Ski Japan – Part 2

A little later than planned here is part two of skiing in Japan.  I had meant to post this last weekend but James and I we were skiing last Saturday, yes skiing in June, and on Father’s Day I had to drive round the M25 to pick up my errant (errant as in wandering/roaming, not recidivist) daughter returning from California.  So, where were we?

At the end of an epic day of thigh deep powder skiing through the trees we were shattered.  Actually shattered dosen’t really cover it.  Destroyed, ruined, wrung out of all energy and emotion, that’s more like it.  We slumped into the van to drive us back to Happo One, and stumbled back to our hotel.

The Ridge, a great place to stay in Happo One

The Ridge, a great place to stay in Happo One

We finally summoned up enough strength to haul ourselves across the road to the adjacent hotel which has fantastic Onsen facilities.  For those that haven’t been to one  onsens are a Japanese natural hot springs, often outdoors, which are fed by geothermal springs.  They’re very popular in Japan and great way to relax after skiing.  The sexes are strictly segregated in onsens which may sound very old fashioned until you realise that the strict etiquette of the onsen is that you are all completely naked, having showered and washed yourself in a communal area before entering the onsen.  Hence no photographs of these beautiful havens of relaxation.

The next day we were far more tired than we had realised and only skied in the morning.  This did however give me a great opportunity to get out and take some photographs in the resort and the surrounding countryside.

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And so to our last guided day of powder skiing.  Unfortunately the snow had melted a little the previous day and refrozen overnight leaving a bullet proof crust of ridged ice, deeply unpleasant.  We stuck to the pistes in the morning to give the sun time to soften things up and had a great time skiing through the boarders.  I have never seen so many snow boarders in my life, off the people on the slopes under 35 only about 1 in 20 were on skis.  This really did feel like a case of one plank good, two planks bad!

Boarders everywhere

Boarders everywhere

Finally after lunch the snow softened and we found a gully  under a ski lift that hadn’t been skied the previous two days.  If this had been in Europe during half term week it would have been skied out in about half an hour but here its was virtually untouched seemingly waiting for just us to ski it.

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The lift and outbuildings around it were heaped in what are known in japan as snow pillows but to me they looked like snow marshmallows all glistening in the sun with hints of sweet skiing through their fluffy depths.

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After three runs down the gully John and I decided to try another tree run adjacent to it.  It was possible that the snow might be heavy and wet after the melt, refreeze, thaw and melt cycle but as always I was definitely up for giving it a go.  James showing far more wisdom than his father decided to sit this one out and skied to the bottom of the run to wait by the lift.  Needless to say it was a long wait.

The snow was wet and heavy and sucked at your skis as you tried turn through the trees.  John was amazing on his board.  I was, how do I put this, less so.  The worst fall took me nearly 15 minutes to dig myself out and get my skis back on.  Though the snow was heavy it was deep and I was buried in it past mid-thigh.  Eventually we made our way out and down to finish off the day.  Here’s a picture of me starting that rather difficult descent.

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As we finished our last day of skiing in Japan we were equal parts sad, exhilarated, and excited as we looked ahead to two days in Tokyo to finish off our Japanese adventure.  Two more posts covering these days will be with you soon.

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