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>So what's different about it now? The mountain is obviously the same... is it the lift systems? prices? accessibility? Or is simply that the trend has passed?

 

The latter I would say. There's less money and less people ski. I arrived after the bubble time so have no personal experience but people here tell some amazing stories of those 'glory days'. One lady who worked in the Akakura bank talked about workers coming in with backpacks full of cash to deposit - and that would be several times a day.

 

If they cleared away and/or renewed some of the closed down bubble-era places that would tidy it up a bit certainly. But not sure there's the money to do it.

 

>Problem I find with Suginohara is that there just isn't anything there other than pensions dotted around etc. Nowhere to go.

 

There's places there - just a bit hard to find, and not too many of them. Sugi is the place to ski/board, onsen, eat, a quiet drink or two, sleep, repeat next day. Some need more excitement than that though.

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I quite like Myoko but prefer Nozawa and Shiga Kogen. I just don't seem to find the love as much for it as those other two places. The old shut up shop buildings certainly are bad for the image.

 

I went once in June and it felt like Ghost Town. Even went once in mid winter and it was eerily quite. Gives a strange feeling.

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I have lived in Niigata (and a short time in Yamagata) for 23 years now and remember Myoko when I first came. It sure was different. Seeing it now is actually quite sad in many ways. Like Yuzawa during the boom years it was just flying off and people were making more money than they could fit in their pockets. I know some lodge owners who flew to the US for 5 days trips in first class and spent ridiculous amounts of money, often simply wasting it. Unfortunately, a real complacency set it. People thought it would carry on forever without actually putting much effort in. It didn't. And thats where lots of people go unstuck. Those people taking the first class trips to the US now -- I know one guy who is unemployed, sold up his pension as is basically in a sorry state.

 

Answers? No idea. It's hard to see where a big proper impetus is going to come from.

But a lot of places/towns are in similar situations.

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I think you are mistaken because you are forgetting are more higher lifts (or something) in Hakuba and so on that day it would definitely have been better in Hakuba.

 

grandpa wink

 

Longtimer, thanks for that input and welcome. I'd love to have seen just how busy places like that and Yuzawa were. I even remember SJ1 saying that when he first came here he waited for a pair lift at Naeba for 45 minutes or something. Must have been mad. And a huge shock for the people on the receiving (or not) end of the downturn.

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Definitely be cost I'd say oo.

 

Nonetheless Suginohara has the longest run in Japan (8.5k) and Akakura has the steepest run in central Japan. That's a pretty good start. groovy

 

I've heard those stories too Long-Timer. Many of those people came in from outside Myoko (Osaka, Hiroshima, etc.) and made a killing for awhile. But as soon as that bubble burst it was ugly. veryshocked

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This thread reminds me that I intended to post some notes as a thank you for all the help we obtained in planning our January trip – Tokyo/Nozawa/Myoko. We had spent the previous two seasons in Niseko so this was all new to us, and the information obtained was incredibly helpful. Myoko was certainly the hardest section to work out, but so glad we did, and I promised to pass on some info about our how and what for this area.

 

Us: A family of four; parents plus a 22 year old and 16 year old. All skiers. One retired, me, so sorry but this isn’t a “best snow†report.

 

Getting to Myoko:

Thanks to Amy at Myoko Tourism for organising a bus to take us from Nozawa to Myoko via the snow monkeys. The bus was just a little larger then expected for four people, but the costing was comparable with going to the snow monkeys and getting to Myoko independently – and it was door to door, from Chitosekan in Nozawa to Hotel Taiko in Myoko. And we loved seeing the monkeys!

 

In Myoko:

Amy met us at the Hotel Taiko, introducing us to the staff, and then taking us on a guided tour of the village. Plus, Amy arranged an amazing birthday cake for our 22 year old, with the hotel adding a bottle of wine – that was really special and unexpected (and delicious).

 

Taiko is a large hotel, and after choosing a ryokan in Nozawa, we opted for the western beds here. Only two western rooms on each floor. Parents took the room with western beds in one area, and a large Japanese style sitting area. Kids got the all western room which included a kitchen, couches and a spa bath in a pink/burgundy tiled room! Both rooms had great views over Myoko. The hotel onsen was spacious, clean and with a great outside area.

 

The staff at the Taiko were nothing but friendly and helpful. Despite a complete language barrier, after each of my day trips (being the retired skier) I was able to ring the hotel from the railway station, say in English that I was a guest and was at the station, listen to a reply in Japanese, then wait for the hotel bus to collect me! Having them take me to the station in the morning and being the only non-Japanese guests at this time obviously made it easier, but what a service!

 

The family used the free shuttle bus (a short walk from the hotel) – skied two days at Akakura Kanko (Akakan), one at Suginohara and one at Ikenotaira. Didn’t use the Big-4 pass as they only skied one area each day. We were originally worried about the split between Akakura Onsen and Akakura Kanko, and the possibility of ending up at the bottom of the wrong run, but it didn’t seem to be a problem (although would obviously be more user friendly if they were were on one pass without having to buy the Big-4 pass just to be able to ski back "home"). I had downloaded all the discount coupons before we left home (with the help of online translators).

