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ShigaMac

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Everything posted by ShigaMac

  1. ShigaMac

    Japan 2019-2020: a one off?

    Snowdude: is there anything we can do to bring the jet stream back down again? interesting how much cleaner the air in cities has become recently due to the absence of cars and factory smoke. Fish have returned to the canals of Venice! Climate change can be eased when we stop pollution which contributes to global warming. In Hokkaido it has been a reasonable season for piste skiers but a very disappointing one for backcountry. More attention to the preparation of pistes has helped a lot. Sapporo Teine has been much better this season and is still boasting depths of 270cm and 150cm. Areas in the interior close to Asahikawa while having a better quality of snow have had less.....Sahoro has had an average of 90cm-130cm most of the season, maintained by very good grooming. It was interesting to see the number of vans from Niseko in the car parks at Rusutsu, not to mention the groups of overseas backcountry skiers who had booked Hakuba and ended up being transported to Hokkaido! If it's of any consolation the piste season in Chamonix Mont-Blanc did not start until January 10th a few years ago (used to be Nov) and had it not been for snowmaking there would have been very little skiing. Let's hope that this cycle of poor winters will soon end.....oops, I had to dig out my car 5 times in Sapporo City Jan/Feb, each time taking about 45mins the problem being where to put the snow!
  2. ShigaMac

    Early season in Japan

    Skied Mt Isola and East Mnt at Rusutsu today.....given the lack of snow so far the conditions were excellent and plenty of pistes open.
  3. ShigaMac

    Teine Highland

    Thank you!. so the first & second follow the old ropeway track, more or less? My car awaits me in the Highland carpark so I don't want to end up in town! I skied T yesterday. Saw some kids scratching their skis on Kita Kabe. I can wait until there is another metre or so. Still decapitated sasa poking through on the City View Panorama and C. V. Cruise runs and a nice little field of icy bumps on the right side of the Ladies GS course to annoy those on their first ski of the season. The Swiss took their time before deciding to make snow. How much longer do you think Teine can hold out? (or is the problem the winds you mentioned? creating those icy patches on the GS course through the season)
  4. 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!!!! ;)"
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. ShigaMac

    Sahoro

    Thank you for this info. Still there it appears, with a slight change of name....now Village 432.
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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!
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. 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!
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. ShigaMac

    Which area of Niseko is least crowded?

    I would have agreed with Chris bell but in Jan I skied N. Village (used to be Higashiyama!) with some locals and for a Saturday it was deserted. The gate was open and we had great snow. Next day we skied Rusutsu where the snow in the trees was even better!

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