I have made a couple of ski trips recently. Our first trip was a couple of nights staying in a ‘charming’ little hotel; a stones throw from the slopes. The staff did not seem to mind that the majority of our group were either Japanese or fluent Japanese speakers and so were glad to wildly gesture and speak slow, patronizing, one word English sentences to us. Renting equipment from the doddering man (who more resembled a car mechanic than someone who may actually provide some assistance) that ran the place gave us a good taste of what was to be expected from our stay.
Being my first time snowboarding I didn’t question the board I was given, but found out the hard way that it was not big enough for my western feet, and was meant to consist of more than a floorboard with some straps crudely nailed to it. At the time I was more concerned with the torrents of water that were pouring through the ceiling in the lounge. I changed my board the next day. They didn’t change the buckets collecting the water, even when they overflowed.
They also kindly included a breakfast consisting of a small pregnant fish (head and tail included), rice, miso soup, various pickles and other such things that no one in their right mind can happily eat first thing in the morning. I think this is meant to be some sort of traditional Japanese breakfast, but I might have chosen the half a stale croissant and cold coffee option had it been on offer.
Personally I think their plan was to make a breakfast that no one would actually eat and then lay out the same dish the next day so to save a few yen. My theory was further confirmed when I saw that even some of the Japanese were shunning the breakfast as well as someone finding a jar of miso sauce 3 years out of date.
Despite our dubious lodgings, I found the snowboarding to be an excellent experience. Someone showed me some basics to begin with and I think I picked things up a bit too quickly because he decided to take me straight down a black run. This led to me eating a lot more snow than I’m usually accustomed to and becoming trapped on my back in deep snow. Feeling like a vulnerable turtle on my back, my soft belly exposed to predators, I was thankful that there were no birds of prey out that day.
I then decided to take things a little easier and spent the next few days developing my skills, going too fast, falling over, and getting in the way of skiers. At one point I swerved in front of a young Japanese boy learning to ski and had just enough time to see him desperately crash into a snow-bank before I raced off further ahead. Take that small child!
We also got to see the snow monsters at the top of the mountain. But I was savvy enough to realize that they weren’t real monsters, simply trees covered in so much snow that they unrecognizable.
The second trip I took was just a day trip to a local ski resort with a small group of people. Again I experienced some trouble with being able to get a board that fit me properly. But that wasn’t going to get in the way of me seriously bruising most of my body. It also meant that I got to try my hand at a bit of night snowboarding; as well as spraying children with powder under the flimsy premise that it might be some I knew. It never was.