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nagoid

So what's up with the new Ishiuchi Maruyama gondola?

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OK so I visited Yuzawa and spend a good half day at Ishiuchi Maruyama. Enjoyed it, especially up top.

That new gondola/six person lift though. It's very shiny and new and expensive looking what with the heated seats and everything, but I couldn't help feel... what's the point?  It's pretty short and doesn't even go up to half way up the mountain. It must have been expensive. Keen to hear any thoughts on... why?!

 

 

 

Edited by nagoid

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This is what I heard from a friend who is a manager at a ski-jo in the Yuzawa area.

Ishiuchi Maruyama is now owned by a 子会社 of Nippon Cable.

Over at Nozawa Onsen, a new Gondola is going to be made to replace the Nagasaka Gondola. One without a mid station.

That is due for the 2020-2021 season and it will be made by Nippon Cable.

The curiously short one at Ishiuchi was build as a kind of test / learning process with the new technology for what will be the much larger Nozawa one.

Totally don't know how much of that is true, but it's interesting all the same.

 

 

 

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Their web site sells the gondola as an easy way for non-skiing visitors to reach the new yuki asobi area, for what it’s worth.  The story mina2 heard sounds like a more likely primary motivation, though.  Interesting, mina2!

Doesn’t the new Gondola/chair actually replace two previous lifts? If I remember correctly, didn’t one go up to the base of the Tirol gelaende, and then another one up from there?

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There used to be a quad from base and then two (parallel) triple lifts going up to almost the same point as the top of the gondola. Neither of those were long though. And the yuki-asobi area is hardly massive. Certainly not enough to be justifying a hugely expensive new technology gondola lift! As lovely and 豪華 as it is, it seems to me that there must surely (surely) be a big proper reason for this gear going up. And the idea mina2 posted sounds like it might well be the reason if true.

 

 

 

 

 

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Not 100% sure on that.

There used to be a halfpipe next to the triple lifts. As far as I can remember, that had gone.

They have also got rid of the two single lifts that were over to the left of the triples. That is now one triple and the mega pipe or whatever it is called (Gungho), run by the city, is over there.

Something like that!

 

 

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I visited Ishiuchi Maruyama this last winter. My first time there and enjoyed it a lot.

The gondola lift though... we only rode it twice, the second time just to try a lift rather than sit in a gondola. Our thoughts were - why did they build this?  Seemed over-spec to us for what it does. It is very nice, it just seems a bit kind of over the top.

Oh, and the day we went the Yuki Asobi area at the top of the gondola appeared to be closed. Didn't look particularly big.

We enjoyed our day there though had good snow and the top area is fun.

All in all we preferred Maiko Snow Resort on the next day.

 

 

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New gondola coming to Nozawa.... I did not know that!!

:thumbsup:

 

 

 

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Neither did I!

As for the Ishiuchi one, the Nippon Cable story sounds very likely. The quad lift from Chuo was hardly a disaster so they didn't actually need a new lift in there.

 

 

 

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Yeah I never thought there was a need for a drastic improvement there and never spent time on the lower Chuo slopes either.

I'm going to spend a week back in the area next season and hope to check it out though.

 

 

 

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Hi. Just to give you an idea. In the Alps you need this technology in order to get customers.

I am promoting that skiers start to demand better lifts in Japan.

World class snow and hopefully one day world class lifts. Then the boom can start again, but prepared this time.

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The Alps don't have the snow...  ;)

I'm pretty sure resorts would love to have new lifts, they just cant afford them.

 

 

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Yes something is strange. Therefore I am curious, how is it that Japanese ski resort operators with higher prices is not able to budget for renovation faster than it has been until now? Maybe somebody of you guys and girls have connections to operators?

The Alps have 100 times better lifts than Japan. And have 1000 times more slopes. Much bigger areas. Having all this fantastic equipment. Still the lift cards and rental is much cheaper in the Alps. Also the accommodation has much higher standard and cost much less compared to Japan. 

But Alps has a problem with snow. To solve this we have 100000 snow cannons and millions of liter of water. Still it is much cheaper than Japan.

