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About ShigaMac

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  1. ShigaMac

    Furano in 2019 mid-March

    The Lavender Bus starts from Asahikawa Station, calling at the Airport on its way to Furano. I believe it's just a regular bus line so cannot be reserved. Even if it is full and you have to stand it's only 1hr 20mins to the terminus At the end of December last year we took a similar bus from Asahikawa Station to Asahidake Onsen/Ski Area. The first few rows were occupied by skiers, the rest regular travelers. The bus stopped at the airport to pick up/drop off some passengers. Cheung-san. Furano usually stays open until May, however with global warming ski seasons are becoming less predictable. Check out the web cams for snow conditions.
  2. ShigaMac


    Thank you for this info. Still there it appears, with a slight change of name....now Village 432.
  3. ShigaMac


    Am looking for info from people who have skied Sahoro. Is it worth a visit? looks just a little far from Sapporo for a day trip so any info on nearby minshiku would be appreciated. Thanks
  4. ShigaMac

    French language spoken in Japan

    désolé! There is an Alliance Française in Sapporo so some people speak French! But don't be fooled by names of ski areas like Onze......it's named that 'cos it stays open until 11p.m.
  5. At weekends: Naeba: Before you got to join the ticket lines, first you had to get off the Highway/Expressway......simple? no way! At the exit there were often lines of cars which took 10-20mins.....no ETC back then! Then after making it as far as the ski area you had to find a parking space. Zao: 2hrs for the main ropeway & that only took us to the middle area. Then 10-15mins of pushing and shoving to get on a single lift which allowed us to ski for about one minute. Niseko: On the main Hirafu run there were two lift companies operating, one on the right and the other on the left. So you had to make sure you returned to the side you had started from. It wasn't a question of joining the shorter line. Shiga Kogen: Friday or Saturday nights saw hoards of people heading there by overnight bus or train. Party! They staggered off the bus/train and went more or less straight on to the slopes. There were so many people on Yakibitai that we often had to ski a human slalom......on each mogul there were at least two people taking a rest. Powder was considered dangerous so after a big dump of beautiful light Shiga powder the lifts did not open until all that nasty stuff had been cleared away. Moguls were mashed every night for the safety of skiers. Ah, the good old boring days! But at least on Zao we did start Nov 15 usually and finished after Golden Week.
  6. Yes, you can use the JR Pass to get to Sapporo. 4hrs Tokyo to Hakodate, then 3.5hrs Hakodate to Sapporo......bullet train only goes as far as Hakodate, sorry. The train from Hakodate to Sapporo usually stops at Niseko and/or Kutchan stations for the snow sports community. "next winter" is vague....cost of flights will vary; Christmas/New Year, any long weekend when Monday is a national holiday, and Chinese New Year week should be the most expensive. Regular LCC fares are about 10200yen-12500yen Narita-Chitose(Sapporo) and 7700yen-10000yen Chitose-Narita. The JR Pass can also be used to go boarding on Honshu; Niigata and Nagano Prefectures have fairly convenient Shinkansen stations, 1.5-2hrs from Tokyo, then bus to ski/board area.
  7. ShigaMac

    Buying gear in Japan

    Make sure you fly into Narita, not Haneda 'cos there are several second-hand shops in Chiba... Worth checking out, so allow yourselves a few days. If you want brand new boards compare prices for Japanese boards and Overseas ones in the shops muikabochi has mentioned.
  8. ShigaMac

    To ski school or not ski school?

    Those of you living in Japan......join a ski club! It will improve your skiing and your Nihongo and will be cheaper than ski school. If you are visiting Japan then join a group lesson. Hog the instructor! That means ski directly behind her/him until s/he tells you to change position in the group. The others will hate you but you will learn more! It costs money and you may never meet those people again. A good instructor rotates her/his students so that each one has the opportunity to ski at the front. Ask the instructor questions when you're on the lifts and when booking the lesson find out if it is possible to get a print out of what you have been practising. Don't hand over money to your Tour Operator unless s/he can tell you what you are going to learn. Enjoy!
  9. ShigaMac

    Natural mogul courses?

    Today I was in Shiga Kogen, resting from Nozawa's moguls.....S.K. is pretty much groomed runs but there are a few mogulled areas: Takamagahara, Yakebitai and Oku Shiga under the chairlift from the base. With the current low volume of 'traffic' the recent snowfall has not built up into real moguls. I didn't venture down, in elevation, to Maruike which has a recognized mogul bahn where ski schools teach. While not exactly scouting moguls I remembered 3 other areas in Zao....Crazy Traverse accessed from the Kurohime lift and Omori Okabe and Kokabe from the Omori lift.
  10. ShigaMac

    Natural mogul courses?

