January 2010 Archives

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Leaving japan all went smoothly, thank goodness. I caught the 10:05 bus to Nagano, after selling my last lift coupon to Brendan earlier. The other big group of Australians were catching the 8:00 bus, and it would have been nice to travel with them, but I needed to sell my pass. I've exchanged business cards, so perhaps I'll meet up with them again some other time. I sat next to an old Japanese man on the bus. He is 77, and he has been skiing for 50 years. His English was quite good, so we had a good chat to Nagano. He was telling me how the Shiga Kogen area used to be part of the USA occupied territory, and they couldn't ski there. At some point when he was at university the ski club he was a member of built a lodge up at Shiga Kogen. So now he gets cheap lodging there. He also told me that the names Nagano and Nakano mean long field and wide field, but I'm not sure which was which. It was very easy to find my hotel in Tokyo, but only because the manager of Hoyel Sunroute at Shiga Kogen helped me out by letting me print a google map page. He even zoomed in, and told me the closest train station and what line it was on. So if you are going to Shiga Kogen, definately give Hotel Sunroute a go. The Akihabra area was only one train stop away from where I was, so I went and had a look. Akihabra is an electronics retail area, with enormous shops. It was all a bit too much for me. I walked around for a couple of hours, but didn't buy anything. I've been thinking of getting a panasonic Lumix FT1, but they weren't sold any cheaper than at home. I didn't really know prices for other stuff. I saw some Kensington tracballs that I considered, but again, the price didn't seem all that attractive. The next morning I got up at 6am, so I had plenty of time to get to the airport for my 10:45 flight. I got there so early that I had to wander around the terminal trying to use up some yen in duty free shopping. Unfortunately I could only take 1 litre of alchol into Thailand, which limited me sonewhat. I already had a bottle of wine I had brought from Australia to give to the Benjasiris.

Day 3 of snowboarding at Shiga Kogen

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Another sunner sonny day on the slopes of the Shiga Kogen slopes. Today I wanted to go and explore the area that I'd been shown yesterday. I made my way all the way over to Sun Valley, which is the furthest part of the resort that you can reach without catching a bus. I got a little stuck when finding my way back, and ended up plowing through some snow and walking up a run. It turns out that if I'd taken a rope toe (which I had seen, and ignored), I would have been fine to get back.

 

So apart from doing to much walking, the snowboarding was good. I was getting a little more relaxed in deep soft snow, which was improving my riding. I was also getting better at keeping my knees bent, which helped. I still need to keep my weight above my board, especially when I start doign jumps. I still seem to freak out a little bit, which just leads to stacking.

 

On another new experience to notch up, I washed some of my clothes. It's a new experienced because I hand washed them. Unfortunately the basin in my room doesn't quite seal, so I used the bath instead. Unfortuantely the dryers here don't seem to work, so I've turned my room into a sauna by haning up all the wet clothes and cranking the heating up. We'll see how nice that is to sleep in.

 

So all in all, the snowboarding here has been an absoluete blast. The place I hired from gave me a brand new board and boots, and my reciept says I get a discount if I come back. If I do come back, I could see myself hiriing from them again. Some of my companions told me the hotel hire was pretty average, and I'm glad I didn't use it.

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My second day of snowboarding was also excellent. I met up with a bunch of aussies I chatted to on the night I arrived. This worked out really well, as they had worked out what bus to catch to get to the ski fields at the far end. So we went up Mount Shibotage, the highest mountain in the Shiga Kogen area. It was pretty good. There were quite a few areas that were skiing only, but I still had a good time.


On the way back we got off at a sky rope thing, a very large gondolla that crossed the valley. From there we skiied up and down, and up, and eventually managed to get all the way back to the Ichinose family area, just up the road from the hotel. It:s very impressive that the only place you can't reach by skiing and lifts is Shibotage. Pretty much the rest of the entire resort can be reached by traversing across the hills.


My shoulder was a bit tender from my stack on the ramp yesterday, but I was pleased with how it was feeling by the end of the day. It doesn't seem to be as injured as I had feared.


I've got one more full day of snowboarding. I'm looking forward to it.

Shiga Kogen snow rocks

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I had my first day of snowboarding, and the snow is simply unbelivable. I have never known what powder meant until seeing this. At want point I went to slow through a soft patch, and it was probably deep enough to bury myself in. I've seen banks of snow cut away by the grader that was twice my height. I did a black run. Slowly. Which made it not so fun. Looking back up it from the gondolier made me realize just how steep it was. Speaking of gondoliers, they are awesome. It is so nice to have the shelter as you ride up. Naturally not all the lifts are gondoliers, but the ones that are take you a long way up. It would have been so awesome if I'd been here with Andrea, Phill, Meg, and Sean. Without my friends it's... still pretty good actually, but not as great as it could have been. I had an awesome stack as I was approaching the terrain park. The front of the board dug in, I kind of leaned into the hill, the board did a vertical 360 with me twisting with it, and then I kept going! Which was a lot better than when I body slammed the ramp in the terrain park. Those things are slippery. I should have left that for the last day, I'm pretty sore now. I'm hoping to see the Aussies I met last night, they said they could chance some AUD to Yen for me.

Made it Shiga Kogen

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I've made it all the way to my hotel in Japan. Unfortunately the bus from Nagano up
the mountain only runs at 9pm on Fridays, not Saturdays when I got here. So I spent
a very large amount of money on a taxi.

I'm hoping the rest of my trip will be smooth sailing, or rather snowboarding.

Snowbound

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I'm going snowboarding on Sunday, awesome! In Japan. Awesome! Flying out tonight, I'm all packed and ready to go. I'm also looking forward to seeing Andrea again in about a week. She's been having a great time in America, and friggin freezing Europe.

Her adventures didn't finish with tow trucks in Atlanta. Her luggage when missing somewhere between 4 airports and two airlines on the way to London. She has sounded cheerful though, so it sounds like she has been coping admirably with heavy snow fall, slippery ice, and no fresh clothes. She gets to make an insurance claim, so that should be fun!

Hopefully I'll be able to put up regular updates on my travels, so you can all be jealous of the fun I'm having.

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You know you're a bike nut when you see a pretty girl on a bike, and what you admire is how well adjusted her helmet straps are.

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