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  1. i think there is a higher percentage of good snowboarders here in Japan than elsewhere ive skied.

    for me its the noob snowboarders that give you that reputation. not the good ones. so maybe thats why you dont see as much of the hate here.

    theres also a lot more snow to share around than other places.


    from an Olympics tv viewpoint, compared to Shaun White the other snowboarders look like theyre barely able to stand up, let alone land the stunts, so its no mystery whos gonna win and less interesting to watch.

  2. i think its just a decision by the resort when purchasing the lift.

    perhaps im boring, but i think itd be interesting to witness the whole a-z of getting a lift some time.


    the speed of fixed lifts is determined by how fast they thought people could survive getting smacked in the legs, and afaik it hasn't changed since. detachable speeds vary, but are at least 2.5x the speed of fixed grip lifts. so if one of them stopped in a big hurry having a safety bar might save some people from falling out.

    but imo its mostly about kids and those afraid of heights. i usually dont use the bar, and have been on plenty of lifts that stop quickly and not even close to even thinking that i might fall. I also sit nearer to the edge of the seat because i keep my backpack on.

    i feel many more feelings than to do with safety when people smack me in the head when they have the need to lower the bar before the chair has even left the seating area.


    Not sure but I guess it's because there is a slight chance that the chair could slip along the wire while in motion is it's not properly maintained. Bit of speculation there though.

    i think i read somewhere that the detachable clamp puts an order of several tons of grip on the cable, and is quite a bit more than with a fixed system.

    fixed grip cant be so tight that they might damage the cable too much during the season. they have to be manually moved each year so they dont wear out a single point over the lifetime too. next time on a fixed chair you should look up, you can often see the spots, and you can usually gauge the age of each spot (and thus the cable) by how its faded.

    the random nature of detachable means they dont damage a single point over the year, and so can go tighter.


    The ones without bars should be able to go faster, less weight.

    whatever weight (in the chairs) going up is also coming down. but i guess theres more resistance on the rollers tho.


    the fact that you can still hear the variable speed drive at the operational speed (you would describe this as a constant beep sound at slow speeds, a hum at higher) suggests to me that most lifts have a lot more guts to go faster than they're permitted.

  3. Anything, do you work on a tourism pass at the resorts or just live up there for a few months during season? Interesting info.

    im on a proper visa, but considering that i dont work here and the effort involved i think ill fall back to tourist visa next year.

    late last year i called immigration in Tokyo and they actually suggested the whole jump out of the country for a week deal that people do. i was rather shocked that they brought it up. but they added that they probably wouldn't be very happy if you did it more than once a year, other people i talked to concur.

    id still be very afraid of doing it tho, still sounds naughty.


    Out of curiosity, what's the average rent in Kutchan proper? (for one bedroom and 2 bedroom)

    I'm planning on doing a winter out there but would prefer living away from Hirafu (I would be driving) I've lived in the area before, but didn't have to find my own place and was paying 20k for a 3LDK, which I doubt is the norm?

    20k Canadian? for 4 months? that sounds like hirafu prices.

    kutchan prices vary, some people this year appeared to be trying to argue that they deserve hirafu prices, very funny. off the top of my head its usually something like 1/3 to 1/4 the price.

  4. Staff are usually provided accom by the companies they work for. Theyre often in really good locations actually, but are the lowest of low quality.

    Under 30 Aussies can get a one time 12 month work visa quite easily. I hear the Brits can get a work visa even easier.


    It can sometimes be difficult to find some accom, depending on how picky you are. Its obviously easier finding just a room than it is to find your own place.

    This year ive been a little cautious of some of the offerings. I had two very scam sounding offers - people wanting the whole balance upfront, for a place they cant describe, they cant provide the address, no photos, or details about what's included inside. Maybe its just me?


    This season started out with extremely thin pickings to find anything at all (ie, July). But it seemed everyone was just disorganized, because suddenly in October (from memory) there were new places to stay popping up almost daily. Some stuff even getting posted during November and December.

    I prefer to be organized many months in advance, so they all lost my attention.

    One or two real estates have shut down this year too, perhaps contributing to the problem.


    How much you're willing to spend is the only decision really.

