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  1. Hi! I see that Iwappara in Yuzawa town and Joetsu Kokusai in Minamiuonuma city seem to have a 'joint ticket' and various tie-ups. What's the story there? You can't ski both in a day can you (or would you), they're a 30 minute or so ride from each other, right?
  2. Accommodation Information on Bears House in Ishiuchi, Minamiuonuma, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/minamiuonuma/bears-house
  3. Accommodation Information on Garden Cress in Yuzawa, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/yuzawa/garden-cress
  4. Accommodation Information on Satoyama Jujo in Minamiuonuma, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/minamiuonuma/satoyama-jujo
  5. Accommodation Information on Ryugon in Minamiuonuma, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/minamiuonuma/ryugon
  6. Accommodation Information on Maruyama Onsen Kojyokan in Minamiuonuma, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/minamiuonuma/hotel-kojyokan
  7. Accommodation Information on Maiko Kogen Hotel in Minamiuonuma, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/minamiuonuma/maiko-kogen-hotel-minamiuonuma
  8. Accommodation Information on Belle Vue Nishiuri in Minamiuonuma, Niigata can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-places-to-stay/niigata/minamiuonuma/belle-vue-nishiura
  9. Resort Spotlight The Resort Spotlight for the Minamiuonuma in Niigata Prefecture can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/minamiuonuma
  10. Resort Spotlight The Resort Spotlight for the Maiko Snow Resort resort in Minamiuonuma, Niigata Prefecture can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/maiko-snow-resort
  11. Resort Spotlight The Resort Spotlight for the Ishiuchi Maruyama resort in Minamiuonuma, Niigata Prefecture can be found here: https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/ishiuchi-maruyama
  12. I wasn't planning on skiing today but with a sprinkling of snow here, Maiko reporting 5-10cm of fresh and blue skies soon appearing this morning I thought why not. Braved the potential hayfever madness (OK so far!) and got up there. It's the last weekend of the main season at Maiko. After tomorrow the will be closed Monday-Friday but plan to open up next Saturday and Sunday for the last two days. So we are right on the end of the season. The layer of fresh snow overnight really made a difference I think as I'm sure if we hadn't have had that conditions would have been pretty awful. But actually I found some really decent snow in places. It helped that it was very quiet and so it wasn't quickly tracked out. But yes much better than I could hope for. As I was finishing up coming down back to the gondola early afternoon it was getting rather sticky and slow but up at the Okusoeji bowl area it was better than I have sometimes had it mid season. They were resting the Gondola and the pair lift up at Okusoeji, so basically there were 3 quads running (on the Gondola side of the resort where I was) but that covered most ground. I would say there is 100% snow cover on the runs still so there's no problems there either. A nice surprise! A few snaps to show you how it was looking today. Okusoeji pair lift already resting
  13. I woke up with a bit of a headache this morning and as the weather looked decent and with the fresh snow we have had, I thought I needed to get out in the fresh air. As Mt Granview isn't open today, it unfortunately had to be somewhere else. Nearby Joetsu Kokusai it was! I made the decision not to take my camera/bag as the weather didn't look that good, and I just wanted to enjoy the skiing. But I quickly really regretted that decision, as it was looking beautiful up there - a good mix of blue skies and cloud, fresh snow, snow on the trees....so I had to make do with my phone, todays snaps come courtesy of iPhone. I really wish I had taken the camera though, it was good conditions for some real crackers today I reckon. That top quad panorama lift through/by all those trees, it really is very pretty indeed. This is the 4th time I have been to JK this season and I must say I am enjoying it more than I have before. I think the trick is to just concentrate on one area and not spend much of the day on 'connecting' lifts between the different parts. It's one of those skijo that need a bit of planning to get right and can be frustrating. But none of that today. Today I spend most of my time on the top/back area and a lot of fun it was too. Very nice snow - better than the other times I have been to JK this season. We are doing well for approaching mid March. Fair few people about - Joetsu Kokusai does seem to be quite popular - but the runs I were on were not too busy.
