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For 3 years have been meaning to write of our now annual sojourns to the Japanese Alps with a view to being able to compare each trip. This one however was just sooo good that I can't put it off any longer. Looking through Mama Bear's TR brings back fond memories of our own first Japan trip in 2006 to Niseko which got us hooked. Like her we have children in tow who really do add another dimension to such a holiday. Mama Bear certainly had some good weather in Niseko - in 2006 we saw the sun and Mt Yotei for something like 3 hours in 3 weeks but hey we go for the snow and if you want beach weather - stay home. This year we actually found another place that trucks snow out of town on a daily basis and it is certainly a change to see - grandmas who are so busy shovelling snow that they have no time to sit around playing poker machines at the club.


Back to the trip - Since the Niseko epic, we had visited amongst other places, Hakuba, Nozawa, Zao and Shiga with a few reconnoitres to lots of smaller places.

The design of 09-10 was to prioritise on snow time and reduce travel time to a minimum which we did by -

* Flying direct from Bris to Narita on the JAL day service.

* Chartering a private bus to cart us and all the stuff from airport to resort and between each chosen destination.

* Staying either on snow or seriously close (easy short walk)


They budget was harsh ($4500/adult) and there were times when it was mentioned that a little more could have been found for something as silly as say sit down toilets.


So what did we get for the $ ?

* Return economy airfare on JAL - Brisbane to Narita

* Private bus from airport to Nozawa

* 9 nights (8days) accom, breakfast and lift tix @ Nozawa

* Private bus from Nozawa to Myoko (just over an hour)

* 5 nights (5days) accom, breakfast and lift tix @ Myoko

* Private bus from Myoko to Shiga

* 5 nights (5 days) accom, breakfast, dinner and lift tix @ Shiga

* Private bus from Shiga to Narita (about 6 hours)


And the best ski-ing that we have ever had thanks to the Pacific ElNino, Siberia,Sea of Japan and of course the Japanese Alps.


How did we do it?


We are basically 3 families of 4 and 4 others who formed a loose group to enjoy the benefits of the private transport option which surprisingly was not only much quicker but a bit cheaper than any of the other options. This was a major component in the success if the trip notwithstanding of course the excellent snowfalls.


The carefully selected destinations provided an excellent variety of terrain and accommodations along with just long enough in each place to leave us all wanting more.


Plans are already being laid for 10-11 with hot contenders being Hakuba (an old friend), Kagura, and Shiga as the likely destinations.

Anyone with experience of Kagura please be forthcoming with info and advice for this bunch of addicts.




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Cool. Just read your review too.


Kagura? I might be the wrong person to ask as I'm on a bit of a downer very possibly from just having been too much, though I don't think it's a 5-day place. Not for me anyway. I'd go for somewhere else. Having said that though, Kagura is next to Naeba and there are also other resort areas closeby too so the area as a whole is good for that time.


Please do post some pics too if you have any to share


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When I use the term Kagura, it is fairly loosely and would include Naeba as it is my understanding that the dragondola links the two. I am under the impression that Yuzawa is what we were looking across the valley at from Akakura and I am busily researching to verify one way or the other whether this is the case. It certainly looked like a Prince sort of a place with 2 massive mausaleums at the base of the valley and a maze of runs spidering up 2 mountains from there.


Have just posted some pix on my album page and will try to attach some here although mainly family sort of photos with limited appeal. (my own method of labelling pix has me having to rename them for posting which is pretty tedious.


Please tell me more about Naeba and Kagura - I am hungry for info.

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If you were to choose Yuzawa then you'd have a lot of resorts to pick and choose from. Kagura and Naeba are the tallest in the area, the snow is often fantastic. 5 days though in these 2 might have you a little bored....BUT like I said Yuzawa has a lot of resorts in and around town. Ishiuchi Maruyama- a 10-15 free shuttle bus ride away from Echigo-Yuzawa Station, this is linked at the top to GALA Yuzawa. I went there last weekend, the snow was unbelievable! Very deep and light, surprising as this resort is only 900m above sea level!! Kandatsu is nearby- I haven't been so can't comment

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Great report & photos Mr Brisbane. When we go to the snow in Aus its with other familys.Fly from the sunny coast to Melbourne hire the coaster bus :)jam 14 people in and up to hotham or falls stay in a house so much fun.Still trying to get them to come to Japan I think they are afraid of so much snow.We are going to simlair area as in your report this year so I enjoyed reading it

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We sure did .... and for you Japan Virgins - what are you waiting for?

Do the sums it costs no more to get amongst some of the best ski-ing to be had in the world and certainly what we have found to be consistently good than to take pot luck in Aus or NZ at winter school holiday times. The travel time from SEQ or anywhere except Melbourne or Sydney is similar and the scene change - immeasurable.


Japan is a land of contradictory extremes - eg


Ski resorts fanatically groom the slopes - but by mid morning (with a little luck) you can be ski-ing knee deep pow.

Next cubicle to a squat toilet is an apparatus that has a heated seat, multiple,adjustable bidet and warm air blower functions along with chimes or flushing tunes to help disguise any less than melodious sounds,

Machines that make life quick and easy, vending anything from tickets to beer and yet manual administration systems that seem right out of the 1950s.


When you do get there, you will quickly understand what it is that keeps all of us who are already addicted going back for more over and over.

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Hey Iiyamadude,


Can you tell me about the 2 hills that one sees lit up most nights across the way from Nozawa - pretty close I think to Iiyama.


Never seems to be anyone terribly visible on them, and I always wondered whether it would be worth the trip to extend the day.

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