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Five Weeks in Japan

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Sorry to be obnoxious everyone but I'm planning five weeks in Japan next Jan-Feb if the Chinese Bat Plague doesn't ruin even more fun things for us all.

Is five too many? I'll stay in Niseko to start with and then hire a car/take the bus elsewhere. Would I get bored? There's a risk of course that the snow will be pump like it was this year I suppose and low-angle Japanese hills without powder would be dull. Thoughts?

I've just missed out on £430 return with skis, they've gone up to £620 now! Grrrr....
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
you asked the wrong question
"is 5 enough?" it should have beeb
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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?
@justabod, Going for 5 weeks gives you a much better chance of getting ‘good conditions’, and my definition of ‘good conditions’ is regular new deep snow fall and cold temperatures. I was skiing on Hokkaido for 3 weeks (multiple locations) in Feb this year and only had 1 day of good powder, the main issue being the high temperatures wrecking what limited new snow there was. Previous years I’ve skied fresh powder dawn to dust on multiple days.

In the 5 years I’ve been going to Japan I’ve never had good luck with conditions in the Niseko resorts, the surrounding resorts being better, I certainly wouldn’t base myself there for 5 weeks, I would plan on being much more mobile.
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@justabod, do a search on here there was a recent thread bemoaning how busy the whole Niseko region is getting now, but with loads of very good advice as to where else and how to make the most of a trip such as your duration.

For sure amazing skiing and way better than Europe but Niseko itself is very expensive!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@justabod, where are you flying from and on what dates. EG if London you can save inter Japan travel by flying to Sapporo via HND at no extra cost.

Also, in Japan if travelling arround you cant beat the Japan Rail travel pass. I wouldnt drive myself.

If in Tokyo for a break I know a nice good priced hotel near a lot of bars for some good night life. Hotel Mystays premier Akasaka. Sometimes it is expensive but sometimes you get really good deal. It is very quiet hotel and 200m from the Metro.
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justabod wrote:
Sorry to be obnoxious everyone but I'm planning five weeks in Japan next Jan-Feb if the Chinese Bat Plague doesn't ruin even more fun things for us all.

Is five too many? Would I get bored?


As mentioned, is it enough. I've been skiing Rusutsu since 2006 and still found new lines this season.

But seriously, five weeks will give you the opportunity to see & ski pretty much all of Hokkaido.

Or get a good flavour of Hokkaido for 2-3 weeks plus a good flavour of the Hakuba and Myoko areas on the main island of Honshu for 2-3 weeks.

The past three winters I've done Hokkaido road trips taking in 22 ski areas and there are still plenty to explore.

So no shortage of places to ski.


Quote:
I'll stay in Niseko to start with


Lots of people decrying Niseko United and the post-skiing experiences in Niseko Hirafu village & Kutchan.

Yes it's become busier and more expensive.

But it's still possible to get reasonably priced accommodation; there are an unparalleled range of dining options available; and when it's on the Niseko United area gives you so much bang for your buck in terms of vertical and long runs. Especially if you're prepared to hike out and/or hike back in.

If the ski industry is back on track for the 20/21 season then it could be the prefect time to visit. I suspect it will be quieter than previous winters.


Quote:
and then hire a car/take the bus elsewhere.


If you can afford it, rent a car.

I would even say that 3-4 weeks with a car would be better than 5 weeks with public transport.


Quote:
There's a risk of course that the snow will be pump like it was this year I suppose and low-angle Japanese hills without powder would be dull. Thoughts?


There have been a number of snowheads who've been unlucky with snow conditions on their trips to Hokkaido and Honshu but this has been as much to do with choosing the wrong resort on a particular day.

Hence the recommendation to get your own vehicle. Mobility and flixibility are key to maximising your powder experience.

This past winter wasn't pump where I skied.

Scroll back through my Instagram feed and you'll see plenty of classic Japow conditions between 01 January and 21 February 2020.

https://www.instagram.com/mikethesnow/?hl=en


And whilst lots of the terrain falls under the 'low angle Japanese hill' description there is plenty of steep, technical terrain to be had if you're good enough both in and out of the trees.

More so if you access the sidecountry and backcountry.

Take a look at the other threads on here and fire away with any other questions.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
They may just shoot on one day but Toy Films always have good pistes to board on in their movies, so if no powder good on piste looks possible. Ask them where they are?
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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!
5 weeks in Jan/ Feb should get you a few days japow but Niseko is a dull resort imv. I'd travel as much as possible to get a better Japan experience and more varied terrain. If I were to go back I'd go to Hakuba where there are more resorts in closer proximity (from my research not experience). We went to Niseko in March and were caught between two weather fronts which brought in storms and no snow bar one or two days out of ten.
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Why is that in Off Piste?