    Aizu? What about Nekoma and Alts???? Haven't been there for years but seem to remember......kana?! Alts short and sweet, Nekoma longer? Lots at Nozawa: L to R on the piste map: 18 Challenge-39˚,16 Schneider, 19 Utopia-A, 23 Kurokura, 22 Ushikubi, 27 Grand Prix (closed), 28 Jumping, 34 Mukoubayashi (closed) , 36 Hachiman (closed) and a short one 31 Hikage-no-Kabe, just 200m. ah, 2, Yamabiko-B up on top. The closed ones are deemed unsafe by Patrol; sliding or about to slide.....but you'll see tracks on Grand Prix! 34 & 36 are almost at the base (563m) so quite heavy I imagine. Plenty up in Hokkaido too
  11. If your time is limited rent a car for around 6000yen .....for one day? We drove on Jan 5th from Kotoni Station (Central Sapporo) to Niseko Village in an hour and a half, skied the village all day. Stayed overnight at an onsen near Annupuri and drove to Rusutsu next morning, 35mins. Back to Sapporo Sunday evening in time for 8 p.m.dinner......'cos we stopped off in Jozankei Onsen BTW for fans of Rusutsu there is a free bus from the Kamori Building near Sapporo Station which leaves every morning at 8, arr Rusutsu at 10, returns from there at 17:00. You have to make a reservation 24hrs in advance either by phone or on the net.
  12. ShigaMac

    Gassan - worth a shufty?

    M O Thanks for all those wonderful pics. Natsukashiiiii ! Glad that you persuaded the skiers to dress up retro style! Cafeteria? Pension Mura? but I do remember the moguls....designed to clean all the crud off your bases, your boots, and your pants. Come to Gassan and learn to water ski! Malteser, now you know....just one lift and no grooming! It's one of Yamagata's 3 holy mountains.....check out Hagurosan, another of the holy ones, if the steps are not still covered with snow, about 2,500 of them! Are you thinking of visiting Zao because of its skiing connections or its onsen? If the former and the weather permits, take the Ropeway (from Yokokura, not Chuo) and connecting Gondola (Funitel) to the top and you'll have some idea of the layout of the pistes. From the top you can see Gassan and in very good weather Chokaisan on the Akita/Yamagata border which means there will be snow/rain the following day......guaranteed!
  13. ShigaMac

    Niseko - what is the appeal?

    Am sure they will be tastefully designed, low rise etc I hope it is a way of reviving the local economy.....might even attract some of the student groups who go to Nozawa in summer for "Gashiku"???? yup, at times out of ski season I've been the only person in Togari's public onsen. Nozawa also refused Iiyama's offer to become part of that City, preferring to retain its status as a Village.
  14. ShigaMac

    Niseko - what is the appeal?

    Hype! Hype + Investment....better! The ski media in order to sell their magazines/promote their websites change their focus every so often....the best powder used to be Champagne in Colorado which after a few years became Utopian in Utah, then Desirable in Val D, etc. etc. The back side of Hakuba was 'discovered' by a group of Canadian skiers/mountaineers but because of the difficulty of access it did not become mainstream. How did a place like Niseko ever become so popular?! Flattery! Everyone wants to look good while skiing and nice, gentle slopes abound there. RupeTaka-san I'm writing this is a "Resort Mansion"in Nagano, built during the "Bubble" when skiing was ten times more popular among Japanese than these days. You are right to wonder about development. You've seen what they have done on Honshu and lately in Niseko. I am happy to report that the people of Nozawa Onsen have voted against development so the companies wishing to build more Resort Mansions are negotiating with Togari Onsen, next-door, which has a small ski area. When Nozawa's popularity among foreign skiers was increasing the local people learned something about development.... they noticed the empty bars/restaurants which closed at the end of the ski season. The European Alps are dotted with ghost villages, only occupied by skiers during the winter season. Let's hope Japan does not allow that to happen.
  15. I hate to be a downer but 'normally' no longer exists. This year's monsters were more or less wiped out at the beginning of Feb when torrential rain hit. On Feb 20th we went to the top of the mountain and the smaller ones on the lee side had survived. My advice is to make your decision as close as possible to the 'Golden Stage' illuminations period......yup you can now view them after dark! Check out Zao Onsen on this site.....your question answered; the four 'stages' of the monsters + dates.


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