or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › International Zone › Recommend a Kiwi some fields in Japan for Winter 13/14
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Recommend a Kiwi some fields in Japan for Winter 13/14

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

The Southern Hemisphere season hasn't arrived yet but we're getting there. Skiing is still at least six weeks away, unless we get lucky. I almost hope we don't, because I'm still recovering from an injury. Almost. Our first storm even vaguely worth the name has arrived after an unusually mild autumn, and I am planning ahead. Approximately six months or so ahead, in fact.

 

I intend to go skiing in Japan next winter, and I'd like some advice. Here's the relevant information:

  • I'll probably be there for about three weeks, unless people have better suggestions - I am fairly flexible. 
  • I will be there to ski, to ski, and to ski.
  • I know a small handful of words, and can read hiragana (rather poorly), but for all intents and purposes I don't speak the language.
  • I don't know what the best time of year to go is, but I have been working under a two year fixed term contract which expires this Christmas, but I also have about 5 weeks of paid leave and no real reason to not just take the last 5 weeks off if the skiing in December is great. If going late in the season is better, that is fine too.
  • I have a friend in Aomori (the city, not the prefecture) who I would like to catch up with at some point. He snowboards, and I will be asking him for his opinion on this too, but I probably won't hear back for a month or two. It's just how he is.
  • I grew up in a resort town. Après-ski and nightlife come a very distant second to good snow.
  • I plan to take my own gear (one ski quiver: 2012 Bushwackers), unless people have better suggestions.
  • I would not be against dabbling in some AT. (I don't have much experience with touring, but I do own touring boots and I hope to get a trip or two in this winter down under.)
  • I will very probably be on my own, because most other people I know will be trying to accumulate leave to blow on skiing next winter down here.

 

Any suggestions about where to go, when to go, or pretty much anything would be greatly appreciated.

 

post #2 of 21

Briefly, if you're thinking three weeks I'd plan on an arrival sometime in the 2nd or 3rd week of January.

Niseko would in many ways be an ideal first stop (or base for the entire time): great snow and little language problem (I assume you speak some Aussie), and you can hit up Rusutsu and Kiroro from there.

I'd also recommend devoting a week to Nagano, especially the Hakuba region and Nozawa Onsen: terrific mountains with again great snow and more technical terrain than the Hokkaido resorts.

There's a fantastic powder mountain called Hakkoda near Aomori, but it's more of a rope-way served back country area than resort, think very deep (waist-deep isn't considered deep in Hakkoda) snow.

 

Plenty of other possibilities, I've merely offered a couple that offer generally good conditions and terrain. You'll no doubt hear about others, there's a lot to choose from.

I 'd skip December, and especially xmas/new year -- conditions are often just starting to get good and those are prime (read expensive) periods. January 11-13 is a three-day weekend here next year. I'd say ideal for a three-week trip would be to arrive here 1/12 and travel to the mountains on 1/13 to start skiing tuesday the 14th -- you'll bulls-eye the powder season and avoid the worst crowds.

Feel free to PM me with questions.

post #3 of 21

Do Kiwi's like powder?  

 

I'm guessing probably so, so I thought you'd be interested in this amazing data I just saw from Tony Crocker.  I've never considered skiing in Japan, but I recently added it to my bucket list after seeing this data.  It seems most of the snow in this one area of Japan comes down in January, perfect for you:

 

  • Japan (particularly the northern island of Hokkaido) is the one lift served destination where the powder odds can be in your favor. Not only is the snowfall more than Alta's with similar light density, but it is more concentrated midwinter rather than spread fairly evenly over 4-5 months as in most of the Rockies. Niseko's average January snowfall of 177 inches compares to Alta's 95 inches.
  • Source: http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/pwdrpct.htm

 

177 inches in January is amazing.  For context, many areas in Colorado average 270 inches for the entire season!

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimintokyo View Post

Briefly, if you're thinking three weeks I'd plan on an arrival sometime in the 2nd or 3rd week of January.

Niseko would in many ways be an ideal first stop (or base for the entire time): great snow and little language problem (I assume you speak some Aussie), and you can hit up Rusutsu and Kiroro from there.

I'd also recommend devoting a week to Nagano, especially the Hakuba region and Nozawa Onsen: terrific mountains with again great snow and more technical terrain than the Hokkaido resorts.

There's a fantastic powder mountain called Hakkoda near Aomori, but it's more of a rope-way served back country area than resort, think very deep (waist-deep isn't considered deep in Hakkoda) snow.

 

Plenty of other possibilities, I've merely offered a couple that offer generally good conditions and terrain. You'll no doubt hear about others, there's a lot to choose from.