    Its very expensive in Niseko Hirafu, a little cheaper in middle/lower village Hirafu (shuttle buses every 5 mins), begins getting cheaper in Izumikyo (its 400m down the road, 15min shuttle busses), and cheaper still if you head to St Moritz (400m down the road the other way, no busses), Higashiyama (aka Niseko Village) or Annupuri (tho I've never stayed in those last 3 areas). All are within walking distance to a ski lift somewhere.

    Even cheaper still to stay in Kutchan, except its 10-15mins away by car or bus.


    You will probably need to commit to at least 4 months, and don't forget to budget your season pass, snow clearing, electricity, kero (heating), gas & water fees on top.

    A carpark can be expensive, or a huge pain to maintain. Snow clearing n all that.

    and beware of accommodation labelled as in "Niseko" - because that's actually 15mins away in the other direction. Hear of some tourists falling for it thinking that they got a great deal.

  5. Hi!


    Aside from overpriced restaurants n stuff?

    fyi, smoking is allowed in many restaurants from 9pm ish, my burning eyes really puts me off my appetite.

    youll need to book if you want to eat at peak time, your accom can probably help you book.


    I hope your accommodation is already all organized, its very busy this year :(


    The deep powder will work your legs hard, so you're going to be dead tired, and maybe not up to doing much anyway.

    There are a few onsens around town, all of which have magical super powers for fixing your legs up for the next day. However from about 4pm to 7pm it can get very busy.

    Please brush up on onsen etiquette. Sick of swimming around in other Gaijin's ass sweat.


    It is true, what of you have heard (matrix quote?). Theres only one ATM in Hirafu, at Shiki. It accepts some international cards, but about half the people I talk to haven't been able to use it. I haven't tested mine yet, but considering the number of Aussies here we must be the primary market.

    Credit card is becoming lots more accepted these days, but i'd say still a majority is cash only.

    I got a heap of cash out before I came. Suggest talking to your bank, theyll get you better rates than the ripoff stuff at the airports, and takes only a day or two to organize.

    Theres an ATM at the Kutchan post office that accepts everything, and is in english. Ive never heard of anyone having problems with any card there. Tho, once I forgot my pin number, because they lay the keypad out differently :)


    Kutchan is the local town, about 15mins away via bus.

    Itll cost about 310-380 yen to get there, depending on where you get on the bus. Don't panic, you can't go wrong, the last stop is the train station & coop (supermarket) in town, but you might try to plan your first stop near the post office instead.

    Don't look like a tourist noob - When you get on, you take a ticket from a machine with a number. You pay when you get off. A board above the driver has the price you pay for your ticket number. You throw exact money and the ticket into the same hole and it auto counts it. There is also a change machine on the bus that accepts coins and up to a 1000yen note, but its best to have coins beforehand.

    I'd suggest going there to look around a rural Japanese town on a day off perhaps, there are some museums n stuff too. At least buy some things from the supermarket that you have no idea what you're getting ;)

    There are some nice restaurants and bars in Kutchan also, however the night buses have reduced their schedule this year. A taxi will cost about 2500yen (about $25) each way, you can get away with ordering one on the phone in english, otherwise they usually hang around the train station.


    You can buy your lift ticket with a credit card, but you still need 1000yen cash for the deposit.

    I'd definitely recommend investigating the internet hourly lift ticket (its sometimes difficult to find info on), or maybe the 30 or 50 hourly pass.

    IMO the daily passes (eg, a 12 day pass) are a huge ripoff in comparison.

    • Like 1
  6. I always put mine furtherest from the road or exits to the area. you see many with locks tho.

    to me it seems to be the mindless tourists who accidently take the wrong set. a 140cm tall girl taking my 190cm skis right in front of me didn't seem to realize anything was out of place.


    a couple of companies run valet services for their guests. you may be able to still be able to pay for this service if youre not with them.


    at Hirafu the King and Ace restaurants halfway up the hill have ski racks also. you could bring them up first run and leave/lock them there.

    might make things more secure, cept you'll probably look the thief at the end of the day.


    on the weekends you can sometimes see a bit of a small & short race setup for the ski club kids. especially during night ski.

    im pretty sure theyre not for the public, but theyre often empty and unattended while they lift up for another lap.

