JP/SG/HK 2024 - Ups and downs!

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Day 13:

The start of my pretty rapid downhill slide happened overnight. Went to bed on day 12 feeling fine but fought through a night of sweats and muscle aches with not much sleep. Strangely woke up feeling alright and had a long last soak in the communal baths and sauna. We had a late check out for 1pm and mostly spent the morning lounging in the room. We finally made it out around midday as we were peckish and hadn't had breakfast. We had our bags collected, checked out and made our way into the late winter sun which was glorious.
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Given how we were both feeling ramen was certainly on the cards so we took a short stroll from the hotel to Kamitora. This was one of the top 5 ramens I've ever had, a silky smooth tonkatsu with delicate cha-shu and just what I needed to make it through the afternoon. If you are staying at the Conrad or around this area I highly recommend checking out this place! Just be warned it gets very busy with salarymen around lunchtime!
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We had no real plans and nowhere to be in a hurry so we walked south along Yotsubashi-suji until we came to Utsubo park. We sat here in the sun feeling a little sorry for ourselves and hoping some vitamin D would aid our recovery. We eventually wandered back stopping in at a few konbinis along the way for a last little nostalgia hit.

We returned to the Conrad and ordered a taxi to the airport. Our bags were already awaiting at the ground floor and after a 20 minute and quite cheap (I think only about $25) taxi ride we were back at Itami airport. A hassle free collection of our ski and snowboard bag from Yamato and a sigh of relief that it had made it from Sapporo. It was very quiet on a Wednesday afternoon so check in was extremely quick and our bags were on their way to Singapore! We explored the pre-security section of the airport for a little while before passing through F security and straight into the lounge. My energy levels and health were fading quite quickly so we stayed here until boarding.

Also a quick note on ITM airport. There are NO water dispensers (that I or airport staff could fina at least) past security outside of the lounge, which resulted in me buying 4 bottles of water from a vending machine to get us through the flight.

We boarded on time, and again (despite both being in J class) I boarded in group 1 and the fiance in group 4. The 767 was fine for the hour and a half hop to Haneda and the J class recliners with some extra space were very welcomed. An uneventful flight later and we made it to HND T1. After disembarking we caught the terminal transfer bus and cleared a very quick security line and immigration before a quick browse of the shops then off to the JAL First lounge.

By this stage I was feeling like absolute cr*p but still managed to enjoy the various lounge features. The food was fantastic albeit a little limited and if I was feeling like drinking it would've been amazing.

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We ate some curry and sushi before retreating to the red suite to relax in a slightly more quiet area.

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One note though. As everything in this lounge is done via QR code my last 10 minutes here were very stressful. I used my boarding pass to get my partner a shower, which turns out is a one and done system and does not allow further bookings on the same BP. I desperately wanted a shower given how I felt before the flight and had to somehwat plead my case to the lounge attendants as requesting a shower not via QR seemed a huge issue for them. Eventually I was granted a shower which I got out of right as boarding was called.

We had a fairly long walk to the gate and boarded at around midnight after most of the J cabin had already settled in. This was our first time trying our Apex suites (JAL Sky Suite) and I was both impressed by the space and privacy but pretty dissapointed in the storage. I kept going downhill and had a very rough flight tossing and turning, not aided by a very warm cabin.
 
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Yeah I am not a fan of the Apex suites. Sure if you get the window seat privacy is great, but that's only 33% chance... And the lack of storage is shocking!
The biggest pro of this seat imho is no footwell but completely irrelevant to me 🤣🤣
 
Day 14:

I forgot to add this image from the overnight flight but I guess it fits in here as it was technically after midnight.

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Following the aforementioned horrible nights 'rest' on the flight, certainly wouldn't call it sleep, we arrived into Singapore just after 6:30am. I was feeling absolutely putrid so we beelined through immigration, collected our bags which thanks to the JAL First tags did indeed come first and headed to the nearest Grab pick up point.

We had an uneventful ride into the city other than my frequent coughing outbursts and arrived to the Four Seasons at around 8am. I had made them aware we may check in early and was given the option to purchase the night before to guarantee room availability. Not wanting to spend an extra several hundred dollars we didn't take this up.

In a supreme stroke of luck when we arrived a room was already available for us on the 9th floor. We were informed we could wait for a higher floor room but given my condition we decided to get straight into the room which was a King Club Room. I showered and spent most of the rest of the day between the bed and the bath trying to rest and soak away the illness.

