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  1. #51
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    Thanks for the info - lots and lots to consider.

    We have roller bags and could bring two pairs of skis. It gets heavy fast though - just dragging ski gear through US airports is bad enough, without dealing with a different country / language / trains etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  2. #52
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    Apr 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dromond View Post
    Tronning is my new favorite verb. Great post.
    Cheers. Tronning was introduced to me by a friend when we were trying to describe how much modern ski shapes have changed the way we ski these forests. It's so easy it's downright dangerous. My biggest fear is face planting a tree at 50mph. My tail got hooked on something last March and I saw the tree I was about to kiss. In throwing my body in a different direction, I blew my ACL. Things go wrong quick at these speeds.

    Stupid Renegade. It might as well be called The Tron.

    Last season he came out again and said: "Skiing Japan lines is like constantly threading the needle."
    Last edited by gaijin; 08-03-2018 at 11:13 PM.

  3. #53
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    Oct 2015
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    NIseko Japan, or Gold Coast Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERIOR View Post
    However, that also means that the majority of decently skilled foreign pow seekers are able to access these areas.
    key words: "decently skilled".
    if you can traverse on a face for more than 10 meters without losing ground and/or bitching about it, then you can surpass "decently skilled" and easily find untouched snow.

    i also recommend you adopt the strategy that most other tourists use: turn off your brain and just follow the crowd for the best snow.
    the best way to find untouched japow is to follow where other people have already skied.
    you should only ski in places that you can see it from the lift on the way up, nobody skis in those spots.
    (hehehehe)

    these two reasons are mostly why niseko has a bad rep.
    (there are other reasons for badness tho too)

    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERIOR View Post
    The Hokkaido sidecountry is definitely accessible via a short boot or skate at most resorts.

    Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Teine, all have great sidecountry accessible this way.

    However, that also means that the majority of decently skilled foreign pow seekers are able to access these areas.

    Iíve seen some of these resorts fully tracked in under 2 hrs, so Iíd definitely make it a point to investigate the BC potential surrounding them, which is off the chain!

    Can you fit two pairs of skis in a roller bag? I always brought a lightweight dynafit rig and a fat downhill rig with one pair of boots that worked for both bindings. Most going for a season would agree.
    100% agree that its worth getting into the bc, especially if you're there for a while.
    theres always easy ways up, and hokkaido's dry soft pow is nice and light and grippy and easy to skin with almost zero glopping.
    most of last season was record setting snowfall so slackcountry was unlimited, but i still did more than 20 days bc.

    bang for buck, sidecountry vs backcountry, i reckon sidecountry is ahead. 1-2 top to bottom epic-best-ever runs per day or 10-15 pretty-awesome-with-only-a-bit-of-epic runs per day.
    but even considering this, if you're doing say a 10 day trip, its still worth getting one or two out there. need to "slow down" a little take some time to enjoy it.

  4. #54
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    Aug 2013
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    367
    I get it, I was really dreading dragging two pairs of skis in a bag, a full-sized suitcase, a small backpack and a boot bag across Japan and back, but it wasnít as terrible as I expected.

    The ideal way to do it is to plan a few days of sight seeing when you first arrive pre-skiing. As soon as you get to Narita go to the takkyubin; youíll see a black cat logo. The other companies are probably fine too but Yamato/black Cat is the famous one. Theyíre miraculous; they ship bags wherever you want in japan in three or four days and for minimal charges, maybe $20 a bag if I remember correctly. So if youíre doing some non-skiing tourism you can basically not have to deal with your ski gear until youíre in a ski town. And you can do the same thing at the end too. As long as thereís a few days between your last ski day and your flight home theyíll pick up your skis from your hotel or whatever and have them waiting for you at the airport right next to the check-in counters. It sounds too good to be true but itís not.

    Another useful general japan travel thing is wireless devices. Theyíre basically little WiFi blocks connected to 4g/LTE that you rent. I rented from Japan Wireless and it worked super well. 75Mbps unlimited with good coverage. 12,000 yen for a month but it basically meant I could use my iPhone almost as normal. Super useful to have google maps at all times and could call and text through WhatsApp. It made things waaaay easier and split between multiple people the expense is pretty minimal. They have it waiting for you wherever you want and then you just drop it off in the airport on your way out. Japan makes things so easy compared to anywhere else Iíve been.

    One thing, if you do need to take your skis on trains in Tokyo, try to schedule it not during rush hours. It might be physically impossible to get on the Yamanote line with your bags.

