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Stripped Back Skiing in Japan for Christmas

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all

So unusually for me I have been in ski denial for the past 3 months since I last posted. I was facing up to the genuine prospect of not getting a single days skiing this year, which as somebody who is used to 20 days per season, was genuinely rubbish and made me seriously consider not taking the job which separated me from it! But it's an interesting job and the news from Macau is that it's a very interesting little country, the show we are working on is also quite exciting although stressful and busy. The bad news for the show is that it has run behind (we are building it from complete scratch, and frankly nothing which is ever conceived from the ground up is delivered on time) but the good news is that in overrunning by a month, it's meant we no longer need to do christmas shows and in their wisdom, the producers have granted us 4, maybe even 4.5 days off for Christmas, running from the afternoon of the 22nd, to the end of the 26th.

So of course it's occurred to me that I might be able to scrape together enough time to get a couple of days skiing in Japan.

Now I know that we all think that for a couple of days it's barely worth it, but honestly having accepted that I wouldn't ski at all this year, the prospect of getting 2 days on real mountains is genuinely exciting to me and if I can make it work then I really would like to. So I just wondered if anyone could give any advice on the following criteria (of course I will look on the web too, but first hand advice is always great):

I'd like to find a resort which can offer:
- Relative proximity to Macau or Hong Kong... if we assume that we can leave Macau early afternoon on the 22nd, then it'd be IDEAL to be in resort by the end of the day but realistically I'm prepared to stop in the nearest city the night before and get a morning transfer.

- Decent availability of hire equipment for a good skier and a beginner. We have brought literally zero ski gear with us and would need to get everything in resort.

- English speaking skiing lessons for a beginner (one full day in a snowdome, plus I'm hoping I can get her a refresher on the rolling carpet here before we leave).

- A relatively nice hotel. We are earning good money here and since it's a short trip I have no real problem getting somewhere luxury.

This really will be whistle-stop and I am not predicting to get more than 2 days (maybe 2.5 at a real push). But it'd make a real difference for me being able to ski at all this season. So any recommendations on how I can fit something in would be really appreciated. I have no idea about Japan at all so any advice on making it work would be great.

Thanks all

DP
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Nice problem to have. Can't help with Japan skiing but think you will have much more options if you fly in and out of HK rather than Macau. Much quicker now than it was as well with the bridge. If you struggle to work out the skiing, I would highly recommend Christmas in Hong Kong. A great time to be there. Also have you considered checking out the skiing near Beijing? It's not a public holiday there until the New Year, so would be very quiet. You could do a trip report on the facilities being built for 2022.
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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?
Fly direct to Sapporo.
Hire a car and drive to Kiroro where there is a lovely hotel, 100% hire on site and loads of instructors.
Japanese driving is very uncomplicated and their Sat Nav systems so easy...just put in the hotel phone number and off you go.

As ever Mike_Pow is The Guru and knows everything there is to know about Kiroro.
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@rungsp, thanks. My girlfriend doesn't have an International Driving Permit, and I don't drive, so getting a hire car could be difficult I think.

But I will take the resort advice on Kiroro and see if I can get there easily.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
From Macau, you can get over to Hong Kong airport quite quickly via the brand spanking new bridge over the bay. Book yourself a flight to Hokaido

I'll leave it to others on the best resort (I suspect it'll be Nesiko) and ways to get there etc.
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Thanks for your thoughts, but sadly the Macau-HK bridge isn't the easiest way into HK from here, for non-drivers.

The ferry is much easier for us as we don't drive. It takes about the same amount of time, but transfers you directly into HK airport. You can even load your bags onto the ferry, and have them transferred direct to your flight, as if you were changing flight at HK airport.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
You didn't ask for the easiest, you asked for the quickest.

There're buses that goes straight to the airport from that artificial island (whatever it's called). You do need to get out and check immigration on both ends. So yes, it's a hassle. But since you don't have your own ski gear, it's just a fair amount of walking... That said, you may still find the ferry easier.

(I don't know anything about the luggage check-in part, as I was flying back to the US, which doesn't allow advance luggage check-in at remote locations)

Keep in mind about flying out of Hong Kong though. Christmas is PEAK season for the locals to go on vacation everywhere else. So seats on planes in and out of Hong Kong could potentially be a problem. And, as soon as you nail down a flight, book your ferry crossing BOTH WAYS right away (or better yet, check to be sure there's available seat on the ferry before booking your flights).

p.s.
I wouldn't bother with skiing in China. Just about all the Chinese skiers go skiing in Japan. Moreover, it's just as easy (perhaps even easier) to go from Macau to Saporo than go to Beijing.
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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!
@dp, who are you?
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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.
@spyderjon, mr nobody apparently, judging by your radio silence over my ASBOs! Which is most unusual from you!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
So this has had some thought and research now. Here's what I found out:

- the advice for Hokkaido seems sensible in many ways in terms of travel, however sadly there are only morning or early afternoon flights there from HK and none from Macau. We would thus be looking at flying on the 23rd and arriving that evening, giving us skiing only on 24th and 25th and having to travel home for most of 26th. The cheapest cost of a return flight to Sapporo is also going to be around £1200.