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I will say though, if you're going to be sick overseas, there are far worse places to be than a Four Seasons king bed...

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The staff at a Four Seasons are always a highlight and this was no different. My fiance was well enough to explore a little and headed down for breakfast at the lounge. The staff took fantastic care of her and this was consistent throughout our stay. She spent the day around Orchard and also by the pool.

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I finally managed to make my way out of the room and to the executive lounge for some canapes for dinner. The executive lounge was small and the food limited but it was a beautiful space with plentiful beverage options and a very cool little gin corner with a number of different gins, tonics and mixers as a well a suggested list of combinations. The staff, again, were also unbelivably good. A specific example of this was the lounge attendant persistently calling a bar we had a reservation at which normally incurs a $50SGD pp cancellation fee. We were supposed to go this evening to celebrate valentines day and could not get through to cancel. He repeatedly call until he got a hold of someone, explained our situation and cancelled our reservation without fee.

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The hotel were aware of our engagement so while we were in the lounge they quickly made our room up and provided us with a lovely bottle of lightly alcoholic sparkling tea, some chocolate strawberries and most welcomed to me a pot of tea with lemon and honey. After being somewhat dissapointed with the complete lack of acknowledgement at the Conrad (despite substational prior communication) the Four Seasons really shone through with this gesture!

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I still felt awful but at least managed to enjoy some of the above before calling it an early night.
 
Day 15:

I awoke feeling about 5% better than the previous day but still fairly unwell. I peeled myself out of bed and we wandered down to the level 3 adults only pool for a swim. Despite being in boardshorts and robes the lounge staff saw us and offered breakfast by the pool. The executive club menu here is extensive and very good! I ended up having a dim sum set and my partner a fancy avo on toast. This was served with juice, water and tea.

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We then headed to the rooftop pool to check that out which has quite an impressive view (see below). It is the family friendly pool so busier and louder but still beautiful.

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Unfortunately it started raining fairly heavily when we were up there so we retreated to our room. We then spent most of the day wandering through the various shopping centres of Orchard on the search for a pharmac_ with a pharmacist to get some medications to ease the cough I had. This proved next to impossible as every pharmac_ either didn't have a pharmacist, or they were at lunch. It took about 10 pharmacies before we returned found one with a pharmacist on duty. The upside was getting to see Orchard during the day and some of the fantastic architecture, and a very good chicken rice from the ION Orchard food court.
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We took the afternoon to recover after covering much more ground than anticipated in the hunt for pharmaceuticals... We decided we had a little energy left and wanted to do at least 1 nice thing in Singapore so booked Nobu within the Four Seasons for dinner.

We had a lovely meal here though certainly didn't get to make the most of it in our condition and with a pretty limited apetite. Highlights were the crispy rice, sashimi tacos and yellowtail tartare with caviar.

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After dinner we returned to the executive lounge for some 'free' dessert and a quick nightcap before heading to the room and getting my first half decent nights sleep since Osaka.
 
Day 16:

Our last travel day before heading home involved another fairly early start in Singapore. I was starting to recover a little which was welcomed but unfortunately felt like we didn't really experience much of Singapore, a trend that continued to Hong Kong.

We caught a Grab leaving the Four Seasons at about 7am to arrive at Changi at 7:30am. Check in for SQ892 was painless and we passed through immigration to the terminal. We had a quick wander around the terminal though still feeling average we retreated to the lounge for some breakfast. Headed to the gate about 10 minutes before boarding to clear security. Boarding was painless and we were settled and off to Hong Kong for the final part of the trip.

The flight was fairly uneventful. I had ordered BTC Char Siew Wonton Noodle which was a dry style dish. My partner doesn't always utilise BTC as she never knows what she'll fancy but ironically ended up ordering the soup version of my meal from the in flight menu.

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This is the second time I've had this dish and as I said last time it stacks up against anything I've had on the ground. Thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly as it felt like the first time I'd had an apetite for 72 hours.

Arrived into HK about 2pm to a fairly busy HKIA. Immigration took about 45 minutes which was by far the longest wait of the trip. Bags out quickly thanks to business tags and through customs with no issue we set off to find the Uber pick up point. This was a bit of a nightmare as it's not super clear but we eventually made our way to the Regal Airport Hotel where the Uber pick up is. After another 20 minute wait our Uber arrived and we were whisked off to The Langham HK.

