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yukiotokosama
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25/02/2019 11:08 pm  
Posted by: jwizerd

 

How good is Aizu! Had 5 days there late Jan, got some really good pow days. 

It's pretty sweet. It's only a 4 hour drive, so I plan to go back when the snow is good. Next season for sure.


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jwizerd
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26/02/2019 4:05 pm  
Posted by: yukiotokosama
Posted by: jwizerd

 

How good is Aizu! Had 5 days there late Jan, got some really good pow days. 

It's pretty sweet. It's only a 4 hour drive, so I plan to go back when the snow is good. Next season for sure.

Nice, yeah I'm keen to go back there. Seems like a pretty untapped area.

We rode Alts and did the cat ski there, as well as Nekoma, Minowa, Gran Deco and Inawashiro. Highly recommend Inawashiro.

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El Che
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03/04/2019 7:21 am  

Anybody ever ride in Myoko? What's the word?


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jwizerd
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12/04/2019 12:07 am  
Posted by: El Che

Anybody ever ride in Myoko? What's the word?

I've been to Myoko for a couple of weeks, like 4 years ago? It was pretty quiet then, I heard it's grown a bit now and has a little more Western influence.  

Definitely worth checking it out though - stay in town if you can and it's pretty much ski-in/out from the main 2 resorts (Akakura Onsen and Akakura Kanko, you can ride between them on the same ticket)

On a powder day, hit up Seki Onsen. The main 4 resorts all face different aspects so definitely check snow reports/ask locals as one resort will get a lot more snow than others depending on wind direction. Suginohara and there's another resort the name escapes me, but you can get a shuttle bus easily enough around to them. 

Also, check out Madarao and surrounds - the Madarao back/sidecountry is really good, hit up Aki at North Nagano Outdoor for guiding, you won't be disappointed. 

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highme
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03/06/2019 2:48 pm  

I won't be getting into any Japow, but I'm taking my daughter to Tokyo next week for a graduation present. Anything on your "can't miss in Tokyo" lists? I've already got a few plans (eat all the Lawson Mart fried chicken) and hopefully will be checking out a Tokyo FC or Urawa Reds match. We're staying in Shinjuku fwiw.


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matty
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03/06/2019 5:24 pm  
Posted by: highme

I won't be getting into any Japow, but I'm taking my daughter to Tokyo next week for a graduation present. Anything on your "can't miss in Tokyo" lists? I've already got a few plans (eat all the Lawson Mart fried chicken) and hopefully will be checking out a Tokyo FC or Urawa Reds match. We're staying in Shinjuku fwiw.

Tokyo is HUGE. The metropolitan area has a population somewhere just shy of 40 million people. Since you're staying in Shinjuku, there's actually some cool stuff right where you'll be. The big train station is kind of the center of things:

  • Shinjuku Gyoen is a fairly large park about a 10 minute walk southeast from Shinjuku station. It's rad. Only costs a few yen to get in and is worth a couple of hours one day to just mellow out and enjoy the various manicured gardens.
  • West of the train station, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Shinjuku Park Tower are two of the tallest buildings in all of Tokyo. Going up to the top on a day with decent visibility can give you a good perspective on how massive a metropolitan area is when one city has about the same population as the entire state of California. The Hyatt hotel in the Shinjuku Park tower is where some of the scenes from the movie "Lost in Translation" were filmed. If you go there from noon - 2:00 on a weekday, you can have English-style "high tea" for lunch in the Peak Lounge on the 41st floor. Price for tea (with a bunch of cakes and pastries) is about $20/person and totally worth it (goes up to $50/person after 2:00 and on weekends). The views from the lounge are intense, and the food was really good when we went there a few years ago.

