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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    9

    Hokkaido Japan Help..

    hi pholks!

    So 4 buddies and I are headed to Sapporo on Jan 14 for two weeks of skiing at least 7 day of which will be on Hokkaido. We would like to check out Niseko first, then hopefully head inland to Ashidake, Kuradake (if open), Furano, etc to check out the off the beaten path areas but really we're looking to chase storms... At some point after 7 days we're going to make our way South to Hakkoda, Tenjin, Hakuba, via public transportation.

    We are considering renting an class C RV (4x4 w/ snow tires) for 7 days at a cost of $525 pp and staying in the ski area parking lots for the week OR

    The other option is a Van for $125 pp and then trying to get accommodations wherever we go...

    It would obviously be convenient (and smelly w/ 5 dudes for 7 days) to have the RV but I'm worried we will be missing out on a lot of interactions with the culture, locals, and other skiers. Also curious if there will be issues with not being able to get to the areas we want to check out with the RV (ie storms and bad roads, lack of overnight parking). Can we camp in the ski area parking lots without issues or do we need to go to designated areas that wont be convenient to towns/eat etc?

    Really any help with figuring out the downsides to either option would be greatly appreciated. My buddy wants to book the RV ASAP but I'm a little weary that we might be better off chasing snow in a van and staying at local spots.. seeing japan, not just hanging inside an RV. Seems like a lot of places are cheap to stay at but will they all be booked out if we show up without reservations and just try to chase storm totals?

    Thanks for any and all help/suggestions!

    Cheers,

    Morgan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Galena
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    223
    Don't you have a thread started on this topic already?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    25
    Can't give you any help about the RV parking issues, but I can say we found a nice onsen at Kurodake last year. Not very expensive, and the hot springs are great after lapping powder all day. There wasn't much available in the way of inexpensive restaurants - most everything was closed for the winter, but you could get a cheap bowl of noodles across the road at the ice festival.

    I highly recommend the hostel at Asahidake. It is very nice, walking distance to the gondola, onsen is fabulous, and their meals are incredible. Locals as well as guests from all over the world made for great conversations at mealtime.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    snow country, Japan
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    838
    I'd recommend hitting up Rusutsu rather than Niseko, but that's just me. Niseko typically does get more snow than Rusutsu, but then I'd wager that Kiroro and Sapporo Kokusai get even more than Niseko...Shiribetsu has some nice terrain and is a short hike from Rusutsu.

    Kamui, out in Asahikawa is a sweet resort too:
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...day?highlight=

    Rumor now is that Furano patrol are allowing skiers to hit the powder whereas previously they were known as the Nazi Patrol of Hokkers. I'll definitely hit up Furano this season in Jan/Feb.

    If you want more backcountry touring, Hakuginso at the base of Tokachidake is a great place to stay at:
    http://www.furanotourism.com/en/spot/spot_D.php?id=370
    パウダーバカ!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Between a rock and a soft place. Aberdare and The Brecon Beacons, Wales
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    Outisde of the Niseko United base stations - Annupuri, Niseko Village, Niseko Hirafu - accommodation won't be hard to come by especially if you're prepared to drive 10-15 mins off mountain.

    +1 to Rusutsu

    Base yourself in Otaru for

    Otaru Tenguyama
    Asarigawa Onsen
    Kiroro
    Sapporo Kokusai
    Sapporo Teine

    In central Hokkaido you have

    Kamui
    Asahidake
    Kurodake
    Tomamu
    Furano
    Sahoro

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Jackson, WY
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    2,375
    Jumping in here since about to book some stuff with a group for first two weeks of Jan. Has anyone stayed in Kutchan? Seems like a cheap way to be central to Kiroro/Rusutsu and Moiwa without paying Niseko prices.
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey

    Associate Editor, TGR

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    218
    never stayed there but its pretty neat town.