  7. +1 for doing it right. so many times i see tourists go all out and spend $2k on a full kit, that's crap, and the never use it again anyway.

    edit: tho id have to admit ive spent my fair share on junk too.


    you're in for quite an improvement in ability. my first season I thought I was pretty shit hot for perisher's standards, but I was still able to look back and see/feel noticeable improvements every week, sometimes even day to day!

    you're going to be spending a lot of time on powder, so if the board you end up with has some old edges and some some scratches on the base its not the end of the world.

    there are some famous stretches of flatness tho, so make sure you don't end up with an old style extruded base.


    if you have already someone in Niseko at your staff accom to accept a delivery then I would do it that way. Worst case you might find a forum member instead? I dont arrive in Niseko until 2nd Dec.

    Wouldn't expect there to be any issue in using an Aus credit card in making the purchase. Only once have i had issues with my Aus CC in the US. I think it was with AmazonUSA actually :( It happens when they assume the shipping address is the same as the billing address, if you can enter both or use paypal instead you will be fine. I've also never had an issue when buying stuff online in Japan with my oz card.


    random thought - alternate to Amazon might be Ratuken, but I don't know if they sell 2nd hand stuff at all.


    I had considered buying my new skis on the way through Tokyo last year. However I decided it wasn't worth the risk. I wanted the longest version of the ski (which the Japanese probably dont even sell), and there was no guarantee that i'd find it in stock and for a competitive price. Turned out I was right, nobody in the whole of Japan had them. lol, so I bought Chinese made skis from USA and shipped them to Japan ;)


    From the USA, most ski brands seem to have limitations on international shipping. Assume this is so they can sell exclusive import rights to certain wholesalers to make more monies. But I don't see why you'd have this problem with something 2nd hand, I would assume that it has no restrictions then.

    I used shipito.com twice last year for shipping something to Japan that I couldn't from a US store. They seemed a little more expensive shipping than from the online store directly, obviously slower too, but were much much cheaper than buying from Japan. There are several other alternatives that I haven't tried, shipitto were good enough for me.


    Average Japan prices aren't bad, especially if you find a good deal. But Niseko prices are like Australian prices, roughly 2-4x compared to USA prices, I would avoid it at all costs.

  8. each year i usually only stay in Niseko until first week of April, and unless you're already nearby, i probably would recommend going elsewhere.

    by late March/April its frozen ice in the morning from the previous day's melt, or sloppy wet grippy slush melting very fast in the heat in the afternoon. there's about 30 minutes in between that is ok to ski (i am quite a snow snob tho, spoiled from many seasons). there is still some extremely rare fresh snow falling, but often rain with it so I wouldn't rely on it. additionally most of the shops, restaurants, and accommodation in Hirafu close up on last day of march and it almost becomes a ghost town.


    ive been keeping an eye out for where to go late season instead of going home. but even by mid march the main island resorts further south (ie, warmer) report lots of rain /etc.


    as suggested I'd probably be looking for some elevation and hoping that it holds onto the cold long enough. Niseko is only about 500m above sea level.


    ive only ski kited (hella fun) in Colorado on a frozen lake. i haven't exactly been keeping an eye out, but ive not noticed any area large enough and frozen enough nearby to do it. but ive seen many an open field of powder and often wonder if a ski kite is powerful enough to get my ass out of the deep snow. sometimes its definitely windy enough! probably get chased away by some farmer on a skidoo tho. wonder what he is protecting, is he farming skidoos?

    youve rekindled my interest tho, this season i think i'll try looking around.

  9. from what i understand, unless you're a super race pro, sintered boards only need waxing a couple of times a season. especially when you're mostly floating on powder.

    for an extruded base it isnt worth the effort, it peels away after 2 runs and you get laughed at by skiers passing you on the flat (extruded base skis dont exist afaik, and its finally become rare for snowboards now too)

    prior to fancy polymer manufacturing techniques the bases werent flat enough, so needed frequent waxing for proper surface contact.


    new boards/skis usually come with a thin layer of wax that you can get away with.

  10. Arcteryx have a lot of fans but I think its more about the design and the quality of the stitching than whatever flavour of goretex they use. I think most Arcteryx fans would be put out if you suggested that other goretex jackets were the same just because they use the same material.

    hah yeah good point there Wiggles. it is very well designed.