I 'd skip December, and especially xmas/new year -- conditions are often just starting to get good and those are prime (read expensive) periods. January 11-13 is a three-day weekend here next year. I'd say ideal for a three-week trip would be to arrive here 1/12 and travel to the mountains on 1/13 to start skiing tuesday the 14th -- you'll bulls-eye the powder season and avoid the worst crowds.

Feel free to PM me with questions.

 

Thanks heaps! That is great info, especially about timing. I have no issue at all with fields that amount to just a rope-way served backcountry area (we have a few of those) but that depth of powder is crazy by comparison. It sounds amazing but not something to do alone, of course, so that will be a limiting factor.

 

I will very likely PM you at some point, but not just yet - there more stuff I try to plan the more questions I expect I will have, and I'm only just getting started, really.

 

Oh, one other thing... I hear at the weekends the fields get crowded? Would you recommend using weekends as down time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

Do Kiwi's like powder?  

 

I'm guessing probably so, so I thought you'd be interested in this amazing data I just saw from Tony Crocker.  I've never considered skiing in Japan, but I recently added it to my bucket list after seeing this data.  It seems most of the snow in this one area of Japan comes down in January, perfect for you:

 

  • Japan (particularly the northern island of Hokkaido) is the one lift served destination where the powder odds can be in your favor. Not only is the snowfall more than Alta's with similar light density, but it is more concentrated midwinter rather than spread fairly evenly over 4-5 months as in most of the Rockies. Niseko's average January snowfall of 177 inches compares to Alta's 95 inches.
  • Source: http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/pwdrpct.htm

 

177 inches in January is amazing.  For context, many areas in Colorado average 270 inches for the entire season!

 

Well, I can't speak for all of us, but this Kiwi certainly likes powder. (It's relatively rare here unless you go backcountry, though.)

 

For (more) context, the better NZ fields probably average around 200 inches for the entire season. Some get much less. I was aware Japan gets a lot more snow in relevant areas than us, but it is great to hear (reading that link) that January over there is so amazing. I am probably going to have this stupid grin stuck to my face for the rest of the day now. 6% of weeks with no 6"+ days at Niseko...

 


Edited by Yoichi - 5/22/13 at 4:41pm
post #5 of 21
You're most likely going to find your bushwhackers on the narrow side for anything other than piste skiing, Yoichi. You might want something at least 94-95'ish underfoot. If I could only take one pair to do all to Japan, I'd probably do something like the Kastle FX104 or similar mounted with something I could day tour on as well.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

You're most likely going to find your bushwhackers on the narrow side for anything other than piste skiing, Yoichi. You might want something at least 94-95'ish underfoot. If I could only take one pair to do all to Japan, I'd probably do something like the Kastle FX104 or similar mounted with something I could day tour on as well.


Yeah, I've been wondering about that... Kastles are very hard to get over here, any suggested alternatives? I'm also not sure about actually wanting to own anything over 100mm when I live in NZ - I don't feel like we see enough powder often enough to justify it... how do you think Prophet 98s would fare? And hiring is also a possibility, I suppose, but that could be a pain in the arse.

post #7 of 21
Height? Weight?
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Sorry, I should have said sooner. A fraction (1/4") under 6" and 175lbs (without gear on, of course). I'm not super aggressive, but not particularly timid either. Although I love my Bushwackers, I probably wouldn't want anything much more flexible than they are (to me, at least, 180cm Bushwackers seem pretty soft).

post #9 of 21

hmmmm.. tossing out some ideas. Maybe the Kabookie? Bonefide (98) w/o metal. Nordica Hell and Back or Soul Rider maybe (98 and 97 respectively) The Line Profits might be fine as well, particularly if you've skied them and like the ride. A bit wider, but the Rossi Soul 7. Nordica Vangabond as well, but that's 107. Salomon Q-98... don't buy them too short though. 188 even at 175 lbs... nice and light for touring.  Mount whatever you get with the Marker F-13 or similar for day touring, and don't forget to take your avy kit! smile.gif

post #10 of 21

Maybe I've just been lucky - but I've had some pretty decent powder and soft spring snow/slush days at TC and Cardrona. And that's just visiting every few years. If I only took one pair to NZ, it'd probably a 117-ish waist to cover a decent enough range. Try 'em... you might like 'em on most things there other than ice ( tussock capable too wink.gif ).

