Jump to content
SnowJapan Community
  • Sign Up

Metabo Oyaji

SnowJapan Member
  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

71 Very Popular!

About Metabo Oyaji

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Nationality
    Oyaji Nation
  • Living in

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Metabo Oyaji

    SSAWS (Chiba)

    I did! It was the first place I skied in Japan, and was responsible for rekindling my interest in skiing, which I had not done since I was a kid. I owe a lot to that old place. I wish it were still there, too!
  2. Metabo Oyaji

    Is not knowing Japanese a problem?

    I imagine you could get pretty far with just pointing and gesturing. A couple of suggestions, though: 1) If you have time before your trip (say a week or two), at least try to learn katakana. These are the phonetic characters used to represent foreign loanwords, like "ski," "hotel," "taxi," "pizza," "sandwich" etc. Pretty handy to be able to read, even if you know zero Japanese. 2) Use common sense, and err on the side of caution. For example, at Nekoma this year I saw a foreign guided-tour group cheerfully ducking the rope into posted avalanche-danger terrain, without (apparently) any avalanche gear. There was a sign that said "Keep out" in English, but the rest of the signage, including the avalanche warning, was in Japanese. Were the tour guides unable to read the signage, or did they just not care? (And did their customers know they were being taken into posted avalanche terrain?) Either way, you probably don't want to be that kind of doofus. Don't assume you can safely ignore signs just because you cannot read them. (This doesn't apply just to Japan, of course. A couple of US ski team members died in an avalanche in Austria in 2015 when they ignored warning signs that they could not read.)
  3. Metabo Oyaji

    Natural mogul courses?

    Nekoma does have a short ungroomed bit that gets nicely mogulled up, at the top of their “Deep 1” course. Alts didn’t the last time I went, though maybe it was too early in the season. Thanks for the info about Nozawa! Will have to check it out some time. I’m woefully lacking in experience with Nagano ski areas in general. Even more so Hokkaido. Must rectify!
  4. Metabo Oyaji

    Close connections between ski-jo

    For Alts/Nekoma, I think I remember reading that the current owner of both places had intended to link them up. They even had a joint logo for a while with arrows pointing from each to the other suggesting such a link. Obviously never happened. One can read speculation that they had difficulty getting forestry permits needed to cut courses and install a linking lift, but I don’t think an official reason has ever been given. The aftermath of the earthquake may not have helped, either — they have since shut down lifts on both sides, rather than investing in new infrastructure. Might be nice if they did it some day, though as a practical matter, either side is enough for a day of skiing by itself. So maybe not much to gain, unless one wants to spend the whole day just traversing from one end to the other and back.
  5. Metabo Oyaji

    Gassan - worth a shufty?

    No, I don’t. I’ve done it as a long day trip, but would recommend staying somewhere near-by if possible. There are some pensions at the base of the ski area, and also some at a little onsen town a few km down the road from it. If you are pairing it with an out-of-season visit to Zao, Yamagata City is a pretty convenient place to stay.
  6. Metabo Oyaji

    Gassan - worth a shufty?

    I like it. Here are a couple of my trip reports from the old forum: Not for powderhounds, obviously, but a really fun and laid-back atmosphere if you are into what they do offer. I’ve been again since then, and would like to go again some time.
  7. Metabo Oyaji

    Yamagata city to Zao Onsen

    That’s what the navigation app in my phone says. I recall it taking 25-30 minutes by car from downtown Yamagata, so sounds about right.
  8. Metabo Oyaji

    The ski areas to the south of Mt Bandai

    I don’t know. They have one lift serving a park area, and the rest of the courses over there are marked as a CAT skiing area, as they have been since the earthquake. Don’t know what they have done with the actual lifts themselves, though; last time I was there I went straight for the back bowls and didn’t even look at that area.
  9. Surprised me too! Used to only see a handful of other Westerners in an entire season in that region. By the way, I-barry-agi, the Aizu Now report notes that Nekoma is open every day from today. Now that the end of season is in view for the front-side Bandai resorts, I guess there is less competition for the Urabandai ones. Nekoma is also setting up park features, presumably in preparation to take over for the rest of the season from their co-owned sibling Alts.
  10. Metabo Oyaji