  14. We got about 30cm of snow overnight and today was due to be snow all day so I wasn't expecting to ski. But as it was getting near lunchtime, the sun was shining through the window and golly gosh, blue skies all round! Computer was turned off promptly and I made my way to Maiko Snow Resort. It was a stunner of an afternoon. Still some cloud around amongst the blue skies, but they added to the beautiful-ness of it all. Snow was decent, but we still need more. Not many people at all, the Okusoeji quad was very quiet. I got fed up of waiting to take pics of a chair with someone on it! The kind of day that just makes me so happy to live in this place and be able to just take it all in. OK so I'll share some of it. Sorry there's lots and in no particular order - have tried to find some new angles, but my eye has this habit of taking me to the same spots, haha. I've 'done' Maiko now this season so no more camera there. Hoping to venture to some different places soon. Looking over to Ishiuchi Maruyama
  15. First proper ski in about 3 weeks for one reason or another (warm, work, snow). What a silly boy I have been - it's fun! At least I have kick-started my season into action again and want to make up for the big gap. Just took my phone today, so here's some snaps from Ishiuchi. The snow was not as good as I thought it might be, after the snow since last weekend. Bit heavy and hard-going especially lower down, not so bad higher up. Still not light and fluffy either. Can't explain but real early spring-like feel going on. It was +3C mid-skijo according to the big thermometer they have up there. Not perfect snow, but a fun day. In all the excitement, I forgot the cheese in my pocket!
  16. Today was supposed to be snowing, according to the forecasts. But they were wrong (again) and the day started with the sun shining through my curtains and I quickly had to make a choice. Was I feeling gnarly enough? The answer was a tentative yes, so it was off to The Legendary Mt Granview. And Mt Granview delivered (as it almost always does). Actually we had a really great time up there. Lots of untouched snow to play in on the sides, and the views were gran(d). Some days you try and squeeze some colour out of a dull photo. Today was one of those days when with some you actually want to tone them down. Brilliant blue skies. Let no man or woman say that the views from Mr Granview are not gran(d). MtGrantastic!
  17. Just a few hours at the local skijo today. And local in every way. It was actually quite busy, but almost everyone there was a local school student taking ski lessons. Though somehow the pics make it look very quiet. Perhaps I should quality it by saying busy for a weekday at a small skijo. Anyway, not much to say really. Not very interesting. The top lift is now closed which is a shame. Funnily, they have it as a 'feature' - a 'Hike Up Zone' they call it. Lovely views of the valley. That's it really. Just took my phone, so here's some iphone pics. I don't think I'll go here again. It gets it's own thread for completions sake (one per skijo I go to in the season).
  18. Mostly clear skies this morning so it was off to another local, Muikamachi Hakkaisan. Glad I made it in the morning because by noon it was more overcast than clear, and now the skies are a uniform grey over Minamiuonuma and Yuzawa. I had a fun time but it's very clear that there isn't much snow yet. I have never been to Hakkaisan in December before. While it's mostly open (top steep run is not open and the left hand side lift is never open on weekdays), we need much more snow. Lots of stuff popping up and in some of the places where I usually stand to take photos, it's noticeably much lower than mid season. Snow was just ok, bit heavy. But Hakkai-san is a beautiful mountain, as can be seen here:
  19. First day of my season and over to a local favourite, Maiko Snow Resort. It has been a mostly very grey day in the area, hardly any colour to play with, but it was the first day so I wasn't too fussy. Snow was fairly decent, not great, and while cover was actually pretty much 100% you can tell it's not mid season deep - lots of things popping up on the side of the runs. Had a fun few hours though. But just so you can see what Maiko looks like early in the season:
  20. A few hours at Ishiuchi Maruyama this morning. One of the first out so lots of groomed runs to spoil, though it was pretty hard and icy early on. Got more sugary later. Definitely spring season feel to proceedings. Gave my legs some good shock-absorber exercise! Curious weather, deep blue contrasty skies in one direction, hazy and wishy-washy out looking back home. Didn't get the camera out much either, another curiously not-really-bothered morning, so just took a few snaps. Looking towards home
  21. I have had a bit of a frustrating day and to see the clear skies outside made it even worse! 3:30pm and I decided it was time to take a break and get some fresh air. Time to check out the nighta at nearby Maiko Snow Resort here in Minamiuonuma. This season it's just 500 yen from 4pm to 8pm on the right 'Maiko' side of the resort. The top triple lift runs until 5pm and then it's just the central quad that goes until 8pm. Got there at just after 4pm so I could play on the top triple lift for a while before it closed. I was surprised actually because it's a fairly decent sized area that's open, and I could really whizz down there. I had this image that it was all just bunny slope, but there's more to it than that. Not bad at all. I will be going lots of times I think especially when there's some fresh snow. When it's only 500 yen it makes it an easy 'go'. Even 90 minutes skiing is much more interesting than an evening walk for sure! I'm hopeless at night photos, but took a few before it got too dark. Looking over to Ishiuchi Maruyama Back in time for tea!
