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Old 01-24-2013, 11:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Getting to the Mountains from Okinawa

So work will have me traveling to Okinawa during the first week of February, and after looking all the pics/vids from Japan I've been thinking of trying to get some turns in while I'm out there. How realistic is it to make it to one of the mountain resorts from Okinawa? Am I dreaming or is this something that can be done? I'd likely only have 3 days to ride, and am not sure if I can bring my boards (I have to travel with tools/test equipment). Are rentals available? I've done a little research, but figured you guys who are living there would have the answers im looking for. Thanks.
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It aint cheap, and more than likely youll be taking two planes and maybe a boat depending on which island in particular youre coming from. BUT... on the positive... okinawa is a KEY domestic travel destination. This means there are not only plenty of flights to the mainland, but also a LOT of the budget airlines have planes going that way. These budget lines also have planes going to sapporo (another key destination). The cheapest one (its name escapes me at the minute) goes from osaka to sapporo and im pretty sure they also fly to okinawa. Either way, with a bit of planning, you could pick up a plane ticket to niseko even cheaper than me who lives in nagano. Youll have a bit more of a mission on it, and probably a lot more restrictions, but its not horrendously difficult. And if you wanted to make it easier, just find some budget airlines that fly to nagoya, (i dont think any go to matsumoto), for any trip up to nagano, or alternatively grab a ticket to tokyo then get a shinkansen day pass ticket for somewhere in yuzawa if youre in a bit of a hurry.

Theoretically theres no real reason why you couldnt make it up every other weekend if you live not too far from the airport. Its not easy, but leave friday night for tokyo, travel up the line a bit on the local train if you like to takasaki (or just stay in tokyo), then saturday get the train to Echigo yuzawa, ride kagura or somewhere, stay at the awesome onsen outside Gala station or at wadagoya on kagura, then ride a half day, shink back, catch an evening plane and then back home. Not totally cheap, and not without a bit of difficulty, but its not the stuff of wild dreams anymore thanks to the proliferation of budget carriers in the last couple of years.
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the detailed reply! It sounds like I'll be able to pull this off. Which is better Kagura or Niseko? Also on the off chance I can't bring my board (i have work parts to travel with) would I be able to demo or rent on the mountain? I want to do it cheap but maximize time on the snow. Would flying be better than taking the nozomi?
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If theyre near enough the same price, you might as well go to niseko. Kagura is more for its convenience. It has fun slackcountry, but its kinda short and really ony the kagura section is worth the ride.
There is a hike/bootpack off the top lift, but never done it myself. Maybe it keeps things fun and entertaining but its out of my depth to be honest.

The time to reach them both is kinda similar i guess since youre just transferring planes at Haneda. After that its about an hour and a half bus ride if i remember right (i might not).

Kagura requires getting out of tokyo itself which is going to take a while, and then bombing up the shink line.

You can rent at both places if you like. You can also get some rather plush rental/demos for the day. Kagura has ride/k2 for example and niseko has GENTEM!!! Not sure if youll need your own bindings. I demod hehighlife in kagura but had my own board with me that day. I think the one issue though is that gentem are over at annupuri and likely if youre in niseko youll be at hirafu meaning youll either need a deck to get up across and down, or youll need to get the bus which takes about 40 minutes. There are obviously a lot of places you can just rent decks, and im fairly certain theres a few with decent boards there, but if you dont have a board and youre in niseko, youd be mad not to play on a gentem.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Write up coming later, but I did it! Just got back the states today. Rode Goyru, Hakuba 47, and Cortina. Cortina was the best! It was nuking all day and night so the trees were going off, and waste deep and pretty much untouched on the backside! This was definitely the best snow i've been on all season, and probably the best pow I've ever ridden. Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSnow View Post
Write up coming later, but I did it! Just got back the states today. Rode Goyru, Hakuba 47, and Cortina. Cortina was the best! It was nuking all day and night so the trees were going off, and waste deep and pretty much untouched on the backside! This was definitely the best snow i've been on all season, and probably the best pow I've ever ridden. Thanks for your help.
Awesome. Please post some pics and let us know what it costs to survive a week over there.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I can tell you that right now. Not including transport, assume 10,000yen per day (about $110).

Budget around 4-5000 yen for cheap accommodation in peak season, 3500-4000 off peak.

Lift tickets hover somwhere around the 4500 yen for a decent known resort. These can be offset by multiday passes, but japan isnt a big place for giving out deep discounts on multi day use. Its going to be only a few hundred yen per day saving to be honest.

finally, food... realistically youll want around 1000 yen at least. You can get by on much less, but if youre actually wanting something properish, around 1000 yen should cover you. This is STILL very budget intense. Eating any food on the hill will immediately blow your days food budget (this can be offset by finding a coupon on the net for the resort youre visiting. They often have meal plus ticket deals for around teh price of just the lift pass on teh door).

If you stick in a single area like hakuba, myoko, shiga kogen or niseko, transport costs are minimised. Im pretty sure you can use the shuttles so long as you have the right lift pass in any of those places. So effectively you only really need to budget for transport to the area and back.

In total if you want to live like a student, then 10,000 is pretty close to the minimum. If you wanna do an ETM and live like a hobo in a car though you can cut it way the hell down.

If you want to live like a grown up in a nice comfortable room to yourself, and getting your breakfast and dinner included, then really youre looking closer to 15,000-20,000. If you want to live like a successful adult, then er... im not even going to pretend ive ever done that. Not only am i broke, im also scottish and like a good Calvinist, I wont be paying extra for a bit of luxury.
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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10,000 a day? You'd have to be sleeping in dorm, bumming rides to the grocery store, cooking all your own food, taking your lunch to the hill and walking everywhere! And if you were going to Niseko you'd be living like that and paying an extra 2000-3000 a day...

Still, Japan isn't that expensive once you get here
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Stop scaring the kids, you!

Niseko can actually end up the cheapest option out there just because theres so many people up there on their hols that you can communicate with. Score a backpacker dorm, pop to the supermarket for supplies, and pick up someones left over hours on their ticket. Cup ramen the hell out of your lunch, grab some toast for breakfast, make your own dinner (kimchi jjigae! and a bowl of rice). Bish bosh! 8000 yen per day.
Admittedly the real savings come because of the prospect of hourly passes up for sale. Its a crap shoot though
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah, you can get lucky with buying the hours on someone's old pass. But just keep in mind that you are unlikely to find accommodation for less than 3500Y/day and all-mountain lift passes are are 5900Y/day. 8000Y a day in Niseko is pretty much impossible if you want to enjoy yourself even a tiny bit.

As you know, the black box deals are certainly the best way to go... but that requires some Japanese language skills. Also, travelling with another person (or group) will bring the price down significantly per person...
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