Thank you to everyone who was able to come on our ski trip, and an additional thanks to those who told their friends about it. For those who could not come, sorry - I hope you can come next year! We still had 5 people on the waiting list but there were no cancellations before the big ski day.
This ski trip to Yuzawa was a big hit thanks to the crew at We Love Snow http://www.welovesnow.com/eng/index.php - they designed the trip according to many picky specifications and even threw in some extras. Free drinks at the local bar, bigger rooms than expected, a banquet-style private room for our large group, an upgrade from a mini-bus to full-fledged charter one, a much-better-than-average viking-style dinner. All for a very reasonable price! (26,000 - an extra 1000 for highway taxes and insurance)
All I did was collect the people and fees. The company took care of everything else. It made for very carefree traveling. The bus driver was kind enough to take attendance each time so we did not even have to worry about that. Ski/board rentals were cheaper in a group package, one room per couple/3singles to a room.
If you live near Tokyo you can even take the bullet train and be in Yuzawa in a rapid 77-minutes! I highly recommend this company - they are fluent in both English and Japanese. At first I tried to book it through a Japanese tour agency but the man did not seem to know what he was doing, therefore, I went with We Love Snow in Yuzawa. A great choice it was, perhaps worthy of your next ski trip.
A friend of mine, Tetsu Miyazaki, organizes international exchange and leadership training for Japanese kids (http://www.utrek.org/english/next.htm). Tetsu also organizes a series of terrific ski camps. The next ones are to Hakuba (22-25 March for elementary through high school kids) and Kumanoyu (Shiga Kogen, 26-29 March for school kids and adults). My family and I joined the Kumanoyou trip last year and it was terrific; we are planning to join this year too.
Both trips include transport (train or bus) from Tokyo and each costs roughly 60,000 yen including transport, accomodations (with Onsen, at least at Kumanoyu), food, 2 long skiing lessons every day and 2 1/2 days of lift tickets. The staff are all bilingual. The weather in late March will be warmer, but Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are much higher up than the Yuzawa area where we skiied last weekend and will surely have better conditions late in the season.
If you are interested in learning to ski or improving your skills with a really nice bunch of people, I highly recommend Tetsu's ski camps. For more information, please contact Tetsu Miyazaki directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone them at 03 3370-5335. They have brochures available in English or Japanese. The deadline for applications for this year's ski camps are March 11 and 13.
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