Inquiring mind wants to know...
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justabod wrote:
Sorry to be obnoxious everyone but I'm planning five weeks in Japan next Jan-Feb if the Chinese Bat Plague doesn't ruin even more fun things for us all.

Is five too many? I'll stay in Niseko to start with and then hire a car/take the bus elsewhere. Would I get bored? There's a risk of course that the snow will be pump like it was this year I suppose and low-angle Japanese hills without powder would be dull. Thoughts?

I've just missed out on £430 return with skis, they've gone up to £620 now! Grrrr....


Five weeks is not too long! I've spent 4 weeks in Japan in each of the last few winters, mostly Hokkaido and mostly skiing, and will probably go back next year for a similar duration if possible.

I'd strongly recommend renting a car for the duration (expensive but worth it - my last trip worked out about £550 for 1 month rental, which seemed about the best I could find, with Nico Nico Rentacar). You'll often get a special rate for a 1 month rental which is similar in cost to renting for 2 weeks or so.

It's so much better with a car, because as Mike Pow says above, the conditions vary immensely day-to-day even between fairly close ski resorts and you'll often need to drive up to 60 minutes or so to another resort - depending on where the snow has fallen overnight, in order to get the best conditions.

With a car, I was able to base myself in Otaru, Sapporo and Asahikawa. Got some great bargains on AirBnB. All great towns/cities, with many ski resorts and ski touring areas within an hours drive of each of them.

I expect staying in an AirBnB place in Otaru and driving to the resorts near there you'll save loads compared to staying in Niseko, not just on the accommodation but also eating out, drinking, lift pass prices.
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musehead wrote:
justabod wrote:
Sorry to be obnoxious everyone but I'm planning five weeks in Japan next Jan-Feb if the Chinese Bat Plague doesn't ruin even more fun things for us all.

Is five too many? I'll stay in Niseko to start with and then hire a car/take the bus elsewhere. Would I get bored? There's a risk of course that the snow will be pump like it was this year I suppose and low-angle Japanese hills without powder would be dull. Thoughts?

I've just missed out on £430 return with skis, they've gone up to £620 now! Grrrr....


With a car, I was able to base myself in Otaru, Sapporo and Asahikawa. Got some great bargains on AirBnB. All great towns/cities, with many ski resorts and ski touring areas within an hours drive of each of them.

I expect staying in an AirBnB place in Otaru and driving to the resorts near there you'll save loads compared to staying in Niseko, not just on the accommodation but also eating out, drinking, lift pass prices.


Three great bases giving very different experiences.

Also consider Hakodate at the very southern tip of Hokkaido.

Great city with plenty to see and do.

Three ski areas all within 60 mins drive from the city centre.

If you're on Instagram click the following link. That's the start of our last Hokkaido roadtrip beginning in Hakodate.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuAOUPclbhU/
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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.
It's booked. I'm going! I watched this video years ago and wondered if I would ever be good enough to ski Japan. Now I am and I'm GOING TO JAPAN. I booked for six in the end. It's not much more than Europe per week if you go for a bit longer. Flights £542: my gamble was that capacity is going to drop sharply and more so than demand. I'm not convinced there will be lots of mega cheap flight sales. The Fall Line article on skiing Japan for a week for £1,000 from 2014 (I think) quotes £502 so an 8% rise in six years sounds OK to me.

Thanks for all the above advice, I'll reply in turn later.

Japan Through Five Eyes from Five Eyes Films
https://vimeo.com/21006245
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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
Brilliant.

If you need more you know where we are Wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@justabod, Could you tell me where you are staying and what you are doing about a car? I would like to do this in a few years. Actually I would like to stay all winter.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@PowderAdict, yes I heard it was pretty bad: I was watching the snowfall levels and wondering what was going on! I was dismayed until I realised that I was looking at a terrible year and not a normal one.

OK, I'm not going to stay in Niseko the whole time. I'll probably go there for a week just to find my feet at the start of the season and then go on to a smaller town and drive each day depending on the conditions and caprice.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Weathercam, yes I'll bear that in mind. The problem is I've been reading the articles in Fall Line by Johnny Richards and he talks it up massively but of course prices have risen since then: the pound is weaker and there is (was??) more demand. Still, I've found a bed in a dormitory for about £50 pn. I'm sure there is somewhere cheaper if I look carefully.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@GlasgowCyclops, I'm going via Munich and Tokyo. If I'd been a bit quicker and booked with Cathay Pacific then it would only have been one stop but for the price I'm not too bothered. Either way it's a day out of my life!