    I attribute the magical properties of my jacket to the Goretex tho. especially vs my UA jacket, that was as breathable as wearing a plastic bag.


    I gots the Arcteryx fever bad. Backcountry has some last season jackets at a good price, some up to 45% I ordered the Alpha SV which they had at 40% off. They only had it in XL which unfortunately was not a good fit for me as I'm big and tall.

    They actually just opened a retail store in down town Seattle about a month or two ago. It's really convenient to go there are try things on. I think I want to get either Theta SVX or Sidewinder SV. But they're so expensive, I'll almost certainly have to wait until a sale at the end of seasons or during the summer.

    I thought I would alert readers that Arc'teryx have restrictions on international shipping of their items. So if you're outside USA you wont be able to order from the US, even tho theyre about half the price of prices in Japan.

    You can use a service like shipito dot com

  11. warmth comes from the stationary air trapped by clothing or whatever that works to insulate your hands and feet. but obviously you need some circulation to warm that air up. so for both reasons you need to make sure your gloves and boots arent too tight, or you will just squeeze all the air & blood away.


    instinct tells you to make your boots real tight around your toes for better control, but all it does is make your feet cold.

    i also unclip one or two of my boot buckles for better blood flow on long lift rides. makes a big difference when you intend on skiing for many hours.

    you might also experiement using or not using those feet rests on chairlifts. I sometimes find that having no pressure on the sole of your feet can increase circulation in the right areas.


    i dont personally know anyone who has used those boot covers, but in talking to people on lifts (especially the elderly) they reckon theyre awesome.

    i know lots of people that swear by those electric boot warmers tho. you need to cut into your boot liner to fit them, scary sounding!, but its well worth it in the end im told (ive never had cold enough feet to try... yet).


    but, the opposite can also happen, and make things even colder.

    your hands and feet get hot and sweat. later on the sweat cools and freezes as it evaporates, and you get even colder than before. its almost like having an airconditioner. i wonder if it also has something to do with salt water having a lower freezing point too.

    i sometimes have this problem instead, so actually need to keep my feet cool during a hike or whatever.

  12. agree with ozsnowbum, boots > goggles > gloves > skis/board > everything else

    ever tried to board/ski with your eyes closed?

    i dont think you need to go crazy, but i think you would regret not getting a decent pair. any research you do will be rewarding.


    I definitely choose the lens color I want first, and go from there. I see these poor tourists getting around Niseko with the dark brown reflective lenses. Colorado yes, but not here!

    oh, and make sure its dual lens not some cheapo ripoff, and obviously an anti fog coating.


    ive seen some crazy wayyy overpriced big name brands with models named after their favorite star (eg, Shaun White n stuff). i would be very wary of their advertising.


    i still love my zeal sppx goggles (photochromic - the ones that change color based on how bright it is), no matter the conditions theyre perfect. well, almost, id warn you that they are really realy sensitive to fogging if you take them off at all on those -20 windy January days. i got both my sets about 5 years apart, each for about $150US + postage.

  13. My goretex burtons are leaking after about 50 days too, worn out at the finger tips

    These things look like my next foray into the glove world




    ive been a hestra fan for quite a long time until recently

    i was very disappointed with my latest set of gloves (purchased at start of last season). they packed out almost immediately, were nowhere near as versatile as the previous pair i had (warm in cold, cold in warm), and the stitching for the leather is already showing signs of wear and coming undone.


    the same stuff happened to my old pair, but after more than 300 days on snow plus snow shoveling!, these are failing after only about 100 skiing.


    i think ill be getting something else next time.

    which models were they?


    Army Leather GTX.

  14. My goretex burtons are leaking after about 50 days too, worn out at the finger tips

    These things look like my next foray into the glove world




    ive been a hestra fan for quite a long time until recently

    i was very disappointed with my latest set of gloves (purchased at start of last season). they packed out almost immediately, were nowhere near as versatile as the previous pair i had (warm in cold, cold in warm), and the stitching for the leather is already showing signs of wear and coming undone.


    the same stuff happened to my old pair, but after more than 300 days on snow plus snow shoveling!, these are failing after only about 100 skiing.


    i think ill be getting something else next time.

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