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Metabo Oyaji

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Everything posted by Metabo Oyaji

  1. Metabo Oyaji

    skiing late march

    Hokkaido ski areas are pretty low altitude though, aren’t they? So despite being north, they don’t usually have very late seasons, do they? Kagura Is usually open until late May, so I have to imagine they will still be going in late March, even in a disastrous year like this one. As for rentals, looks like from their web site that they have skis/boards/boots/poles and outerwear (jackets, snowpants), but NOT gloves/goggles/hats. So try to bring at least that much. Ski/board + wear sets seem to be 6,500 yen/day for adults, or 9,750 yen for two days. Cheaper for kids, depending on age. Don’t immediately see lift ticket + rental sets, but have only glanced at it quickly. For more details, see their web site. English version here: https://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/kagura/index.html#rentals
  2. Metabo Oyaji

    Early season in Japan

    Was snowing pretty decently at Tenjin this morning, which was a surprise as it wasn’t really in the forecast. Big wet stick-to-your goggles flakes, which combined with mist for terrible visibility. But at least felt like they are finally getting underway. They’re going to need a lot more to get their base filled out, though. Lots of bush and thin spots.
  3. Metabo Oyaji

    skiing late march

    You’ll definitely be able to ski. Plan on spring skiing conditions by then. Look at any place that’s typically open until April or May. Lots of options, most obvious being the higher-altitude places like Kagura or Shiga Kogen.
  4. Thinking about it, at the bottom I think 2-3 lifties may be needed, depending on the lift and how busy it is. One to check tickets (since most places don’t use electronic chip tickets), one to control the merging of the singles line into the main line (if it is a busy quad, say), and one in charge of hitting the stop button, who ideally shouldn’t be distracted by other tasks. Of course some lifts can and do get by with fewer at the bottom. I don’t know, I assume ski areas do try to get by with as few employees as possible, since they are generally struggling to stay afloat as it is. But I have to admit to not paying that close attention, so I may be wrong.
  5. Where are you seeing this? I can’t think of any ski areas in Japan off-hand that regularly have more than one liftie at the top. At the bottom to regulate traffic, sometimes, but not at top that I can think of. (Maybe the top of the fast quad at GALA, perhaps? But that seems needed, since they get a lot of first-timers there who don’t know how to disembark.)
  6. 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!
  7. Metabo Oyaji

    Gassan - worth a shufty?

    I think I’m done for this snow season. I think.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?)
  10. Did they also move the big halfpipe? On the new course map, it seems to have shifted east?
  11. 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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!
  18. 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.)
  19. 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.
  20. 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!
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.


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