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D train

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Posts posted by D train

  1. Sorry SKI, I am just pulling your leg to get a rise- bit slow round here at the moment.


    Agreed with Mike Pow re foreign companies as well, though I would say the Niseko boom plus visa issues excetera would , like many booms, lead to people starting businesses to fill gaps in the market without being qualified to do so or having thought the process through- and sinking or swimming as the market matures.


    It also doesn`t help when the core foreign residents were mostly snow bums/ english teachers when things kicked off either... smile


    Whistler boomed and busted a number of times before it got it right and Niseko will likely do the same- and we the local foreign residents are just looking for signs that the government and larger institutions around have some kind of game plan.


    Remember, taxation without representation is what gave us America....

  2. Me and all my friends buy it, though usually at the preseason reduced rate of 109,000. If i was guessing, I would say a few hundred maybe, though a lot more would buy if it wasn`t so crazy expensive. Most others buy a Hirafu Pass ( still 50,-80,000 depending when) or a night pass and/or 50 hour combo of some sort .

    Japanese locs usually go the night hirafu pass or even the Moiwa pass as they are in the 20-30,000 range.

    Every year , its a sad moment when that amount slides across the counter, lemme tell you...

  3. Before 8 years or so, there was no United Pass- you paid for a Hirafu or a Hano or Higashiyama or Annupuri pass separate. The four resorts were separate and didnt even link up to each other- you had to access from the bottom of each or fight accross ungroomed powder flats and duck fences. Annupuri was in danger of closing, as Moiwa already had.

    It was big news my first year that Hano and Hirafu were joining forces- it meant you could do Strabws without having to buy a lift tix to get back up ( 2,500 was cheapest) or catch a ride from a mate conned into driving over there.

    In those days too- it would take two or three "beater" runs to be able to work your way accross to be able to access the drops and mushrooms ( In Strawberries) .


    Man I am old.


  4. "Fear of biting the hand that feeds them?"


    Well, most of the smaller companies in town run by gaijin are ski schools, guides or accommodation providers serving to the foreign market that Tokyu doesn`t cater to ( self included) . Ski schools and guides are at the grace of the resort- shock waves were sent through the schools last year when it was rumoured they were going to disallow non Tokyu ski schools to operate at family course as they were gumming up the lift lines. Such rumours are the as common as the falling of the leaves around these parts each autumn.

    Accom providers earn a stipend from the passes they sell to guests via a resort discount and get a service charge back for sales- over the season it is a considerable sum- often the difference between an average and/or good season.

    The locals, foreigner and Japanese alike , are not overly concerned about the winters, particularly the next few, as growth is likely to continue as we continue to become Asia`s ski destination of choice. It is the foresight and infrastructure we want to see, the development of here as a four season (or even two season) destination along with road redevelopment,banking, post offices, developmet of Sunsportsland as a recreational destination- all things we want to voice our opinions on- that without Tokyu`s approval is a nonstarter from the get go.

    Tokyu is the big cheese in Hirafu- Tokyu is a major conglomerate in Japan and as such pull huge weight in regards to government policy around here. Their executives, transferred from departments stores in Osaka or hotels in Sendai know one thing- that Hirafu is a golden goose on a spreadsheet full of red ink and minuses and- in traditional fashion- they know the last thing they want to do is have any original thought or missive that could be associated with them that would endanger that. Listening to the opinions of Gary Gaijin is the molotov cocktail of corporate life in Japan.

    I am not saying Tokyu is the devil- this all started because I was trying to explain why the resort has shitty English on their website and pronouncements- it`s because the relationship between the mountain and the foreign community here has deteriorated in the past few years to the point that despite having hundreds of native speakers on hand to translate, avenues of communication are basically non existent.

