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Author Topic: Post Japanuary Trip Advice  (Read 6638 times)
Skier of the Hood

Posts: 175

Post Japanuary Trip Advice
« on: 06/03/17, 08:38 PM »

I went on a ski trip this past winter to Japan from Jan 25 to Feb 23. While i'm too lazy to do a whole write up on the thing I thought people might be interested in some advice that goes beyond the hype the ski industry often portrays.

We started off in Tokyo and had a blast getting stuffed onto public transportation and putting around for two days. Big cities are big cities and I thought this was the perfect amount of time for us. We took the bullet train up to Aomori for two days and one evening of skiing Hokkado out of Sukayo hot springs. This would be the most relaxing part of the trip, the full meal deal from a traditional onsen is not to be missed. The skiing however was mostly not to be. One of the worst winters in a while had left us with a brittle snowpack and after a sunny day a meter of new snow shut down the ropeway and left us trying to find low angle wiggles with little success. On the higher peaks during the sunny first day we learned one of the most important lessons of Japow.

The Jawind is relentless and with the water content of the Japow it is recommended for the best experience to search for skiing at treeline or below.

Another important lesson is that it seems your lodging takes responsibility for your safety if they know you are skiing. They will be very upset with you if you return at sunset without letting them know. This will likely be one of the few times someone will outwardly show anger towards you. Overall backcountry skiing seems to be seen by the general public as recklessly dangerous.

After Hakkoda we spent the rest of the time RVing around Hokkaido avoiding Nieseko (Australia). In general it seemed like we could park the RV almost anywhere and not be bothered. Some of the best overnight parking locations were next to Seven Elevens and Lawsons, which was convenient for stocking up on water and strange consumables. Never really had a problem understanding road signs or navigating (although I paid large sums for google maps assistance). We never used the toll roads. Highly recommend the RV lifestyle on the north Island for the mobility needed to chase pow.

While we got skunked for the most part on finding the famed Hokkaido uber Japow due to the drought we did get to see a lot of views, which I hear is pretty rare. Due to the volcanic origin of the mountains it is important to watch out for micro terrain. A lot of the terrain consists of large gully features which sometimes end in small (or sometimes gigantic) cliffs. For the best backcountry experience I would recommend exploring locations away from the resorts. We found locations accessed from the resorts or resort trail heads to be fairly crowded. This is easy to do as skiable snow nearly to sea level in many locations allows for near endless skiing options. While we did not get the chance to explore the Island as much as I would have liked we found the skiing around Shokanbetsu and Mount Kamuishiri to be some of the best around. The towns (Mashike and Rumoi) contain a grand total of about 5 westerners and you will have 0 people to compete for turns with. Although I could imagine this area probably isn't the best if it's stormy.

Japan Take Aways:

Jawind, stay low
Onsens, onsen everyday (avoid large hotel onsens)
RV Life, you can park almost anywhere outside of the big cities
Unlimited Alcohol Bars, the next day is a loss
Google Maps, purchase some international data and predownload what you can from wifi
WIFI, Lawsons and Michi No Ecki are great locations for free wifi
Michi No Ecki, they are awesome, especially the one in Asahikawa
Terrain, Most of the time you will be making short laps on 300m vertical slopes due to Jawind or terrain limitations
Language, Never really a problem but learn basic phrases for the countryside
Total cost for a dirtbag month long trip, about 4500-5000 but could be done for 3500-4000 if you are a true deal scoring dirtbag eating animal crackers for maximum calorie to dollar ratio.


The wrong side of Yotei

The right side of Yotei


Daisetsuzan National Park

Machike Area

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« Last Edit: 06/03/17, 11:01 PM by Skier of the Hood » Logged

"As we all know, the true driving force behind every early morning wake up is not necessarily safety, but the overpowering drive to be sitting on a patio by 1 pm, intoxicated, and spraying loudly about the morning's adventure."

-Andrew Wexler 2011
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