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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    80

    Hokkaido Japan; Central Hokkaido or Niseko

    So planning the bucket list to Japan next year for a 10 day lift accessed backcountry tour. I plan on doing a tour with WhiteRoomTours and they have tours that covers central Hokkaido (based out of Furano) or split between Niseko/Otaru area. These tours tend to search out the best conditions of the resorts around the areas and ride the sidecountry around the resorts. What would you recommend? I mainly have done my trips I the US or Canadian Rockies so I am used to really steep terrain (just got back from an epic Revelstoke trip) which I know Hokkaido doesn't offer but I do want some good steeps and very deep snow.

    Also how late is to late to go such that I can all but guarantee the blower snow I am searching for (I know this is impossible to predict)? The group has work limitations so we have to go after Jan 26th. Feb 5th is Chinese new year which I have been told to avoid at all costs due to 1000's of Chinese tourists flooding the area. Is there risk to a mid to late Feb trip?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    296
    Hot springs and food alone will make up for the lack of steep. If youíre not willing to give that up, I say go to AK.

    I recommend securing the accommodation well ahead. When I went, solo and looking for hostels, it was slim picking. Big group will make it harder, but if youíre willing to pay, maybe not that hard to find a hotel room...


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  3. #3
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    Jan 2004
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    80
    Yah fully aware that the terrain is going to be more mellow. I am just trying to figure out if one area is better than the others. First priority is snow quality, then good terrain, then a place that is away from all the tourists. We are planning on booking within the next month to make sure we get a sport on the tour.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    377
    There is big steep terrain in central Hokkaido and fewer people. The snow quality on that terrain is probably not so consistent though, and I donít know how often group tours happen there.

    When I go back to Hokkaido I might well skip the Niseko area and just go to central Hokkaido. But thereís not really a right answer.

    Iíd probably rather go back to the Hakuba area than either, but they each have their pluses and minuses.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    cordova,AK
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    Quote Originally Posted by pman View Post
    Yah fully aware that the terrain is going to be more mellow. I am just trying to figure out if one area is better than the others. First priority is snow quality, then good terrain, then a place that is away from all the tourists. We are planning on booking within the next month to make sure we get a sport on the tour.
    no irony here
    off your knees Louie

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Chamonix
    Posts
    622
    I drove around Hokkaido in a campervan for a month a couple of summers ago, just hiking, trail running, making use of all of the natural onsens. Although we weren't skiing, the trip gave me a big long list of things I'd love to ski all over the island, and most of that list is based in central Hokkaido. You definitely have to work harder for it, but there is some really interesting terrain to be found.

    Just in case you don't know about it, this website is a great resource:
    http://www.14degrees.org/

    (Edit to add... when you are in Furano, try the ubiquitous takoyaki (octopus dumplings), but covered with local Furano cheese, mayo, and brown sauce. Fucking filthy.)
    Short stories about snow and rock, and pictures, too

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    sydney
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    57
    Chinese new year won't really have any effect on the skiing in central hokkaido.

    What was surprising in my first season there, chinese new year makes Niseko absolutely packed, lift lines at the bottom are noticeably longer. However, the skiing is a lot better. Both in the harder to reach resort areas and the side country.

    The asians fully book out the town but can't ski for shit. Which means if theres a spot that requires a little traverse you can guarantee it laps untracked for longer in Chinese New Year. Same deal for side country, it barely gets touched compared to before and after CNY.

    No steeps in japan. I would go Furano because ive already been to Niseko. However for your situation i would recommend Niseko. Its got good infrastructure, and a good first taster to japanese culture without being too hard to manage. Rusutsu is 1.5 hours for great lift access and a "backcountry park". Kirroro is about the same for great side country and back country access. and moiwa is 15 mins away for really quiet untracked pow.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    25
    Quote Originally Posted by pow_pow~ View Post
    No steeps in japan.
    Please, keep telling people that...






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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Park City
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    2,521
    We didnít tour due to kids with, but all the folks we met slipping out of the rusutsu area said there was pretty quality skiing. Lodging in the town just down the road was super cheap and open they reported. We are def going back w a van and moving around next time.


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    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    invermere
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    477
    Mid January is the time to go, need 2 weeks to ensure deep pow. We were in Niseko for 8 days, had 3 days of ok snow and the last 3 days were deep as a storm rolled in.

    Stayed in Annupuri, very low key and quiet. Hirafu is loaded with Aussies.

    Lots of steep side country off the back side of Niseko and moiwa.

    Enjoy, my trip was worth every penny.

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    80
    Great food for thought everyone. Thanks so much. I am leaning towards Niseko due to having a higher probability of better snow but I don't think either option will suck.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    sydney
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    57
    Quote Originally Posted by Feathertop View Post
    Please, keep telling people that...




    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Little to no steeps in hokkaido*

    Hakuba and honshu do have steeper areas but for the most part not very accessible and have severe avi coniditions..

