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Hi Guys

 

So I'm completely new to this forum and pretty new to snow sports. Been down in NZ a couple times this year snowboarding, first time ever, but I really got the bug, hence why I went back again not long after my return.

 

I'd like to take a trip away this winter (northern hemisphere), I live in Oz, and pretty much everyone I speak to says go to Japan. Basically, like I said I'm a beginner at snowboarding, and I want to get over to Japan. So any information on where would be good to go, time of year, places to stay would be hugely appreciated.

 

I am doing my own research but I figured after reading through some of the posts on here, there are some people out there with quite a lot of knowledge of Japan. So why not ask the people that know.

 

Thanks to anyone who responds.

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THIS ... exactly!   Example - standing on a station in Tokyo a couple of years ago, looking at the destination board, we were about to walk off towards the platform we'd decided was the right one an

thought I'd add my $0.02, that my main suggestion would be don't be afraid.

I ski Japan every year (usually Niseko), and I have troubles getting friends to come visit (free accom!) because theyre afraid they might get lost in the airport or train or something.

to give you an idea, in the airports the signs are even in bold font english, the japanese gets the small font underneath.

worst case, all you need is a smile :) ive skiied in 8 (i think) different countries, and so far the japanese are the nicest politest people - so much so that i feel that many tourists (aussies, brits) definitely need to adjust their attitude.

 

the season is approx mid dec to end of march + a bit of april spring. if you weren't going to go in peak jan-feb time, i would go later (march) than earlier (dec) just to guarantee a good base.

but prepare for a shock. aus & nz snow cannot compare. your addiction is about to get a lot worse!

 

as much as i love skiing in japan, it seems to be all-on or all-off, great for someone who loves 'bad' weather and ridiculous deep deep powder.

however if i were to be honest, i used to ski colorado every year instead. and i think my skiing 'technical ability' improved more when i was there instead. the mountains are taller, the runs are longer, and the groomers seem smoother. you (most likely) wont get the chance to bury yourself up to your neck in powder tho.

just giving you options to consider is all.

 

niseko is very touristy and easy to get info on / get to / etc. but i'd defiantly recommend you try another resort or two to get a better feel of japan.

if you intend on sight seeing some Japanese cities maybe a better idea to stay on honshu (the big/main island) instead - of which ive only skiied once so I dont have much of an opinion, Niigata and Nagano seem to be very popular on these forums tho

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You really need to be more specific about what you want from the trip. Do you want to do a whole lot of sightseeing as well? Are you coming to Japan because you care at all about the culture thing? Do you want to party? Do you want western style accomm or don't care? Do you want a package tour where everything is organised or try and do it all yourself? Give us some more info on what you want from the trip and you'll get better responses.

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thought I'd add my $0.02, that my main suggestion would be don't be afraid.

 

... to give you an idea, in the airports the signs are even in bold font english, the japanese gets the small font underneath.

worst case, all you need is a smile :) ... the japanese are the nicest politest people - so much so that i feel that many tourists (aussies, brits) definitely need to adjust their attitude.

 

niseko is very touristy and easy to get info on / get to / etc. but i'd defiantly definitely recommend you try another resort or two to get a better feel of japan.

if you intend on sight seeing some Japanese cities maybe a better idea to stay on honshu (the big/main island) instead - of which ive only skiied once so I dont have much of an opinion, Niigata and Nagano seem to be very popular on these forums tho

THIS ... exactly!

 

Example - standing on a station in Tokyo a couple of years ago, looking at the destination board, we were about to walk off towards the platform we'd decided was the right one and a lovely old gent asked us "You OK? I help? Where you go?" We said we were OK, had decided and were going to 'somewhere' (don't remember exactly) but he said "I show! Come! Come!" and proceeded to show us down the elevator, onto the platform, waited and herded us into the train, bowed said "After one stop, change! OK? one stop - then change!" and disappeared back up the elevator. He wasn't even getting our train, just wanted a chance to be helpful!

 

Yet another reason we are heading back in January for our 7th trip to the land of the Rising Sun.

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Definitely no need to be afraid for the above reasons. :thumbsup: Come with a big smile, an open mind and a large wallet, coz it ain't cheap but then you get what you pay for! :D

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Don't listen to Mick about needing a large wallet. I'd think most Aussies now would find much of Japan to be pretty cheap. Especially compared to Aus. A lot of poms and yanks on here and we know how good their economies are doing don't we? Although looks like you're a pom living in Aus so you'd be aware of that ;)

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going to agree with 'anything' here, you should have no problem organising a good value trip with some of the best snow there is (which will blow your mind after NZ)

 

Look at Niseko (Hokkaido) if you aren't in it for the cultural experience, or the super steep runs. It's got a lot of western influence, so the language barrier should be pretty minimal.

