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Skis for Japan

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

So I will be headed to japan this coming january with my family. It's looking like we will be going to niseko due to younger cousins and siblings. I was wondering what kind of skis people generally take over there. I'm 18, 6 foot, 160 pounds and own a pair of volkl kendo 177s, but i was looking at getting a pair of powder skis. I don't have any backcountry experience but would say I'm an athletic advanced to expert skier and will be looking to get off piste as much as possible but may be dragged around with the family for periods (not complaining it's still better than aus). When i was last at whistler i did ski the salomon 108s at 184cm and found them to be quite good although at times i did get the feeling of tip dive (the snow was a quite heavy). Any ideas would be appreciated

post #2 of 18
Volkl one or shiro would be good choices for you if youre a volkl guy. Nordica patron, Rossi super 7, etc...
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm not particularly tied to a brand, so I'm open to any ski. I had looked into the one however i was a bit worried about their performance in tracked out conditions which i understand happens a bit in niseko. could offer anything more specific about the skis or conditions over there?

post #4 of 18
Volkl Shiro would still be a great ski for Niseko. I've got a pair of Blizzard Bodacious that I'd have in my bag, but its not a ski for everyone, and for the terrain there, I'd just teley witb old friends. , I doubt thinks get as crunked up as around here even after the niseko Australian invasion. If you're planning to do any true touring- skinning, there'd be different considerations, but I'm assuming you're only talking about booting to the top of annapuri, correct? January should be cold with a lot of new snow. Even when things get tracked out, there aren't likely to be the big ski deflecting piles of heavy snow that you might find in a warmer place. I've skied a total of around 60 days around the area and only skied truly refrozen hard pack conditions once. Generally things are soft even if its been skied out.
post #5 of 18
You won't have problems going wider than you usually would anywhere else. We have been to Niseko and surrounds in Jan. a number of times. My first 2 trips were on 77mm waisted skis.
My current Hokkaido skis are 121 wide Élan Boomerangs .

You could get by with your Kendos but why just get by. Get some fatties. Have a look at LevelNine sports. They are now stocking Armada and have a good deal on JJ's

Would be perfect Hokkaido skis for your size.
post #6 of 18

My 14 yo on his $80 ebay skis. (113 mm wide Kingswoods)

Enjoy your trip
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

thanks for the input. with all that in mind i think I'll be looking at the shiro, patron, jj or opus. craigr would you mind sharing what the conditions are like there in general. I I'm still a touch skeptical of the endless dumps of powder picture that is painted in reviews, ie is that photo an average days skiing?

post #8 of 18
That was average for Jan 2014 which was the best we have experienced. Keep in mind we ski out the gates mostly.
We have never been on a trip that didn't have fresh but expect crowds in January. IIRC, the worst trip we had involved no new snow for 4-5 days. Even saw snow bladers off piste. The night before we left it puked and we had to dig our way out the front door.

In general, expect to be skiing powder during your trip and as Marko says, it's soft even when it's tracked out. I haven't tried the Shiros but one of my most memorable days at Niseko was on a pair of Kuros (134underfoot) inbounds and out the gates.
Skis like the JJ's, Shiros, katanas, gotamas, hellbents, etc. are commonplace.

My Honshu skis are Ninthward THA's which I also purchased from L9. Killer price of $159 or thereabouts. About $220 aus delivered.

On a side note, skiing out the gates is outside the resort boundary and should be treated as such.
Niseko isn't steep but avalanches do occur and glide cracks claim a few souls every year. For every person with beacon/shovel/probe there would be several without.
Many epic Niseko pow images are taken outside the resort boundary but you can pay to get runs in before the lifts open. A backcountry powder tour can be worthwhile as well.

