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Hi All,


Long time lurker but new here and very first post.


Looking get some guidance from the educated. Planning my first visit to Japan for a few 1-2 skiing (giving the Alps a miss this year) and finding the whole thing a bit of a minefield.... Clearly Japan is not the same sort of set up as I am used to back in Europe.


Looking for some advice as to where would be good given the following factors:


1)would be coming second week of April (9th) so I'm guessing somewhere colder/higher would be needed for good snow


2)party of 6, 2 who are advanced (1 skier 1 boarder) 4 who are beginners


3)good selection of piste and off-piste. Challenging runs welcomed by the advanced guys


4)Preferably not top dollar, but equally doesn't need to be on a shoestring. Happy to spend the dough for the right place


5)Nightlife would be good but main interest is the snow


6) Snow park would be good but not essential (although I think most places have these).


I guess my main concern is the snow - Ive heard it runs until late April but am fully aware how tiresome running the sludge can be....


Welcome your thoughts esteemed new acquaintances!!



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If you haven't already, click on that big red button near the top with Daily Reports written on it and see some of the archive reports for April from some of the popular places. You'll see most resort areas are closed by then with only limited left. If you are willing to hike etc, that's different but your beginners won't be interested in that will they...

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so having a look at it, Shiga Kogen seems ok early April, as does Yuzawa.


For anyone with any knowledge does this seem fair?


What are the resorts like? HEard ok things about Shiga Kogen I think...

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In early April, really Yuzawa is only Gala Yuzawa, Kagura and Naeba (though last season was not normal because of the earthquake etc). That's decent anyway, the snow is gone in town and just the higher places left over.


Very spring but can be lots of fun. Kagura usually keeps open until the end of May.

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The snow in the 2nd week of April in Niseko can be just as good, if not better, than it often is mid winter in Aus and almost certainly a better snowcover than you usually have in Aus. There will only be limited lifts running though. Still top to bottom skiing at that time but there will only be limited lifts running. The Spring park up next to the Ace #3 lift will be open at that time. It would be very quiet in the village and quite a few places will already be closed for the season but there'll be enough night life for a bit of fun.

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Grand Hirafu (Niseko) and Kiroro on Hokkaido meet your brief

No, they don't

The snow in the 2nd week of April in Niseko can be just as good, if not better, than it often is mid winter in Aus

And a 20-year-old 250,000 kilometer cylinders leaking crankshaft out of alignment Toyota with bald tires can be just as good, if not better, than a Yugo -- but would you fly 12 hours to drive it?

There's a very good reason most of the lifts and much of the village at Niseko are closed for the season by end-March.
Shiga MIGHT be not bad in very early April, and Hakuba could be very good for serious back country advanced-to-expert skiers. But for what you appear to be seeking, I'd head to the Alps, Sierras or Rockies.
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Hakuba was going well this season in mid April especially Hakuba47. It was top to bottom and the park was in good order. Plenty of backcountry options and a side trip to Tateyama will impress. Echoland has a couple of bars open and there are a few others around the area. It is quiet and a good vibe with the locals relaxing after the peak of the season. Warm days and cold beers. I can certainly recommend it.

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I have visited Niseko during that period (first trip), I recall lots and lots of snow on the mountain, especially up high. Some days with the freeze-thaw-bulletproof to slushy across the one day spring conditions, but we got a couple of snow days (and decent ones at that) as well. And yes - there was top to bottom, but the run in to Ace Quad was getting skinner by the day.


As GN said, lots of business were already shut for the season, and some lifts (Gondola included) only ran on weekends. But it was like having your own personal resort wink


Have visited Hakuba late March - lower slopes resembled Aussie conditions in September (August this year), but higher stuff was in great condition.


I would not NOT go, but you need to be aware that going early or going late carries big risks. You could probably book with really short notice, allowing you to assess the situation at the time, as it is not the popular times to go.


If you are going to experience J-POW...then the teacher needs to gets some leave, or get left behind. Are you not able to go January? We have kids at school (so same restrictions) and January is the best time for us - we know Feb can be way more epic, but no school hols at that time.

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If you like touring in the spring from the lifts Hakuba Happone is pretty off the hook at that time. You will find it hard to find consitant powder conditions anywhere in Japan at that time but it can happen. The Rockies would have a better chance as would the higher sections of Whistler for powder.

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Thanks everyone, I personally would love some powder but it is less critical for the beginners... being the great guy that I am I suppose I could sacrifice it for the greater good.


Thanks for the detailed review mamaB, I'm from Perth too (Mt Lawley) and whilst the wife could go in Jan, the others can't. Kind of need both groups together as the wife is a beginner so I need someone to palm her off on while I tackle the serious stuff smile



Those photos look mint!

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Hi StefK,


Shiga Kogen is a good option for April as it sits at higher altitude thn many others. You can still get some fresh in mid April as per the report below.


"Wednesday 20th April 2011, 10:43AM

Weather conditions: Cloudy, light snow, fog

New snowfall: 10-20 cm (observed)

Snow depth: 165cm (Kumanoyu) 160cm (Ichinose Family) [official]

More snow! It's almost feeling like winter again with poor visibility and snow still coming down this morning. Cold too. 10-20cm since yesterday perhaps.... Nice.


Things should clear up this afternoon though and leave us with a fine day tomorrow.


The snowfall of yesterday and overnight have delayed the planned opening of Route 292 through to Gunma. That was supposed to happen at 10am this morning, but has been delayed. The road is now open just from Yokoteyama to Shibutoge. The opening of the remaining part through to Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma has been delayed - until when, not sure at this moment.


Resort areas that are [at least part] this week (18th-22nd April):



-Ichinose Family

-Okushiga Kogen


-Yokoteyama / Shibutoge


More details on lift operations below.


Official resort snow depths as of 20th April 2011 AM:








Ichinose Family:


Okushiga Kogen:





Updated resort status (subject to change):



Quad lift open until 5th May.


Okushiga Kogen:

No2 and No3 high speed lifts open until 8th May.

No4 pair lift open between 23rd April and 8th May.

Gondola open 16th-18th and April 23rd until 8th May.

Please note - Okushiga Kogen is a skiers-only area.



No 1 pair lift will be open until 8th May.

No 2 pair lift will be open until 8th May and then may continue to be open depending on snow conditions at that time. They hope to be able to open until 15th May.

No 3 quad lift will be open from 29th April until 8th May.

No 4 pair lift – no specific opening times available.

Please note - Kumanoyu is a skiers-only area.


Yokoteyama – Shibutoge:

The resort plans to be open until the end of May.

Yokoteyama No 1 Sky lift open until 8th May.

Yokoteyama No 2, No 3 Sky lifts and the Shibutoge pair lift will all be open until conditions permit.

Yokoteyama No 4, No 5 and No 6 lifts will be open at unspecified times until 8th May.

Please note - snowboarding is not allowed on all courses at Yokoteyama - allowed on No1, No2 and No4 courses and the Shibutoge area. Currently, No4 course is closed).


Ichinose Family:

Quad lift open until 5th May.

No2 pair lift (B) open on April 23rd, 24th and 29th April until 5th May.


Ichinose Diamond:

Triple lift (and moving walkway) open on April 23rd, 24th and 29th April until 5th May.



Opening from 29th April until 5th May for Golden Week.



Quad and No1 pair lift opening on April 23rd, 24th and 29th April until 5th May"


The runs at the southern end around Yokoteyama stay open continuosly until mid to late May. Good skiing for all levels.



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