I might be interested in, I asked politely if I can tag along as I'm new to the mountain. If the skiing part matches, I was usually invited to follow for the next hour, or rest of day... (I may decline if the dynamic doesn't quite match up).

Eating is hardest for me. As I don't drink and usually don't hang out at the après. I tend to eat alone most of the time.

Specifically for Japan, I sometimes meet up with people at the onsen and end up having dinner together. If not, I just sat at the sushi bar and chat with whoever sitting next to me. Language doesn't appear to be too much of a issue. Young Japanese can speak a little bit of English. Skiing is an easy topic.

That's MY experience. Yours may differ.
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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
musehead wrote:
For those who have gone DIY and solo, did you ever have trouble finding people to ski with? I'm tempted to do this, but i'm worried i'd end up skiing, touring and eating alone rather a lot!


Was never a problem for me. Even nicer that way. I now prefer this unpredictability to my regular skiing buddies
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-quake/one-killed-32-missing-after-quake-paralyzes-japans-hokkaido-island-idUSKCN1LL2QK
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Thankfully all my friends are safe and well.

Power outage the biggest challenge.
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Ok only been once last year, and whilst there we sorted guides out - though it was their busy time of year and maybe if going again I'd source guides out in advance.

OH wrote up a good feature outlining some of the options and lists some of the guiding outfits and individuals we came across.

http://stylealtitude.com/a-week-skiing-in-niseko.html

Looking back on it, our best line was one I spotted and asked our "tour group leader aka guide" who was wanting lunch, if we could meet him and the rest of the group later as we dropped off the back. Was a tad irksome as it was so good and he said when he picked us up not to bother with skins, though fortunately I chose to ignore that!
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Weathercam wrote:
Ok only been once last year, and whilst there we sorted guides out - though it was their busy time of year and maybe if going again I'd source guides out in advance.

OH wrote up a good feature outlining some of the options and lists some of the guiding outfits and individuals we came across.

http://stylealtitude.com/a-week-skiing-in-niseko.html

Looking back on it, our best line was one I spotted and asked our "tour group leader aka guide" who was wanting lunch, if we could meet him and the rest of the group later as we dropped off the back. Was a tad irksome as it was so good and he said when he picked us up not to bother with skins, though fortunately I chose to ignore that!


Very good read.

One thing to consider when booking guides is some like to stay in the Niseko Resort Area because that's the pass they / their company has bought for the season.

Some venture to Rusutsu where they can guide groups for just the cost of a day ticket.

Many don't get to Kiroro because there is an instructor/guiding fee, plus paperwork needs to be completed to access the backcountry.

The weather patterns can be very different in these three areas, let alone further afield in Central Hokkaido.

For example in the article linked above, high winds and cold weather halted lift operation and progress in the alpine on Mt yotei when at the same time it was bluebird in Central Hokkaido and untracked, deserted and deep at Kiroro from the 26th

Nukabira
https://www.instagram.com/p/BezsxYEnuMy/?taken-by=mikethesnow

Kiroro
https://www.instagram.com/p/BfC-P3MHctX/?taken-by=mikethesnow


Hands down though the best overall post-ski experience is in Niseko Hirafu where weathercam stayed. Lots of choice.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hey,

I'm planning on visiting Nozawa Onsen for the first 3 weeks of Jan 2019. I've got a couple of pals out there but they work in resort and I'm looking for people to share an apartment or something with to keep costs down, plus have general company Smile I'm 23, working and living in liverpool. Reach out if you're thinking about heading this way, I'd appreciate it!
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@bexjeffrey, 3 week in Nozawa is a long time. Guess your friends have wheels and you can have a look around? But 3 weeks of onsen sounds great.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If anyone is hiring a car, Nippon Rent a Car have just brought out their winter deals. https://www.nrgroup-global.com/hk/campaign/wtc2018en/
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@element, Thanks for the link.

I booked with Budget Japan last week. It looks like the basic price is almost the same, but Nippon seems to force you to pay the CDW with this offer which is not necessary for me because I have separate insurance (Budget worked out 7000 Yen cheaper without the full insurance added).

Two years ago I found booking with Tabirai on the Japanese site (so that the extra insurance isn't forced on you) to be significantly cheaper than anywhere else I found, but it seems to be similarly priced to other places this year:

http://www.tabirai.net/car/hokkaido/

It all went extraordinarily smoothly hiring a car with Budget booked through Tabirai.

I'm going to have another look in a month or so in case specific winter deals are yet to be added.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
musehead wrote:
For those who have gone DIY and solo, did you ever have trouble finding people to ski with? I'm tempted to do this, but i'm worried i'd end up skiing, touring and eating alone rather a lot!
There are a lot of snowHeads interested in skiing Japan. There are another couple of active threads at the moment too. I wouldn't have thought you would struggle to find someone to come along.
One thing: unless I've overlooked it, you don't seem to have mentioned when in 2019 you're looking to go.

I'm rather keen myself to get out there again but I have no firm plans yet. I would [obviously] need to go when I'm not committed to skiing elsewhere though so the period immediately subsequent to the Birthday Bash is my favoured timeframe - and it's historically good conditions/weather-wise.
Before you get too excited though, I'm not into touring but everything else you've described fits the bill perfectly.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
So to revive this thread I'm in Furano from about 12-20th and Niseko from 20-28th Jan. I'm on a budget so booked into Pension house Reesha in Furano - looks to be a 5min walk to the lift, and have a bed in a dorm at Absolute Niseko, Grand Hirafu - claims to be 30m from the lift....... Cool

Going to be bussing it about the pace, and a day (or two) at Weiss. For transfers anyone any experience? I was looking at maybe 'Resortliner'?
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@rogg, we booked the bus from Chitose to Niseko, can't remember what it was called but it was totally pain free, like everything else we booked. We also used a company called Skybus (I think) for a private transfer and again it was super efficient.

Does anyone know of any Otaru based guiding or cat skiing outfits? I'll be there for a week over New year and I might take a day's guiding or cat skiing if it's looking good, but I'd probably need to join a group as don't think I could afford it alone. There are loads of options in Niseko, but it seems less clear who operates from Otaru. Ideally I'd like to be able to book into a group a few days in advance for one of the otaru area resorts if the forecast looks good.
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@rog, I usesd Hokkaido resort liner https://www.access-n.jp/sp/
everything worked very well
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