    They don`t listen to us because why the f""k should they? None of us can vote, None of us are shareholders in Tokyu to any extent to worry them, and doing nothing is a far safer option in the grand scheme of their corporate career than actually thinking about the future here. So in the end, sitting down with Japanese corporation Y and purchasing gondola X using government stimulus Z to put a newer faster gondola in the exact same, nonlogical place is far better for those concerned, than actually going through all the bother of making a proper decision that would have far reaching positive benefits for the future, but would require short term negotiations and consensus building.

    The news of the new gondola was basically unknown until that press release was put out- even the NPB didn`t know about ( or at least didn`t post about it) and the NPB is an organization that collects(ed) hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from local business in the name of promoting and developing Niseko .


    And as for a International resort jacking the prices, they would have to keep them consistent with competing resorts around Hokkaido, for fear of losing the domestic market, which still makes the lions share of their ticket sales, despite appearances.


    rant over.

  5. Why are they not doing the extra few hundred metres?

    Why do they not listen to the presumably large amount of comments on it from the foreigners up there?

    Can't help but think you aren't pushing it enough if it is such a big deal.


    Because they don`t listen to us at all, that`s why ( talking re Tokyu). The Niseko Promotion Board was created as a supposed venue for foreigner/mountain interaction but after three years and considerable investment by many foreign and local business is being disbanded this spring, in no small part due to its overall ineffectiveness.


    To quote from a local report of a presentation at the recently held Sydney Snow Travel Expo where Japanese resorts were given podium time to present to this valued ( and increasingly targeted by other J-resorts )market-


    "Niseko (incl. reps from the NPB, Tokyu & Niseko United) elected not to present their allocated time, preferring instead to say only "We have a new Gondola, please come to Niseko.""


    For the most part, none of the foreigners and local small business owners here can say much for fear of biting the hand that feeds them- and the fact that decisions are made without any public discussion whatsoever,which is fairly standard in Japan.


    Thats why most Niseko locals if polled just quietly hope a big international resort would come in and scoop Hirafu up - not likely- and/or Hirafu could somehow be annexed away from Kutchan to Niseko town- also unlikely.


    Still a great place to live, don`t get me wrong, but certainly not known for making the most of their opportunities in regards to developing the area as a global resort, which is a shame when you consider how depressed most of Hokkaido is- and how much it could benefit from a focused tourism initiative.

  6. Seems daft for Niseko related stuff to go this way, the company really must have no clue.


    Well the new " high speed" gondola will continue to spill people out the the same flats where they can ( at twice the numbers) access a two seater ( swinging monkey) or walk 150 metres to a triple chair across flat land.

    Where as if same gondola went up a few hundred metres more ( and they are redoing the station so expense is not much of a factor) it would now

    1) access Hanozono directly

    2) provide beginners direct access to Holiday course, therefore providing continuous entry level green course access and

    3) open accessibility to all of Hirafu

    All without having to skate or "one -foot" a single step.


    When I lived in Whistler, all senior management were REQUIRED to spend portions of at least 30 days each season on the mountain( your pass was checked as part of evaluations) to get a feel for customer sentiments and resort conditions.

    My guess is in the years I have been in Niseko , hardly any Tokyu staff above liftie level have been out their black suits and cigarette filled meetings more than a handful of times at best.


    so rather clueless yes.

  7. Bit sad to see this on Tokyu website- shows pretty deep lack of communication in town between powers that be and the local gaijins who have helped make the place what it is.

    The History of Hirafu 50 year celebrations are also computer generated translations- when I am sure if asked, loads of people would have been more than happy to give them a read over so they would look presentable.

  8. My mate Ross is in Nagano now having just spent the last few weeks in Niseko and would love any helpful advice/ directions in regards to where to stay / ride while down here. He is in Southern Nagano and looking to head to Hakuba or surrounds and would greatly appreciate tips on whats open still ( and good) and where to stay ( backpackers/lodges are good).

    Awesome dude and always good for a few turns and beers so any advice is greatly appreciated!