So I found a more practical resort in the shape of a place called GALA Yazuwa, which uniquely has its own Bullet train station, putting it only 1.5 hours from Tokyo. There are lots more choices for, and cheaper (£400) flights to Tokyo than Sapporo, and we could fly overnight on the 22nd and arrive in resort by lift opening on the 23rd. Its a small resort for sure, but it's affordable and accessible. I think the lack of piste would be manageable if spending a lot of time supervising Mrs DP anyway.

Anyway though the problem is money. Approx costs;
Flight £400pp
Train £50pp
Ferry £60pp
...So travel approx £1000
Hotel £400
Food and drink £200pp
... So living approx £800
Ski hire Inc boots, clothing etc: £150pp
Lift pass for 3 days: £100pp
Insurance: £150pp
Lessons for Mrs DP: £150
... So skiing approx £950

So at 1000+800+950 we are looking at a Conservative estimate of £2750 for 3 days of sub optimal skiing on a very small area. Alternatively a bigger and more impressive area can be sought but likely reduce our skiing output to 2 days and potentially increase the cost. I can't find any other area which we could easily access in 12 hours from HK particularly without an international driving permit.

If we waited 12 months, I estimate that £2750 would put us both on the PreBB and BB, buy her some skis and get us both a number of private lessons during the course of the fortnight!!!

I appreciate the input but it looks like it could be very difficult to achieve a cost of less than £800-900 per day of what will by all accounts not be the best skiing ever.
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A colleague who is a very good skier went there for a weekend (or possibly the resort that is 20 minutes on the bus from the bullet train station). He enjoyed it.

The bullet train is a fun experience if you've not been on one before. Which Tokyo airport is the flight to?
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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.
dp wrote:

Anyway though the problem is money. Approx costs;
Flight £400pp
Train £50pp
Ferry £60pp
...So travel approx £1000
Hotel £400
Food and drink £200pp
... So living approx £800
Ski hire Inc boots, clothing etc: £150pp
Lift pass for 3 days: £100pp
Insurance: £150pp
Lessons for Mrs DP: £150
... So skiing approx £950

A few problem in that list:

On the skiing front, all the cost will be paid no matter where you ski. Japan is one of the less expensive destination when it comes to lift pass and hire equipments. (Insurance at £150pp seems unreasonably high)

Living expense: "Food and drink £200pp" -- Is your food and drink at Macau free?

Travel expense: Apart from the flight, you'll find you need to pay SOMETHING to get the heck out of Macau! Unless of course, you'd rather spend your Christmas in the casino!

I agree the skiing isn't cheap. And spending 2 days travel to get only 2 days of skiing is not the most efficient use of your time and money. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Option 1: flight to Sapporo and ski Nesiko or some other mountain nearer to Sapporo. You spend 2 days traveling alright, expensive too. But the ski is far from "marginal". If you're even half way lucky, the snow condition is what ski dreams are made of!

Option 2: Flight to Tokyo and bullet train to Nagano (where the last Olympic were held, so I doubt you dare to term it "marginal"). There, you might be able to squeeze 2 1/2 day out of it. But if you're SO cost conscious, that "half" day is going to cost you proportionally far more than the 2 full days.
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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
But in all honesty, a flight to Thailand and sat around the beach will be a lot cheaper! Wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
South Korea. Fastest.

North Korea. If you have a China passport.

India. Cheapest.

Japan. Deepest.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
spyderjon wrote:
@dp, who are you?
once met, never forgotten! Toofy Grin
@dp I hope you find a way to ski Japan though a short visit is always going to be expensive.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
abc wrote:
dp wrote:

Anyway though the problem is money. Approx costs;
Flight £400pp
Train £50pp
Ferry £60pp
...So travel approx £1000
Hotel £400
Food and drink £200pp
... So living approx £800
Ski hire Inc boots, clothing etc: £150pp
Lift pass for 3 days: £100pp
Insurance: £150pp
Lessons for Mrs DP: £150
... So skiing approx £950

A few problem in that list:

On the skiing front, all the cost will be paid no matter where you ski. Japan is one of the less expensive destination when it comes to lift pass and hire equipments. (Insurance at £150pp seems unreasonably high)

Living expense: "Food and drink £200pp" -- Is your food and drink at Macau free?

Travel expense: Apart from the flight, you'll find you need to pay SOMETHING to get the heck out of Macau! Unless of course, you'd rather spend your Christmas in the casino!

I agree the skiing isn't cheap. And spending 2 days travel to get only 2 days of skiing is not the most efficient use of your time and money. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Option 1: flight to Sapporo and ski Nesiko or some other mountain nearer to Sapporo. You spend 2 days traveling alright, expensive too. But the ski is far from "marginal". If you're even half way lucky, the snow condition is what ski dreams are made of!

