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Metabo Oyaji

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About Metabo Oyaji

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  1. Metabo Oyaji

    Close connections between ski-jo

    Yes, I thought that was interesting, though not enough to tempt me to actually go try it this spring. That is the one part of Alts that I would want to be able to access from Nekoma, and it would be nice to be able to get there without having to go through the whole front end of Alts. It would be much more interesting with a lift connection!
  2. Metabo Oyaji

    Gassan - worth a shufty?

    I think I’m done for this snow season. I think.
  3. Metabo Oyaji

    Gassan - worth a shufty?

    Was up there today, and they actually seem to have pretty reasonable coverage for this time of year. Can still ski top to bottom — looks like they will make it to the scheduled change of lift to summer mode this week no problem. I have been there in the past when they did not make it this far and had to do the lift change-over early. Also noticed they have added a 令和の鐘 to the Gassan sign at the top of the lift. One can gong the bell with a hammer for ski safety.
  4. Metabo Oyaji

    Consumption tax increase (and Niseko lift ticket prices)

    Those prices are nuts. Though that’s the all-mountain ticket, right? Looks like the individual area tickets are lower, if still high by typical standards. I wonder how many people actually spring for the all-mountain ticket? (Never been there — is it actually useful?)
  5. Did they also move the big halfpipe? On the new course map, it seems to have shifted east?
  6. Their web site sells the gondola as an easy way for non-skiing visitors to reach the new yuki asobi area, for what it’s worth. The story mina2 heard sounds like a more likely primary motivation, though. Interesting, mina2! Doesn’t the new Gondola/chair actually replace two previous lifts? If I remember correctly, didn’t one go up to the base of the Tirol gelaende, and then another one up from there?
  7. Metabo Oyaji

    Advice about Kagura (for beginners)

    As a kid I remember standing at the top of a steep mogul course, wondering how I was going to get down without breaking my neck, and amazed at the adults who seemed to bounce so effortlessly down it. I sort of thought that being able to handle and even enjoy moguls was the mark of a grown up skier. A few years ago, I realized I wasn’t going to get any more grown up, so it was time to try to see what the attraction was. After beating my head against the wall for a while, I managed to make it down a few bumps unscathed, and discovered that the feeling of actually managing to hit the spacing and rhythm just right was an unbeatable thrill, like dancing on the snow. From then I was hooked. Of course I still suck at it, but just can’t quit. Kagura in the spring is a good place to try to get into it if you’re interested in trying, due to the large variety of moguls available, from easy to hard. Gassan, too, for that matter.
  8. Metabo Oyaji

    Advice about Kagura (for beginners)

    Moguls. Which I honestly suck pretty badly at, but I’m addicted to the challenge. I actually find deep fluffy powder can get a bit old after a couple of hours (though maybe that is partly because I don’t have specialty fat skis to get the most out of it), but a nice set of bumps (not TOO tight) can keep me amused all day long. Also, with fresh powder, it is always a bit of a desperate race to grab that next untouched line before someone else does. Moguls I find to be a more relaxed, collaborative endeavor — the more people who partake, the more bumps there are for everyone to enjoy, and the more opportunities there are to learn by watching others. But heck, in the end, I’ll ski anything!
  9. Metabo Oyaji

    Advice about Kagura (for beginners)

    Definitely been a strange season. Spring skiing came early, and stayed late. I happen to like spring skiing, so no complaints from me!
  10. Metabo Oyaji

    Advice about Kagura (for beginners)

    Let me add that if by beginner, you mean they have never put on skis or board before, you should wait until next season. If they can at least do the snowplow or the boarder equivalent thereof, then the above places might be options.
  11. Metabo Oyaji

    Advice about Kagura (for beginners)

    Shibu Toge at Shiga Kogen might be ok. Or even Gassan. They’ll need to bring their own equipment, though.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.)
  14. 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!
  15. 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.


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