I have a massive backlog of blog posts. I didn’t snowboard much this past winter. Only managed to get out a few weekend. But here is a post from Winter 2015 (March last year) of a snowboarding trip to Hakuba.
Over the winter, whilst on a snowboarding trip to Nozawa Onsen, I spotted me an elusive kamoshika. A kamoshika is a Japanese goat-antelope animal usually found in the mountains. I was surprised to find this one near the streets of the village, right outside my favourite onsen at Nozawa, it was just amongst the bushes.
They are rather an unusual looking animal, and it was the first time I had ever seen one.
Did a total of three snowboarding trips to Nozawa in one season this year! It’s probably one of my favourite ski resorts, particularly on Honshu.
The runs are good and so is the nightlife. Has a proper village and enough stuff to keep you occupied off the slopes as well ie cafes, bars including a craft beer bar, lots of free onsens to enjoy etc.
It’s popular with a lot of Aussies.
I believe from next winter season, they are extending the bullet train/train line so it reaches closer to Nozawa. It will still be a bus ride from there, but they are making it more transport friendly to get to.
Last snow session for the season was at Hakuba – Cortina ski resort.
Not a fan of Happo One ski resort.
Cortina is way more powdery and better for off-pisten and ungroomed runs.
We also got the 1000yen coupon extra coupon added to the ski lift which is good value. Pay the additional 1000yen and you get lunch and free onsen. Lunch is up to the value of 1000yen. Anything over than and you pay the difference. For an extra 300yen we paid for the buffet (read: all you can eat) lunch. Good value. And the onsen entry is free (which is normally valued at 700yen). The onsen is large and includes a rotemburo that looks straight out onto the ski slope.
Boy, do I have a treat for you.
A video! Yes, a video!!!
A compilation of winter snowboarding trips taken over the last couple of months.
Video footage and photography by me. Starring my friends and, of course, yours truly.
Video editing and production by my friend and housemate. He spent the whole day working on it. Big props to him.
One of these days, I’ll get around to learning how to edit a video myself, but for now, enjoy his work.
Given my debilitating bout of hay fever that comes with the arrival of Spring, it means that Winter is over. Bring on summer, I say.
No more snowboarding for this season. Ended the season about 2 weeks ago at Nozawa.
But last month, I got to snowboard at Hakuba for the first time. Had only ever been there briefly in the summer many years ago. Hakuba was full of Aussies! Soooo many Aussies! And we’re not a classy bunch. The hotel we stayed at was full of Aussies. We took the shink there this time and then a connecting bus, given the previous week’s failed attempt to get to the ski resort due to the snowpocalypse.
Hakuba is a great ski resort for the village vibe and its facilities. It’s also quite international – plenty of bars and dining options and a few onsens as well. It was one home to the Nagano Winter Olympics back in 1998.
Hakuba ski resort consists of 7 separate mountains, so you need to select your mountain pass options wisely. And the mountains are connected by free shuttle buses. Over two days, we managed to board at 3 of the mountains. Happo-One is best for skiers, not snowboarders. And the runs are quite steep and moguly.
Iwatake was great as was Tsugaike (athough Tsugaike is probably a little more beginner-friendly). Iwatake was pretty ideal out of the three we visited. Would have liked to have spent more time at Tsugaike but only managed to do a couple of runs there.
It was an awesome weekend though. Bluebird days and the mountains and the vista were absolutely majestic.
If a picture speaks a 1000 words, then consider this blog post Homer’s Iliad.
Conditions were awesome in Nozawa, particularly the Saturday. Lots of fresh powder. Lots of practice going through the trees. I’m still not that good. We did have a bit of a scare when we fully got buried in the powder and couldn’t get out.
Another weekend snowboarding last weekend in Minakami (Gunma-ken) for a friend’s birthday weekend and the Snow Splash festival. Was an amazing weekend of powder – one of the best days on the slopes in a long time. Powda in the day and Louda in the night. But meanwhile, back in Tokyo, I missed out on one of the biggest snowstorms to hit Tokyo in the last 45 years. By the time I got back on Sunday night, there was still plenty of snow around Tokyo and my neighbourhood. Why couldn’t we have a snow day on a weekday so we don’t have to go to work.
Anyway, it didn’t make much of a difference to me, as we enjoyed a glorious weekend of powder snow. Went to Houdaigi ski resort which although small, has some really great runs. I thoroughly enjoyed the runs there and snowboarded for both days. Even got in an intermediate snowboarding lesson where we got to go off-piste a little bit and into the trees. Still gotta work on those narrow turns though. Was heaps of fun though. And if I was to ever learn how to ski, I would want to do it at this resort. They had some of the best beginner-friendly green runs I’ve ever seen.
The Minakami area is just as popular in the summer for activities like rafting, canyoning, hiking and bungee jumping. We passed through the Minakami Dam as well.
Expect more of the same next week. Headed off to Hakuba this weekend for another weekend of powder snow. Conditions are looking good. I also took some video footage of last weekend, but I don’t know how to video edit. Ooops! Might have to pos them uncut, and unedited.
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