Japan 2019/2020

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Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:56 pm

I'll keep this thread humming along in anticipation for a quick trip I have planned to Hokkaido. Myself, my wife and two kids (12 and 14) are permanent intermediates and have never skied in Japan.
It will be very much early season but the 10 days before Christmas on Hokkaido is generally a little more reliable for snow cover than a lot of other destinations in the Northern Hemisphere. (Average snow base by December 15 is generally at least 100cm I'm told by those that are regulars to the region). For Tony Crocker's benefit I will say in advance that I understand there are better times to ski if planning well in advance but circumstances dictate I have to be back in Australia to work over Christmas/New Year and January as will be heading Stateside in February/March.
As it happens we're on the Mountain Collective Pass so we'll be sure to get the 'free' days in Niseko but will also check out Rusutsu, Kiroro and a couple of the other hills close to Sapporo/Otaru.
From a cost point of view the flights to Chitose from our base in Brisbane are pretty reasonable compared to LA, Vancouver, Munich and Geneva and there's no time difference either. The cost of lodging in Japan is probably more expensive than North America and Europe. Car rental (at that time anyway) is cheap. Lift tickets seem very reasonable on the face of things.
No matter if we get to sample the famed Japow or not we'll have a great time I'm sure.

So far the summer in Hokkaido has been pretty standard fare. I'll be watching for the temps to slowly reduce as the months roll on.

Anyone else planning a trip to Japan for this coming winter?
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:24 am

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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:26 pm

To be honest I only had a quick look at the photos of the above Alpin forum links. Wow. I want just a fraction of that.
I will google translate the whole thing when I get more time.
I'll search back and check out Tony's reports. I have read them before but it won't hurt to revisit.
Thanks James!
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:20 pm

First real snow due this week in Hokkaido. Freezing to sea level apparently. Encouraging as I'm there in just 40 odd days.
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:06 pm

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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:14 pm

We'll be in Japan in about 8 days. Enough to slide on by the looks of the webcams.
Very keen to get on skis for the first time since August! I'm planning on demoing some all mountain skis around 90mm with the plan of buying either here in Oz next month or in the US in February.
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:10 am

You may want to buy 90mm skis, but in Japan with normal midwinter weather you'll want to be skiing on at least 100mm. :-D
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:26 am

Which ski areas are you considering?
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:45 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Which ski areas are you considering?


I have no real practical knowledge about skis. I have only taken note of what skis I have rented once - that was August here in Oz. I rented Salomon QST 92 but they were the model from a couple of years ago. I loved them on the first day which was an Aussie powder day. They were lovely in the soft snow. By the third day (no new snow) I found them less than ideal on icy patches. I found they didn’t have the grip of previous skis I have rented. This could be a bad tune or user error I guess. I’m told the latest model QST 92 has improved in this regard??

Skis on my radar are the Solomon as mentioned above and also -
Blizzard Rustler 9
Blizzard Bushwacker
K2 Mindbender 90
Head Kore 93
Rossi Experience 88
Nordica Navigator 90
Elan Ripstick

I’m short and pretty light at about 155 pounds and a permanent intermediate so the heavier skis like Brahma, Kendo, Enforcer probably wouldn’t be ideal I’ve read.

There’s so many options it’s confusing. To be honest I think I’d adapt to anything I buy. I’ve never been on any skis that I have felt we not fine to ski on.

I’d be grateful for any input.

I’ll also be buying skis for my wife. She will be happy as long as the skis match her jacket. :)
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:57 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Which ski areas are you considering?

:-"
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:04 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:
jamesdeluxe wrote:Which ski areas are you considering?

:-"


Lol. Sorry, I read your comment as a follow on from Tony’s comment about skis.

We have a Mountain Collective pass so will take a couple of days in Niseko but hope to check out Rusutsu also.
We will have a few nights in Otaru so plan to go to Kiroro and Sapporo Teine too.
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:47 pm

Otaru is the sushi capital of Japan, fresh and very reasonably priced.

On a more serious note, for most people:
If you're skiing is mostly in Oz or on-piste in Europe, 80-90mm width is best.
For western North America or off-piste in the Alps 90-100mm is best.

