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  1. #1
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    Japan 2019-20 Meet ups

    Talks of BBI Japan 2020 - Unsure if that works for Japan but figured that I'd get the conversation rolling.

    Just booked with Japan Ski Tours and plan to be in Tohoko from Jan 29-Feb 5th. Will overlap on both ends of the trip and plan to spend some time in Tokyo prior to skiing.
    - current dates are 1/25-2/8 (ish).

    Who's planning on skiing FAT POW in Japan this year?

    As a side note - 3 slots left on our trip for those interested.
    -https://www.japanskitours.com/fronti...d-booking.html

  2. #2
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    Oct 2015
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    im based up in Hokkaido, say hi if you end up my way.

  3. #3
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    I too am in Hokkaido. Retired and moved back to Sapporo last fall. My first winter here in 25 years and I found myself lacking for backcountry partners. My friends from back in the day are very old or dead now and I am a still youthful 62. My friends here now are mostly guides who don't ski with partners; they have clients. So here is my deal. I want to hook up with experienced backcountry skiers and develop a new network. I am experienced at a high level, still strong, and a solid partner. Long time avalanche educator and retired adult learning professional. Co-founder of Hokkaido's first public avalanche education program and former AIARE advisory board member. Telemark skier who shamelessly makes alpine turns whenever I feel like it. I also put together and host a couple of trips a year for experienced visitors--max 4 people, explicitly unguided--mostly friends/word of mouth. Or I can connect visitors with local guides if that's an experience they want. I'm all about sharing the stoke, not running a business.

    I boiled my thermometer, and sure enough, this spot, which purported to be two thousand feet higher than the locality of the hotel, turned out to be nine thousand feet LOWER. Thus the fact was clearly demonstrated that, ABOVE A CERTAIN POINT, THE HIGHER A POINT SEEMS TO BE, THE LOWER IT ACTUALLY IS. Our ascent itself was a great achievement, but this contribution to science was an inconceivably greater matter.

    --MT--

  4. #4
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    Booked flights 1/27-2/7. No itinerary yet.

  5. #5
    Gman's Avatar
    Gman is online now Mack Master William Large
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    I've been wanting to japan for a few years. If i move to the west coast it would be a lot easier trip.

  6. #6
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    Not as big a difference as you might think. LAX to Narita 11:20. Denver to Narita 11:50. O'hare to Narita 13:00. Boston to Narita 13:45. Newark to Narita 13:55. Do it!

    I boiled my thermometer, and sure enough, this spot, which purported to be two thousand feet higher than the locality of the hotel, turned out to be nine thousand feet LOWER. Thus the fact was clearly demonstrated that, ABOVE A CERTAIN POINT, THE HIGHER A POINT SEEMS TO BE, THE LOWER IT ACTUALLY IS. Our ascent itself was a great achievement, but this contribution to science was an inconceivably greater matter.

    --MT--

  7. #7
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    I'll likely be back for the winter this year. Did 3 months in a camper van last year all across hokkaido and honshu. Always looking to stack up touring partners.

    Shameless plug, but those looking for an itinerary, I started a side-hustle building Japanese powder roadtrips for people. Specialize in van/RV tours, but plan roadtrips as well so you can enjoy a hotel or traditional ryokan versus an RV bed. Check it out and tell your friends
    http://www.vandurajapan.com

  8. #8
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    Itinerary set

    January 26-28 : tokyo - eating/drinking/looking/jet lagging

    Japan 29-feb 5 : Tohoku skiing a guided trip

    Feb : 6-7 Sapporo ice festival / drinking / eating

    Feb 8 fly out of Tokyo

    Reach out if days overlap.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  9. #9
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    Im in the initial planning stages of a late Jan trip. Ill have my wife and 12 year old with me. Im leaning towards Niseko cause that sounds easiest for us Japan rookies. But it also sounds pretty Westernized without the authentic Japanese ski experience.

    Were longtime Fernie passholders and my daughter has no problems in advanced terrain/deep snow. Doubt wed bring full touring setups but may bring avi gear for easy access slackcountry if its worthwhile to do so. Any feedback would be welcome.

