If you have to go snowboarding somewhere in Japan then where better than the site of the 1988 winter Olympics, if only to feel the collective residual auras of a thousand or so competent atheletes frowning at you as you slide down a black run on your arse, head facing downhill.
This is how I spent my weekend - marvelling at the seemingly endless mountain terrain of Nagano. No less marvellous upside down with ridiculousy talented pre-school age Japanese kids in flourescent one-pieces skiing past on either side of my snow-biting face.

Some of them laughed. I would have intimidated them a little had I been able to catch up with them.

でも、たのしかった! Day one and, like the last - first - time I went snowboarding I was with a group of much more able, experienced individuals and so it was that, at 10:30am (after an all night bus journey from Osaka) I'm stood at the top of Hakuba facing down a mean looking black run ("It's the most difficult on this side of the mountain!") and not really feeling up to it. So I gamely scrape, slide and shit myself to the bottom, keeping up with the others the only way I know how - heel edge, floating leaf, occasional painful tumble. But not all the others, oh no. Myself, Dan, May and Sarah were all low-level boarders and not enjoying the vertical drops.

A shot of the main run on Hakuba. Note the circled unfortunate who, uncannilly enough, shares the same technique as me.

So, day the second. Myself and May, Dan and Sarah pair up respectively. We decide not to inflict anymore fucking pain to our collective coccyx. (Dan especially needed an easier break. I want to post a photo of his injuries but I don't know if he'll allow me.) And what a day! 6 hours of practice on a nice green run and I can now say that I can snowboard - fully linking turns, 360º spins, a few meek jumps. This is what I needed to do all along.

And the best thing about snowboarding in Japan? Onsen. Oh yes. Onsen. Hot springs. Sitting in an outdoor onsen, snow falling down around and onto you, butt naked and sporting the same tattoo as two other guys in the same bath (and no one said a thing - so much for the 'Yakuza' problem). Life is good.

And cheap. ¥16,000 all told. Room, meals, ski pass, transport, board and boots hire. Cheap. やすい。

Next winter's gonna be a lot easier to get through.


Blogger DanInJapan reckons...

Yes, you can post pictures of my injuries. No, you may not mock me, call me a pussy, or belittle me in anyway. Yes, I stopped wearing an eyepatch.

11:45 午前 JST  


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