  9. Thorsten put me on to this thread-


    Woodley is my dog. He is a border collie/collie mix and is two and a half years old. He has a crazy amount of energy and is super fit - he does those peak climbs in about 30 minutes from the base of the mountain and can do three or more full mountain ascent/descents in a day without to much fuss- following people.

    Why is he up there? Believe me, I try to keep him in the house- if I go out I usually tie him up in the livingroom or lock him in the dry room.He is however smart as hell and escapes by a wide variety of methods ( he has opened the latched window and left through the dry room before and the three doors in the house are but a speed bump).

    The problem is last year he used to be allowed on the gondola so I would take him up and do laps of Miharashi/Holiday course. We would do three or four daily - usually at night and always the same route. As a collie he needs to run a couple of kilometeres a day otherwise he gets squirrely, so we had a great wee system to get his exercise in- he never bugged anyone and loved chasing us down through the powder more then anything on earth. As an added bonus he could pull me across the holiday course flats like my own personal dog sled!

    Near the end of the season though, a Japanese girl who had seen Woodley took her dog up ( we saw them) and instead of going down Miharashi, she took the dog all around the mountain, where it was getting in peoples way and got hit by a skier running across the slope. The next day a large handmade sign was at the bottom of the gondie with NO DOGS/INU DAME wrote across it.

    This season I approached the mountain about getting him a "pass" - I would take him up only when it was quiet and just follow the gondie to Miharashi route, but they kaiboshed it pretty quick.

    As you can imagine, in winter in Niseko its pretty hard to take a dog for a run. We go for walks and he bounds up and down 3-4 metre snowbanks like it ain`t no thing and will chase snowballs for hours- but he misses the mountain.

    As soon as we turn up the gondola road in the car he starts getting all hyper and whines excitedly. When he realizes at the top that he is not going to go up he sooks like nothing else- it sucks to hear him.

    He usually escapes when I am not around- this last episode was when I went to Ashahidake/Kurodake for two days. I get calls from the patrol and have to start a whole round of sumimasening all over again. It is a royal pain and adds a fair bit of stress to my life- but I gotta admit I respect his fitness and know that he is loving his life at those moments.

    I apologize for the binding biting - he never did that with me. I am going to try again at the end of this year to approach the mountain about setting up some kind of access for him - I think if done properly it could work well for all involved.

    He is very well behaved and knows his commands very - its more a matter of a sporty, energetic teenager being cooped up

    than anything else.


    I have heard there is footage and photos of him dropping back bowls this season- if anyone has i would love to see it- and hear any Woodley stories anyone out there might have- though maybe not so many of the day he got dryhumped by another dog in front of about 150 kids at the base of the Family Lift for a solid 30 minutes... : )

  10. I LOVE Rusutsu too- If I could live there and make a decent wage id be all over it. Reminds me of Canada whenever I go.


    Great responses so far- thanks everyone.


    NOW - speaking of the village and its layout...I rarely have a night off but when I do I quickly realize the options here are ski.drink.watch movies on the laptop. As we continue to grow ( and after this season - we are cemented as a world ski destination)here are a couple of ideas i have-


    1) a designated ski out through to the bottom of the village. The village is being revamped and as part woul love to see an access down from the Kogen spilling out to behind bills , under the road and ending down by the escarpment. Would make much more of the village ski out- remove the risk of people using the roads to ski on and give a boost to lower village property values. Heck even run down momoji - and develop as a Euro style apres ski out type place. would involve some car rerouting and access but certainly doable.


    2) development of Sunsportsland for tubing and a (semi) indoor ice skating area. Just sits there now and I keep imagining skating under a starry sky with Yotei in the background. That plus hockey! Infrastructure money well spent imho.


    3) more retail - especially Japanese high end cosmetics/duty free type electronics/ cool brands (bape etc) and local Hokkaido small ventures. Will take effort on our behalf to promote and come up with workable rental agreements, but the singaporeans and Hkers crave shopping.


