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Japan?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Currently stuck at the airport with a 4 hour delay and seeing too many adverts for Japan...

Any recommendations/tips for a potential first timer.

Just me and the other half. Steeper and deeper the better for me, but she who must be obeyed probably not so into anything too crazy but comfortable on anything groomed and not much experience of deep powder.

Keen to avoid crowds of Australian bogans because we get to laugh at them at home all the time, beyond that up for anything really. Cheap would be better than expensive Happy

Flights are fairly easy via oz from NZ I think. Don’t know a thing about japan snow beyond that and looking to do the trip independently.

Can go any time but guessing early feb outside of oz/Nz school summer holidays would be a good plan ?
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Tons of threads if you search, especially advice from Mike Pow on independent trips, where to base yourself etc
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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?
As you've already alluded to, your trip will be about compromise.

For that reason, I would choose the Hakuba Valley.

Plenty of reasonably priced accommodation, restaurants & bars.

Massive variety of skiing on one ticket.

Some great areas to transition from piste to powder.

True expert terrain if your missus has a day off.

Still Aussies around but in fairness Westerners are everywhere a first timer is likely to visit.

Close to Japanese cultural attractions.

Snow monkeys not too far.

You can take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano.

Easy to tag Tokyo and/or Kyoto on at the start/end of your trip.
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Awesome thanks! Just what I needed to know.
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hang11 wrote:
Awesome thanks! Just what I needed to know.


Pleasure.
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@Mike Pow, is the guru on Japan. also if poss avoid major aussie holiday weeks if poss.


an altyernative of course is west coast of Canada, met a guys a couple years ago who was doing some prime ski arease (revi and similar), as a change from for japan
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
1. Hakuba.
2. Niseko.
3. Nozawa.
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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!
That's mad I was wanting to post pretty much the exact same question except I could not come up with a nice way to say I am allergic to Australians and is there a Japanese resort they don't go to in any significant numbers! oops I've gone and said it Shocked
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billybob wrote:
That's mad I was wanting to post pretty much the exact same question except I could not come up with a nice way to say I am allergic to Australians and is there a Japanese resort they don't go to in any significant numbers! oops I've gone and said it Shocked


Now you have to tell where you will be going so we could all avoid unpleasant people on a hill
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billybob wrote:
That's mad I was wanting to post pretty much the exact same question except I could not come up with a nice way to say I am allergic to Australians and is there a Japanese resort they don't go to in any significant numbers! oops I've gone and said it Shocked


Certainly rules out Niseko, They own it all.
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Bob wrote:
@Mike Pow, is the guru on Japan. also if poss avoid major aussie holiday weeks if poss.


an altyernative of course is west coast of Canada, met a guys a couple years ago who was doing some prime ski arease (revi and similar), as a change from for japan


Too kind. Thanks.

Agreed. Avoid Australian school holidays and Chinese New Year if possible.

A road trip around Interior BC would be a great alternative.

Starting & finishing in Calgary (YYC)

Castle Mountain (Alberta); Golden & Kicking Horse; Revelstoke; Whitewater; Fernie
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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.
mooney058 wrote:
billybob wrote:
That's mad I was wanting to post pretty much the exact same question except I could not come up with a nice way to say I am allergic to Australians and is there a Japanese resort they don't go to in any significant numbers! oops I've gone and said it Shocked


Now you have to tell where you will be going so we could all avoid unpleasant people on a hill


Aww and I was so looking forward to us skiing together! But ok- if you could avoid most of BC for January/February and the occasional December Tignes trip you should be good
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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
Also check out Otaru in Hokkaido as a base to ski Sapporo Teine, Kokusai, Asari, Kiroro, Tenguyama and others - ticks the 'cheap' and 'no bogans' boxes, but a bit of a compromise on expert terrain (and snow monkeys).
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Like @Mike Pow, says Hakuba a pretty good option if you are sticking to Honshu (main island). If you’ve not been to Japan worth thinking about spending some time in Tokyo too. I quite like Nozawa for the baths and general traditional feel, Shiga quite good too if you fancy a Prince Hotel ski in ski out experience.

