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Old 04-16-2010, 10:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Looking of heading to japan in 2012 with the gf who skis and im a boarder. I'm wondering if anyone could guide me in the right direction to an awesome holiday. I don't know what the best resorts are, where to stay or what the specific characteristics of each of resorts are. All help is appreciated.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've done Japan twice now, there are a few threads on this already so have a bit of a search.

I have been to Hakuba, Niseko and Rusutsu

Hakuba, steep hills, heaps of resorts to choose from. Quaint villiage that hasnt been overrun by westerners (yet). you need to rely on shuttle buses and taxis to get around tho as a lot of stuff isn't within walking distance and is a bit scattered.
Quality of snow in Hakuba can vary a little, when we were there we started out with 3 days of non stop rain followed by a decent powder dump.
Hot tip for Hakuba - take a day trip to Cortina, 5000 yen for a lift pass, 1000 yen towards lunch and it includes an onsen visit at the end of the day at the hotel.

If you want the best snow in the world tho, go to one or 2 of the Hokkaido resorts;

Niseko - powder powder powder, the snow there is incredible. Go there any time from December to March and you will get powder. The pistes at niseko are fairly tame with a fairly gentle gradient but out the back through gated runs and backcountry tours is where Niseko comes into its own. Huge amounts of untracked powder if you know where to look.
The villiage at Niseko is very convenient to get around, everything is walking distance and it has a more practical layout than Hakuba.
Plenty of nightlife in Niseko as well but for better or worse it is basically a western invasion town. If you want to get away from the westerners then take a day trip to;

Rusutsu - good mountain, uncrowded, excellent snow, 1hr from Niseko by bus. We spent a day trip there and what really stood out about this mountain was the tree runs. Riding in the trees is technically against the rules in Japan and they can confiscate your lift pass if you do it. But imo its worth it at Rusutsu, the beauty of this place is any tree run you decide to dive into will inevitably wind up at a lift or out on another run, same can't be said for all tree runs which often spit you out into the bottom of a valley that you have to climb out of. Rusutsu doesnt have a town at its base as such, rather a giant hotel and theme park. It is quirky in its own right but I would recommend staying in niseko and day tripping here.

Next Japan holiday for me will include Furano, another Hokkaido resort that hasn't been overrun by western assholes (like me)

I absolutely love Japan, I can't get enough of the place. It depends on your skill levels a lot and wether you have much experience riding powder as to which resort I would recommend. If you want well qualified english instruction then go to Niseko as they cater very well to westerners, while the lessons you get in Hakuba will suck by comparison.

For my next trip I plan to do a week in Furano and a week in Niseko.

Last edited by Reede; 04-17-2010 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Awesome reply mate exactly the kind of info i am looking for. May do some serious research on niseko. Gets me excited cheers
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Old 04-17-2010, 07:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I just did 11 days in Hakuba. I stayed at the Bears Den. We got chalet to give us a lift every morning to the entry lifts/gondola. Was able to board all day and board all the way back to the front door of the Bears Den at the end of the day.

We had some serious snow in the time we were there, only one wet day. Some long and winding green runs, one took me 19 mins to get to the bottom. The Gondola is 2000m up and took 5 mins. Heaps of runs and not a lot of people. Night skiing there was 32 people on the hill.

We are heading back next year.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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O yea another thing on night skiing, Hakuba has very limited night skiing, Niseko has pretty much the biggest night skiing area in the world, Their lighting system is gargantuan.
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Since I live in Tokyo, Nagano prefecture is the closest thing for me to take regular trips to. Nozawa Onsen is VERY traditional, with AMAZING powder. It's a very very good quaint little Japanese town/village.

Not far away is Hakuba, which is basically the main resort town in mainland Japan. It gets crowded, but you just have to go on a little hunting and get creative on your spots and you can find this kind of stuff:




That was a random February day in Hakuba.

If you aren't confined by living in certain areas, then definitely go for the gold and plan a trip to Niseko. It's world-renown. I have heard from many people that the quality of snow all over Japan is excellent, but the amount of powder that Niseko consistently has year after year is what makes it the best. And of course it's lenient BC rules.

Even in Hakuba, some resorts let you wander, and some (supposedly) clip you. Hasn't happened to me yet.

I'll definitely be getting up to Niseko next season.
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Old 04-18-2010, 06:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ive done 3 trips out of the last 4 northern hemisphere winter to Hakuba.

Cant recommend the place enough, great terrain and great snow. Yes there have some rain days in those trips
but i have averaged 3-4 fresh powder day per trip then the remaining days have been finding fresh powder patches.

More and more tree areas are being legally opened, plus the terrain can be quite steep with powder as well as a large amount of easily accessible back country (if you know what you are doing). You also have a big selection of groomers that are well prepared for cruising runs while waiting for a new snow dump. The town is a little spread out but its not Australia town (yet). Great selection of traditional japanese food and western food. Speak to the locals and they show you the way. You wont be disappointed with this place.

I havent been to Hokkaido, but from the information ive gathered the snow is better however terrain is not as steep and minimal alpine terrain. I do have a preferance for steep trees and general steeps. Plus Niseko is overrun with Aussie, cant say that really interests me.

Realistically either way you cant loose
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I went to Zao Onsen, Nozawa Onsen, Shiga Kogen and Niseko in March (It's only been few weeks, but it feels like ages).
It all depends what you are looking for, do you want to experience Japan? Or do you want only snow and be able to talk in English everywhere?
By far I had the best time in Nozawa Onsen and worst in Shiga Kogen.

Shiga Kogen has the biggest skiing are in Japan, but it has 0 night life and there's nothing there besides few hotels. Lots of old Japanese people there who are very nice. But I had to have Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner at hotels all the time. There's no restaurants to eat at and there's even a lack of vending machines with drinks.

Zao Onsen was OK. The mountain was good. I went there to see snow monsters, but I've arrived there after 4 days of warm showers and all of them have melted, it was a big disappointment. Lots of Onsens to go to and few places to eat. Not many foreigners. Also there's Jpop playing on the slopes, easly fixed if you have your own headphones, it also kind of reminded me that I'm in Japan. The area isn't big, so staying there for 2/3 days is enough. It's also not over run with aussies. I've only seen 1 foreigner there besides me.

Nozawa Onsen was great. I had excellent time here. I stayed in Lodge Nagano and it's run by aussies, very friendly stuff. They will take you to onsens, show you how to use them. Take you to local restaurants/pubs/karaoke which are great and less frequented by the tourists. And since they know Japanese you will get to meet lots of locals you would never get a chance to talk to. Highly recommended.

Last I've arrived in Niseko. I stayed there for 6 days. It was a bit of a shock coming here after the previous 3 towns. Since the first thing I noticed was INSKI and big LJ Hooker sign. Every 2nd person is and Aussie and it seems like recently they have been getting a lot of chinese tourists. Since I went there quiet late the conditions were the worst of all the places I've been to, but I was told by few friends I met over there that the conditions have improved a lot. When I went there the snow was wet and for 3 days the top lifts were closed because of strong winds. On the 4th day when the top lifts have opened I got a little bit of powder, it was pretty nice, I've also managed to twist my ankle in the process.

I think the next time I go there it will be in January/February. The snow should be better. I will definitely go back to Nozawa Onsen, I might try to see the snow monsters in Zao, I was really bummed that I've missed them by few days. I also might go to Hakuba or Niseko, I just wish that Niseko had a bit more of a Japanese feel to it. Also if you want to go Shiga, I was told you can hire a car/van in Nozawa and do a day trip. I wouldn't stay in Shiga.
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