 

Then there is also Hakuba (Honshu) which is also pretty westernised, but not to the same extent as Niseko form what I can gather (i've not been to Niseko yet, only Hakuba).

 

I suggest those two as first suggestions, as there is no shortage of deals to those two locations from Australian travel agents.

 

If you would prefer to experience the culture a little more, there is an absolute plethora of resorts with smaller crowds, less ozzies and the same, if nto better quality of snow.

 

One last point before I leave it to the expert opinions, if you are making a decent trip out of this, as in, a fwe different locations and some decent time, look into getting a JR rail pass, I believe that is the fastest and funnest way to get around the country, and an experience as well.

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yes, definite plus one to that. you get more bang for buck, and something unique.

 

my Hakuba trip was done through an agent, as it was with a few mates, and that was convenient at the time. While we had an absolute blast, in hindsight we could have done better with our accommodation (it was basically a hostel advertised as a mansion), and I wouldn't go through an agent again. (going in January and all organised myself).

 

I will say, in an agents defence though, it was a great introduction to Japan, with minimal hassle.

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Thanks to everyone for your posts it's much appreciated.

 

In response to Go Native, let's get a bit more specific.

 

I'm travelling on my own over there, and have set aside 10days for the trip. My main goal is to obviously snowboard as much as possible, I don't need off piste, expert runs anything like that. Just some nicer snow than down in NZ.

I think it would be a shame not to see some of the culture whilst I am there and get a feel for Japan, would be good to take a day out to go and do some sightseeing.. Accomodation I'm not too fussed about to be honest, as long as it is comfortable I'm happy westernised or not.

I would like to try and organise this trip myself, my first experience of a snow holiday was done through an agent and well I think I could have got more for my money if I had done it myself. Plus it's part of the fun orgainsiing it all.

As for partying, well I'm travelling on my own so would be good to be somewhere where I can meet people, but hey you can meet people anywhere if you try, but big nights out until the early hours, no not looking for that.

 

Hope that is a bit more specific, and once again thanks to everyone that's replied.

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Sounds to me like BTomo would be an excellent candidate for a week in Yuzawa. Cheap digs, onsen, neat town chance to try a bunch of different resorts, all with good green/blue runs AND some potential SJ folks around for support (and to show him that powder is really where it's at)

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Look at Niseko (Hokkaido) if you aren't in it for the cultural experience, or the super steep runs.

 

He's a beginner so I don't think the lack of super steep will be an issue! ;)

 

And don't for a second think that Niseko is devoid of Japanese culture. It is in Japan and there's plenty of Japanese there and the shuttle down to Kutchan has you into a very normal Japanese rural town within 15mins. Hokkaido as a whole though doesn't have the same length of Japanese history as Honshu as the Japanese didn't move to Hokkaido en masse until around the 17-1800's. I think it's fair to say it's always had a little more western influence than down on Honshu which is why Sapporo for instance has a grid type layout to the city based on a more American style than Japanese one. Makes it a bit easier to get around than Tokyo!

 

If you will be looking for lessons, which I'd advise if you haven't really experienced deep powder before, in Niseko they have western owned ski schools with instructors mainly from Aus and NZ. I think the same can be found in Hakuba and Myoko as well? Others who know those areas can confirm. For me personally the real allure of Japan is the powder. And the powder can only really be fully enjoyed by getting off-piste. So I'd definitely advise lessons to try and get you confident enough to get into some of the deeper stuff.

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Compared with many ski places in Japan, Niseko is like being in Australia.

Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

 

Yuzawa sounds good for you. Incredibly easy to get to, just over an hour from Tokyo and you're there. And you'll probably see more snow there than you would in most other places in Japan.

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Sounds to me like BTomo would be an excellent candidate for a week in Yuzawa. Cheap digs, onsen, neat town chance to try a bunch of different resorts, all with good green/blue runs AND some potential SJ folks around for support (and to show him that powder is really where it's at)

 

 

Reckon that's a good plan.

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Compared with many ski places in Japan, Niseko is like being in Australia.

Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

 

And when was the last time you were in Niseko Ski? ;)

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Thanks guys, you're imput in greatly appreciated, very glad I joined this forum. Definitely some good thoughts for me to start looking into. A lesson or two will be a must I'm sure, as powder is defintily something I want to try.

 

Cheers all

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I reckon Nozawa Onsen would be a great first trip to Japan. Nice village, big mountain, English lessons available, big wide beginner slopes and more advanced stuff for when you get going.. Also pretty close to the snow monkeys for a good day trip on a down day..

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