Snow Search Japan is quite a handy guide book.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We did Shiga Kogen this year (late March) chosen for easy access from Tokyo and relative height. Really enjoyed it, most of the villages in the area are linked on a single area pass. Not hard core but on the two days we got fresh snow it was deep enough for me to make a fool of myself. Trip report somewhere if I can find it.

Edit to add trip report link: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=142632
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thank you all for your responses much appreciated.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
A question after looking at Japan options for a few years but not yet taking the plunge...

Is Hokkaido not a MUST for a first visit? Or can Honshu also be relied on for powder Puzzled
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
From my research for last year I would have said 'probably'. If it's regular light dry dumps you want then it appears Niseko/SW Hokkaido is the go.
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I think it’s the “relied on” part that gets you!

No place can be absolutely relied on. But it seems Hokkaido comes closest than other places.

So, if you’re flying half way around the world to ski in Japan, you want to maximize your chances.

But the OP isn’t flying half way around the world to get there. Japan is only a short hop and skip from NZ. He’ll probably go back again in 2021 if he likes what he experiences in 2020. Then, he can go to some out of way mountain in Hokkaido where no Aussies go.

Also, the OP wants steep as much as deep, with a partner who hasn’t got much powder experience. Different requirements.
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Thanks all. Canada sounds interesting. So many places to go and not enough time or money Happy. Planning another trip to Europe next year too.

I’ll probably have to go without the steep bit to keep harmony but not a problem for me if there’s good snow and good times to be had.

Also I don’t have a problem with strayans in general - just bogans Happy
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@mountainaddict, if you want to see marketing free snowfall figures, you can look at the historical daily reports on SnowJapan.com - they report for a load of resorts on Honshu and a few in Hokkaido. The impression I got when poring over them before booking last year was that the average snowfall totals are similar for the snowiest big resorts in Hokkaido and Honshu. However, Hokkaido gets more regular snowfalls and less rain/melt, whereas Honshu can get bigger dumps, but is more prone to rain and freeze/thaw. Id guess it's because Honshu gets a slightly bigger 'lake effect' as the siberian wind crosses a wider stretch of the sea of Japan and has more time to pick up moisture, but it's also significantly warmer as its more southerly. It probably matters more at the start and the end of the season though, late Jan/early Feb is a coin toss. Its probably also a different pattern again for the less well known northern Honshu ski areas.

I've been to Hokkaido twice now - once over xmas/new year and once in mid Jan. The Jan trip was apparently the worst season in Niseko in a very long time, but we still had a couple of classic deep days, and top ups almost every night.

The xmas/new year trip was unreal - I think from memory we had 8 full blown powder days, and top ups or a dusting on the other 3 or 4 ski days.
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@billybob, Zao and Shiga Kogen very Japanese, very few Australians.
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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!
As an Aussie I have to defend myself and my fellow Aussies a bit.
Undeniably there are a portion of my fellow countrymen that can be culturally insensitive and ignorant and rude but we're not all like that.
I've traveled extensively on ski holidays and no matter what country I go to the locals have always been enthusiastic about hosting Australians.
Don't all nations have their share of ignorant people? (I think they're called 'lager louts' in your neck of the woods).
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@sbooker, Very true, I'm sure that there are many who like to avoid resorts with too many Brits!
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Quote:
... the locals have always been enthusiastic about hosting Australians.


Do they just smile and give you a vegemite sandwich? Madeye-Smiley
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Mike Pow wrote:

A road trip around Interior BC would be a great alternative.

Starting & finishing in Calgary (YYC)

Castle Mountain (Alberta); Golden & Kicking Horse; Revelstoke; Whitewater; Fernie


Finally got round to trying to figure out flights and options today. Saw an ad for cheap Canada flights on the booking site so went for that instead. Costs less to get there from Nz than it would for Japan and not much more of a journey in total - about 3 hours longer. Never been there either. Haven’t decided on a plan yet. So thanks for the suggestions! Hoping I can get a bit of fishing in there too.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
sbooker wrote:
As an Aussie I have to defend myself and my fellow Aussies a bit.
Undeniably there are a portion of my fellow countrymen that can be culturally insensitive and ignorant and rude but we're not all like that.


