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Michkin

Itinerary check + beginner snowboarding questions

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Hello there,

 

Just joined the forum, but I've read a lot posts with keywords "beginner", "December", "snowboard" and "cheese" (!?)".

Based on the forum advice, changed my vacation from December to late January/early February and picked Iwappara and Annupuri as destinations. Staying a few days in Tokyo and Sapporo too.

I haven't "snowboarded" on snow. My "snowboard" experience is limited to a small artificial slope, covered with cardboard cutout plastic blocks and oiled with detergent (ok, you can stop laughing now :lol: ).

I can stay on top of the board without falling off, but I can't do curves (on purpose at least). Ended up switching front foot and back to regain control of the board. The instructors there were of no use. After reading another great tip from the forum, I started to watch tutorials on youtube. No interest in ski.

 

Questions:

1) How many days in each resort? 3 full days in Iwappara and 3 in Annupuri is enough? I realize it's a bit of a tricky question based on tastes and time, but I'm trying to balance between staying too long, doing the same runs, get bored and staying too few days with plenty left to explore. Or since I'm a beginner it won't matter, since all beginner slopes are alike?

2) Is there anything to be gained from going to Joetsu Kokusai? Too much hassle or worth going for different slopes?

3) Are there dog sledding and snowmobile in Niseko?

4) Are English lessons typically only private lessons? There is no such thing as "group English lesson" that I could join?

5) Since I'm weak against Ice-type magic, should I wear more than the 3 basic layers (base layer, fleece, jacket)? I don't plan to buy brand snowboarding clothes. Any other suggestion against the cold?

 

Any other tip/suggestion is appreciated (besides BOOK NOW, which I should have done like 16 months ago). :wave:

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You realise how far away Iwappara and Niseko are....right?

 

Iwappara I think like 1 day and you'll be done with it.....even as a beginner. It's good for beginners because it's basically one big wide slope. So you have plenty space to get your turns in. But once you do that and are confident, I think you'll want something more fun. Near to Iwappara there are loads of resorts of all grades that will help you progress.

 

Niseko is of course great but it's a fair trek from Niigata!! If you've factored in the days travel then great. Around Sapporo there are a couple of ski resorts, Teine Olympia is another good beginners slope. 5 or 6 ski slopes that are generally pretty gentle and very wide and is usually uncrowded then if you are feeling more confident you can take the gondola up to the Highland area and challenge yourself there. There are 3 pretty steep slopes coming down the hill that you may want to avoid but the upper runs are great for pre-intermediate and there is a green beginners track snaking its way around the 3 steep sections so u don't need to fall to ur death :)

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I wanted to experience 2 different snowboard areas on this trip. Yuzawa is close enough to Tokyo and I reserved a few days in Sapporo for the snow festivals and sightseeing. Checking the Jetstar flights between Narita and Chitose, looked doable.

 

Initially, I thought Iwappara would be plenty. Gala and Yuzawa Kogen are closest, so I might check them out too then.

 

Teine looks a good option for a daytrip from Sapporo. I suppose it's pretty ambitious to imagine going from beginner to pre-intermediate in such short time. :p

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5) Since I'm weak against Ice-type magic, should I wear more than the 3 basic layers (base layer, fleece, jacket)? I don't plan to buy brand snowboarding clothes. Any other suggestion against the cold?

 

 

You will probably need more than 3 layers. However you could pick extra layers up here at Uniqlo. There's even a Uniqlo at Naritia airport if you don't have time to go shopping when you arrive. The more lighter layers the better, it's easier then to remove or add a layer to regulate your temperature.

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With layering on a budget, you can be fully kitted out for under 20,000 yen.

 

First layer

 

Anything non-cotton like polyester will work fine. Heck, you can use any old cotton shirt if sweating doesn't bother you too much. Otherwise, you can pick up a no-brand polyester long sleeve shirt from Xebio for 1000 yen. I got one that is actually a volleyball uniform. A little bit scratchy but works fine. If name brand stuff is your thing, you can pick up an athletic brand (Under armor, adidas etc) compression shirts etc from the outlet in Kaihin Makuhari for about 2000 yen. As you are a beginner, you'll probably be quite sweaty, I know I was so I would say invest in the 1000 yen polyester shirt.

 

Second layer

 

As Onehunga suggests, Uniqlo is the go, a fleece there will run you about 2000 yen. Alternatively, you can get a soft shell from Costco for about 2500 yen. The softshell gives you more flexibility because on a hot day, you can just take off your outerlayer and ride in your softshell. The fleece on the other hand, is warmer.

