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Japan 2020

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
On my bucket list is skiing the fabled Japanese powder, and me and the mrs are planning to go in Feb next year. We have not been to Japan before and we are both at the low end of powder competency, but that isn’t going to stop us having a go. I am looking for advice from seasoned Snowheads on the best way to organise a trip, where to go, where to stay, how to get there etc. Thanks in advance.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I think all you’ll find answers to all your questions in the many threads on Japan if you use the search function.
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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?
@vaughan, The big questions are budget and organised vs diy trip. Lesser questions are culture vs skiing, and road trip vs single location.

To give you an idea what is available check out powderhounds.com, as they cover a wide variety of companies.

I’ve been the last 4 years with White Room Tours, who are a very professional Australian company. If you are looking at a guided trip, maybe something like their Powder Progression Tour would be suitable, as it combines powder skiing with instruction.

https://www.whiteroomtours.com/guided-japan-tours/powder-progression-tour/
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Went first time Feb 2018, one week in Niseko area (quieter part of Moiwa) then one week in a small port town of Otaru with daily trips to surrounding resorts. Worked a treat. Staying in Niseko Moiwa went daily to local onsens.
Will repeat Niseko and Otaru next Feb and then additional week in Central Hokkaido. Similar level of off piste competency I guess.

All DIY
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I’m looking to do a DIY trip next year (also my first time to Japan). Planning to hire a car and then AirBnB somewhere reasonably close to Niseko for the first few days, then try to pick up accommodation based on where’s good (e.g stay close to Niseko, maybe move towards Sapporo or up to Furano).

Initially I looked at doing some days on Hokkaido then head towards Nozawa (?) but realised that you’d just lose too much time travelling. Likewise would like to see Tokyo but figured I’d spend this trip skiing as I’m bound to return at some point.
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Iv'e done a Niseko/Furano trip and one to Hakuba. Although the snow in Hokkaido is a bit lighter I found the crowds at Niseko a real pain especially when the upper lifts were closed due to the weather but day trips to nearby areas like Rusutsu were great as was Furano. Hakuba did not have the crowds and with the choice of nine different mountains in the valley there is plenty of variety for all. @SnoodlesMcFlude, If you wish to do the car hire there are lots of other resorts within one to two hours drive so you can easily hop around the area. Also it is easy enough to have a day or two in Tokyo on the way in or out.
Just started planning for another DIY visit to Japan and will be going to Nagano prefecture again. Maybe a week in Hakuba then a week in Myoko. I'll let you know what develops.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Sarge McSarge, my thinking was exactly that a hire car would enable trips to smaller, quieter resorts rather than just ski Niseko, although don't really fancy 2 hour drives each morning/evening. When I spoke to admin and the Rabbit about it they both seemed to prefer the smaller places (such as Rusutsu) so I'd intended to stick spend more time in places like that rather than spend the whole time in Niseko or the like.

I'm still toying with Tokyo, but don't like the idea of losing a couple days of skiing and adding a few hundred quid. If I was to do Tokyo it would be fly Saturday, land Sunday. Ski Monday through to the following Wednesday. Fly to Tokyo on the Thursday morning, spend Friday in Tokyo then fly back on Saturday. Still a solid 10 days of skiing and a bit of taking in the sights of a completely different city.
But then I think about it again and the idea of humping ski bags around Tokyo really don't appeal.
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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!
SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
@Sarge McSarge,
I'm still toying with Tokyo, but don't like the idea of losing a couple days of skiing and adding a few hundred quid. If I was to do Tokyo it would be fly Saturday, land Sunday. Ski Monday through to the following Wednesday. Fly to Tokyo on the Thursday morning, spend Friday in Tokyo then fly back on Saturday. Still a solid 10 days of skiing and a bit of taking in the sights of a completely different city.
But then I think about it again and the idea of humping ski bags around Tokyo really don't appeal.


I was over there recently and reckon, unless your tastes in nightlife are particularly exotic, you could easily do the Tokyo leg for £300 all-in, incl dumping your ski bag at Narita airport rather than lugging it in/out. Tokyo IMV is essential viewing, and prob best at end of the trip. Can recommend a great & v convenient Airbnb place - if you need that PM me.
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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.
@Double Bombardino, I’m desperately trying to keep budget down for the trip to be viable, even allowing for the fact that I’ll be spending money on ski passes if I stay in Hokkaido, still starts to make things a bit pricier than I want. I’ve even tried a spreadsheet with different permutations and just happier to stick to the one island this trip.

Also all the flight options I looked at for the dates I’d be going flew into one Tokyo airport then out from the other (e.g CTS to NRT then Haneda back to UK), so dumping luggage not that simple.

I have no doubt that this is not a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip, so will be heading to Tokyo at some point in the future.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@SnoodlesMcFlude, I've been to Hokkaido twice. The first time I spent the majority of the trip in Niseko and then a couple of days in Sapporo at the end. The most recent trip, I did similar to @mooney058, - a week in Niseko and a week in Otaru with a car, with 2 days in Tokyo at the start.

The second itinerary was better. We stayed in the Grand Park in Otaru - it was twice the size and half the price of our room in Niseko. Otaru is a great option if you're trying to keep costs down, and it's only 5-15 minutes easy drive from the nearest ski area depending on where you stay. You've got Tenguyama, Asari, Kokusai, Kiroro, and Teine all between 5 and 45 mins away, plus a few tiny areas.

Another good cost saving tip I picked up on here was to buy a 4 or 5 hour rather than whole day pass, and buy the area pass rather than the full Niseko pass. A four hour Hanazono/Hirafu pass is 4800 yen vs 7400 for a full day Niseko United pass.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@SnoodlesMcFlude, staying in Niseko Moiwa cabin type of accommodation - super clean and nice, good earplugs solve all the issues that may arrise. EUR 560 for 8 nights with a superb breakfast. Staying for this period you get 1 or 2 day local ski pass, several coupons to surrounding onsens. They also drive you to onsens in evenings if you want to but I usually go on foot and stay at my leisure.

Staying at a basic but central hotel in Otaru - Hotel Smile, EUR 300 for 5-6 nights without a breakfast (simple Western style rooms).
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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.
From Spain 3 friends will go to Hokkaido Next February around 3 weeks.
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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
Sorry to hi jack this. But we are also considering japan last week of March for 10-14 days in 2020. We would be a family of 4 (kids 9 & 11) who can all ski fairly well on piste. Kids can tackle all the pistes in Zillertal for example including blacks but we haven’t had much pow experience (strictly on piste for the kids). I have a couple of questions/requirements and wondered if anyone here had taken kids or had a good ideas.

We are looking for a proper authentic Japanese experience not a Disney on snow.

Would last week of March-1st week April be too late season? Where would be good for that time of season?

We like to ski a fair amount of pistes each day but don’t need a resort of more than say 150km or a selection of local resorts within a short drive to add variety would also be fine.

We would like to avoid big lift queues if possible!

Any suggestions or tips would be fantastic.
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