View Full Version : snowboarding in Japan
April 24th, 2010, 05:59 PM
Some skier friends of mine are organising a trip to Japan so I may go along in February. From what they say the snow is predominantly powder so possibly not suited to hardbooting. I haven't been in soft boots for years and don't have good memories of them but may have to try. Anyway i think i will take one board/boots/bindings set and bank on trying to hire approriate gear
Does anybody here have experience of the snowboarding scene up there? is there a possibility i may be able to hire something like a swallow tail or other powder specific board?
April 24th, 2010, 06:29 PM
The big question is where are you going to be going? I lived there for many years and anywhere in Gunma, Niigata or Nagano usually has great groomers, but if you are after powder go to Tsugaike (in Hakuba), Kagura, or any of the resorts around Niseko (in Hokkaido). I know that does not help much, but you need to get some more info about where you are going to be.
April 24th, 2010, 06:30 PM
depends on where you are going....niigata and nagano are hardboot heaven awesome groom not to mention post ride Onsens. now if you are going to Hokkaido pack a powder board
April 24th, 2010, 06:40 PM
I believe, and will confirm, that we are headed to hokkaido , possibly niseko
April 25th, 2010, 07:59 AM
A group of us are planning on Hokkaido mid-Jan from Calgary. The rumours we've heard indicates that Niseko is one of the few places you're allowed to "legally" off piste (can anyone comment on this?) and the accommodations appear to be good, and reasonably priced.
We'd be taking pow boards for sure, but also taking a carving deck and hardboots. I kept an eye on the snow reports from there this year, and there were long periods where they didn't have any significant fresh, that would be good groomer days. I guess it all comes down to try and be prepared for whatever. You can always rent soft gear, but hard gear is going to be a lot harder to find.
We're looking at maybe spending five days in one area (Niseko/Rusutsu), and then moving north (Furano/Asahidake/Kamui) for the second week. Anyone have any resort faves in these areas? Plus, if anyone has any information on day-tripping in to Sapporo and Asahikawa, that would be cool too.
April 25th, 2010, 11:34 AM
Niseko is a great freeriding mountain with lots of great terrain...all three resorts that make up Niseko (Annapuri, Higashiyama, and Hirafu) are all accessible with one lift ticket. You can hike to the top (15-20 minutes from top chair at Hirafu) and ride the backside of the moutain (ending up at Annapuri) and then ride a criss-cross link of chairs and runs back to Hirafu via Higashiyama.
Rusutsu is nice as well, but it is about an hour from Niseko. You are right about the weather...I have been there in January -February where the conditions were not very good and then it just started to dump and did not stop for many days. There are some shops with hardboot gear, but it is harder to find. If you get the chance I would go to Niseko Weiss for some freeriding and pow as it has no chair lifts and is Cat access only at a very reasonable price.
Asahidake/Furano are great as well, but not as convenient for westerners as they do not have as many services that are tailored to english speaking customers. I really like the backcountry around there. Niseko used to be more like Asahidake/Furano, but the Aussie's moved up a few years back and developed it a lot more.
Getting to Sapporo from Niseko is pretty easy...you really have two choices...Bus or Train...both can be a very different experience and are a lot of fun, so I would recommend taking the bus one way and the train the other...but make sure you check and verify the time schedules as I cannot remember what time the last one makes the trip back to Niseko.
Anyways, hope that helps for some info from hokkaido...The Beer Garden is a great place for some beverages in Hokkaido and the seafood (sushi/sashimi), and ramen are excellent at all of the shops.
p.s. pic is from a few years ago and kind of small, but it is from the back bowl between niseko hirafu and annapuri and cat riding at weiss and my friend Bodhi on top of Niseko with Mt Yotei in the background.
April 25th, 2010, 07:22 PM
Thanks Sandy, that's a huge help. I've heard good reviews of the further north stuff riding-wise, but the general consensus seems to be that the Furano area is pretty quiet at night. However, it does seem a shame to go all that way and then hang out in the same spot for nearly two weeks, when you have so many great options within a short travel distance.
Food - sushi and ramen and teppan and sukiyaki and far too much sake - mmmmm.
April 25th, 2010, 08:06 PM
yup it is definitely niseko we are going to - so i will take one hard boot set-up but will be looking to rent a set-up for powder. What do i get and where do i get it?
April 25th, 2010, 08:40 PM
April 25th, 2010, 08:57 PM
If you are feeling like trying some boards that are not available much anywhere outside of Japan, you should give the Gentem's a shoot. The TT, impossible, and Speedmaster/DPT/Magic38 are really fun freeride boards that are designed by local legends Taro Tamai and Tomoki Takaku...if you like the wood style check out Taro's snowsurf designs...