    The ski areas to the south of Mt Bandai

    Yes, Alts is the biggest, followed by Inawashiro and then by Grand Sunpia Inawashiro Resort, which is pretty small. They all have short seasons due to southern exposure and low altitude. Mid-season the snow anywhere will be fine, but they will all become spring skiing pretty early. For snow quality, maybe Inawashiro > Alts Bandai > Grand Sunpia Inawashiro Resort, on average. They all get great views of Lake Inawashiro. Getting from the parking lots to the ticket counters is slightly more of a hassle at Alts and Inawashiro, usually requiring a (frequent) shuttle bus or a long walk. On the other hand, they are all quicker to get to than the Urabandai areas. Inawashiro specializes in moguls and Alts in park features, but both places have plenty of courses for people who are into neither of those things. GS Inawashiro Resort seems to be a favorite of training groups for races and badge tests.
  11. Don’t know for sure without asking the ski area owners, but would guess that they don’t get enough customers on those weekdays to justify opening. I was at Nekoma last Sunday, which was a good powder day (though not great visibility), and there was a reasonable number of people there, but it was not crowded by any means. If that is the best they can do on a weekend, I imagine weekdays are pretty slow. (Interestingly, a large fraction — maybe 5-10%? — of their customers seemed to be Westerners, which I’d never seen before.) Also, being in Urabandai, they are that much harder to get to than places on the front side on Bandai-san, so they probably lose out to places like Alts and Inawashiro during peak season. But generally, there aren’t that many customers on weekdays, so unless foreign tourists (who can ski on weekdays) ramp up, it is not too surprising if some places just don’t try to compete then.
  12. Metabo Oyaji

    Marunuma Kogen mid season

    I’ve been both early and mid-season — see reviews and photos from me and others on the main snowjapan site. Late Feb 2010 I apparently thought it was “busy but not crowded.” Good snow and scenery, and I like the shape of the terrain. Certainly worth a visit mid-season.
  13. Metabo Oyaji

    Natural mogul courses?

    Thanks for that, muikabochi! Iwappara had never really been on my radar before; will have to check it out next time I’m in Yuzawa.
  14. Metabo Oyaji


    This may be a technical site question, but is there a good way to search for nighters? Some kind of keyword search, for example?
  15. Metabo Oyaji

    Natural mogul courses?

    I’m wondering where are the best places to find “natural” mogul courses. By which I mean the old-fashioned style with bumps all over the place that form naturally on permanently ungroomed courses, as opposed to a single line of artificially created moguls. Examples I can think of are the Buna no Ki course at White World Oze Iwakura (off the Nishiyama #3 romance lift), Yokokura no Kabe at Zao, and the top part of Hakkaisan. Inawashiro and Grandeco have dedicated ungroomed courses meant for moguls, but in practice this past month they seem to be mostly just severely chopped, with a line or two of artificial moguls down the side mainly dedicated to team or competition use, and not the expansive, diagonal checkerboard fields seen in photos from the ‘70s and ‘80s. I realize this may be a ship that sailed a generation ago, but any other good suggestions for the latter? Preferably in Aizu or surrounding regions.


About SnowJapan

SnowJapan.com is the independent guide to skiing and snowboarding in Japan and has been online since 1999.

SnowJapan.com covers the whole of Japan. We are here to introduce the world to unbiased, honest and detailed information about winter sports in Japan. We publish exclusive and in-depth and daily content throughout the winter season and we add new functionality and content to the site every year.

We are not here to promote any specific destinations or resorts, or to sell our readers any kind of products or services. We are not a travel agency and we do not own any ski resorts, ski schools, accommodations or other related businesses.