 

More on the shuttle bus - the very friendly driver drove me right up to the Akakura Kanko Hotel one day to meet the others for coffee (normally stops at the bottom centre). Nice hotel but expensive meals, and unfortunately on that day a blizzard meant no views. But it does have free internet - although on reflection maybe that is intended just for guests.

 

As said in above posts Myoko is small and quiet, but it is friendly and has some great little bars/restaurants. We seemed to mostly end up at one or other of the two in the basement on the corner at the T-junction - one has an English menu, the other is an easy “point and pot luckâ€. Then a stroll down the road for crepes.

 

Sorry, I have photos but can't figure out how to upload them.

 

So thanks to everyone who patiently answered my questions and helped get us to Myoko.

 

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  • SnowJapan Admin

Hi BHB thanks for posting and welcome.

 

To upload photos, here's what you do.

 

Register here: http://www.snowjapan.com/e/insider/login.php

That should only take a few seconds.

We will need to approve that (it's to minimise spam) but once we have done that you can then go to your member section and the photo upload form. Which is here:

 

http://www.snowjapan.com/e/insider/photo_gallery_image_uploader.php

(there's a link on the right hand side of the Forums too >>)

 

It should be self-explanatory, but if you have any problems at all feel free to email us at editor@snowjapan.com.

 

Thanks

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Supply and demand.

Japan has an over supply of resorts for the market.

In Nagano alone there are about 30 places with 3 lifts or less.

You then have Nigata with about the same or a bit less.

There is a market for small resorts but that is pushing it.

You then have Gunma as well competing for the core Tokyo market.

 

You have many major resorts within 1 to 1.5 hours from each other. All competing for a shrinking market. A summer market that is more geared to climbing and staying on the mountains. A market competing with one winter theme snow. You get figures bloated all the time. some resorts floating 2 meters more snow on average than they did 4 to 5 years ago.

 

For some resorts to survive others have to close. The whole Japanese market needs to restructure itself. If it does not contract you are going to see a price war. In fact that price war has already begun. As supply far out ways demand.

 

I too like myoko akakura but they could easily slash costs. At one point they had 28 lifts. Im sure they have shut some down. You could get the same access with about 10 lifts. even less if it was properly planned. Fact is snow sports in Japan will not comeback to previous levels. That is one example, and in no way is Myoko the only resort guilty of wasting money.

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Originally Posted By: Myoko Guy
>

The latter I would say. There's less money and less people ski. I arrived after the bubble time so have no personal experience but people here tell some amazing stories of those 'glory days'. One lady who worked in the Akakura bank talked about workers coming in with backpacks full of cash to deposit - and that would be several times a day.


Yeah those were the days. Putting cash in the boxes and having to sit on the boxes so they would be able to close!
First time in Myoko the weekdays were quiet but the weekends were chaotic. I think Suginohara used to have a nightclub somewhere....
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Originally Posted By: Myoko Guy
Definitely be cost I'd say oo.

Nonetheless Suginohara has the longest run in Japan (8.5k) and Akakura has the steepest run in central Japan. That's a pretty good start. groovy

I've heard those stories too Long-Timer. Many of those people came in from outside Myoko (Osaka, Hiroshima, etc.) and made a killing for awhile. But as soon as that bubble burst it was ugly. veryshocked


I got told the steepest run was the top run on Kijimadaira?
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Originally Posted By: Longtime Myoko-er
Well we should all know by now that Japan just loves it's biggest, longest, widest, tallest, anything-ist boasts however flimsy the reality may be.

friend


Yeah too true. The other one is the "our famous soba noodles/oyaki/apples/pears/oranges/pickles". Everywhere seems to have to have one.

Many of the Nozawa-na pickles on sale in Nagano in winter are from Shikoku. The shrivelled super salty ones in your Nozawa accom will be the real local deal, but the light crisp ones you get in brine in the souvenir shop or supermarket only keep a couple of weeks, if that. A lot of them are shipped in from non-famous-for-pickles parts of Japan with mild winters. The same goes for the seafood. That Hokkaido crab is just as likely to be from Russia.
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>I also remember arriving at the station and seeing no shops or people....not the resort i had pictured in my head.

 

A little bit of a spruce up shouldn't be too difficult or expensive. Make it into a plaza area with some pavers, some fancy lighting, some covers or sail cloth, some tables to sit at, plus some bi-lingual signage. Make the first impression appear at least reasonably inviting.

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All sounds so easy doesn't it! wink

 

Anyone seen the station area outside Ishiuchi Station? Admiteddly not many people use it to ski there, but it has to be one of the worst ever. A line of about 10 shops all looking like they have never opened since the 70's and I don't think any of them actually doing so! Just awful. I'll have to take a photo next time I'm in that area.

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Originally Posted By: joshnii
I even remember SJ1 saying that when he first came here he waited for a pair lift at Naeba for 45 minutes or something. Must have been mad.


Yes I remember that - and thinking 'this isn't much fun'!
The slope was almost as crowded as the lift queue so once you got up there it was like dodgems too.
When I was first in Yuzawa I used to live right close by to the Yuzawa IC and they used to queue for hours on end waiting to get onto the expressway, starting on a Sunday lunchtime. Sometimes it was still choca late at night. mad it was.
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