Why are Japanese resorts investing so little? I heard last year that the company operating Niseko Hirafu don't want to invest anything. Is this really true? And that a rich Thai guest was very angry, paying hundreds of dollars for standing in lift lines for hours... that Thai invested in Kiroro to make it better? Anybody know if there is some truth to this?

Also it is hurts my hart that there is no balance. High-tec Shinkansen train is perfect, but then I have to take a badly designed bus. Living in old cold hotels. Riding terrible old slow lifts. Did technology stop with Shinkansen?

Upcoming Christmas I will check out Lotte Arai. The accommodation looks like one should expect. But the cost is unreasonable crazy. The lifts looks like a B class Alp resort. I will definitely report if somebody is interested.

 

 

 

 

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Many Japanese ski hills are owned and operated by small companies. They're not huge international operations. And they struggle to survive (see: over 200 closing in the last few decades).

Of course there are some larger operators. For example Prince. And they closed down a bunch of ski resorts a decade or so ago.

Things got really dicey for lots of skijo when the ski boom finished and suddenly income dried up.

Lotte Arai threw ski boom type crazy money at that resort so it should be good. Remember to take out your own loan to go there!!   ;)

 

 

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Sad to hear many are closing. Anybody know why?

No snow like in the Alps?

No guests?

Too high costs?

I of course suspect that skies doesn’t want slow cold lifts anymore and stay home playing games instead. But interested to hear other views.

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s5804: Shinkansen is for the general population, ski areas are for a small minority.  The boom is over and Japan is a country of booms....the latest one was Rugby during the World Cup, but most people have already lost interest in that.

Most Japanese are weekend or daily skiers. They are amazed at Europeans who can take a week or two off to go skiing. Who does their work while they are enjoying themselves? It seems very selfish and indulgent.

During the week the pistes are inhabited by the elderly and university students. The former don't need much and are happy to relax on a long slow lift. The latter have little skiing experience and so are also content with the conditions they find. 

When quad lifts were first introduced here pistes suddenly became more crowded. They contributed, in part, to a decrease in the number of skiers. Traditional Japanese resorts were not designed with modern lifts in mind and those in national or quasi-national parks cannot be developed further.

Yes, more and more Japanese resorts are being bought by Asian companies and so the ambience changes. The local people in Hokkaido already talk about certain resorts as Asian ones while others are for Western people. 

I hope you enjoy Lotte. You'll find very few Niigata people there as they are voting with their feet and going to other areas in their prefecture where lift tickets are less expensive. A family ski trip, even if just for one day, is a considerable expenditure for most Japanese families. The Japanese are not a rich people. During the ski boom years those who went to ski in Europe did so with money given to them as presents by neighbors, friends and family members....or even bank loans. The shopping that went on in overseas ski resorts was for presents for those who had helped finance the trip.....unfortunately creating the idea that Japanese are rich.

I really hope you don't expect clones of Alpine resorts here. Believe it or not this is not Europe.

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Nice post ShigaMac and I was nodding in agreement at a fair few of those points.

Ski hills with slower pair lifts probably don't sell as many half day/4 hour tickets - you need a day to get around and get enough skiing as a place with super fast lifts. I was basically told that by a ski-jo manager/worker a few years back. He seemed contented with their plethora of pairs! Not to mention having little cash and certainly not enough to get a revamped lift system.

I have heard that Lotte Ara is scarily empty, though perhaps it will get more people going.  But I have heard that visitors from South Korea to Japan are generally well down this year. I think they're taking the piss myself. 'First Class' tickets! I like the 'Economy/Business' comment on the page on SnowJapan.  Funny.

I love fast quads myself!  On a weekday. At a place where the school trips don't go. When there's fresh snow. And the sun is out, perhaps a few scenic clouds.
Easy to please.  ;)

 

 

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Thank you for your feedback and considerations.

I think it is important to relate quality to cost. Unfortunately many resorts have very low quality compared to their cost. I can understand that they have no money for new investment. But what comes first; chicken or the egg? Probably one need to first invest and then people will hopefully come. 

Who wants to sit in the 1) old lifts and 2) freeze or 3) wait in 30 minutes lift queue for a 2 minute ski slope? 