  10. #10
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    Oh yeah - we arent looking for posh accommodations, nightlife, etc. Were kinda past our dirtbagging phase but Im not ruling it out.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merlyn View Post
    I’m in the initial planning stages of a late Jan trip. I’ll have my wife and 12 year old with me. I’m leaning towards Niseko cause that sounds easiest for us Japan rookies. But it also sounds pretty Westernized without the authentic Japanese ski experience.

    We’re longtime Fernie passholders and my daughter has no problems in advanced terrain/deep snow. Doubt we’d bring full touring setups but may bring avi gear for easy access slackcountry if it’s worthwhile to do so. Any feedback would be welcome.
    do you know Turk?
    off your knees Louie

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merlyn View Post
    I’m in the initial planning stages of a late Jan trip. I’ll have my wife and 12 year old with me. I’m leaning towards Niseko cause that sounds easiest for us Japan rookies. But it also sounds pretty Westernized without the authentic Japanese ski experience.

    We’re longtime Fernie passholders and my daughter has no problems in advanced terrain/deep snow. Doubt we’d bring full touring setups but may bring avi gear for easy access slackcountry if it’s worthwhile to do so. Any feedback would be welcome.
    A bit of a dump;
    was supposed to be quick and short, but it turned out to be a long post anyway :/

    yes Niseko is very easy for first timers. Easy to get to and from with all the western targeted setup, not hard to organize yourself if your accom doesn't do it for you. However you only need to go one or two streets off the main street of the villages to get a more Japanese experience, or drive 5 mins out and you're back to proper culture shock terrain again.
    But don't be afraid of the rest of Japan tho either. There's a shitload of english signage and speaking people around. To give you an idea, the airports even have english in big letters and japanese in small letters. They're also super accommodating friendly people if you're respectful, and with extremely low crime rate, its pretty hard to go wrong.

    If you're looking for tall mountains, long smooth piste runs, warm weather, apres ski destinations and like to see the sun at least once on your holiday, then Hokkaido isn't for you.
    If you want a tiny almost abandoned 1 lift 1 run ski resort to yourself and expect a single pitch of untouched snow topped with 4" of pow that nobody skis right next to the chair that you can just lap repeatedly all day, then I'd suggest go elsewhere. These exist in plenty supply btw, boring after 15 mins if you ask me, but 15 mins is all you need for the Japan segment of your ski movie. Somehow many tourists expect this everywhere, even of the big resorts.
    Niseko is a large commercial ski resort, with often busy beginner areas. The villages are near max occupancy in the busy times of the year (chinese new year). There are lift queues, tho usually queues only at 8:30 for first chair or if the mountain closes from wind, its not your own private ski resort. It has as much terrain as a pretty well sized north american resort (if you count the off piste), a huge variety of deep untouched slackcountry pow inbounds and out gates, blizzard conditions 90% of the time, often so heavy snowfall that your tracks are already filled in next run, frequent strong winds that close many of the lifts, freezing your ass off every day, so much pow you can drown (from experience!), and where you need to be careful not to have too much fun because suddenly you realize you're smiling too much that your teeth froze.

    You should 100% bring your avi gear for slackcountry, this is the reason to visit Niseko. Setup a comfortable lightweight basic kit, because you should expect to wear it every day.
    Touring gear is a plus to getting good snow if you hit a gap in the weather. But usually not required. I reckon it's a waste of time chasing 10/10 perfect pow when you can ski 9/10 pow all day in the slackcountry. Local rental shops have touring gear too.

    You should plan to stay longer if possible. That weather isn't a joke, expect at least one down day per week, often two. Come for 2-3 days at a bad time and you could literally be doing nothing.

    "Niseko" is the name of a huge region. The ski resorts on Mt Annupuri are named Hanazono, Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri, and are on the one Niseko United lift ticket.
    It's possible to buy non-united lift tickets for just Annupuri, or just NV, or just Hirafu&Hanazono tho.
    imo, Niseko Village is a dump (to stay in, good to ski tho)
    Moiwa is a 5th ski resort on the mountain, is connected and can ski to/from, but is on its own lift ticket and is way out of the way from everything.