We arrived around 3:45pm and the initial experience left a little to be desired. My partner and I don't dress what you'd call rich and normally travel in nice but casual clothes. At the same time as we arrived with all of our luggage (in an Audi Q7, not exactly a cheap uber) an asian family also arrived in an HK taxi with bags of designer shopping. The bellman x 4 swooped on them to assist and completely left us to fend for ourselves. I'm not normally one to complain but given how we were feeling I didn't want to deal with our luggage if we didn't have to. I made my way inside and found a concierge and mentioned what was happening outside, and also that we had been informed to check in at the club lounge. When he heard this and put it together with my story his face dropped and he sprang into action, calling half the people helping the other family out and over to us assist with our luggage.

That out of the way we were very kindly directed to the club lounge where our check in was handled by the fantastic team up there. We had some light bites and a glass of champagne before making our way to our room.

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We had a 1 bedroom apartment here and it was fabulous. Very spacious and had glimpses of the harbour. The living room was welcomed for meals and relaxing, which we took advantage of that night, and the bathroom was fantastic. The bed was comfortable, albeit no Four Seasons king bed.

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Don't ask me why we didn't take a photo of the bedroom but similar vibe to the above. We also had a lovely little welcome gift of a bottle of red, bottle of champagne and some fruit. I'm not sure if this was engagement related or merely to do with Langham's (now replaced) 1865 loyalty program. If it is the latter it was certainly a big gesture as I was only the 2nd tier of the program and had 1 previous Langham stay.

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We checked out the rest of the hotel including the rooftop gym and pool before returning to the club lounge for an evening glass of champagne.

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We went for a short wander around the nearby designer shops and Harbour City mall with a close eye out for dinner. We didn't really know what we fancied and ended up heading back to the Hotel for room service.

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We ordered some pasta and a club sandwich. We have a habit now of comparing club sandwiches around the world and this one did not dissapoint, I'd give it a 7.5/10. The Pasta however left a little to be desired.

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We were exhausted after a big day so called it an early night in the hopes we'd have enough energy for a bit of an adventure the next day.
 
we eventually made our way to the Regal Airport Hotel where the Uber pick up is. After another 20 minute wait our Uber arrived and we were whisked off to The Langham HK.
The Uber area even has the airport staff unsure of where it is @HirafuHeartAttack

With my "shabby ankle" post Lisbon misstep in September, I utilised Mobility Assistance and round and round in circles we went!
Mr Flyfrequently pitied the delightful young lady pushing my wheelchair - but we were both ever so grateful.
 
The Uber area even has the airport staff unsure of where it is @HirafuHeartAttack

With my "shabby ankle" post Lisbon misstep in September, I utilised Mobility Assistance and round and round in circles we went!
Mr Flyfrequently pitied the delightful young lady pushing my wheelchair - but we were both ever so grateful.

It seems like there are multiple different ones and none are convenient. While not in a positioon like yours it certainly wasn't fun with a suitcase and snowboard bag! Then when we got there it was even more of a mess with no traffic control and people double parking completely blocking the road... while they're passengers hadn't even arrived.

Despite it's shortcomings it did make me thankful for the somewhat organised (or at least well signed) areas at SYD.
 
Keep in mind that Uber isn't legal in HK. It's commonly used, but against the law, and police do go after drivers.

Would normally recommend catching the Airport Express to the closest station (Kowloon in this case) and catching a taxi from there. But it does require a bit of cash.
Thanks for that information @cwd , you learn something new every day!
For us in this instance, Airport Express wasn't an option as I was mobility challenged with a fractured foot (and no cash for taxi)
But will take that onboard - I could have ended up in the "Travel mistake" thread!
 
Thanks for that information @cwd , you learn something new every day!
For us in this instance, Airport Express wasn't an option as I was mobility challenged with a fractured foot (and no cash for taxi)
But will take that onboard - I could have ended up in the "Travel mistake" thread!

Cash problem aside, wouldn't Airport Express be better for the foot than trying to find uber?
It's literally right across the hall when you clear immigration?
 
Cash problem aside, wouldn't Airport Express be better for the foot than trying to find uber?
It's literally right across the hall when you clear immigration?
I was fortunate to be wheelchaired from the airbridge to Uber @rbjhan but will certainly consider that next time.
 