Also I wonder how are the resorts really managed? What are the lift staff really doing? The whole setup seems completely costly and unnecessary. Take the example of lift operation. Chair lift exit requires max one security person  able to push the emergency button. But no, in Japan they have at least 2-3 person per exit. What is the person standing there in the cold really doing? Analog you really don't need a person standing at the entry either. I feel sorry for them standing there and freezing saying welcome to the guests, maybe brushing off one or two snow flakes from the chair.

Maybe the season is too short in Japan for anybody to justify the investment. But I think they save a lot not having snow canons which cost a fortune to run. 

In my humble opinion I don't think Arai is expensive when adding together the cost relative to the expected quality. For example I booked double rooms over Christmas for 26K Yen per night. That is in a reasonable luxury hotel. Compare it to Myoko Tsuginohara I booked for 19k with futons in a basic accommodation, thin wall and old looking house. It is not comparable.

Another funny story I wanted to mention. The brand new lifts from Doppelmayr only open the safety bar 2-3 seconds before exit to make sure nobody is falling off too early. Still there is sufficient time for everybody to exit safe even in a 8 person chairlift.  But in Niseko I noticed that the locals wanted to open the safety bar 100 meters before exit. Which is off course old school and dangerous. I was in quad lift with two locals and one ski patrol. I forgot to release my skies and they told me to release. I replied no problem just a second. Then the patrol guy screamed at me to release. This was maybe about 15 seconds left to exit zone. Of course I replied "jukiri it is not safe to release now". Then the patrol guy went crazy and started to scream more. Well there we have it safety first. 😔 Of course  I meet many nice patrol guys in Niseko as well. Well practice and technology from the 1980 don't apply anymore.

In the end I wanted to learn from you guys how the Japanese operators really think. Thank you

 

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On a side note: Arai 2019/2020 season lift ticket prices are online now. 6000 Yen for a day pass during high season.

The First class ticket for 8000 Yen is silly. They probably have no lift queue anyway. But how can inexperienced skiers from Asia know that.

At least no crazy 10.000 Yen price. 

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On 11/21/2019 at 6:50 PM, s5804 said:

Also I wonder how are the resorts really managed? What are the lift staff really doing? The whole setup seems completely costly and unnecessary. Take the example of lift operation. Chair lift exit requires max one security person  able to push the emergency button. But no, in Japan they have at least 2-3 person per exit.

Where are you seeing this?  I can’t think of any ski areas in Japan off-hand that regularly have more than one liftie at the top.  At the bottom to regulate traffic, sometimes, but not at top that I can think of.  (Maybe the top of the fast quad at GALA, perhaps? But that seems needed, since they get a lot of first-timers there who don’t know how to disembark.)

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OK maybe I was generalizing too much. Definitely they had multiple lifties at the top on all lifts I can remember at Niseko United (all areas) and Rusutsu in March 2019. Both Gondola and chair lifts. Basically on the top it is 1-2 in the house and one right at the exit point. After a full day I normally have said hello to all of them many times. I feel sorry for them in the cold.

I have the feeling that they have too many lifities at the bottom in Naeba, Appi, Zao, Geto Kogen, Niseko and Rustustu. But can't remember everything from a few years back.

 

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Thinking about it, at the bottom I think 2-3 lifties may be needed, depending on the lift and how busy it is.  One to check tickets (since most places don’t use electronic chip tickets), one to control the merging of the singles line into the main line (if it is a busy quad, say), and one in charge of hitting the stop button, who ideally shouldn’t be distracted by other tasks. Of course some lifts can and do get by with fewer at the bottom.

I don’t know, I assume ski areas do try to get by with as few employees as possible, since they are generally struggling to stay afloat as it is.  But I have to admit to not paying that close attention, so I may be wrong.

 

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From what I have heard, many Japanese ski resorts rather than having too many staff more often than not have problems trying to get enough staff.

I am sure there is some rule for a minimum number of folk top/bottom station.

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I can't see them assigning more people lifts than is lawfully required. Problems getting enough staff / costs etc.

 

 

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