Ski Day Trip To Ciao Ontake Ski Resort - January 2018

Introduction: It's been so many years since the last time I ski. Now it's time for me to get back. I found a deal offered by JR Tours which costs me less than 10,000Yen with a round trip train tickets, ski rental and lift ticket, meaning that I only need to bring what to wear for the snow ski. The offer is good at Ciao Ontake Ski Resort, and a few others in that area. I bought my ticket on 1/20 for 1/27 trip.

Going to Ski Resort

I woke up at 5:00am as usual but actually it was more like 4:00am since the room temperature went down to 7C. The outside was -3.5C so it was pretty cold. Get ready for the day and took a quick shower and did some stretching.

Had breakfast, packed items and stepped out to catch at train around 6:30am. The outside was just getting brighter.

Local Train: Kachigawa (6:52am) - Tajimi (7:13am)

A local train I take to Tajimi

I bought a round trip ticket between Kachigawa and Tajimi. I will be catching an Limited Express train coming from Nagoya there. After passing the gate, I walked up and waited at the platform. It was such a pain because the air was freezing despite of no wind condition. I wonder how can many other people can stand still like no problem.

The train came in on time. Get on with a relief. There were a couple of high school students among the regular passengers, must be a school activity. Under morning clear sky, the train kept going and stopped at all stations. I have not been beyond Kozoji on a local train so I did not know that there is a tunnel just after Kozoji station, and Tajimi was just a round the corner and arrived on time at 7:13am.

Shinano 1: Tajimi (7:23am) - Kiso-Fukushima (8:29am)

Getting on Shinano 1 at Tajimi

It is only 10 minutes wait but felt like it is forever, Tajimi was much colder than in Kachigawa. I bought a bottled water since I forgot to buy one a day before. The train came on time and it was fairly packed. I took a seat at right side of the train and watch the outside as it moved toward mountain area. The train made several stops; Nakatsugawa, Nagiso, Agematsu, and one extra stop since it shares a track with the train moving on the opposite traffic.

A benefit of taking train is that I don't have to drive, and won't be affected by snow or accident.

It was only 1 hour travel, and I enjoyed the view and time to read some books on the way.

Shuttle Bus: Kiso-Fukushima (8:40am) - Ciao Ontake Ski Resort (10:00am)

Shuttle bus to pick us up.

When I arrived at Kiso-Fukushima, many people got off who are like me, going to ski. Some carry their own gears. There was a bus waiting with "JR Tours" sign from Ciao. I told my name to the driver, and took a seat. It was a bit small but no complains here. The bus began heading out on Kiso Highway (Kiso Kaido). The ride was quite smooth, not much traffic. The bus passing Kiso-fukushima Ski Area, then went through a tunnel and road now become snowy. The driver seems not care about the condition. After taking several turns, passing by small towns, the bus began going up hill, and made several twists before arriving at the Ski Resort around 9:40am. The outside was snowing and cold.

The bus moving on a road where surroundings are snow covered.

Skiing at Ciao Ontake Ski Resort

Back for skiing nearly 10 years after the last time

After getting off from the bus, I walked into the center building among with other people. First I stopped by at information desk to pick up my lift ticket, and then followed by at rental ski place. They got me the right size boots but the ski was 170cm so the pair is a bit short. I get changed and put my items in a locker which costs me 400yen then I stepped outside. It was cloudy and snowy. I put my skis on and checked them out for about 10 minutes. I determined I am okay, so I walked to a lift to the top of the slope. It was 10 minutes ride, and when I reached the top, I got off and geared up.

People getting ready at the peak

The first try was a mistake, I should have gone to the beginner course but I took center course which requires some skills. I used my legs so bad and could not relax at all. I took a big splash once, but somehow made it back to the foot of the mountain. I walked into the building again and bought a pass case so I don't have to pull it out again.

