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  1. #1
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    May 2017
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    TR: Japan 2017/2018

    A bit late but maybe you enjoy the read during summertime, too:

    In the spirit of "Japan by Van“, „Cardanchi“ or an Onsen Tour an friend of mine and I made plans to discover the Japanese winter with a camper-van. It was a bit difficult to find a rental company that rents out equipped campervans in winter and so we could not find on on hokkaido wich was nontheless the destination we absolutely wanted to visit.

    So after a while we settled on the following plan: Flying to Tokyo, renting a van from there and than ski just a little on Honshu and take the ferry to Hokkaido. Drive back to Tokyo to end the trip.

    We flew into Tokyo Narita Airport and we took some time to discover Tokyo first. After getting our luggage and figuring out the right train to take we went to Narita (the Tokyo suburb not the airport) to drop of our ski equipment at the car rental. With just a little backpack each we than headed to discover Tokyo for three days.


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    Nagakin Capsule Tower


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    Our journey way fueled by ramen


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    Tokyo Skytree and view from the top



    The van made a good impression on us when picking it up but we were really skeptical towards the offered sleeping bag. In the end they where just fine as the parking heater was awesome and kept us warm and dried our gear without any issues.

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    Starting off the roadtirp


    Off we went towards Kagura Ski Resort. The first day was kind of nice weather and the snow was not jet that awesome but the other two days where full on nippon powder! Kagura is a little resort more suited to beginners actually but therefor there is little to no backcountry traffic and you can enjoy the gentle powder fields by yourself. Things got also a bit more interesting after we found ourselves in some no-go area (according to the little backcountry map) in form of a little runnel. Everything turned out just perfect and we got back to the slopes and up again without trouble. Unfortunately the uppermost lift and the backcountry access close already at 13:00 but we skinned up the slope and around the gate once wich was also a nice exercise. Probably there is plenty more terrain to discover around that litte place.
    For people traveling by van the Michi-No-Eki is a dream. There is a Onsen just next to it and it is only 2 minutes from the parking lot of the gondola. Among the best setup for a Van based ski trip you can get. There is also a little restaurant hidden in town run by a former ski racer who takes pride in serving guests coming to his little hill from abroad.


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    After Kagura we drove off to Niigata to take the Ferry. And for the first time we experienced japanese winter driving. Heavy snowfalls lead to low speeds (like really slow) but we played it safe and made it to the ferry terminal without trouble. The ride across the japanese sea was really wild. The big ship moved so intense that we once really lost the floor under out feet. After 18 hourse Hokkaido came into sight and the land of the rising sun served a sunrise I’ll never forget.

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    Off the boat we decided for a rest day but made our way to Asahidake to check out the place in the evening. No a lot is going on and there is no nice camping spot. The Onsens are really nice though. After camping a bit further down the road the next morning we drove up and after a warm up run (all runs lead to the same gondola) we aimed to climb mount Asahidake a famous volcano. The bad visibility and the heavy winds soon led to the conclusion that it would be more fun to ski down in the woods and took off the skins just after passing the first geyser (that smelled bad, really bad!). In total whiteout we passed a fox and than found some good powder stach further down. But the place is quite crowded with larger guided groups and we decided after 3 laps that we had seen enough.
    We drove off but not far. Along the road there were plenty of these constructions to prevent avalanches (how do you call them?) and we had heard that it is a typically japan thing to jump over those. One spot looked a lot less scary than most others and we set ourselves up for a little roadside action.

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    Next stop was Furano. Nice but somehow tracked out a bit. We got lost and had to hike back to the resort for 40 minuites. But Still really nice palce:

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    As we were a little underwhelmed by the conditions in Furano we went on to Kiroro. Kiroro was really nice. Some tourists and backcountry skiers but just 10minuites of easy skinning lead deep into the backcountry zones and you find untracked terrain as you wish. We skied Kiroro for two days and those where among the best ski days as we also had lots of fresh snow in certain spots. The more alpine peaks above the treeline where out of question due to wind and visibility.
    The situation for camping is all right (tolerated on the hotel parking it seems) and the Kiroro Resort (just one hotel there) as a nice but crowded Onsen. We were not up for the pricy restaurants and drove to Otaru for Dinner.

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    Unfortunately I twisted my knee on the last run of the second day and so we set off to Kuchan Hospital to get a check up. It was a holyday so in the end we came back the next day, too. The knee then seamed alright but the doctor adviced to stay away from skiing for a few weeks. We had other plans: Catsiing near Niseko. Due to rain this got postponed by two days and we had rest days in Niseko. Niseko feels a lot less like japan but we liked some of the popular places a lot to hang out: the cafe of the Gentemstick store and the Fridgerator-Door-Bar.

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    For the cat skiing I bandaged the knee, threw in some Ibuprophene and off we went. The conditions where not as good as for the rest of the trip as sometimes there was a little crust from the rain three days prior. Nevertheless a fun day out. Don’t expect to much of crazy terrain here. Everything is rather mellow but you can hit off some nice features. On the other hand: the sun was out and we could stare at Mount Yotei all day wich was nice for a change opposed to the permanent clouds and snowfall.