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    80
    Decided to go with the tour out of Furano. I know the snow there isn't as plentiful as Niseko but I wanted to get away from the crowds and get the full Japanese culture. We will be in the backcountry 80% of the time anyways so we will find the goods. Jan 26th seems so far away though. GIve me time to look for some new sticks though.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
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    16,308
    Some culture besides the skiing is a good idea, also when you get back to America if you find yourself ordering a heated toilet seat with the jet do not be surprised,

    Some of my friend s ordered them up right away and a guide told me he is wanting to order another one for his second bath room
    Last edited by XXX-er; 04-09-2018 at 04:13 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Out There
    Posts
    1,752
    Good choice. We've been over there twice, guided, mostly sidecountry and backcountry. All we ever did in the Niseko area was Yotei twice (highly recommend) but if you're looking for a new experience of deep pow and rural Japanese culture I would go with Furano over Niseko. Otaru is also a cool place to base out of (best sushi I have ever eaten) so if a trip is possible that splits Otaru and Furano that would be my choice. How many in your group? Five or more and you can usually create your own itinerary. Feel free to PM me for guide recs.
    "We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what. -George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel

    ...it would probably bother me more if I wasn't quite so heavily sedated. -David St. Hubbins, This Is Spinal Tap

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    377
    Central Hokkaido is really awesome, youíre going to have an amazing time. I canít wait to go back to Tokachidake.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1

    Smile Hokkaido 2018/2019

    I'll be in Hokkaido Nov 18 - Mar 19 if anyone wants to get a beer or a few runs in, drop me a line!

  18. #18
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by pman View Post
    Decided to go with the tour out of Furano. I know the snow there isn't as plentiful as Niseko but I wanted to get away from the crowds and get the full Japanese culture. We will be in the backcountry 80% of the time anyways so we will find the goods. Jan 26th seems so far away though. GIve me time to look for some new sticks though.
    White Room will see you right in Central Hokkaido.

    They've been touring that area for some time now and know the lay of the land.

    Some great terrain and tours to be had out of Furano, Kamui, Tomamu, Sahoro, Asahdiake, and Kurodake (may be closed when you're there).

    Also some little gems around and about

    Mt Racey, Pippu, Nukabira Gensenkyo, Hidaka

  19. #19
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    Apr 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by pow_pow~ View Post
    Chinese new year won't really have any effect on the skiing in central hokkaido.

    What was surprising in my first season there, chinese new year makes Niseko absolutely packed, lift lines at the bottom are noticeably longer. However, the skiing is a lot better. Both in the harder to reach resort areas and the side country.

    The asians fully book out the town but can't ski for shit. Which means if theres a spot that requires a little traverse you can guarantee it laps untracked for longer in Chinese New Year. Same deal for side country, it barely gets touched compared to before and after CNY.

    No steeps in japan. I would go Furano because ive already been to Niseko. However for your situation i would recommend Niseko. Its got good infrastructure, and a good first taster to japanese culture without being too hard to manage. Rusutsu is 1.5 hours for great lift access and a "backcountry park". Kirroro is about the same for great side country and back country access. and moiwa is 15 mins away for really quiet untracked pow.
    Central Hokkaido getting busier each season over Chinese New Year since Tomamu and Sahoro were bought by Chinese companies, and Mt Racey by the Taiwanese.

    Very little serious steep terrain inbounds or sidecountry on Hokkaido. A lifetime's worth if you tour.

    Rusutsu is more like 45 mins from Niseko Hirafu.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    14
    stay Hakuginso Onsen lodge & go tour. no lifts.

    pretty stunning.

  21. #21
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    Apr 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by EssjaywhyNZ View Post
    stay Hakuginso Onsen lodge & go tour. no lifts.

    pretty stunning.
    +1

  22. #22
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    May 2011
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    Sonoma & Truckee
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    9,809
    Following this thread since I'm headed to Japan in mid to late January...

    Thinking Hokkaido - I fucking hate crowds. Looking for a nice mix of lift served, side country and BC.

  23. #23
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    Sep 2004
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    Is there a JONG guide to skiing Japan posted somewhere here? Mrs. C. and I are looking at planning a trip in January and there's so many options, it's hard to know where to start.

    At the most basic level: I'm looking at using credit card points to fly on ANA from San Jose, CA, to Tokyo. Do Americans generally fly to Tokyo then take a train north, or should I be trying to book a flight that terminates in Hokkaido instead? Neither of us have ever been to Japan, so we'd like to do some non-skiing sightseeing too.
    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.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Inside the Circle
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    1,603
    Hokkaido's a different island than Honshu (where Tokyo is) so you can't really train it from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

  25. #25
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    Sep 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsAugustWest View Post
    Hokkaido's a different island than Honshu (where Tokyo is) so you can't really train it from Tokyo to Hokkaido.
    Google tells me that the bullet train runs between Tokyo and Hokkaido in about 4 hours. I have not looked at train departure / arrival times yet.
    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.

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