 

Outer layer

 

You can pick up a deadstock/used snowboard/ski jacket and pants for about 5000 yen each from Hardoff. There is a massive one in Minami Funabashi. My jacket from last season cost me 4000 yen (new with tags) and my pants for 6000 yen (new, also with tags). If you have the time to dig through the piles of rubbish, you'll find some real bargains.

 

If you have time in Tokyo, you could probably get yourself sorted out in a day.

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You will probably need more than 3 layers. However you could pick extra layers up here at Uniqlo. There's even a Uniqlo at Naritia airport if you don't have time to go shopping when you arrive.

 

With layering on a budget, you can be fully kitted out for under 20,000 yen.

As Onehunga suggests, Uniqlo is the go, a fleece there will run you about 2000 yen. Alternatively, you can get a soft shell from Costco for about 2500 yen. The softshell gives you more flexibility because on a hot day, you can just take off your outerlayer and ride in your softshell. The fleece on the other hand, is warmer.

 

Great tips guys, thanks. Now that you mention it, Uniqlo has the added benefit of ordering online and delivering at the hotel too. I'll arrive at around 4pm and take the next day early train, so I don't have much time for shopping on the 1st day.

By "brand name", I was thinking not to spend 50000 yen on thenorthface jacket. Spending 2000 yen on a shirt is ok :)

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Uniqlo's heat-tech: 2 base layers & a fleece, cheap and good quality, buy on arrival at Narita. Buy a decent jacket and bring with you, also gloves and goggles, a helmet if you're nervous. IF you're spending a day in Tokyo, plenty of good discounted jackets, gloves, goggles (and helmets if you're the nervous type) can be found wandering the shops in Jinbocho. If you're heading straight from Narita to the mountain, I'd buy at home and bring with you.

 

With six days I'd suggest Hokkaido, maybe 2 or 3 days at Teine as Tubby suggested, and then 3 at Niseko (Annupuri would be a good choice there) or Rusutsu or Kiroro. Or start at Iwappara and stay in the Yuzawa region enjoying some of the other great hills there, snow should be excellent in late Jan/early Feb.

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Yep, I forgot about Jimbocho. London Sports is usually the cheapest place for outerwear. Most of the stuff that they have there are the Korean brands like Nokjok and Felice that haven't sold well in Japan and usually about 5k rated water proof. Not bad for the price though and I'm sure if you spend some time digging through all the racks you'll find some nice stuff.

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There are definately snow mobile lessons at Niseko (saw a big place on the way to Moiwa mountain) and there are definately dog sledding lessons/rides at Rusutsu (snow mobiles too!)

 

I would say, spend 3 nights in Sapporo. Soak up all this wonderful city has to offer, take day trips to Teine, Kokusai, Kiroro or even Bankei (spelling on Bankei might be wrong). Then spend a night at Rusutsu and a night or two at Niseko Grand Hirafu.

 

I'm no expert on Niseko (I in fact quite hate the place, apart from the snow and all the Back Country access it offers) but I think Hirafu is better for beginners maybe? Annupuri would be my first choice for place to stay (quieter, more back country access).

 

As for English lessons.....I don't know!

But I do know it will be easier to find an English speaking instructor at Niseko, Rusutsu and Kiroro compared to teine, Kokusai and Bankei.

 

Personally, when on the slopes I work up a sweat quickly, so I only wear a base layer (long sleeved, breathable, polyester t-shirt), a cotton t-shirt and then my snowboard jacket (with armpit vents open!)

 

Asking around the city is another problem in itself as everywhere has their heaters on full (especially the subway!)

 

Bring shoes/boots with a soft rubber sole for trekking around the ice on.

 

For the slopes, a decent neck warmer or a balaclava type hat is a must for me....Hokkaido is a windy, cold place on the island of Japan!!

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Asking around the city is another problem in itself as everywhere has their heaters on full (especially the subway!)

 

WALKING not Asking!!! Bloody fat thumbs!!! Stupid iPhone 5!!!

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Asking around the city is another problem in itself as everywhere has their heaters on full (especially the subway!)

 

WALKING not Asking!!! Bloody fat thumbs!!! Stupid iPhone 5!!!

 

Haha! :lol:

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Should've said, the two heat-tech base layers aren't to be worn at the same time ! :omg: :sj-lol:

I'm going to be like Joey in that Friends episode and use short sleeve layer, long sleeve layer, fleece, soft shell, out layer, overcoat. :D Maybe a monocle and top hat too.

 

My itinerary is looking more and more like a Rubik's cube. Fix one side and messes the others, but I'm almost locking it in.

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Annapuri is very good for a beginner.

 

There is snowmobiling at Hanazono. Maybe even dogsledding too!

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