    Lots of great food options, which is something i found lacking in rusutsu especially, Don't think its much of a party town, but only hirafu really is. You'd want a car, but if you are gonna be there i would recommend one anyway to get out to some of the central mountains.
    I'd also recommend not booking accom and just wing it depending on where you wanna be. Sapporo/Otaru are both sweet places to stay and have good resorts close by. Same with Furano/Furanodake, Asahikawa/dake.

    Edit: just saw i wrote eerily similar to stuff to mikepow but nowhere near as succinctly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    46
    Don't know too much about Kutchan, but I wasn't a huge fan of the vibe in Niseko - as many have stated before on these forums, it seems like little Australia. Might be worth staying in Kutchan just to experience a bit more of the Japanese culture! Car would be a definite necessity.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Skiing during your summer
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    260
    I'm heading over end of Jan. Am going solo and the van actually worked out heaps more expensive than normal hotel/lodges. From my research getting around sometimes can be tricky. Better to have a "base camp" and go from there when you can. Of course depends where you are exactly...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    SW Idaho
    Posts
    686

    Hokkaido Japan Help..

    I’ve done two seasons in Hokkaido, based out of the Higashiyama (East Mtn.) area of Niseko.

    First off, there’s a ton of expensive vacation rentals in Hirafu, and more hotels are popping up each season, so cheap accom is not easy to come by compared to 5 yrs ago.

    I’d check out the Alpen Hotel or the Owashi Lodge or Backpackers lodge in Hirafu for lower prices. I remember Owashi was a pretty low key place super close to lifts.

    Speaking of lifts... unless Niseko gets shit hammered with 30cm of snow or more, it gets tracked out in about 90 minutes. The off piste and peak gates are a much different matter, and the backcountry around Niseko is amazing, however.

    Kutchan is OK - very industrial/Soviet small town feel. You would be disappointed staying in a hotel there.

    Higashiyama is a good compromise, with the Black Diamond Lodge and other hostels like Hooting Owl near the Niseko lifts being a bit more rural but kind of fun (BD Lodge is the grandaddy of western ski accom here).

    As for an RV, you won’t have a hard time in smaller towns or ski areas. I’ve seen Japanese guys living out of tiny hatchbacks in parking lots, and RVs are becoming more common.

    The best way to experience Hokkaido that most people don’t really understand, is to base out of Sapporo, as its the most centrally-located city with amazing skiing all around and super cheap hotels.

    Try staying in the Susukinou red light district at a APA hotel and smashing amazing ramen in a huge city with crazy bars and super convenient trains.

    Depending on your itinerary, there can be day trips to smaller resorts ... and then there’s always the Daisetsuzan mountains up north.


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  11. #11
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    Sep 2014
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    Can Asahidake be done right as a day trip from Sapporo?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    SW Idaho
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    Asahidake would be a stretch. But there’s a bunch of killer hot spring lodges up that way. Try searching around and you won’t be disappointed going that route


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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    cordova,AK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coño Frío View Post
    Can Asahidake be done right as a day trip from Sapporo?
    probably, here is a bus schedule on this link https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6776.html
    you probably already have this for other travel http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/se...d&sum_rel="nofollow" target=7
    only reason to go there is to ski the peak ropeway is not much lodging there is nothing special. Kurodake has bigger vertical and chance of better conditions.
    I have found most accommodations list a how to get there by public transportation. Handy for planning.
    off your knees Louie

  14. #14
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    Oct 2003
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    Is the snow reliable in the Dec 19-Jan 1 range?
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  15. #15
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    Apr 2005
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    Between a rock and a soft place. Aberdare and The Brecon Beacons, Wales
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Is the snow reliable in the Dec 19-Jan 1 range?
    Should see plenty of snow falling from the sky from mid-December onwards.

    Off-piste terrain may be limited depending on how much snow has fallen prior to mid-December.

    Takes a couple of serious storms to cover the almost 2m high sasa grass (bamboo) found all across Hokkaido.

    The above treeline terrain at places like Asahidake tends to give a better early season chance of play.