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Montucky
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    Get a giant double roller bag and put boots and outerwear inside with your skis and BC gear. Get a smaller duffle that can fit on your back for all the rest. Boom.


    Sent from my iPad using TGR Forums

  6. #56
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    Jan 2008
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    720
    Reading through this just got timely...plans to Japan in January were crushed due to a commitment but I have an opening late Feb into March. Iíve been reading about this time of year and it sounds possibly fickle.

    No guarantee on a huge storm during this time frame but with 8 days to ski Japan (then touristy fun for another 5) is skiing worth it? Worth is tough to answer but would break my heart to ski refreeze and such.

  7. #57
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    Sep 2014
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    Norway
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    This thread continues to deliver! Keep 'em coming.

  8. #58
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    Apr 2007
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    1,261

    Hokkaido Japan; Central Hokkaido or Niseko

    Quote Originally Posted by jmars View Post
    Reading through this just got timely...plans to Japan in January were crushed due to a commitment but I have an opening late Feb into March. Iíve been reading about this time of year and it sounds possibly fickle.

    No guarantee on a huge storm during this time frame but with 8 days to ski Japan (then touristy fun for another 5) is skiing worth it? Worth is tough to answer but would break my heart to ski refreeze and such.
    ďRefreezeĒ? In the heart of winter in Japan with a five day flexibility window?

    Youíre good. We do get rain every year but itís never predictable.

    *edited as I sounded like an ass.
    Last edited by gaijin; 08-04-2018 at 05:31 PM.

  9. #59
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    Oct 2015
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    NIseko Japan, or Gold Coast Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmars View Post
    Reading through this just got timely...plans to Japan in January were crushed due to a commitment but I have an opening late Feb into March. I’ve been reading about this time of year and it sounds possibly fickle.

    No guarantee on a huge storm during this time frame but with 8 days to ski Japan (then touristy fun for another 5) is skiing worth it? Worth is tough to answer but would break my heart to ski refreeze and such.
    correct. march is possibly fickle compared jan feb where you expect 30cm every day.
    but the huge storms mid jan feb can often be too much. too much wind and it scrapes it down to ice or the lifts are on wind hold. in jan its not a surprise to have 1-2 days a week wasted because of too much wind.
    march is sometimes better than jan & feb because there's intermediate calm blue skis with topups in between.
    certainly not guaranteed tho. sometimes we get random rain events as well.

    last season mid march onwards kind of sucked, we got rained out. was especially painful when compared to the record-setting dec, jan & feb.
    but i cherrypicked a couple of late feb early march dates for you based on last season:
    Mar 7: 12cm
    Mar 6: 2cm
    Mar 3: 13cm
    Mar 2: 9cm
    Feb 28: 3cm
    Feb 27: 8cm
    Feb 26: 25cm
    Feb 25: 10cm
    (http://360niseko.com/category/daily-snow-reports/)

  10. #60
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    Jan 2004
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    80
    I am a touring virgin as I have always just stuck to the slackcountry and boot packed everywhere I wanted to go so I don't gave any touring gear. I would be totally down for a touring day or two though once I am there though to get away from it all and see to true backcountry. Is rental touring gear of decent quality available for day rental out of Furano? That or since we are going through whiteroomtours maybe they have options available.

  11. #61
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    Sep 2017
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    2
    Subscribing to this thread. I've always wanted to go to ski Japan and I think I might get the new 4frnt Renegade. It seems like lots of people really like that ski for Japan.

  12. #62
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    Oct 2015
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    NIseko Japan, or Gold Coast Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by pman View Post
    I am a touring virgin as I have always just stuck to the slackcountry and boot packed everywhere I wanted to go so I don't gave any touring gear. I would be totally down for a touring day or two though once I am there though to get away from it all and see to true backcountry. Is rental touring gear of decent quality available for day rental out of Furano? That or since we are going through whiteroomtours maybe they have options available.
    i dont think youll have any problems with quality.
    and i would be surprised if whiteroom didn't have some skis you can rent, or surely at least point you in the right direction.