    I recommend Hirafu or the villages either side of Hirafu, Izumikyo and Kabayama, to my friends. Many restaurants & shops you can walk to.
    My recommendation would be to book accommodation asap.
    I don't have many recommendations tho. They keep knocking the 50yr old japanese style buildings down. I would suggest theredskihouse because I'm friends with the owner, not 5 star and not a dump, in the middle.

    If you're not so precious about a 5 min walk, or riding a bus, usually you don't need a car if you're staying in the Hirafu/Izumikyo/Kabayama villages. Transport is probably required for the other villages I mentioned or Kutchan Town or Niseko Town.
    (warning there is a town 10 mins drive away named Niseko Town, that isn't part of the ski resort. don't fall for the trap. nice town, you just need transport)

    You should plan to base yourself somewhere and hit Niseko mostly, but depending on the weather also some nearby smaller resorts. Specifically Rusutsu (45mins away, great groomers, lots of beginner/medium level deep pow tree skiing), and Kiroro (1 hour away, short steep hits of deep pow and sluff management and medium/advanced tree skiing). This is doable by bus, but easier with a car. There are car rental companies in town btw.

    Say hi if you end up in town.
    Last edited by anything; 10-29-2019 at 10:41 PM.

  13. #13
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    Anyone have any advice on some hikes with good weather today through Thursday? I was going to run up to Hanukkah Valley but it looks rainy to stay at a hut, anyone know a plan B? I have to be back in Tokyo Thursday night so I can’t go far.

    Thinking of just renting a bike and riding lifts....and skipping hiking but what’s a locals take?

  14. #14
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    One more small detail needed to make this possible trip completed....

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  15. #15
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    What's the take on staying at Goshiki Onsen for multiple days? Seems to be an easy climb to get back to the lifts and sounds like some good options for light touring on storm days. Any advice appreciated. This would be for mid-January.

  16. #16
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    Hey anything - thanks for the info. Super helpful. Our flights are booked. Gonna stretch out the trip with 5 days at Niseko followed by 4-5 days at Hakuba. It’ll be the last week of January and first week of February so we’ll be dealing with the Chinese New Years crowds but whatever. Super stoked on this!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by patxi View Post
    What's the take on staying at Goshiki Onsen for multiple days? Seems to be an easy climb to get back to the lifts and sounds like some good options for light touring on storm days. Any advice appreciated. This would be for mid-January.
    Goshiki Onsen is awesome. It's kind of old fashioned in a Japanese way. The current lodge is actually new, built less than 30 years ago. But it's an older style Japanese building. Meals are nothing very special. They are nutritious everyday Japanese food. Nothing wrong but nothing spectacular. You might want to take only breakfast if you have a car because there are good places to eat at all the Niseko base areas and the drive is not long though often complete white out. The skiing out of Goshiki is going to be crowded close in but if you keep heading west, you get past the mob scene right away. The shots are short but the open terrain and snow are what we love. Bigger lines on Annupuri right out the front door but since that is the back side of the ski resorts, you will encounter sidecountry traffic once the coverage is good enough at the very top for people to access.

    If you are a non-smoker be aware that Japanese guests hang out in the small lobby smoking and drinking beer into the night. It's no big deal but it's not a smoke-free environment. The outside baths are pretty basic but the water is hot and the snow towers over you.

    All in all, Goshiki is my favorite place to stay in Niseko if I have guests who want to tour. It's basic but it's also quiet and in the backcountry. If you want to ski the resorts it isn't far to Moiwa (small limited vert but good snow) by an easy traverse. It's possible to do it sans skins but use skins anyway. Much easier on the arms. The base of Annupuri is easily accessible like a half mile beyond Moiwa base and you can ski directly there from Goshiki but you would want to drive over to Annupuri so you can get back easily at the end of the day if you don't ski back from the summit of Annupuri. The other resorts are a longer drive but not terribly so.