Moss also has some interesting powder shapes in the 58SW, U-5, and the 56PT. Hirafu is right in the center of the mountain and the town, so you will be best located for taking advantage of everything. Have a great time and please post pics.
April 25th, 2010, 09:10 PM
That looks like a comprehensive range of boards with some powder specific shapes. I guess I am thinking that if the snow is powdery enough not to use my usual setup (prior wcrm 177) then i need something like a swallow tail or fish-like. I am happy - ish with the prior in shallow "resort" powder. Or will be after a day or so. So can I rent a swallow tail in hirafu. And what kind of soft boots do i go for in deep powder - stiff or the opposite end of the spectrum?
April 25th, 2010, 10:16 PM
The Impossible and Speedmaster/DPT/Magic38 are all swallowtails (but not very big tails) and you should be able to rent them from the Gentem Cafe or the Gentem demo shop there...sorry cannot remember the name of it right now.
Boots are going to come down to what feels best for you. I prefer a medium flex so that I still get some performance out of it, but at the same time they are not too stiff to hike in. good luck.
Fat Old Bastard
April 26th, 2010, 12:31 AM
Have fun guys ! :D Sandy knows what he's talking about.
April 26th, 2010, 01:45 AM
so the gentem cafe/rental/demo are in hirafu?
April 26th, 2010, 05:36 AM
Yes, of the resorts at Niseko, Hirafu is in the center of the town and the Gentem Cafe and rental/demo shop used to be only a short walk from the lifts. Enjoy.
April 26th, 2010, 06:24 AM
Spent 4 days in Rutsutsu at the end of March. It snowed everyday and the conditions were unreal. I only took softies since I went with my family. Rode lots of untracked powder! The last day was just amazing groomed packed powder seemed like for miles. Wish I had brought alpine gear but still had a blast on the softies. Plan to ship alpine gear next time. BTW- most of the resort is open for off piste. Ran into some local hardbooters running TD3s on all mountain boards just have a ball in the off piste stuff. There was also one dude on a sick Pogo swallow tail just flying in the freshies. Good stuff!
Hope you get good snow while you visit Hokkaido. By far the best snow I have encountered in Japan.
April 26th, 2010, 12:04 PM
we don't get much real powder here in little old nz. I am so looking forward to trying out a swallowtail in deep light and fluffy. I think i will try and use my SB413's with the bomber spring things backed off to be very flexy at first and then try some softies after that. I don't want to start another soft/hard in powder thread - yawn - so keep your powder dry guys. if you know what i mean. I guess that the stiff end of soft boots are malamutes or drivers or even the top end raichle/deeluxe. What are good softies at the more flexible end?
April 26th, 2010, 03:22 PM
I lived in Sapporo quite awhile ago (1996-1998), and at the time, I was right at the top end of the available rental sizes when renting softies with my 27.0 cm foot. So if your feet are much bigger than that, you may want to check on availability of rental softies.
Not that powder in your hard boots would be a terrible option if it comes to that.
April 26th, 2010, 04:00 PM
looking at MP 26.5
May 24th, 2010, 12:48 AM
any chance of an update on your Japanese holiday Mr Robbato?
May 24th, 2010, 02:11 AM
Yes I am definitely going to hokkaido in february and really looking forward to trying out some powder boards. No other updates apart from that and actually spending more time thinking about the upcoming NZ season than next feb, allthough by coincidence I am typing this from a hotel room in shibuya, tokyo. have you ever snowboarded in Japan? Are you still trying to manufacture shaw 6.5's with Lee? I havent seen him for a while now but used to work with him at ENL
May 24th, 2010, 08:02 AM
Hi Nigel, how are you? seeya in CP, I will be there from the 4th june....
May 24th, 2010, 06:17 PM
I will be in CP from end of july - around 27th 28th for about a week, and possibly a few days 12th -18th. I sent you an email to your new address but it must have got lost in the spam filter. Are you bringing some of your new boards to NZ? I would love to try one.
Looking forward to a good winter
May 25th, 2010, 01:33 AM
Yeah, I remember Lee telling me that he knew a made keen skiffy and hardbooter called Nige, and then later on realising that i knew you as Nige here also, the one and the same!
Yes, we are still pulling together the Shaws, now building them in NZ
and I've been racing my one up here with some success, some lack of ;-)
No snowboarding now in 4 years I think; went to Korea in 2006 I think it was; great fun; snow in Japan is a fair bit better; keep talking up going there to go snowboarding; so far only been there to work and that's not as much fun.
Lee is not with ENL now; working at some other place I think.
If you are flying back through THailand let me know; you are more than welcome to participate in the BNSES (Bangkok no snow expression session) - Skategoat and Dan know it well ;-)
Might head down to NZ this winter, but not sure I'll be doing much snowboarding, sadly. Depends a bit on timing.
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