 

As for Japan, I have not skied there - but I can't imagine taking anything under 115. And more likely my Praxis Protests at 128. Or even Powder Boards... FWIW, Praxis (and I assume all other indies) are happy to ship to NZ. You might want to take a look at Blister's Japan trip ski reviews. The list is here: http://blistergearreview.com/articles/japan-ski-review-selections Search on the site for the Japan trip reviews of each ski. Video giving some idea of what and how they skied is 

 

post #11 of 21

I'd agree that wider than 98 would be better. The 104-110 would be good for one does all including touring. 

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

hmmmm.. tossing out some ideas. Maybe the Kabookie? Bonefide (98) w/o metal. Nordica Hell and Back or Soul Rider maybe (98 and 97 respectively) The Line Profits might be fine as well, particularly if you've skied them and like the ride. A bit wider, but the Rossi Soul 7. Nordica Vangabond as well, but that's 107. Salomon Q-98... don't buy them too short though. 188 even at 175 lbs... nice and light for touring.  Mount whatever you get with the Marker F-13 or similar for day touring, and don't forget to take your avy kit! smile.gif

Cheers for the suggestions. I like what I hear about the Kabookie, the Q-98, and the Hell and Back. Any comments on Gotamas? I know a guy down here who ran them as one size fits all last season - might track him down and see how he's been finding them. Thinking about what spindrift says, maybe I should just go a bit wider and learn to love it. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

Maybe I've just been lucky - but I've had some pretty decent powder and soft spring snow/slush days at TC and Cardrona. And that's just visiting every few years. If I only took one pair to NZ, it'd probably a 117-ish waist to cover a decent enough range. Try 'em... you might like 'em on most things there other than ice ( tussock capable too wink.gif ).

 

As for Japan, I have not skied there - but I can't imagine taking anything under 115. And more likely my Praxis Protests at 128. Or even Powder Boards... FWIW, Praxis (and I assume all other indies) are happy to ship to NZ. You might want to take a look at Blister's Japan trip ski reviews. The list is here: http://blistergearreview.com/articles/japan-ski-review-selections Search on the site for the Japan trip reviews of each ski. Video giving some idea of what and how they skied is 

 

Thanks for giving me a reality check. Realistically, it's not that we don't get any powder or that it's not decent, it's more that over time I find it easier to remember the exceptionally terrible seasons than keep track of what the average case is like. I didn't have such a great time last winter as I could only get time off during the wrong parts of the season (very early and very late) and didn't make it to the Canterbury fields often enough (they got off to a great start with an early 50" dump over the course of a day or two and had a pretty solid season, whereas the Otago fields got about 6" at the time and then had to wait until mid season for any decent storms... and then nothing later, either).

 

If you'd bring 117s as a one ski quiver to NZ, I would be shocked if you'd take anything thinner to Japan :D They get more snowfall in January than NZ gets all season.  Praxis ship to NZ for a pretty good price too, buy the looks of things. I guess I could also consider Kingswood SMBs (http://kingswoodskis.com/shop/product.php?id_product=12http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2012-2013-kingswood-skis-smb), although honestly importing from an indie in the States would likely be somewhat cheaper, even after sales tax and shipping.

 

Cheers for the link - it's taking me a while to read through all of 'em, but I'm getting there. They took mostly pretty fat stuff (I don't think I've seen anything under 104 yet...) which I guess is sort of what you were trying to say? Mind you, they're also better skiers than me (I'm not bad, but certainly advanced rather than expert) and it sounds like they spent most of the trip jibbing and charging.

 

EDIT: The Line Influence 115 2013, which the Blister Gear guys took to Niseko, also sounds pretty good with respect to my style on chop, at least (I don't like bulldozing), and it's not like I'm going to Japan to stay on the groomers.


Edited by Yoichi - 5/23/13 at 4:54pm
post #13 of 21

Yoichi, you might want to check out Praxis Memorial Day sale. You could buy a pair of Protests for less than it would cost you to rent powder skis for 10 days in Hokkaido. FWIW, I also ski on 180 Bushwackers when it's not deep, and 177 Protests when it is, and I'm close to your size/weight. And, you could have the Protests shipped directly to a ski shop here for mounting when you arrive -- exactly what I did earlier this year.

post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

Mate, you are a genius. 2012 177cm Protests for that price is crazy. If you can recommend me a place to send it, and clue me up on Japan's sales tax I'll grab a pair ASAP... will PM you about that.

 

I have also just booked flights from NZ... I'll post some info about that later.


Edited by Yoichi - 5/24/13 at 10:40pm
post #15 of 21
Sales tax is 5% I believe and will be 8% in 2014. I can't recall what the duty is on skis, but there was one in the past and would guess there still will be. Doubt it's prohibitive though.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Sales tax is 5% I believe. I can't recall what the duty is on skis, but there was one in the past and would guess there still will be. Doubt it's prohibitive though.