    I boiled my thermometer, and sure enough, this spot, which purported to be two thousand feet higher than the locality of the hotel, turned out to be nine thousand feet LOWER. Thus the fact was clearly demonstrated that, ABOVE A CERTAIN POINT, THE HIGHER A POINT SEEMS TO BE, THE LOWER IT ACTUALLY IS. Our ascent itself was a great achievement, but this contribution to science was an inconceivably greater matter.

    --MT--

  18. #18
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    food is fine. Basic ryokan fare. We had some type of crab every night.
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    telepariah put my ski partner on to this place for our first trip. Great intro to skiing Japan. Sort of Japan 101
    off your knees Louie

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by telepariah View Post
    Goshiki Onsen is awesome. It's kind of old fashioned in a Japanese way. The current lodge is actually new, built less than 30 years ago. But it's an older style Japanese building. Meals are nothing very special. They are nutritious everyday Japanese food. Nothing wrong but nothing spectacular. You might want to take only breakfast if you have a car because there are good places to eat at all the Niseko base areas and the drive is not long though often complete white out. The skiing out of Goshiki is going to be crowded close in but if you keep heading west, you get past the mob scene right away. The shots are short but the open terrain and snow are what we love. Bigger lines on Annupuri right out the front door but since that is the back side of the ski resorts, you will encounter sidecountry traffic once the coverage is good enough at the very top for people to access.

    If you are a non-smoker be aware that Japanese guests hang out in the small lobby smoking and drinking beer into the night. It's no big deal but it's not a smoke-free environment. The outside baths are pretty basic but the water is hot and the snow towers over you.

    All in all, Goshiki is my favorite place to stay in Niseko if I have guests who want to tour. It's basic but it's also quiet and in the backcountry. If you want to ski the resorts it isn't far to Moiwa (small limited vert but good snow) by an easy traverse. It's possible to do it sans skins but use skins anyway. Much easier on the arms. The base of Annupuri is easily accessible like a half mile beyond Moiwa base and you can ski directly there from Goshiki but you would want to drive over to Annupuri so you can get back easily at the end of the day if you don't ski back from the summit of Annupuri. The other resorts are a longer drive but not terribly so.
    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by patxi View Post
    What's the take on staying at Goshiki Onsen for multiple days? Seems to be an easy climb to get back to the lifts and sounds like some good options for light touring on storm days. Any advice appreciated. This would be for mid-January.
    some of your q's tho:
    Its only about a 15 minute skin on a smooth easy incline summer road to get to one of the Moiwa back bowls where you can drop in to Moiwa, or you can easily traverse to Annupuri (part of Niseko United). Probably takes longer to put skins on and take them off. I think its faster than driving actually. Late spring you can boot pack it, usually some ill prepared snowboarder has had gotten lost back there and had to cut the trail, but you're still punching through to your knees sometimes.

    via roads, Goshiki is pretty far from ... anywhere. This is a mixed bag of a pro and con.
    There is no public transport nor taxis, so you need your own car, and you also need to budget an extra 30 mins if you want to do a day trip to some other resort (like Rusutsu, Kiroro, etc).
    But it means there's even less tourists out there, its mostly locals or guided tourist groups.

    Goshiki isn't great during mid-winter storm days. That side of the mountain gets hit hard by the wind and weather, and the valley funnels it all up that way. It's higher up so it guarantees that the wind is at its most intense and there isn't many protected spots to get out of it. However it is a great place for fair weather, and that altitude means it snows there even on warmer days, and it holds onto the snow much much much longer.
    This means I usually head that way mostly on early or late season bc days (or like last season where in mid Feb the snow gods abandoned us). I'm not sure I would stay there in mid Jan for fear of the weather, well at least not for more than a day or two anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Merlyn View Post
    Hey anything - thanks for the info. Super helpful. Our flights are booked. Gonna stretch out the trip with 5 days at Niseko followed by 4-5 days at Hakuba. It’ll be the last week of January and first week of February so we’ll be dealing with the Chinese New Years crowds but whatever. Super stoked on this!
    the Chinese aren't so bad.
    all the hotels, restaurants, cafes and tourist traps are busy.
    but most of them have never seen snow and can't ski for shit, they're just there for one or two runs to get the facebook and insta shots and then they go in for coffee. More snow for us!