    4) Niseko ( with Sapps) applies for the 2022 Olympics. Will get the shinkansen and pave the way for the development and revitalization on Hokkaido tourism - 50 years on from 72



    would love to hear comments on these ideas both positive and negative ( like " digglar u dumbass" type negative if need be.)


    long term thought out planning is the way forward for this place- and for those who say it`ll ruin here - I still got boobies deep today after doing a morning lesson in the guts of CNY and in about two week it`ll be me ,my dog and some j-snowboarders up the hill while we still get dumped on for another month. Progress = sustainability imho, and sustainability = never having to teach eikaiwa again, which suits me just fine biggrin

  11. thats a part too the marketing of the place?


    is it (was it) that bad? i could imagine- those kinds of booms Niseko had 02-08 will bring out the best of snake oilers.


    how common is the name niseko known in general conversation? i know mazda made a niseko car and a pair of shoes - but whats nisekos cache? I know for us ( i work for the NPB) signatures put us on the north american map for sure, ski industry wise.


    is niseko marketed in OZ? like i mean "drink coke for a chance to win a trip to Niseko powder heaven etc"?


    the aussieness will continue to peter but never die. last week lots of aussie mates, this week HK, next week dead.


    March is gonna be sick btw. This place is so sick for spring riding when its had a big season.

  12. Just read in another post about " prison space now for sale" in reference to Niseko being for sale and it got me thinking.


    I`ve lived here for a few years now and esp in winter, barely leave. So I am curious to know what kind of impression Niseko gives off to the outside world beyond "powder heaven".


    Opportunistic Realty boom town? Punks on a lark party town? Undiscovered secret? overhyped letdown? Coolest place on the planet? what?


    Newbies responses especially interesting...

  13. It`s actually called mma - mixed martial arts. Usually in Japan its still in a ring- not many cages here yet- but they are getting more common. the only real difference is the angles and abilty to get up by leaning against the cage.


    mma is not big in Oz yet but the UFC is there this month and by next year will be huge there imho.



    go to www.sherdog.com or www.ufc.com for the lowdown.

  14. I still do - I have one in Tokyo in March. run a little gym here in Niseko too- its small but the few that come love it- wish I had 1000 yen for ever person that told me they were coming tho...


    MMA is awesome. I was a wrestler since I was a kid and really when I was fighting before- it was in the Tank Abbott /bar basement days. Now days its technical and you need to really commit to learning all aspects- boxing wrestling juj jitsu muay thai- the works.


    great workout- great fun and despite what everyone thinks a very safe sport.


    I can also say I have trained with some of the big names in the sport - GSP, Rashard Evans, Nate Marquadt, Mark Bocek, Dan Henderson, Ryuta Sakurai - and all of them are super nice, super mellow people. Class acts every one of them- try saying that about the top 10 guys in any other pro sport.


    Was out of it for a while, but its with me for life now.


    ps - if anyone knows who is calling me a thug and bully who should be in jail in the stab mag comments- I would LOVE to sit and have a chat with them...

  15. to answer- I wear a hat that says Niseko Patrol and the same brown fur collared jacket- after two years its fairly recognized.


    I think local in Japan and Niseko especially is more about a sense of ownership.

    I have lived here ten years, paid taxes throughout, raised a family and invested a fair bit of myself and my energy into making Niseko a cool place to live. For those of us with interracial kids , it really is a great place to raise them and we would like to see it continue.


    It gets tiring for us when trying to do things the @this is Japan attitude still persists- I was in Niseko 10 yeaqrs ago and can honestly say without the boom, this area would be as dead in the water as Yubari -the bankrupt Hokkaido town on the other side of Sapporo- yet it gets frustrating that we still feel like interlopers- not from all, but enough times to notice.


    Hell, taxation without representation is what started the American revolution. I would love to see a more autonomus Niseko/Hirafu able to manifest its own destiny.

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