Last weekend, I went back to Hakuba, Nagano on second round of my January ski trip. It was pretty much the same deal as the last trip – organized by the same guy, at the same hotel, with many of the same people attending, but was slightly less crazy this time, because there was no nomihoudai (all you can drink) party. On the last trip, the snow was amazing but the weather was terrible, and this time the snow was crap but the weather was great. You win some, you lose some. It was another snow and fun-filled weekend, this time with sunny weather and gorgeous views!
Happo-One: Views for Days
On Saturday I went to Happo-One, one of the largest resorts in Japan, and the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. It’s a huge mountain, with several different peaks, many wide open and steep slopes, and a lot of vertical gain. It would have been a ton of fun to ride, but unfortunately the snow was terrible. It was incredibly icy, making it quite sketchy in certain points.
But, the weather and scenery wer absolutely beautiful, helping make up for the bad snow. In mid-morning, the clouds cleared, revealing one of the most gorgeous mountain views I’ve ever seen. The best part of my day was probably having a drink at the mountain-top patio bar with a panoramic view. Even though the snow sucked, I was happy to be outside in the crisp mountain air and sunshine, enjoying the amazing view.
Hakuba Goryu/47 & Park Riding Ettiquite
On Sunday, I returned to the Hakuba Goryu/47 Resort. The snow was better here, though still quite icy. I spent most of the day playing in the terrain park, practicing jumps and boxes, and trying out the mini halfpipe. The park’s features and layout were pretty much the same as what I’m used to in the States, but the rider etiquette was totally different. At parks in the US, there seems to be a natural flow of taking turns to hit features, and you never have to wait too long. Here in Japan, there was a build-up of people before every feature, and no natural flow. No one seemed to know who’s turn it was, and everyone hesitated for an excessive amount of time before taking their turn, even when they were clearly next. It was another situation where Japanese politeness, usually much appreciated, seemed like overkill to me. Sure, we can all wait around forever for the other person go first, but at some point, someone just needs to go. And usually, that person ended up being me, the impatient gaijin.
In Japan, cleanliness is always next to godliness
At the end of the day, I noticed a cleaning station at the base area. There were pressurized air pumps and brushes for people to clean the snow off their gear. It might have been one of the most Japanese things I’ve ever seen. In America, we give our gear a quick brush off with our gloves in the parking lot, or don’t even bother. But in in Japan, there’s a whole dedicated station just for cleaning your gear. Because, you know, god forbid you get some snow on your snowboard.
Oh, Japan, and your pristine cleanliness! Anyways, thanks for the fun times snowboarding.