RE: Airport express - Didn't really want to mess around with a snowboard bag and suitcases on it. Have caught it before when staying at FS Hong Kong and loved it. But for the Langham, the thought of having to either change to a local MTR or an uber/taxi from Kowloon seemed a PITA. Also wasn't aware Uber wasn't fully legal however we've taken 10-15 trips in HK on them without issue.

Day 17:

Another later start today and still not feeling anywhere near 100% we decided to take it easy and just wandered around Tsim Sha Tsui. We probably left the hotel around midday and wandered water side to check out the harbour before heading into K11 for some shopping and lunch. It was still fairly busy post CNY holidays in and around the harbour and malls which wasn't great when recovering from illness. However the decorations were beautiful, particularly at the Peninsula.

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Lunch was semi authentic at least (aside from the satay) and made us feel like we were doing something more than what we had with our past few days in SG and HK.

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We returned to the Langham via Nathan Road and past Chungking Mansions.

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Unfortunately didn't feel like we had the energy to step inside this mystical place. We returned to the hotel to rest for the afternoon before deciding to head back to K11 for dinner as I had a craving for something somewhat stupid. For context, we live on the northern beaches, nowehere near a Five Guys in Sydney. We have, however, both had it overseas and loved it, and have been bombarded by 'hacks' on tiktok. For that reason I wanted to try the grilled cheese cheeseburger and being within walking distance we decided to head back to the mall for dinner.

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The harbour is always more stunning at night and I am endlessly fascinated by this place. We got such a good deal at The Langham but it's still on my bucket list to splurge on a Harbour View room at the Regent or Rosewood to get the opposite perspective to our last trip staying at the Four Seasons in Central.

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We finally made it to K11 and I got what I was craving. Not the most appealling looking thing but damn was it delicious!
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Again no partying for us as we headed home for yet another early night to try and recover before our last full day away. (Spoiler... We didn't).
 
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Day 18:

Our final full day of the trip started with breakfast at The Food Gallery which was included with the suite. It was a fairly standard South East Asian affair, which is to say fantastic for a breakfast buffet. Thoroughly enjoyable with attentive staff even if we did turn up 15 minutes before it shut. Following this we made a game plan to head to out to CityGate outlets as we had a little spending money left given we'd barely eaten out the last week of the trip.

We made it out there and burned some cash, saw my favourite sales associate, shout out to Betty at Dunhill! Ate a very casual food cour lunch. I had Pepper Lunch which while delivious might eb the single most unnapealing food to photograph... and the better half had a laksa.
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We then returned back to the hotel to begin re-packing for the following day. Following a fairly lazy afternoon we settled on The Cheesecake Factory for our final dinner. Very authentic yes... but we were very burnt out by this point and it was close and familiar.

We arrived to a fairly big bunch of people waiting but got seated quite quickly at a high table. Turns out HKers will wait hours for a booth. We had some buffalo tenders, a chicken marsala and chicken parmi with pasta. The servings were HUUUUGE. Which we did not anticipate though probably should have given it's still an American restaurant at heart. That parmi was the size of a standard large pizza in Aus.
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Thoroughly stuffed we returned to try and get a good nights sleep before we departed the following day. Definitely forgot to take many photos this day but the inside of a mall isn't that exciting.
 
Day 19 (Part 1):
We had an 11am check out and a 6:30pm flight so a fair bit of the day to kill. We skipped breakfast to have a bit of a lie in and for the first time in a while we both felt more or less like ourselves. After check out we pondered heading to Central but decided to check out the 1881 Heritage complex and the Star House shopping mall adjacent the Star Ferry terminal.
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Within Star Mall there is a number of dim sum/yum cha restaurants so we settled on Jade Garden and had a table with a nice view of the harbour in a very busy restaurant. This somewhat made our time in HK feel worth as being the only westerners, this felt very authentic.

The food was also fantastic which helped. Especially the BBQ pork, that I'd rank 2nd only to a dish of the same I had last year in Wanchai (which may only have been better given the number of San Miguels I had before hand).
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After consuming several thousand calories of fried rice, dim sum and roasted meats we tried to walk off the incoming food comas a little in Star Mall before heading back to the hotel. We collected our bags and ordered an Uber for the airport.

We arrived at about 3pm and Qantas check in had just opened with no lines for business. After a fairly fuss free immigration and security process we made a bee line for The Pier First class lounge. Having checked out The Wing First, QF and Plaza Premium First on our last trip I was very excited to try The Pier and somewhat complete the tour.