    PEAK LOUNGE

  • Kabukicho, which is the area northeast of the train station, is a big red-light district. It's a little much (especially with your daughter in tow) at night, but it's a trip to wander around during the day. Host/hostess clubs, tiny little bars, food stalls, and all manner of weird.
  • The Isetan and Takashimaya department stores near the station are huge, multi-floor behemoths and a good place to trip out on "Japanese stuff" and find souvenirs and gifts. I like the six floor "Tokyu hands" dealie inside Takashimaya. It's actually another department store brand, and it has a bunch of random stuff that's unique to Japan. The 12th-14th floors of Takishimaya have a balcony park/garden setup and a ton of restaurants. We went back to the Tonkatsu place twice we liked it so much. In the basement, as with almost all large Japanese department stores, is a ridiculous high-end multi-cuisine food heaven extravaganza. They have one of the KitKat places where you can get dozens of different flavors of Kit Kats. There are bento boxes of every description, food stalls, places where you can buy a $50 apple that's somehow WORTH $50, and a whole bunch more. The trick is to go to the super-expensive fruit place and get the fruit salad. It's only a few bucks and made of the chopped up slightly imperfect ridiculously expensive fruit. Get some food that looks good and take it to the big park I listed above for a picnic.
  • Surrounding the station is a bunch of shopping. Shinjuku is known for this. There are a bunch of low- and high-fashion boutiques (from UniQlo to Prada) and even an area where there are some Japanese snowboard shops.
  • On the South western side of the station are the Shinjuku terraces. Decent people watching, and a krispy kreme and a Starbucks. The krispy kreme has random Japanese flavors (yuzu was pretty good), and the Starbucks had free wifi (hopefully still does). When I was first in Japan in 2009, it was tough to find a place to get a coffee besides the vending machines that serve cans of hot coffee (Silky Black BOSS for the win!), so we got Starbucks daily. I was last there in 2016, but at that point coffee culture seemed to be catching on a bit more. If that's your scene, hopefully you can find a better option. Still, Starbucks should still be there if you need it.

Other random stuff:

  • Temples are dope. Pick a big one from google in another part of Tokyo that people speak highly of and try to navigate there. The whole adventure will be awesome.
  • Eat and drink everything. Start when you land at the airport with the vending machines. Don't stop until you leave. Ramen, yakisoba, sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki, shabushabu, tempura, soba, etc. etc. The junk food and candy are an experience unto themselves!
  • Take a train to someplace else an hour or two away. Pick it at-random from a guidebook and it'll be wonderful.
  • Get a mobile wifi hotspot or (if your phone is unlocked) a SIM card so that you can use mobile data. There are free wifi hotspots, but it's better to have your own connection. You can find places online that will have whatever you need delivered to your hotel when you check in. Prices are pretty reasonable.
  • If you're not already planning to do so, use the Narita Express to get into Shinjuku from the airport - or are you flying into Haneda? That was a little trickier for us, but we figured it out.
  • When taking the train, the automated ticket machines have a button that will change everything to English. Figuring out the correct fare and buying the tickets is part of the adventure! Alternatively, the SUICA or PASMO cards are prepaid, reloadable cards that you just tap to the automated turnstyle when entering the station and then again when exiting at your destination. The fare is deducted automatically. SUICA is if you're gonna stick to JR-East trains. PASMO for the independent Tokyo train lines and subways. More info here: https://tokyocheapo.com/travel/pasmo-suica-cards-tokyo-travel/
  • Public transportation doesn't run all night like in other big cities. Make sure that you know when your last train home is if you're gonna be out late. It may be earlier than you think, like 11:00 or 12:00. Taxis are EXPENSIVE and giving drivers directions in English is hit-or-miss.
  • The Aussies are frequent travelers to Japan. There are a ton of online travel resources from Australian sites if you need some info to figure something out.
  • Drinking in public is legal and fun. Buy some beers at a convenience store, find a spot to sit in a park or other public spot, and drink a beer with your kid while people watching. (If the graduation being celebrated is from high school, the drinking age is 20, but it's supposedly NEVER enforced).
  • Tokyo businesses mostly accept credit/debit cards, but there are still some that only use cash. Go to ATMs instead of currency exchange places. Those joints are a ripoff. 7-11 ATMs and the ones at post offices accept U.S. debit cards.