  16. #16
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    Apr 2005
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    Between a rock and a soft place. Aberdare and The Brecon Beacons, Wales
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coño Frío View Post
    Can Asahidake be done right as a day trip from Sapporo?
    Very long day / not recommended depending on road conditions.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Jackson, WY
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    Good feedback thanks everyone. We had thought of renting a van (crew of six with two others for the first few days on their own transport) and doing a few days in Otaru/Sapporo, a few days in furano/tokachidake and a few days in kutchan or rusutsu. Niseko I know is Ozzie central and would love to avoid. Do other areas have night skiing outside of niseko united?

    Good tip re:staying in the city.
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey

    Associate Editor, TGR

  18. #18
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    Oct 2013
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    Jackson, WY
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    Hokkaido Japan Help..

    Also any recommended car rental agencies? Found a ford transit van for $128/day which is pretty reasonable, and 4x4 vans at niseko auto for 98/day.
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey

    Associate Editor, TGR

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    218
    Night skiing.
    Rusutsu does for sure but very small.
    Bankei in Sapporo does to. You can take the tube in snow gear from the city to get there. also very small.
    Kiroro does. Think we had the most fun night skiing here, as you can get into a decent steep bit, but its not lit up so still hard to see. Im pretty sure that was Kiroro.
    I think Furano does too, as we could see lights while driving out there but never skiied there.

    Will second Superiors comments about Niseko being tracked quick. And its tracked by Jerry's side slipping anything remotely steep mostly. The gates off the top of Annupuri are pretty amazing, some fun lines in there which make it worth while.

    Can;t say enough good things about tokachidake too. Just make sure you go after the storm, and hopefully without too much wind during the storm. Some insane looking north faces as well as plenty of couloirs like so.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Was that your TR I was looking at norton? Have returned to that repeatedly. Thanks for the info!
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey

    Associate Editor, TGR

  21. #21
    Vets's Avatar
    Vets is online now Orange Mocha Frappuccino!
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Topaz, NV
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    Posting here to keep informed in case I'm able to use my free days at Kiroro on the Powder Alliance and/or Niseko United and/or Hakuba Valley on the Mountain Collective.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Skiing during your summer
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    Rusutsu > Niseko United ? Why?

  23. #23
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    Apr 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Dunfee View Post
    Good feedback thanks everyone. We had thought of renting a van (crew of six with two others for the first few days on their own transport) and doing a few days in Otaru/Sapporo, a few days in furano/tokachidake and a few days in kutchan or rusutsu. Niseko I know is Ozzie central and would love to avoid. Do other areas have night skiing outside of niseko united?

    Good tip re:staying in the city.
    The Niseko is Australia card is overplayed and outdated depending on when you visit.

    Early to mid-December it's predominantly SE Asia - Singapore, Thailand
    Christmas Day to end of January it's mostly Australian families but more and more ex-pat Europeans and North Americans.
    Chinese New Year is Hong Kong

    I'd say about half the workforce is Australian with a good mix of other nationalities.

    Niseko Hirafu has the biggest night skiing, but Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri also have night skiing. Smaller and not connected like in the day.

    Rusutsu, Kiroro, Tenguyama and Asari have night skiing too.

    Very cool to see Otaru lit up at night from Tenguyama and Asari.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Pow View Post
    The Niseko is Australia card is overplayed and outdated depending on when you visit.

    Early to mid-December it's predominantly SE Asia - Singapore, Thailand
    Christmas Day to end of January it's mostly Australian families but more and more ex-pat Europeans and North Americans.
    Chinese New Year is Hong Kong

    I'd say about half the workforce is Australian with a good mix of other nationalities.

    Niseko Hirafu has the biggest night skiing, but Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri also have night skiing. Smaller and not connected like in the day.

    Rusutsu, Kiroro, Tenguyama and Asari have night skiing too.

    Very cool to see Otaru lit up at night from Tenguyama and Asari.
    If you had a choice of one resort, where would you most enjoy?

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    SW Idaho
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    686
    One resort? Rusutsu, if sidecountry and BC options are in play.

    Teine Highland otherwise


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