    This was skiing for us. We Drove back south, tool only the short ferry from Hokkaido to Honshu this time, visited Sendai for a few hours (just the Mediatheque for its architecture) passed Fukushima and made it back to Narita where we had to take our flight back home.

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    I hope you liked this little report. I would like to thank everybody who contributed to the great Japan information in these forums! If you have questions on our travel, don’t hesitate to ask.
    Last edited by LeoK; 07-05-2018 at 01:24 AM.

  2. #2
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    Why'd you type in black? Or is it just my computer? Hard as hell to see.


    "As we were a little underwhelmed by the conditions in Furano we went on to Kagura. Kagura was really nice. Some tourists and backcountry skiers but just 10minuites of easy skinning lead deep into the backcountry zones and you find untracked terrain as you wish. We skied Kagura for two days and those where among the best ski days as we also had lots of fresh snow in certain spots. The more alpine peaks above the treeline where out of question due to wind and visibility.
    The situation for camping is all right (tolerated on the hotel parking it seems) and the Kagura Resort (just one hotel there) as a nice but crowded Onsen. We were not up for the pricy restaurants and drove to Otaru for Dinner.
    "
    I think you might have Kagura/Naeba resort which is on Honshu with something else. Are you thinking Kiroro if you were only about a 40 minute drive to Otaru? If you were out towards Furano, are you thinking of Kamui?

    Did you use BDT for the Cat skiing or did you go to Iwanai Kokusai?
    パウダーバカ!!

  3. #3
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    Yep change the font, cannot read, without highlighting. = PITA


    Nice picks
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  4. #4
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    sorry about the font guys - I was not aware of the problem. Better now?

    Thank you also for pointing out the Japanese name confusion. I will correct it right away.

  5. #5
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    Thank you

    Now I have some reading to do
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by satori View Post
    Did you use BDT for the Cat skiing or did you go to Iwanai Kokusai?
    We went with Niseko Photography wich uses the "big wave cats" together with other agencies through wich you can book. After a bit of forth and back we were unlucky to miss the season opening of the Shimamaki snow cats with Hokkaido Backcountry Club. They seem to offer significantly more vert per dollar.

  7. #7
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    Hey,
    When you fly to Japan from Zurich do you fly east or west?
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  8. #8
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    east, but on a route far north (maybe to avoid North Korea).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoK View Post
    east, but on a route far north (maybe to avoid North Korea).
    That's what I thought, over the north pole? or over Russia and China? If you watch this site, you kinda figure out where the No fly zones are.
    https://www.flightradar24.com/38.98,-120.86/10
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  10. #10
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    I guess over russia but not over china if I remember that little screen correct we came in almost directly from the north of Tokyo. Amazing arrival with Mount Fuji very visible over the metropolis.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Thanks for changing the font. Much easier to read and sounds like a good trip.

    You mentioned Furano was tracked out. How was the terrain that was opened up? I've not been back since my pass was pulled but I've been meaning to go back.
    パウダーバカ!!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by satori View Post
    You mentioned Furano was tracked out. How was the terrain that was opened up? I've not been back since my pass was pulled but I've been meaning to go back.
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    we skied what this view calls "furano zone" and "kitanomine zone" – it was not too bad but the obvious lines had all some track in them. I guess if you go on a day with snowfall (unlike us) it would be great to lap the Furano zone as you don't have to hike or anything and can play it really fast to get in a few good runs.

    But in the end I guess Furano is not really a secret spot anymore ;-)

  13. #13
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    Noice.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for posting that up. Loved that shot of the ocean, surreal. Nice pow shots too dude.
    I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.
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  15. #15
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    Sweet report. That van looks familiar. Japan Campervan? Had one for 4 weeks a few years ago. Still slightly sketchy to drive?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using TGR Forums mobile app

  16. #16
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    Thank you everyone for the feedback.

    Quote Originally Posted by spankthepow View Post
    Sweet report. That van looks familiar. Japan Campervan? Had one for 4 weeks a few years ago. Still slightly sketchy to drive?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using TGR Forums mobile app
    Yes, Japancampers and yes, slightily sektchy on the ice rinks of Hokkaido. But still a trustworthy companion!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyfromterrace View Post
    Thanks for posting that up. Loved that shot of the ocean, surreal. Nice pow shots too dude.
    +1 great pictures. That ocean shot is crazy.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  18. #18
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    Great TR man. I have spent the last 2 winters just up the road from Kagura in Naeba, spent a lot of days off playing there. I've been up to Hokkido a few times as well, liked the snow, most places were a bit crowded for my liking, did find some hidden corners.

    Very well done in managing all that in a Bongo - I had the misfortune to own one of those for 8 months, worst POS I've ever driven/owned dammed thing broke down 22 times (different failure each time). Only things going for it was traction (mine was 4wd) and the pop top.
    Knowledge is Powder

  19. #19
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    thank you Idris - we didn't have the pop top and the 4wd but no breakdowns and it was rather cheap.

    Kagura was indeed very quiet compared to some other areas as we saw it, too. Must be great to be there longer and get to know the terrain - probably tons of hidden corners out there.

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