Posts Tagged ‘ski’

Travel deep into the rural Japan – Akita

January 18, 2017

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Tourism Agency announced yesterday that the total number of visitors to Japan increased by 21.8% from the previous year. More than 24 million tourists visited Japan last year but the same number in 2006 was just about 7 million, so this is really a big jump!

However, still tourists are visiting only specific areas such as Tokyo, (and around),  Osaka (and around), Hokkaido or Fukuoka. (See the above map. Red, orange or yellow are places tourist paid visits.)

Last weekend I traveled to Akita prefecture for skiing and hot spring (and of course nice food and Sake!!) with my husband and an Irish friend. My another old friend is now living in Akita for his work and he will soon move back to Tokyo, so I wanted to visit there while he was there.

Enjoying  a couple of beers and Sakes at the comfortable Shinkansen seats I fell a sleep and next time when I awake and looked outside the window, it was already completely different world. Snowing heavily and no more city lights. Shinkansen finally arrived at Tazawako station, three of us and two other unacquainted people stepped on the platform covered with 10-15 cm fresh snow. It was about 3 hour pleasant Shinkansen trip.

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We stayed at Kokumin Kyukamura hotel chain, and they have 37 hotels located in various national parks in Japan. This hotel chain is originally government owned so the price is relatively reasonable. (Kokumin Kyukamura website)  The room is a normal, traditional tatami room so we slept on Futon mattress wearing Yukata, Japanese traditional pajamas. We re-started drink Sake…..Akita has lots…..of nice Sakes!

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These are the selection made by my friend, Kosuke! The middle one is “ゆきの美人” which means “ゆきYuki, 美人Beauty” and Yuki is my name, well done, Kosuke 🙂

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The next day was started with Asa-Buro, the first Onsen of the day. For this way, I can reset myself from the previous nights drinking and be ready for skiing! As the weather forecast already had told, the snow continued for a whole day but not windy and snow was not that heavy so the condition was just fabulous for enjoying skiing in deep powder snow.This was my first time to ski in Akita, and to tell you the truth I didn’t expect too much about the snow condition in Akita, I thought it was wet snow but luckily I was wrong.

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Kosuke took a very good picture of mine with his Nikon D5. Immediately  I changed my Facebook profile picture to this one!

We skied until the chair lifts stopped their service at 4 pm. And drove back to the hotel. Soaked into Onsen (my second one on this day) to relax my sore muscle. The hotel is located well-known Onsen resort called Nyuto Onsen, actually Nyuto means a nipple, I know it is a very strange name… It is named after the mountain nearby and this mountain’s shape is similar to women’s breast, so that’s why. And also the color of this Onsen water is white, cloudy color like milk. I like sulfur smell very much and Nyuto Onsen is sulfur bath.I soaked Onsen one more time after dinner and Sake just before going to bed  (or actually Futon!).

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Next day was wonderful weather, we could looked down the lake Tazawa from the mountain. Amazingly there was no cue for lifts or restaurants, this ski resort has 13 runs some of them were well groomed and some are natural and lots of powder snow. Some are steep but mostly moderate. We skied until lunch time and then packed our gears to send them back to Tokyo by Takkyubin. I always envy when I talk with my bike tour guests who travel to Japan for skiing from Australia, New Zealand or even from Europe, as they have a few weeks holiday but my schedule is so tight, 1.5 days skiing and had to go home… Before taking Shinkansen back to Tokyo, we drove to Tsurunoyu Onsen, which is the most famous, popular and the oldest Onsen in this area. I have read many articles about Tsurunoyu and seen lots of nice pictures. We had originally tried to book this Ryokan (Inn) but was fully booked and we could not stay here this time. However you can try as visitors if you go there by 3 pm, and which we did this time. Even though I had heard about this place already but the actual impression was far above the expectation. The atmosphere, scenery, Onsen water, everything was just lovely. Simple and beautiful. I liked this place very much!

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We took same way back to Tokyo, by Shinkansen. Although it is just 2.5 days short visit, I fully enjoyed the weekend retreat, I will definitely come back!

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My Irish friend was one of very few Western guests everywhere, at hotel, ski mountain or Onsen. The map above, the data can tell this fact. If you have JR pass, just jump into Akita Shinkansen and get off at Tazawako station. You need to reserve hotel / Ryokan and reserve the pick-up bus from Shinkansen station. Please enjoy this very local experience in Akita.

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Tazawako Ski resort   website

Tsurunoyu Onsen website

 

 

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Visit Japan for skiing and cycling !