Individual taste is what matters most, so demos should carry a lot of weight in your decision. But you have to take conditions into account. The fatter, softer skis are likely to feel best in Japan, but may not be the best for your overall skiing. I have skied 23 days in Japan and used my powder skis 110mm or 112mm on 22 of them.

I would recommend renting fat skis in Japan to get the most out of that experience. Then use your March trip in the US to test skis you might consider buying.
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:42 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Otaru is the sushi capital of Japan, fresh and very reasonably priced.

On a more serious note, for most people:
If you're skiing is mostly in Oz or on-piste in Europe, 80-90mm width is best.
For western North America or off-piste in the Alps 90-100mm is best.

Individual taste is what matters most, so demos should carry a lot of weight in your decision. But you have to take conditions into account. The fatter, softer skis are likely to feel best in Japan, but may not be the best for your overall skiing. I have skied 23 days in Japan and used my powder skis 110mm or 112mm on 22 of them.

I would recommend renting fat skis in Japan to get the most out of that experience. Then use your March trip in the US to test skis you might consider buying.


That may be a good idea. I definitely want to have our own skis before our planned January 2021 road trip of British Columbia or Europe. Moving around means doing the rental thing multiple times so I want to avoid that.
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:53 pm

So we’re back from our short trip to Hokkaido. We only skied 4 days and did tourist stuff the other 4.
We’re on the Mountain Collective pass so did our two days in less than ideal conditions at Niseko. They’ve had a relatively slow start to the season although all the ‘courses’ were open. The first day had about 3 inches of fresh snow which was nice for a while but it tracked out quickly and the weather was warm. It rained after we finished skiing that afternoon and of course the mountain froze that night. Conditions on the second morning were bulletproof (think Oz/NZ hard). The best skiing was from late morning once it softened. Kind of bizarre that we were spring skiing in mid winter in Hokkaido. I guess one travels to Niseko to ski the famed powder because generally speaking it is not for great terrain, magnificent views (Yotei is nice when not covered in cloud though) or brilliant lift infrastructure.

We headed to Otaru and checked out that nice little port town. The temps dropped considerably that day and snow started. Cool to see snow on the beach where the sand would normally be.
We took a forty minute drive to Sapporo Teine the next day. There was about 6 inches of fresh snow overnight. The whole mountain was nice and soft. This ended up being the best days skiing we had as we shared the mountain with a handful of other tourists and an army group and a couple of school groups. The army and school groups only skied the groomers so we skied fresh snow until last lifts. It was a great days skiing. The terrain was a little steeper than most places in Niseko I think and the view of the city of Sapporo and the Sea of Japan was lovely.
We drove half an hour from Otaru to Kiroro the next day. Despite about 10 inches of fresh snow I didn’t feel Kiroro delivered as much as Teine the previous day. Firstly there were a lot more punters on the hill. Secondly Kiroro must have got the rain the Niseko received a few days before because I was bottoming out on rock hard ice despite the layer of (extremely light and dry) snow on top. Thirdly I found the hill to have a lot of flat spots which is hard going with nearly a foot of snow. Obviously I didn’t have the place figured. It was a fun day all the same of course.

We did all the usual things one does in Japan. Ate great sushi and ramen, checked out an onsen, tried some sake and generally enjoyed all the quirky things that Japan offers. The locals were extremely helpful and polite despite considerable communication challenges at times.

I’ll make sure to go back to Japan mid season at some stage to ensure a better chance of catching the best of it. These trips are also research trips in a way. I plan to retire from my current career in 5 years (once my son has completed his schooling). I intend to do a full season (December to April) that year to some region of the northern hemisphere. From this very brief sample of skiing in Japan I don’t think it will be my choice for the planned winter of skiing. The powder is lovely but I can’t help but feel it’s a bit one dimensional.

I’ll try to post a couple of very amateur iPhone pics.
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Re: Japan 2019/2020

Postby Sbooker » Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:06 pm

Sorry about the 'turned on the side' photos. It previewed perfectly from my phone and loaded the right way too??
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