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Expat's Skiing Feedback from Japan

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have done a search on "Japan" and discovered that most posters favor Hokkaido (Japan's most northern island) resorts like Niseko and yes there is a Club Med operation at another Hokkaido resort(http://www.sahoro.co.jp/english/index.htm).

However, if I were coming to Japan via Narita Airport (Tokyo International), I prefer skiing one of three areas in Nagano Prefecture. From Tokyo, there are generally stress-free means of getting there versus a domestic (1.5 hour) flight and a three to four hour bus ride to get to Niseko.

Cost/performance-wise, you can take a shinkansen (Bullet Train) ride to Nagano from Tokyo and fairly easy bus transfer. The details are here: http://www.skijapanguide.com/index.php As a point of reference, my home mountain is- http://www.mizuhohighland.com/index.html and from where I live, it takes me a good 8 hour drive or bus ride to get to these areas so I am a little picky. Mammoth Mountain is where I try to roadtrip to (from Japan) every March but that is still a six hour drive from L.A.

I chose the following ski areas in Nagano Prefecture based on the following biased criteria:

1) Oku Shiga Kogen Ski Area (one of the few SKIER ONLY : major ski areas left in Japan, has tons of reliable snow until May), interlinked with other areas, making a auto less necessary and site of Japan's only World Cup stop on the white circus).

2) Hakuba Hoppou One (oh-neh, not 1)Ski Area (Again, lots of reliable snow until late April and renown for less grooming and long steep moguled runs. It is also the site of All Japan annual National Demonstrator* Competition.

3) Nozawa Onsen Ski Area (third choice because of a slightly less snow reliability but besides being a past World Cup venue in the past, it has 13 free hot springs within its Telluride-ish town which is a unique resort/town experience not usually found anywhere in Japan).

Lastly, I do agree with another poster talking about the retail Disneyland of ski/board shops in metropolitan Tokyo. It is a couple of minutes walk from "Ochanomizu" Station on the circular Yamanote Line. Being that as it may be, the ski market here has shrunk considerably in favor of board sales but there is still a fervant worship of *demonstrators and their skis (used and endorsed by ski company demonstrator teams, then subsequently chosen for the national demonstration team that participates in Interski).

Salomon, among others, have created and developed this category for the Japan market and they are slightly detuned versions of the GS or SL models. Graphics are different, yet they generally mirror the specs of the racing models. Ogasaka Skis are huge here being that they are the last manufacturer of skis in Japan (made in Nagano Prefecture).

Moreover, it was interesting how early next seasons ski models can be purchased at Japanese retail outlets. From late January you can purchase next season's skis and from that time, all the manufacturers get together to have next season model demo days. Evidenced by the one held last week at my small local mountain.

Another equipment-related quirk of this market is that some boot shell models specifically made for lower leg anatomy of Japanese. For example, most of the upper shells and/or spoilers and liners are designed with this in mind. This is particularly true in all the racing/expert models.

As an example, you can purchase at retail a Salomon Course shell (International and for Japan model) alone without the liner and choose an aftermarket foam liner of your choice. Another example is the retail availability of Technica XT12, XT24, as well at the XT17.

Side note- to my knowledge, this is one of the last ski boots manufactured outside of Italy and in Japan:

To sum up this part of the thread Ochanomizu is a ski/boarder equipment/wear/accessory/limited edition/etc. paradise (at least compared to anywhere in North America).

[ March 10, 2004, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: MammothMtnDreamerInJapan ]
post #2 of 15
Hey, I got back 3 weeks ago from 2 weeks in Japan. I skiied Niseko Hirafu, Rusutsu, Norzawa Onse, Happo-one, Goryu and Hakuba 47.

What's really amazing is the backcountry off the back of Happo-one, it's like Alaska, really steep!! I only got to look though, next time I'm getting a backcountry guide for sure.

I'll be going back again definately.

Check it out. - http://photos.darb.net/photos/stuff/headcam/
post #3 of 15
Absolutely awesome footage.

You are skiing quickly.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Nice videos! Put Oku Shiga Kougen on your schedule next time too! You won't regret it.

May I ask, did you hold the camera with your teeth? [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #5 of 15
I've got a helmet cam, basically it plugs into my mini-DV cam, it's about the size of a lipstick, you just stick it onto your google strap or helmet and go! It's great!
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks Janus.

Can you post a picture of your set-up the next time its together? I am really interested in the lipstick sized cam...I have a Sony mini DV Cam now. Whenever you have the time.
post #7 of 15
I did a guest instructor gig at Shiga Kogen a long time ago. Nice place with some decent terrain. Cool folks. Japan rocks.
post #8 of 15
Originally posted by janus:

Check it out. - http://photos.darb.net/photos/stuff/headcam/
If you haven't seen the video's yet, check them out!!!
post #9 of 15
Mammothmntdreamerinjpn, this is what I've got, the 480 line res kit.

post #10 of 15
Great Post. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #11 of 15
Thanks for all the great information.


post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Lostboy and feal,

Your very welcome. And thanks Janus for the minicam information! I look forward for more Southern Hemisphere friends in Nagano Prefecture in the near future!!
post #13 of 15
Thanks for the post! I work for Mitsui Fudosan in New York, but have yet to go to Tokyo. Now I have a personal reason to push for the trip!
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Good for you Capboy! Just bring your boots (rentals maxout at 27cm) and duds (rental sizes peak out at M/L), otherwise the rental skis are generally top notch. Check out Janus's new mpegs on Hakuba Ski Area!
post #15 of 15
Really good stuff. Really good video. Outstanding, guys!
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