  22. Ah, Hakkai-san. Lovely beer, nice sake (so I hear!), beautiful mountain and a nearby ski resort here in Muikamachi. Early on today the sun was out and it was a beautiful morning with blue skies. Wispy clouds soon formed and by lunchtime the skies were a mix of blue to the north and a strange mix of colours towards Yuzawa and Gunma looking south. Almost early morning/sunset kind of colours going on there. It wasn't too crowded considering it is Saturday and didn't have to wait for a lift at all. Saw our friend the guy on the funny ski-board thing with poles - I see him there every time I go to Hakkai-san. And there was some stunning looking tree-snow scenery near the top. So to be original I thought I'd take a few tree photos. The snow on the runs was decent, but got to admit I was expecting it to be better than it was. With the heavy snow of the previous days I thought it would be lush, but it was actually a bit hard in some places. Strange. Still very decent though especially higher up, and a fun morning was had. Let's Hakkai-san. Lots of runs like this at Hakkaisan
  23. Very unexicting photos, sorry, but I went out for my first day at Joetsu Kokusai here in Niigata (Minamiuonuma) before New Year. The snow was ok but we were needing more fresh - that seems to be falling the last few days so should be much better now. Good to get out there though.
  24. My first day on the snow. And a good one to pick as well. Stormy conditions yesterday make for very nice snow today and the sun was out shining with blue skies over Minamiouonuma this morning. Mt Granview not being open yet, Maiko Snow Resort here in Minamiuonuma was the choice. Not busy at all, the whole place open and lovely snow conditions. Great first day. When the lovely new snowjapan site goes up, I'll write a resort review for Maiko, and the other places I know, with some more words rather than just pictures. Not enough exercise and too much eaties over Christmas results in plumper muikabochi Must... exercise... more.
  25. Mid-morning here and the clouds had cleared and the sun came out. Time to go out for a few hours, we thought, and were debating whether to go to Maiko or Ishiuchi Maruyama. But we decided to have a bit of an adventure and check out a small place here in Minamiuonuma called "Mt Granview". Previously known as Sports Shinko Ishiuchi and before that as Yamato. Let's rebranding! It can be found between Ishiuchi Maruyama and Joetsu Kokusai and sort of opposite from Maiko: http://www.snowjapan...hp?resortNo=247 Neither of us had ever been to this place, and while we knew it was a small place we thought it might be fun to check out. So that's what we did. And what an experience! It was like going back in time or something. So we turn up at the small car park and there are 2 -- two! -- other cars there. No kidding. This is a Sunday at 11am in peak season. Anyway, this is the ticket office: The lady in there was asleep when we went to get our tickets! We actually had to wake her up! Anyway, you need to get a single lift that takes you up to the 'resort area', ie. the slopes. A very curious set up, but there was some lovely scenes of houses and buildings, many of which seem abandoned, almost buried on snow. Up at the top of that lift and you arrive at what is the base of the resort. Here's the gelende map. You might notice the name on there is Sports Shinko Ishiuchi (the name before it became Mt Granview). There's a few lifts on that map as well that don't move now.... Anyway here's the main course: Other than the lift to take you to base, Mt Granview basically consists of 2 single lifts and basically one course with a few detours. There's a few other abandoned lifts, and as you will see on the photos here, a fair few old buildings as well. The lifties were all guys probably in their 60's and 70's. I'm not sure if there was a "patrol" or not but I sure didn't see one, I very much doubt it. In fact, apart from myself and my lady friend, we counted 4 other people. Yes, four people. So there were 6 people at the resort today. Anyway here's some more images from this place. Muikamachi town in the background in this one: Ishiuchi Maruyama in the background, right (and Kandatsu Kogen as well centre) Hairy lifts! Public rest place. Hmm, no thanks! Ski School, looked like it was boarded up. As you can perhaps see, it was originally called Yamato Ski Jo. Then it was Sports Shinko Ishiuchi. No mention of the current name on the signs. Skiing back down to base, lots of buildings that seem in a pretty dangerous condition: Temple at the base: It was certainly a "different" experience! I felt kind of sad really, made me wonder if there was ever a time when a place like this was busy and/or popular. The staff looked very bored and dejected. It's hard to imagine how a place like this can survive. The snow was decent but heavier than I thought it would be today after what we got yesterday, so a bit disappointed there. By the time we finished up, it was snowing quite heavily.


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