Thanks for the hotel recommendation, I'll try and spend at least one day there having a look about. I think I'll drive though dependent on the cost.
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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?
@Mike Pow, yes that mirrors what others have said about being able to move about. I'm sure Niseko is popular for a reason. Fifty quid for lift passes each day is expensive, more like Europe...
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@Agent Orange, thanks I'll have a look online.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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justabod wrote:
@Mike Pow, yes that mirrors what others have said about being able to move about. I'm sure Niseko is popular for a reason. Fifty quid for lift passes each day is expensive, more like Europe...


Niseko offers the easiest introduction to skiing in Japan.

It's the closest approximation to what visitors would associate with a ski vacation in Europe or N America.

Is it perfect? No

Is it for everyone? No

But that could be said about a whole host of resorts all around the world.

If you're looking to replicate the ski mileage component of a European resort then the Niseko United ticket is necessary.

If you buy in to the idea that it's about quality over quantity, then the day passes for the individual areas are cheaper. This involves being happy lapping the same one or two lifts, which isn't everyone's cup of tea.
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For lots of great info on skiing in Japan be sure to check out the Aussie ski forum.
https://www.ski.com.au/xf/forums/japan.51/
Also be sure to check out the port town of Otaru on Hokkaido. The surrounding ski hills are great in good conditions.
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+1
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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!
If you have 6 weeks and flights via Tokyo you’d be mad not to spend a week in Hakuba and/or Myoko IMO. Both have numerous hills so loads of variety. Myoko gets buckets of snow and Hakuba has stunning Alpine terrain you won’t find on Hokkaido

Here’s a TR from earlier this year:
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=151727&highlight=
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Quote:

If you buy in to the idea that it's about quality over quantity, then the day passes for the individual areas are cheaper. This involves being happy lapping the same one or two lifts, which isn't everyone's cup of tea.


This was the best advice for us. We visited the small local ski areas around Otaru by car, and when in Niseko, we bought the local area passes, day by day. Saved a fortune and skied tonnes of epic powder. 'Quality not quantity' became a bit of a tongue in cheek motto for us (especially when it got tracked in the afternoon and we wanted a beer and an early onsen).
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@Mike Pow, are you Powder Mike?

https://www.powder.com/stories/hadaka-no-tsukiai/
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
boobleblooble wrote:
@Mike Pow, are you Powder Mike?

https://www.powder.com/stories/hadaka-no-tsukiai/


Yes he is
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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.
Idris wrote:
boobleblooble wrote:
@Mike Pow, are you Powder Mike?

https://www.powder.com/stories/hadaka-no-tsukiai/


Yes he is


Guilty your honour Smile
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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
justabod wrote:
It's booked. I'm going! I watched this video years ago and wondered if I would ever be good enough to ski Japan. Now I am and I'm GOING TO JAPAN. I booked for six in the end. It's not much more than Europe per week if you go for a bit longer. Flights £542: my gamble was that capacity is going to drop sharply and more so than demand. I'm not convinced there will be lots of mega cheap flight sales. The Fall Line article on skiing Japan for a week for £1,000 from 2014 (I think) quotes £502 so an 8% rise in six years sounds OK to me.

Thanks for all the above advice, I'll reply in turn later.


Unfortunately the latest directive from the Japanese Government is no tourists admitted until 01 April 2021.

Safeguarding the postponed 2020 Summer Olympics rescheduled for July 2021.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Mike Pow, sigh. I'll get there eventually. Ten years since I first watched a short film about someone's Pacific trip!

How did you end up in touch with the journalists from Powder, is it because you ski there so often?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
boobleblooble wrote:
@Mike Pow, sigh. I'll get there eventually. Ten years since I first watched a short film about someone's Pacific trip!

How did you end up in touch with the journalists from Powder, is it because you ski there so often?


Fingers crossed for you.

Posted this in the Powder magazine thread

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=153615

Quote:
Gutted

Subscriber since 1993, digital only the past 7 seasons.

Been instrumental in my skiing experiences.

The first issue each year signaled the start of winter.

Never got a photo in there but was in an advert for Big Mountain, Montana once.

First exposure to Niseko, Hokkaido and long-time great mate Ian Mackenzie was in this article

Rebirth On The Northern Island
https://www.powder.com/stories/classics/japan/

Made me want to go. Got the chance in 2006 and been going back every year since (missed the 09/10 winter looking after my folks back in Wales).

And Ian and I appeared in piece written by Porter Fox about Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido back in 2012 which was accompanied by excellent images from Jordan Manley.

Hadaka No Tsukiai
https://www.powder.com/stories/hadaka-no-tsukiai/
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