My thing of ‘avoiding Australians’ wasn’t so much that I don’t want to be near them (I always find a few beers with Aussies quite entertaining), it’s that I don’t want to travel to Japan and then feel like I’m not in Japan. I don’t know if it’s just exaggeration but some people make it sound like Niseko is 80% Australian.

Oh and I’d say that my experience of travelling Europe is that the British are some of the worst to be around.
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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:
sbooker wrote:
As an Aussie I have to defend myself and my fellow Aussies a bit.
Undeniably there are a portion of my fellow countrymen that can be culturally insensitive and ignorant and rude but we're not all like that.


My thing of ‘avoiding Australians’ wasn’t so much that I don’t want to be near them (I always find a few beers with Aussies quite entertaining), it’s that I don’t want to travel to Japan and then feel like I’m not in Japan. I don’t know if it’s just exaggeration but some people make it sound like Niseko is 80% Australian.

Oh and I’d say that my experience of travelling Europe is that the British are some of the worst to be around.


If you're going to Hokkaido, Furano is way more Japanese feeling than Niseko. Niseko last year apparently had far fewer Aussies than previous years, many more mainland Chinese according to locals........... there you go, my 2c worth (please bear in mind my total Japan experience is one two week trip)
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@rogg, we’re not tied to a resort so will be heading where conditions seem good. Likely to be more the Niseko side of Sapporo but haven’t ruled out driving up to Furano.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I enjoyed both massively. Great snow, great food, great people. You'll have a blast wherever you end up. (based on my limited 2 week experperience)
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:

I don’t want to travel to Japan and then feel like I’m not in Japan. I don’t know if it’s just exaggeration but some people make it sound like Niseko is 80% Australian.

Not my observation when I was there 2 years ago.

I also went to Furano for a few days, and Kiroro as a day trip. I don't think they're more or less "Japanese". As Mike Pow said, you'll see some westerners anywhere a first timer will go. The difference is, in Niseko, you CAN actually get through the whole holiday AS THOUGH you are not in Japan (for those who wish NOT be in Japan). While in Furano or Kiroro, it's much harder to do. So you're more or less "forced" to feel you're IN Japan. But if you WANT to feel you're in Japan, there's still plenty of opportunity even in Niseko, easily!

I think for a first trip, Niseko is a pretty good place to try. Good skiing, somewhat easier entry into a culture some fear is radically different from the west. And you're still definitely IN JAPAN.
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If you want a Japanese experience try here more Japanese than Niseko.
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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?
Myoko Kogen with powder recon, they are an Aussie company for sure and we found them amazing and professional. the resort itself, along with their Bandai tour is almost exclusively Japanese and gives you a great insight into Japanese culture with the benefits of an English speaking company as back up. Couldn’t recommend enough!
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
sbooker wrote:
As an Aussie I have to defend myself and my fellow Aussies a bit.
Undeniably there are a portion of my fellow countrymen that can be culturally insensitive and ignorant and rude but we're not all like that.


My thing of ‘avoiding Australians’ wasn’t so much that I don’t want to be near them (I always find a few beers with Aussies quite entertaining), it’s that I don’t want to travel to Japan and then feel like I’m not in Japan. I don’t know if it’s just exaggeration but some people make it sound like Niseko is 80% Australian.


Go to this page

https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts


Scroll down to the 'Ski Resorts by Prefecture' section.

Click on the prefecture you're thinking of visiting, for example

Hokkaido
https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/prefecture/hokkaido


Then click on the individual resorts / ski areas you like the look of.

On that particular page find the official web site link and click it, for example

Katsurazawa Kokusetsu
https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hokkaido/mikasa/katsurazawa-kokusetsu
https://www.city.mikasa.hokkaido.jp/sightseeing/category/122.html

If the web site is in Japanese with no or very basic English translation then you will most certainly be in Japan if you visit it.

And there are scores of ski areas like this on Hokkaido, hundreds across Honshu.

And without the Aussies the Hokkaido ski experience would still be stuck in a late 80s / early 90s time warp.