Going up on a lift

I went back up and this time I tried the easy course, which was much better, although I had a few splashes, I was able to enjoy better. I returned there for several times trying to remember what ski should be like putting my knees together and other important key points. I also realized that the damage from too much running costing me not being able to use left ski quite well, so I had to use my right side more often than the left. I made 5 cycles and it was already past noon. Maybe because of the cold temperature, there were not many people around, maybe less than 100 people altogether. While I was chatting with a local guy, I was told that the place was not going to open this year until the end of November for some reason, so some people may not know this place is open...

Hida Beef Bowl (1:00pm)

I removed my skies and went inside the building for lunch. There is a restaurant on the 2nd floor and I walked up to a cashier and paid 1,000Yen for a Beef Bowl. I handed my meal coupon to a clerk and waited for a while. The rice bowl I had uses local Hida beef. It was a quick one but enough for now. I also ate a protein bar to fuel up myself. I saw a Jam Jam bus parked at the entrance of the building, I guess they arrived from Nagoya. This should add another 50 people

I headed out for afternoon session. The weather did not improve and sometimes the wind got so strong and the lift had to be stopped. I did 6 more turns, including intermediate course on the 5th one. The 6th one I could barely use edge on the left side and my legs were giving up. So I called for the day. It was about the time when the sky was getting cleared a bit.

The sky is clearing but too late...

I was done around 4:00pm, so I changed my cloth and returned the gear. I stopped by at gift shop, and bought snacks for my friends and family. It was really nice place but just wonder why does the drinks cost me so much. I will be back here with my own next time. I drank all the water I brought and was getting thirsty. 

Coming Home

Shuttle Bus: Ciao Ontake Ski Resort (16:45) - Kiso Fukushima (18:05)

The shuttle bus for return trip reached here around 4:30pm.

I saw the same bus from the morning pulled up to the center building around 4:30pm so I walked up and get on it again. While we are waiting for the departure, we saw a car stuck in snow just by our bus so 5 or 6 of us we pushed it until it can go on. The bus left early around 16:40 since all the members were onboard. It started snowy downhill drive, again not much traffic. The sky was getting cleared so I can see the range of mountains on the way back. We caught up with Jam Jam Bus right by Kiso-Fukushima station. I guess we are all taking the same path, around the same time. Arrived at Kiso-Fukushima station around 5:30pm. The outside was getting darker, just enough for me to look what's out there nearby the station. There is no convenience stores but only traditional gift shops and some restaurants.

Back at Kiso-Fukushima station

Shinano 22: Kiso-Fukushima (18:30) - Tajimi (19:37)

D51 locomotive

I waited at a waiting room with many other people until 6:25pm. Some went out to eat at restaurant nearby, but for a guy like me, I have to save every little pennies so I bought some cheap snacks and the protein bar I brought. At least those snacks carry regular prices, unlike the skiing place. I passed the gate and walked up to the platform. There was a shelter but with no heater. At least I can avoid exposing myself to cold air. While I wait, I also saw a D51 locomotive displayed, just before the train to Nagoya coming into the platform.

Shinano 22 at Kiso-Fukushima

I hurried into the train and took my seat. Inside the car was pretty warm, and relaxing. One thing I need to remember is to wear a mask since I don't know if anyone there carrying influenza or something. The train moved smoothly and only made a stop at Nakatsugawa, but due to some issue with other train schedule, it had to set up timing to let incoming train cross at a station.

Local Train to Kachigawa Tajimi (19:42) - Kachigawa (19:59)

Rapid train to Nagoya at Tajimi station

It is only a 5 minutes wait and now the outside temperature is not that cold. There seems to be an incident at Nagoya station which someone made a contact with a train so many trains were late but the rapid train I took came in on time. The outside is very much dark and I can only see streetlights and lights on buildings. After a few stops, the train arrived at Kachigawa station.

Got off at Kachigawa, come home. I was quite tired and also hungry, so I grabbed whatever I can find at grocery store and filled up my stomach. I went to bed around 10:00pm.

Cost: Total: 10,220 Yen

Comparing with 23,300 Yen if I buy and rent at all regular prices

Brochure, click to open scanned PDF file

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