Edited by craigr - 7/11/14 at 8:16pm
post #9 of 18

Bent Chetlers is an amazing skis... old version not the 2015 version I'm talking about 123mm underfoot. Praxis Protests would be another great option even wider at 128mm underfoot.

post #10 of 18
It's reasonable to expect some new snow most days during January. The upper mountain is above tree line, so you'll get wind affected snow at times. Personally, I don't know of anywhere I've ever skied that one could safely take just their powder boards/ bc touring boards and be fine. And ditto on the avy stuff, glide cracks (the whole mountain is covered with 'sasa' a type of bamboo ground cover that bonds relatively poorly with snow) and a few thermal vents. When I was there a good deal, I took one pair of piste skis, and then powder skis... Used the powder skis 90% of the time. My avatar was taken on a relatively low new snow day in Niseko. This one below is on Honshu... We'd have 4-5 days like this every season and with almost no competition for turns:


In Japan in general, in a typical 70-80 day season, I'd ski maybe 5 days of piste total, and truly hard snow conditions maybe one to three days per season. All the rest was off piste and touring. One of these days the western press is going to figure out how amazing the spring touring is in the northern alps (Honshu). Like this:

In closing, all I can say is that I've never had a day in N.America that would be in my top 25 in Japan.
Edited by markojp - 7/11/14 at 9:28pm
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

Sounds to be every bit the heaven people make it out to be then! First of all with the final decision on where to go up in the air if you had to recommend one place to ski in japan for a group that ranges from a beginner 11 year old to a couple of experts where would that be?

Secondly After some research I'm look at the armada norwalk as i don't ski switch. Only trouble is deciding between the 189 and 179 lengths. 189 seems quite long while the 179 seems very short for a ski with so much tip rocker. 

post #12 of 18
Niseko is as good as anywhere for a mixed ability group on its first trip to Japan. There is no expert level terrain as such just regular and consistent snow and a degree of tolerance for out of boundary skiing that other Japanese locations don't have. Don't expect too much in the way of Japanese culture as it is essentially Australian with more and more Scandos, Chinese and North Americans than ever before. It is what it is, an international resort. As a family we like it but we always go somewhere else as well eg Furano/Rusutsu/kiarao

Keep in mind that majority of travel insurers won't cover you for out of bounds skiing; no patrolling outside the gates in Japan; mandatory police reporting for any out of bounds search and rescue; you are liable for rescue costs.
If the " experts" in the group want steeps then maybe consider somewhere in Nagano and hire a guide for BC. Steeps + January= avalanche.
post #13 of 18

Agree with most of what's been said, but I'd still bring your Kendos. On a family trip you'll be spending time in-bounds on groomed or packed out snow. Easy enough to rent some fat skis for going out the gates or fun when it dumps big. When I go up I usually bring an all-mountain (88-98) and my Praxis Protests. 

post #14 of 18
We are heading to Myoko Kogen/Nozawa in January and at I'll be taking 2 pair. Mantras and Boomerangs both fitted with Binding Freedom inserts. Bindings get interspersed through other luggage reducing weight in bag and allowing flat packing of multiple skis.
Many do as Jim has suggested and rent for bigger days. I've done if myself but at about $60 a day, I decided to buy my own.
With our strong dollar there are some good deals online but Oz ebay can yield some great deals. Many head to Japan, buy some fatties and then sell them on return.
Very limited market for resale combined with other factors such as majority without skills/knowledge to remount and a fair amount of bad vibe from B&M shops regarding kit bought online. Adds up to some good deals.
post #15 of 18

Often some decent deals on used skis at shops in Niseko, another possibility. Saw some Ullr's Chariots with bindings at about Y40,000 last season. 

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

It's been decided that we will be headed to nozawa onsen. any info on the area and snow?

post #17 of 18
Probably not the best forum for info on Japan. Head to where the info and knowledge is extensive.
Your Kendos will be fine for Noz. Strict off piste policy.
I also like to see what has to say about a place

This clip is a beauty
Edited by craigr - 7/21/14 at 1:58pm
post #18 of 18

Kendos will be OK at Nozawa, but in January you'll see knee-deep dumps now and then, and be wishing you had real powder skis.

Not a lot of rental fat-ski options there last time I looked, but that has been a while. may have some more recent advice on that.

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