Yeah, just checked... it's 5%. Which is better than our 15%. Not sure about duties yet.

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

Alright, so, I pulled the trigger on tickets from our main international airport today (I still need a domestic link from where I actually live, but I can probably pull a deal on that later in the year). After a lot of messing around with travel agencies, I got an alright deal.

 

I'm flying into Narita and then to New Chitose, and the reverse on the way home. None of my layovers are too long at an hour to an hour and a half each (I'm not flying direct because it's about 25% more expensive).

 

I'll arrive in Sapporo at about 8:30pm (that would be the catch with a three stage flight and no overnight layovers) on the 12th of January, and I fly out again on the 6th of February. Anyway, that's the dates I'm working with now =)

 

A very, very rough outline right now looks like either spending roughly a week around Niseko (and possibly other fields), head down to some of the appealing mid-Honshu fields for a week, up to Hakkoda for a couple of days, then back to Hokkaido again for the remainder to check out some of the other fields near Niseko. Alternatively, two weeks around Niseko (and definitely others) before moving down to Hakkoda for a couple of days and then to central Honshu for the remainder. Just some early thoughts on how I might lay it out, is all.

post #18 of 21

An important note: Jan 30 to Feb 5 is the Chinese New Year period. I'd recommend staying away from Niseko or any of the other internationally known Japanese resorts then because they'll probably be far busier (and more expensive) than usual. 

There will still be plenty to choose from, in Hokkaido or Honshu. Do some research and then ask about some specific places that look good to you. 

 

As far as I know there's no duty on skis shipped from abroad, just the 5% sales tax (I didn't pay any duty on my Protests).

post #19 of 21

Feature article on my January 2011 trip, 3 days in Hakuba and 8 in Niseko: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2011/10/17/skiing-japan-hakuba-niseko/

 

Hakuba is accessible by a direct 4 hour train from Tokyo.  Thus I suspect it can be busy on weekends.  My ski days were Wednesday-Friday with no crowd issues.   I skied Niseko Sunday-Sunday.   The first Sunday was a nice day and there were moderate lines at the base early and up high midday where the lifts are slow singles and doubles.  The last Saturday and Sunday it was puking snow all the time.  That Saturday was the best ski day of the trip.  The final Sunday the storm was so extreme that upper lifts were closed and the 3 base areas were separated from one another.   There were long lines to take buses from one base to another.  I ascribe these issues to the weather not that it was a weekend.  I don't think day of the week matters much in Niseko.   A high proportion of visitors are destination tourists, sort of like Aspen, Jackson, etc. here.

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

Well, I just ordered myself a pair 177cm Praxis Protests which I'll get shipped over to meet me. Big shoutout to Jim for the help with that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimintokyo View Post

An important note: Jan 30 to Feb 5 is the Chinese New Year period. I'd recommend staying away from Niseko or any of the other internationally known Japanese resorts then because they'll probably be far busier (and more expensive) than usual. 

There will still be plenty to choose from, in Hokkaido or Honshu. Do some research and then ask about some specific places that look good to you. 

Thanks for the heads up. I will do some legwork and come back with ideas and questions.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

Feature article on my January 2011 trip, 3 days in Hakuba and 8 in Niseko: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2011/10/17/skiing-japan-hakuba-niseko/

 

Hakuba is accessible by a direct 4 hour train from Tokyo.  Thus I suspect it can be busy on weekends.  My ski days were Wednesday-Friday with no crowd issues.   I skied Niseko Sunday-Sunday.   The first Sunday was a nice day and there were moderate lines at the base early and up high midday where the lifts are slow singles and doubles.  The last Saturday and Sunday it was puking snow all the time.  That Saturday was the best ski day of the trip.  The final Sunday the storm was so extreme that upper lifts were closed and the 3 base areas were separated from one another.   There were long lines to take buses from one base to another.  I ascribe these issues to the weather not that it was a weekend.  I don't think day of the week matters much in Niseko.   A high proportion of visitors are destination tourists, sort of like Aspen, Jackson, etc. here.

Good to know. I might try to plan around travelling weekends, but I need to do some more research on where I want to spend my time first. Nice article, by the way.

post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Just thought I'd say that I've been in Niseko for three days so far and have put a day on snow in on a friend's 185 Gigawatts and another on my Protests. I'll try to sort a trip report later (if I'm not too busy skiing to take any photos...) but it's been great so far and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes snow.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: International Zone
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › International Zone › Recommend a Kiwi some fields in Japan for Winter 13/14