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ShigaMac

SnowJapan Member
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About ShigaMac

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  • Nationality
    Ireland
  • Living in
    Japan

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  1. s5804: Shinkansen is for the general population, ski areas are for a small minority. The boom is over and Japan is a country of booms....the latest one was Rugby during the World Cup, but most people have already lost interest in that. Most Japanese are weekend or daily skiers. They are amazed at Europeans who can take a week or two off to go skiing. Who does their work while they are enjoying themselves? It seems very selfish and indulgent. During the week the pistes are inhabited by the elderly and university students. The former don't need much and are happy to relax on a long slow lift. The latter have little skiing experience and so are also content with the conditions they find. When quad lifts were first introduced here pistes suddenly became more crowded. They contributed, in part, to a decrease in the number of skiers. Traditional Japanese resorts were not designed with modern lifts in mind and those in national or quasi-national parks cannot be developed further. Yes, more and more Japanese resorts are being bought by Asian companies and so the ambience changes. The local people in Hokkaido already talk about certain resorts as Asian ones while others are for Western people. I hope you enjoy Lotte. You'll find very few Niigata people there as they are voting with their feet and going to other areas in their prefecture where lift tickets are less expensive. A family ski trip, even if just for one day, is a considerable expenditure for most Japanese families. The Japanese are not a rich people. During the ski boom years those who went to ski in Europe did so with money given to them as presents by neighbors, friends and family members....or even bank loans. The shopping that went on in overseas ski resorts was for presents for those who had helped finance the trip.....unfortunately creating the idea that Japanese are rich. I really hope you don't expect clones of Alpine resorts here. Believe it or not this is not Europe.
  2. ShigaMac

    Teine Highland

    Teine has had its first dusting of snow and may make its opening date of 11/23....yeah! Below is a review from TubbyBeaverinho, January 2014. If any of you have skied the 7 bowls mentioned in this review I'd appreciate your input. Last season I was fortunate to ski the main Highland area with someone who had worked at Hokudai Avalanche Research Centre and even though Teine had about 2.5 metres at that time I was advised not to go near the bowls until at least another metre had fallen. On Kita Kabe (turn left off Summit Express and left again before Ladies Downhill) there were rocks and tree trunks still visible, so for safety reasons I can understand the need for more snow before attempting the bowls which are unpatrolled. Also for safety reasons I'd prefer to ski it with other people, preferably those who have skied it before "THE reason for coming to Teine Highland though are the bowls and chutes. Accessed from the top of the Summit Express, you turn right and walk under an ominous sign saying DANGER, DEATH, with a few skull and cross bones thrown in, heading for the old abandoned ropeway station a little further up the hill. Below and beside the old station is a series of 7 bowls that when accessed will give you some awesome short, but steep n deep turns. I've only been out as far as bowl 3 as the cat track run back to resort is a bit of a PITA. Remember this area is out of bounds so its totally on you and your ability, when you drop in here. The patrol don't keep an eye here and there are no signposts saying where the resort is at the bottom. That said the cat track is usually very well established and should be easy to spot (keep an eye out for all tracks converging skiers right). If you ride down too far then you are gonna have a long and deep walk out to the resort or the access road so be careful. Today, bowl 1 and 2 were fantastic, even when it was all chopped and tracked, it was still soft to plough through and face shots were aplenty!! If you are in the Sapporo area then you should definitely give Teine a try.......actually no, don't....avoid it like the plague!!!! ;)"
  3. ShigaMac

    Hasuike to Giants still skiable?

    Yup, a lot of changes that have made that path a little difficult to see.....it would help if they had better signage It was open last season. I skied from Giant down the path to Maruike and then on to Hasuike. From there I crossed the road and returned to Giant via the tunnel under the Giant lift......かな?!Hope that makes sense!
  4. ShigaMac

    Buying ski equipment for Myoko

    Hi and Welcome! Tell the people you are staying with in Myoko/Nozawa that you are interested in purchasing gear etc and maybe they'll let you know what is available. It should be easy enough to get hire skis for a 5yr old. re Nagano there is at least one shop near the station but you may find yourself in the mad Jan Sales rush when you're not going to get the best attention from the overworked staff.......in some places it's Jan 1st, others the 2nd or 3rd. Online? a very busy time of year but they could send the skis ahead of your arrival (accommodation usually have no problems with that) if you purchase in mid-Dec. Do you read Japanese? there are bargains to be had at the moment on last year's skis but most of the info is not in English. I have been very careful not to write any names which might be construed as advertising. Have a great trip and enjoy the après-ski onsen.....there are plenty but be careful in Nozawa as they can be very hot.....44°-46° C in the public ones.
  5. ShigaMac

    Kagura early season

    Thanks for that info Muikabochi.....my ski club are heading there just after new year and will be using car parks. Hope they get some snow this weekend. Going up to Sapporo on Friday if Chitose is open
  6. ShigaMac

    Kagura early season

    3 month forecasts on TV are not very reliable, especially for the skiing community. 暖冬 (warm winter) forecasts are for the general, non-skiing, population and hardly refer to elevations of 1,800m (Kagura). Today, Nov3rd, is a national holiday in Japan and in the past the evening news closed with images of skiers making their first turns of the season in Hokkaido. Fingers crossed!
  7. 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.
  8. ShigaMac

    Sahoro

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

    Sahoro

    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
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.

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