Option 2: Flight to Tokyo and bullet train to Nagano (where the last Olympic were held, so I doubt you dare to term it "marginal"). There, you might be able to squeeze 2 1/2 day out of it. But if you're SO cost conscious, that "half" day is going to cost you proportionally far more than the 2 full days.


I understand what you're saying but it doesn't necessarily work like that. It's not that I'm considering it expensive compared to other options just expensive in general. The fact is that the same money spent next season in an affordable European destination would probably get us a week to 10 days, rather than a 2.5 days in Japan.

When I say that the skiing would be imperfect, I'm not considering conditions. I'm considering that I will take day 1 to warm up, and day 2 to ski. I'll certainly not be delving into an of Japan's deep powder or anything, much as I'd like to. It'd just be impractical, especially with lady dp, who is a beginner level skier, in tow.

I would certainly like to do it but I just can't see a way of getting it much below £1300-1500 which makes a price-per-day of somewhere between £450 and £600 - realistically somewhere between 2 and 3 times the cost of skiing a week.

As you allude to, I think at the prices I'm getting we are currently much likelier to spend a few days in Thailand or mainland China. It is a disappointment but I just don't see myself spending that money on 2-3 days skiing when I could leave it a year and get anything up to 2 weeks out of the same money.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Seems a lot of effort to not get the best out of japow. Think you'd ultimately be disappointed.

Personally I'd spend the time doing something well in the time available and that you wouldn't get around to normally (ie. In a normal ski year).

How about none skiing Japan trip? Then when you do get to go there skiing you don't need to waste time on the "normal" tourist stuff.
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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?
@dp, doesn’t sound worth it to me... you could probably do a week trip to Japan from the UK next year for that!
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@dp, when you went over to Macau you wrote of (mentally) a years skiing, Now I think you need to be tough and live with that.

You're earning good money now, but you don't have to spend it now. Spending it in a year (or two) time will mean bigger bang for your buck.

You do have to do something nice over Christmas though, that's part of the package now you have a Mrs dp, but spend the budget a bit more wisely.

BTW, don't fret about your ALTUM 114's (ok, ASBO's) there is a pair with your name on them. Do they want to go to Jon, or just sit here?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@dp,
When I lived in Hong Kong and got withdrawal symptoms from skiing int he first year I took a holiday to NZ in the Northern Summer, toured the south island in a campervan visiting various resorts , one of the best holidays I've had and a lovely place to visit.
If yo miss out this winter you don't have to wait till next one.
I also flew to Sapporo one winter and took the train to Niseko which wasn't too difficult though.
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@adithorp, makes a good suggestion, maybe just do the tourist things? Getting out of Macua for Christmas is a good idea and you have so many great options, direct from Macau. Not sure how long you will be there but you may want to save some money to escape at CNY as well. If you are still there in the summer maybe plan a trip to NZ in the summer, when you will be heartily sick of humidity and aircon, and you can escape in August for sightseeing and skiing.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@dp,
I've skied at Gala Yuzawa for a couple of days on a side-trip from Tokyo - the Shinkansen is really quick and easy. Yuzawa's in the Japanese Alps, and the snow tends to be wetter and heavier, there. It certainly was the time I went, since it snowed on the second day and I got soaked. Like you say, it's a small area, that is piste-poor but lift rich! The ratio of lifts to pistes is surprising, and the skiing isn't particularly challenging. I went in early January, travelling on the Sunday evening, so I was going just as all the weekend skiers were returning to the city, and I was assured that the weekdays were pretty quiet (they were), although the local schools may be well-represented on the hill. Since Christmas isn't a holiday in Japan, it's probably a good time to go.
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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!
adithorp wrote:
Seems a lot of effort to not get the best out of japow. Think you'd ultimately be disappointed.

How about none skiing Japan trip? Then when you do get to go there skiing you don't need to waste time on the "normal" tourist stuff.

So he’ll spend the same amount of money he’s reluctant to spend in the first place, and NOT get to ski?

I never go to ski destination for exclusive sightseeing. Seems a lot more efficient to tag on a few days to a ski trip “for free”.

There’re a plenty of non-skiing destinations worth doing exclusive trips instead. India, Thailand, China...
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@abc, I didn't suggest he go to a ski destination to not ski. Since when is Japan just a ski destination rolling eyes
And even if he went to Japan and did the tourist stuff, by his own calculations that'd cost about 2/3 what going there to ski would cost.
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Don't waste your time or money.
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adithorp wrote:

And even if he went to Japan and did the tourist stuff, by his own calculations that'd cost about 2/3 what going there to ski would cost.

I think you missed my point.

It’s 2/3 of cost he doesn’t have to spend if he wait till he has time to combine it with a ski holiday.
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