    by quality i've assumed you mean the base condition of the rental ski, and their age/model/etc.
    hokkaido gets so much snow that the base covers up any rocks or anything that might damage a ski. except for my early-season pair, all my bases are still in perfect condition with at most a slight groove from skiing over a stick or something and im infamous for not waxing to fill it back in. i only have to replace skis because i find i wear out the lightweight wood construction's springyness after about 300 days, plus its a good excuse for retail therapy.
    the top sheets of my skis are a bit more scratched up than i'd like because the Japanese have less of a sense of personal space (well too close for my bubble anyway). my long ass skis extend behind me quite a bit, and they like to queue soo closely behind you that they run into my skis. so i wouldn't expect a rental to look like a piece of art.
    many Japanese tourists still seem to rent like 60mm waist skinnies, sometimes even straight skis as old as i am (they wear era matching gear to suit). but all westerner targeting ski rental shop have fat pow skis for rent. probably at most 3-4 seasons old because of the change in design in powder ski (rocker camber rocker etc), with 100-125mm waists and some models up to 195+cm skis for those freakishly tall people.
    i see a shitload of rentals with marker barons and dukes (i have trouble telling them apart at a distance) in the backcountry. they seem to be the standard here.
    there are a heap of good options around niseko for full touring setups. black diamond tours (all frame bindings) and rhythm (frame, and even some kingpin rentals if you have the boots for it) both have a good rep. i cant speak for rental shops around furano tho, i havent done a season there in like 15 years.

  13. #63
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    Oct 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wood Charles View Post
    Subscribing to this thread. I've always wanted to go to ski Japan and I think I might get the new 4frnt Renegade. It seems like lots of people really like that ski for Japan.
    i personally target a bit shorter turn radius, because i spend a disproportional amount of time in the trees.
    but with a 122mm waist you're gonna bound through that deep stuff nice and easily. anywhere else in the world water ski sized skis might turn heads, but its everyday in hokkaido
    (fyi, almost all trees are skiiable in hokkaido, they're naturally perfectly spaced)

  14. #64
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    Apr 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by anything View Post
    i personally target a bit shorter turn radius, because i spend a disproportional amount of time in the trees.
    but with a 122mm waist you're gonna bound through that deep stuff nice and easily. anywhere else in the world water ski sized skis might turn heads, but its everyday in hokkaido
    (fyi, almost all trees are skiiable in hokkaido, they're naturally perfectly spaced)
    A shorter radius will pivot after it carves.

    A longer radius will pivot before it carves.

    Pow turns at lower speeds are generally pivoted and then carved at higher speeds as the line speeds up.

    I actually find longer radius skis to be MORE maneuverable at low speeds in tight spaces and more stable at high speeds when the line opens up.

    Every ski is different but that Ren with reverse camber is a nimble little machine.

    The 2019 is shorter in length and radius @30 from 35. Probably easier on firmer snow and more carvy in pow. I bet it still pivots like mad though.

    I ski tight trees in central Japan, fwiw.

  15. #65
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    Mar 2006
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    SLC
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    https://www.whiteroomtours.com/guide...tral-hokkaido/

    Is this the tour that folks would recommend for a first-timer that wants to (ideally) ski uncrowded pow without skinning for all of it, but OK hiking and skinning for some?

  16. #66
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    Mar 2011
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    Montucky
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtran10 View Post
    https://www.whiteroomtours.com/guide...tral-hokkaido/

    Is this the tour that folks would recommend for a first-timer that wants to (ideally) ski uncrowded pow without skinning for all of it, but OK hiking and skinning for some?
    Iíve been to a few of those resorts, and the only downside is potentially the small vert.

    Would be a great alternative to Niseko with much less Australian vibe/more Japanese culture and more untracked snow.

    I always recommend for people who are good at self guiding to just base out of Sapporo and rent a car. You can do day trips to almost all the resorts and youíll save a couple thousand.

    The main problem with that is that you wonít have the guide and English speaking companions...


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  17. #67
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    Oct 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtran10 View Post
    https://www.whiteroomtours.com/guide...tral-hokkaido/

    Is this the tour that folks would recommend for a first-timer that wants to (ideally) ski uncrowded pow without skinning for all of it, but OK hiking and skinning for some?
    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERIOR View Post
    I’ve been to a few of those resorts, and the only downside is potentially the small vert.

    Would be a great alternative to Niseko with much less Australian vibe/more Japanese culture and more untracked snow.

    I always recommend for people who are good at self guiding to just base out of Sapporo and rent a car. You can do day trips to almost all the resorts and you’ll save a couple thousand.