PS the smaller more Japanese ski areas offer up lift accessed no hiking conditions like this all day

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvQumwgFV9w/
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Mike Pow wrote:
SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
sbooker wrote:
As an Aussie I have to defend myself and my fellow Aussies a bit.
Undeniably there are a portion of my fellow countrymen that can be culturally insensitive and ignorant and rude but we're not all like that.


My thing of ‘avoiding Australians’ wasn’t so much that I don’t want to be near them (I always find a few beers with Aussies quite entertaining), it’s that I don’t want to travel to Japan and then feel like I’m not in Japan. I don’t know if it’s just exaggeration but some people make it sound like Niseko is 80% Australian.


Go to this page

https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts


Scroll down to the 'Ski Resorts by Prefecture' section.

Click on the prefecture you're thinking of visiting, for example

Hokkaido
https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/prefecture/hokkaido


Then click on the individual resorts / ski areas you like the look of.

On that particular page find the official web site link and click it, for example

Katsurazawa Kokusetsu
https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/hokkaido/mikasa/katsurazawa-kokusetsu
https://www.city.mikasa.hokkaido.jp/sightseeing/category/122.html

If the web site is in Japanese with no or very basic English translation then you will most certainly be in Japan if you visit it.

And there are scores of ski areas like this on Hokkaido, hundreds across Honshu.

And without the Aussies the Hokkaido ski experience would still be stuck in a late 80s / early 90s time warp.

PS the smaller more Japanese ski areas offer up lift accessed no hiking conditions like this all day

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvQumwgFV9w/


Thanks for the balanced view point regarding us Aussies cobber. Very Happy
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@Mike Pow, We drove past Katsurazawa Kokusetsu on the way to Furano last year!

Impressed by your videos, it looked so tiny and at pretty low altitude from the road. I do recall that area seeming to have a lot of snow on the trees though. Might be one to check out next year.
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@Mike Pow, awesome, thanks for those links, that's exactly the type of thing I wanted to explore Very Happy Hiking not really our thing (and haven't got the kit anyway so would only be boot packing). Presumably not every 1-2 lift hill is a simple case of rocking up and skiing off piste (like in that instagram clip) all day?

As an aside, how do you stop the camera from freezing? Whenever mine (Session 4) is in conditions like that the battery dies almost instantly.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
musehead wrote:
@Mike Pow, We drove past Katsurazawa Kokusetsu on the way to Furano last year!

Impressed by your videos, it looked so tiny and at pretty low altitude from the road. I do recall that area seeming to have a lot of snow on the trees though. Might be one to check out next year.


Definitely.

Loads of great small areas to explore.
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
@Mike Pow, awesome, thanks for those links, that's exactly the type of thing I wanted to explore Very Happy Hiking not really our thing (and haven't got the kit anyway so would only be boot packing). Presumably not every 1-2 lift hill is a simple case of rocking up and skiing off piste (like in that instagram clip) all day?

As an aside, how do you stop the camera from freezing? Whenever mine (Session 4) is in conditions like that the battery dies almost instantly.


My pleasure.

There are a load of 1-2 lift ski hills where you can ski off-piste and/or ski powder on-piste / ungroomed runs.

I use a Sony Action Cam. I keep it in my pocket on chair rides. Only start filming just before setting off. Battery lasts all day.
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Mike Pow wrote:
There are a load of 1-2 lift ski hills where you can ski off-piste and/or ski powder on-piste / ungroomed runs.


I like the sound of that Very Happy It's kind of difficult to 'plan' for the trip with so many things I would like to do and places I'd like to visit. I'm trying not to be in the mind set of "must go here" or "need to be there on x date" and instead leaving the plan fluid. I definitely have a list in my head of things that I'd like to try though, skiing in powder being one of them if possible.

Mike Pow wrote:
I use a Sony Action Cam. I keep it in my pocket on chair rides. Only start filming just before setting off. Battery lasts all day.


I generally try to do that too (one of the reasons I like the mouth mount is that I can easily tuck it in my jacket), presumably the GoPro has batteries which are a little more exposed.
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