Let me just say this lounge did not dissapoint and I think is now my favourite in the world. It doesn't have the same views as QF First in Sydney, or quite the same dining menu as Emirates First but this lounge feels infinitely more intimate, and luxurious than both of those.

After arrival we had a quick drink at the beautiful bar while watching the apron activity.

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Following this we decided it was time for a light dinner. We were escorted by one of the lounge managers who was very interested in our feedback. Our visit was shortly after Cathay had brought the management and operation of the lounge back in house. We got a quick tour of the day suites though didn't have the time to use them on this visit.
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(Continued below)
 
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Day 19 (Part 2):

As referenced above the lounge manager was fantastic and escorted us to the dining room but mentioned the lounge spa. I normally do a significant amount of research but had completely skipped over this being an option. I put my name down for a 15 minute neck and shouler massage before we were seated in the dining room.
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This was another stunning space and we were served promptly. I opted for the Wagyu Cheeseburger while my fiance went for one of the Rosewood collab specials, the Gnochetti Sardi. My burger was amazing, hands down leagues ahead of the QF First Neil Perry offering, though the pasta, while delicate could've done with a little more punch in the flavourings.
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We tasted our way through the champagne menu before I was called for my massage. The 15 minutes passed far too quickly. I then had a quick shower to freshen up in the beautifully appointed bathrooms.
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While perhaps not as flashy as the full carrara marble numbers in Sydney these were also stunning, and I'd argue better than The Wing Firsts standard offerings (The Cabanas are still obviously a much cooler product).

We had a relatively long walk back to the gate for QF128, though not as far as where the A330s normally park which was a bit of a nice surprise. The walk was also one of anticipation as what awaited us was very exciting.
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T-80 and Singapore Airlines wifi made the above possible, which was a delight. As was the 2 members of the crew working the F but really still J cabin.
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Shortly after take off we changed into the J pyjamas and enjoyed some chamopagne and then dinner together. This delighted the FA we had and she chatted to us for a good part of the meal.IMG_9681.JPEG
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The beef I had was actually quite good, especially smothered in herb butter.
After this we had a light dessert then I returned to my seat and commandeered an extra mattress topper and pillow. Definitely did not feel guilty though as the F cabin was less than half full! We also checked out the upstairs bar though this is a pretty uninspiring place, let alone on a fairly short red eye sector.

We arrived into Sydney on time and smack bang into the standard immigration chaos. It took us about half an hour to get a ticket and also had a quick pit-stop at duty free. Bags came relatively quickly and we were collected by hire car about 1 hour 20 mins after landing.

And that's it. A very long and exhausting trip done, we ended up taking a couple of extra days off work to fully recover. With wedding planning in full swing we have no idea what overseas adventure is next. Canada has been floated if we can couch surf to make it cheap enough but I really don't know when I'll get my next stamp in my passport...
 
Thanks for the TR @HirafuHeartAttack. I really enjoyed riding along with you, and again congratulations on your engagement and upcoming marriage. I've now been travelling with Mr Seat 0A for over 40 years, and I can tell you it's fabulous to have your best ever travel buddy along for the trips with you, especially when things get a little bit challenging. So good to know someone has your back. I wish you a long and happy marriage filled with travel!
 
Thanks for taking us along on your trip and including us in the engagement @HirafuHeartAttack
Nice touch to finish off in F - and hope you are both feeling better.
Wishing you both many, many more happy travels together ✈️
 
Great TR. Thanks for taking us on the journey.
Day 4:


After clearing that we picked up our friend headed off to Rusutsu for the day. They had received just as much snow so we were very excited to get out there!

The snow was again fantastic and we had a blast exploring both sides of the mountain. Rusutsu is slowly gaining popularity as a bigger and quieter alternative to Niseko about 45 minutes away. However it is a little more expensive for a day ticket.

We had lunch within the main hotel on the western side of the resort which is a bizarre place with animatronic trees and bands, and a very european styled hall and carousel...

I used to ski at Rusutsu in the mid-late 90s and loved it. Glad to see that the kitsch trappings of the hotel are all still in place! Though a bit sad to hear that it's getting "discovered" and therefore busier. My other go to place in that era was Kiroro. Incredibly reliable dry powder, few crowds and the prettiest scenery of anywhere I've skied in Japan.
 

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