    The main problem with that is that you won’t have the guide and English speaking companions...
    compared usa, europe and even honshu, hokkaido resorts have a small vertical.
    but i dont think massive vert is the objective of most maggots heading to japanland (i didnt say tourists, because <exotic european accent>"theres only like 12 green runs here and ive done them all, i may as well go home", yes someone actually said this to me).
    when im guiding friends around the Niseko area i can easily wear their legs out within a day or two because theyre not used to skiing so much pow and so much trees. at times they are quite thankful that the next spot i had in mind to hit is only a short vertical and they get some time to recover.

    most japan ski resorts are tiny too. japan has something ridiculous like 500 ski resorts, but lift infrastructure is mostly targeted at beginners. for example Tomamu is quoted as having 11 lifts, but it really only has 2, the rest get you to places you can already get from the main 2. tomamu is still pretty awesome tho! even knowing it quite well i could still spend a couple of days there exploring every nook and cranny.

    maybe after the second time in japan i might recommend people roll their own adventure. but for a first timer? i dunno.
    someone who's holiday window is limited, experiencing a foreign culture the first time, in a foreign language, whilst finally driving on the correct side of the road (:P), might have troubles picking the best out of unknown weather patterns and unknown ski resorts that barely can afford to advertise locally let alone to westerners.

    i think getting guided around the best conditions available out of 1x medium 1x small and 3x tiny resorts plus 1x day touring within 8 days is easily going to wear @jtran10 out, especially if whiteroomtours are picking and choosing locations based on the best weather conditions (which their advertising suggests), and they're gonna be smiling for days, talking about it for months, certainly be back next year, and your 8 hours of cliche' unedited gopro footage uploaded to facebook is gonna get at least 3 likes.

    shit i sound like a bloody salesman. ill contact them and ask for a commission ;P

  18. #68
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    May 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by anything View Post
    maybe after the second time in japan i might recommend people roll their own adventure. but for a first timer? i dunno.
    someone who's holiday window is limited, experiencing a foreign culture the first time, in a foreign language, whilst finally driving on the correct side of the road (:P), might have troubles picking the best out of unknown weather patterns and unknown ski resorts that barely can afford to advertise locally let alone to westerners.
    I am no expert an Japan and skiing, but we discovered it on our own as first timers and had a blast (https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/...apan-2017-2018) ! I think you miss out an a lot of good stuff but you are more exposed to the Japan experience as you have to think and plan for yourself. I ould recommend doing you own thing or getting guided dependent on your priorities: just powder -> guided; the whole experience -> go by yourself.

  19. #69
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    Apr 2007
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    1,261

    Hokkaido Japan; Central Hokkaido or Niseko

    Film crews build entire premises on van life.

    They came here once and then were likeó why donít we just rent a van and drive around and find things to skin.

    I donít do that because Iím a snob who knows his mountain and never crosses tracks via lifts, but... Iíve literally first-descended little neighborhood peaks because I had nothing else to do during a blizzard on Sunday when the chairs were closed due to wind.

    One of those firsts was literally at the ski resort. It was a dangerous climb, but the whole village saw the tracks and knew it was me. Iím like- ďHow has nobody ever skied that before? Iíve been eyeing it for 12 years, itís south facing, gets wind-loaded, is rarely safe, but stilló itís literally right fucking there.Ē

    But no. I was miraculously the first. And Iím a fat papa of 3.

    Thatís the dichotomyó world famous pow is not breeding world famous pow skiers. Locals just donít care like westerners do. The landscape is pretty endless with a bit of research.

    But againó my chairs are plenty easy.

  20. #70
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    Aug 2013
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    367
    Thereís a friendly shop that rents solid AT and tech touring setups in Furano, a few minutes walk downhill from the resort. I am very grateful for them since the airline lost my skis for several weeks and I only had touring boots. I rented BD Links with Ions on them, which got the job done.

    Looks like theyíre affiliated with Journey Into Japan, a guide service. I have no experience with them as guides.

    If you havenít toured before Iíd 100% recommend getting a guide. Not only will they keep you safe and teach you some basics but you will most likely get to much better skiing than you would figure out on your own. Hopefully youíll have some days to explore japan on your own and have more cultural exposure, but at least the first time youíll have a much better experience with a guide.

  21. #71
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    Oct 2010
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    369
    Here's a TR i wrote from 2016.
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/...Japan-Jan-2016

    let me know if you have any questions. I would hands down do the exact same trip again, maybe with some more time in central hokkaido.
    Did Hakuba last year but it was late feb and warming fast after every storm.