  20. #20
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    ^^^^Thanks guys for the info. Very helpful.

    So, like everywhere, it seems best to be flexible and just wing it depending on conditions. How easy is it to find last minute accommodations mid-January (2, possibly 3 of us) in the Niseko environs?

    I'm still on the fence regarding renting a car or not. Would prefer to go lightweight and wing it with public transportation and taxis. Fully realize the lack of convenience that this entails though. Convince me either way.

    Lastly, for you knowledgeable about the Sapporo city skiing options. My son, 16, is currently in Sapporo learning Japanese and will be there through March. His classes typically end at noon. What's the best option for some afternoon skiing that can be accessed via public transportation? He is living in the Kotoni area if that matters. He's a decent skier but doesn't have any ski buddies there so would prefer he not venture too far into the slackcountry. Any info on pass deals would be good as the resort websites don't seem to show any season pass rates (from a quick glance a month or so ago).

  21. #21
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    Oct 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by patxi View Post
    ^^^^Thanks guys for the info. Very helpful.

    So, like everywhere, it seems best to be flexible and just wing it depending on conditions. How easy is it to find last minute accommodations mid-January (2, possibly 3 of us) in the Niseko environs?

    I'm still on the fence regarding renting a car or not. Would prefer to go lightweight and wing it with public transportation and taxis. Fully realize the lack of convenience that this entails though. Convince me either way.

    Lastly, for you knowledgeable about the Sapporo city skiing options. My son, 16, is currently in Sapporo learning Japanese and will be there through March. His classes typically end at noon. What's the best option for some afternoon skiing that can be accessed via public transportation? He is living in the Kotoni area if that matters. He's a decent skier but doesn't have any ski buddies there so would prefer he not venture too far into the slackcountry. Any info on pass deals would be good as the resort websites don't seem to show any season pass rates (from a quick glance a month or so ago).
    very easy to find accom if you have unlimited budget
    reasonably priced absolute last minute accom is probably possible if its for only 1 or 2 nights.
    for longer stay, in any of the village areas, you kind of need to be booking now for good deals, perhaps already too late.

    without a car you are rather limited where you can stay if you still want to get first chair and youre less flexible for weather. theres some backcountry that doesnt need a car, and of course plenty of slackcountry no matter where you go. i suppose it depends on your plans & expectations.
    ive stayed in niseko before several times without a car, including my first season there. i usually suggest to friends that they stay in/near one of the niseko villages, without a car. ill drive them around for convenience in getting groceries n stuff, but we'll only really require transportation once or twice a week to storm chase to some other resort or backcountry spot.
    other nearby resorts are accessible by day trip buses, which can be booked in english etc.
    i think its better to base somewhere and trip out, but staying a few days at each resort is an option too.

    btw on the opposite side of Sapporo is bunch of other resorts, notably Furano. they get less snow, but colder drier snow that lasts longer in the spring. ive never done it without a car, but it appears like it might be quite easy to do, its more of an actual town not a village too.

    Sapporo has its own small ski resort right on the outskirts. google for Sapporo Teine.
    Kotoni is right next door, maybe 20 mins drive, so there's probably easy public transport also.

    theres a small collection of deals developing here https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/ja...19-2020.86182/

  22. #22
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  23. #23
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    East Coast flight price PSA....

    for some reason, round trip flights to Tokyo out of Philly (phl) for the end of january timeframe are running about $550 right now. much cheaper than what you can get out of NY or Boston right now.


    $550..... ya gots no excuse not to go at that price.

  24. #24
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    Delta is running a sale on US to Japan flights at as low as 30K points. So if you have Skymiles to use, that is a ridiculously good redemption.

    Cheapest cash fares I saw last year were around $450-500 RT economy.
    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.

  25. #25
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    Lodging and transportation sorted.

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