October 22, 2011

Although we are a bike tour company, we would love to promote ski business in Japan.  As you know, Japan is very mountainous island country, actually 70% of the land are mountains. And at the same time Japanese archipelago is long from north to south, so in northern Japan we have much snow during the winter (the middle of December to the end of March). It is said that we have more than 600 ski resorts (or villages), and maybe this is a bit too many…

In the ‘ 80 and  early 90’, when Japan enjoyed its bubble economy, a lot of small mountain villages were developed as ski resorts and there were a big ski boom among young people. But after bubble economy was over, the ski boom was also over, so the population of skiers and snowboarders decreased rapidly. Only huge amount of debts were remained at the local villages.

Thanks to Australians who discovered the quality of snow in Niseko in Hokkaido, now they became international to attract many skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. But as we mentioned above, we have more than 600 ski resorts (oh, some of them are too small to call “resorts”, though…), there are plenty of possibilities to bring in more visitors.

<<Five  advantages about skiing in Japan>>

1. Japanese food  – Food in ski lodge is sometime very poor, but still if you stay over night there you won’t be disappointed by food in the villages or Ryokans you are staying at.

2. Onsen hot spring   –  Skiing and Onsen are always best matching! Most of the ski mountains are very close from Onsen.

3. Reasonable lift ticket  –  Even high Japanese yen, the lift tickets are not so expensive compared to those in U.S.A. or Europe.

4. Not so crowded  –   As Japanese young people are not so interested in snow sports these days, so ski mountains are less crowded. You don’t normally need to wait in the long line for the lift except for some national holidays.

5. Quality of the snow –  Top season is in February.

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After the eathquake, Tsunami and nuclear accident in northern Japan this year, the tourism was damaged a lot and still now they don’t have enough tourists. Ski is a big industry during the winter for them and they are afraid that they will have much less customers this winter. So they recently released a amazingly cheap ski trip package, that is ONLY 980 yen per person including the transportation (bus) from Tokyo to the mountain plus one day lift pass !!

The details are…

Available on December 23 (Fri), 24 (Sat), 25 (Sun), 26 (Mon) and 27 (Tue)

Price  980 yen per person on Dec 26 or 27 / 1,980 yen on Dec 23,24 or 25

Including a bus transportation from Shinjuku or Tokyo to Inawashiro ski resort (http:www.goinawashiro.com)

Bus depart at Shinjuku 6:45 a.m. or Tokyo sta. 6:45 a.m.  or Ikebukuro 7:30 a.m. and be arrived at Inawashiro 11:15 a.m.

/  ski or snowboard one day  /

Bus depart from Inawashiro at 5:45 p.m. and be arrived at Shinjuku at 9:50 p.m.

There are some other plans to go different destination as well. Please ask us the details.

Oops! One thing, we would like to mention  ….. Don’t forget  joining our cycling tour on the next day or later when you come back to Tokyo 😉

Ski holiday in New Zealand

August 24, 2010

Hello, here is Carlos again. After I fully enjoyed cycling in Sydney, I flew to Queenstown in New Zealand. How lucky I am as I can enjoy cycling one day and skiing on the other day!! But please allow me to do this as this is only once a year and normally I’m working very hard as same as other Japanese businessmen. What? On this blog, I seem always to have a fun? … Maybe you are right 🙂

We love cycling! We also love skiing!!

January 25, 2010

Photo Yukiko @ Manza Onsen Ski Area

We are operating the bike tour also in winter season. Actually as we have told many times, cycling on a sky clear, sunny and crispy day in winter is very comfortable. All of TGCT staff love cycling in winter.

However, at the same time, all of us also love skiing in winter, so sometime we are really fluctuating  between cycling and skiing, especially after hearing new snow report at the mountain side!

Last weekend, luckily (or unluckily for our business 🙂 ) we had no tour booking, so all of TGCT staff went together to Manza Onsen in Gunma prefecture as the staff trip.

Same as other ski area in Japan, the size of ski area and length of ski slope are much smaller/shorter than those in Europe or North America, but the best thing for Japanese ski place is Onsen (hot spring) after skiing.

The Onsen warter at Manza is very strong sulfur bath, we could really have a relaxing time to relieve the day’s fatigue.  While soaking the Onsen, we all have developed a new appreciation to living in Japan and this gift from the land – Onsen!!

If you are considering to visit Japan for skiing, we can probably give you some advices or tips about skiing in Japan. And we still suggest you that it is good idea to do bike tour before or after your skiing trip to mountain side! But sorry in advance, if all of us are out of Tokyo for skiing trip 🙂

   Photo  Yukiko @Manza Onsen  : Can you see the hot spring gas? It really smells sulfur!

This time we stayed at…  Prince Hotel Manza  website