  22. #72
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    Jan 2004
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    80
    Quote Originally Posted by jtran10 View Post
    https://www.whiteroomtours.com/guide...tral-hokkaido/

    Is this the tour that folks would recommend for a first-timer that wants to (ideally) ski uncrowded pow without skinning for all of it, but OK hiking and skinning for some?
    That is the tour I signed up for next winter (Jan 26 through Feb 5 if you want to take the last 2 spots). From my research and talking to whiteroom the tour is completely lift accessed backcountry so fully expect to ride the lifts up followed by short boot packs to the good stuff. They said there are no dedicated touring days on the schedule but if the group all wants to tour then they would be happy to do whatever the group wants. They break the 12 person tour into 2 groups of 6 so all 6 would have to agree to tour. Our group is 5 so I guess I would just have to convince one additional person though! I figured this is my first trip to Japan and had limited time so it was worth it to me to pay the little bit extra to coordinate everything, drive us, guide us to the goods and keep us safe, and have a translator with us. Whiteroom has been in the area for well over a decade so they know the area well and will hopefully know the spots that don't get tracked out.

    Also I believe this tour is geared to "Advanced" and up only so they expect solid pow riding skills to start out with. Nothing worse than having someone with a well below the required skillset on a trip like this since you will be stuck with them for 10 days. Bit reason I tried to get a big group of like minded people so we are all at the same level. Did a cat day at Revelstoke last winter and got an epic 70cm dump. Unfortunately we got 2 fat and out of shape NY women on the group that couldn't walk in the snow let alone ski it. The group wanted to kill them by the end of the day (the 4 Austrians mainly). Luckily the guide made them sit in the cat for a few runs so we got some goods!

  23. #73
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    Feb 2016
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    Skiing Teine (located in Sapporo) at the beginning or end of your trip is also a great move

  24. #74
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    Mar 2011
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    Montucky
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    Hokkaido Japan; Central Hokkaido or Niseko

    Donít talk about Teine. It sucks. Never go there

  25. #75
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    Jun 2004
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    snow country, Japan
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    851
    I'd be cautious with White Room Tours.

    If you wanna be based in Hokkaido there are tons of possibilities here. I lived in Niseko 16 years ago but hardly ski there now. I went 3 days last year (I think). Out that way I much prefer the other side of Yotei, but now Rusutsu has turned into a shitshow. I had amazing ski days there but every damn gaijin on the north island there. Going up the quad at Steamboat looked like bloody ants coming down the mountain, so stayed on the top bowl all day scooting over run after run for an epic day. Still, that kept me away from there the rest of the season after that. It was more crowded than Niseko.

    In the interior, a smaller resort that I like is Kamui. Tiny, mellow, but have always scored epic powder days there. Biggest resort out that way is Furano. Definitely some of the driest powder in the country there. My J-mates there hate coming south because it's so heavy down here, which always makes me laugh.

    Teine sucks. Don't bother going. Hit up Onze or Asari instead

    I would recommend Tenguyama in Otaru though. I've admittedly only had 1 day there, but damn there is a lot of options for slackcountry/and touring there. Nice pitch too. Thats a place I plan on spending more time next year.

    Personally I'd say for those of you looking late February/early March the odds are good that it's going to be good. As someone else said last year in March it did suck. One storm cycle the whole month I believe. And it was bloody hot. It was honestly May weather last March here, which sucked. We still get several storm cycles coming through at that time so I'd wager you're apt to have better conditions here than elsewhere.

    If you want steep skiing on Hokkaido, head to Tokachi/Daisetsuzan region. Definitely has the goods. Someone mentioned Hakuginso. Excellent place with a kickass onsen, and like-minded BC skiers. Most are probably 60 year old Japanese people who rip.

    You can get a van and sleep at Michinoeki's all over the island (country), and they have bathrooms, vending machines, etc. With onsen nearby you don't need to worry about them not having showers.

    You can take the train from Tokyo to Hakodate (shinkansen), and then you can get a rapid express train to Sapporo. There is no Shinkansen yet to Sapporo - probably another 10 years. It takes about 8 hours door to door. Longer, yeah, but quite a beautiful trip and you get to see lots of the countryside and various cities, too. If you have the time, that'd be a fun way to get up here, but if you don't then take Vanilla or Peach airlines up here. Dirt cheap. Like 10,000 RT if you book a few months in advance.
    パウダーバカ!!

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