Finally, a few words of warning:

  • Pseudoephedrine is crazy illegal in Japan. Leave your cold/allergy medicine at home if it contains any.
  • Advil and Tylenol can be tough to find. Bring some with you. You'll probably be sore from all of the walking you're gonna do.
  • You have to keep your passport on you at all times. The police will occasionally stop foreign tourists and request to see your passport. I have only been stopped and asked once, and luckily I had it. Apparently, if you don't have it, they will take you in to the station and hold you while they send officers to your hotel to retrieve your passport.

Dude. I'm jealous. It's been three years since my last Japan trip. Have fun!!!

This post was modified 3 months ago by matty

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highme
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04/06/2019 7:52 am  

Thanks @Matty. I hoped you'd have some good input. 

 

I was a little bummed I wouldn't get to watch a match with the Tokyo TA group, but apparently it's the not Open Cup until Timbers play in Tacoma or Tukwilla so I'll be watching from the PDX Taproom in Shibuya.

Edit: I'm also trying to find a watch party for some of the Japanese group matches in the WWC.

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by highme

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matty
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04/06/2019 10:21 am  

I've stayed in Shinjuku two of the three times that I've been to Tokyo. It's on the main JR East train line that does a loop through Tokyo (called the Yamanote line), so it's a good place to stay. From there, with at most one train change, it was easy to go to:

  • Shibuya for the big, crazy intersection where all of the pedestrians go every way all at once when the cars stop and there is the big Meiji shrine.
  • Harajuku for the crazy shops where the kids dress up in all of the weird fashion choices on the weekends.
  • Akihabara, which is the main shopping neighborhood for electronics retailers (though the prices weren't really any better than in the U.S.).
  • Tokyo station, where a lot of the shinkansen bullet trains arrive/depart.
  • Shinagawa, which is down next to Tokyo bay and has a lot of restaurants, a cool temple, and a cool park.

I've only barely explored a teensy bit of Tokyo, though. Get a weird guidebook or three and read them on the plane on the way over and in the evenings at your hotel. that's how we found some of the stuff we checked out.


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matic
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05/06/2019 6:24 pm  

i've been going to japan all my life and been staying months at a time the last few years. can def point you to specifics if you need. and don't be ashamed to hit the tourist spots and traps, they're actually all legit in japan opposed to other places in the world IMO.  for convenience stay near the JR yamanote line loop as mentioned. for an unforgettable sports experience do check out the tokyo giants! shit makes MLB look beyond tame in every possible way


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GD
 GD
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08/08/2019 12:39 pm  

Finally making the pilgrimage to the pow holy land this coming Jan. The plan is to split our riding days between Rusutsu & Moiwa resorts.

Any advice on a good town/area to book an AirBnB (or something along those lines) to stay at that's relatively close in proximity to both? From my understanding, Rusutsu is closer to Chitose airport relative to Moiwa?

Any input from you Japan locals/experts is def appreciated 🙏.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago by GD

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matty
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08/08/2019 1:45 pm  
Posted by: GD

Finally making the pilgrimage to Pow holy land this coming Jan. The plan is to split our riding days between Rusutsu & Moiwa resorts.

Any advice on a good town/area to book an AirBnB (or something along those lines) to stay at that's relatively close in proximity to both? From my understanding, Rusutsu is closer to Chitose airport relative to Moiwa?

Any input from any of you Japan locals/experts is def appreciated 🙏.

I'm curious to see what advice you get. We just did the Niseko thing when we went to Hokkaido. We weren't feeling up to tackling the rental car that we would have needed in order to stay somewhere else and access other resorts.


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highme
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09/08/2019 12:18 pm  

Kutchan is the larger down just up the road from Niseko on the way to Rusustsu, you can probably find cheaper accommodations there. There are also buses that go between Niseko & Rusustsu with a lift ticket included for about $60-80 iirc. 


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