Most years that we ski in Niseko (up in Hokkaido) we stop in Tokyo for a day or two to break up the trip as it can be quite long to do in one go. When you are planning your trip, keep in mind that you will fly in to either Haneda (preferable) or Narita which is further out. If you fly into Narita. unless you get your timing perfect then you will likely need to transit to Haneda to catch the domestic flight to Sapporo which takes 1.5hrs. Once in Haneda, the domestic flight takes 2hrs and then the bus trip to Niseko (if that's where you're skiing) is another 3 hrs so it can make for a long day. There is so much to do in Tokyo which can be accessed easily by their amazing train system. Our favs - Harajuku (for the Harajuku costumes), the fish market and we love the onsen at Odaiba. Another option is to get a 7 day train pass and head down to Osaka or Hiroshima, both fascinating spots.
We did the same thing last year - Have always skied Niseko so did a trip to Hakuba last year (then back to Niseko this year). Hakuba is a lot more authentic ie. not as commercial. Kind of like Niseko 15 years ago. It is cheaper to eat there but not as well run as Niseko with the buses etc. In Niseko the shuttles run every 15mins, in Hakuba it is every hour. We really enjoyed Hakuba and are going to be spending the season there this coming year. We did however go back to Niseko this year with the 3 x 20-something year old 'kids' as Niseko had a better nightlife for those young 'uns :)
fuzzynz replied to BTomo's topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryWe skiied at Rusutsu (Hokaido) at the beginning of March 2012 on a work trip and loved it so much we are taking the tweens back to Niseko at Xmas. Rusutsu is like a Club Med so great as a group of 130 corporates but as a family of skiers from New Zealand (very familiar with marginal conditions!), somewhere like Niseko would be a better option. We looked at going through a specialist travel agent but like yourself, figured we could get better value for money if we booked everything directly. Niseko has plenty of accomodation to choose from ranging in price. The all-lift passes are considerably cheaper than in NZ and the culture is fantastic! We're flying into Tokyo for a week there (Disneyland...!) and having done the flights/train change last time, find it a breeze. As previously mentioned, the train system is easy to navigate, most places have english signage and there are always plenty of people willing to help out if you need it. Don't be afraid to do a multistop and go through somewhere like Osaka or Tokyo as nothing beats a stop in a foreign city! The funniest thing was seeing snowboarders with all of their gear getting off the train at Tokyo Central Station having spent the day at the ski field an hour away! Also, keep an eye out for discounted rates at the end of Feb/beginning of March as that's near the end of the season. We were there at the beginning of March and the snow was better than anything I've ever skied (I have skied outside of NZ ), the crowds were almost non-existent, and we picked up really cheap airfares through Air New Zealand. Good luck!
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.