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Skiing by Subheadings

23 January 201509:44AMjapan-2015travel

So to follow up directly from the end of my last post: this is how we look, all geared up.

like a couple of dorks, basically

I think I look remarkably colour-coordinated for someone with borrowed skis, rented boots, second-hand pants and a thirty-dollar jacket from HK.


The snow. Oh gosh. The snow. It is all fluffy, and there is so much. So much. Snow everywhere. I hear a lot of talk about 'powder', and to be honest I don't really know what they're on about and am probably not a good enough skier to appreciate it even if I did come across some, but the snow in general really is fantastic to ski on.

The weather has been great so far, for a given value of great. Our first day was a crystal clear sky, which was great for getting to know

The mountain itself is pretty well-serviced by lifts, but less well-serviced by signposts. Which is interesting, because there's less of an emphasis on picking and choosing your runs based on their difficulty, and more on just going with where looks interesting. Maybe if you're lucky, you'll check a trail map afterwards and find you've accidentally just done a double-black run.

Lift tickets are interesting too. You pre-pay a certain number of lift hours, and then every time you get on a lift, your card gets tagged (through your jacket, with a nifty RFID system) and you have one hour of lift use. Which incentivises taking all your lifts at once, maybe doing some quick runs down, to take advantage of your hour, getting as high as you can (ha), and then taking an interesting route down to lunch or something. It's a very different way of skiing to having all your lifts free once you're on the mountain for the day, which is what I'm used to.


I reckon it's like riding a bike. It took me about fifty metres to remember pretty much everything, and now it's been a couple of days and I think I'm as good as I ever was. A lot of it is confidence. I take a bit of cajoling to get off the groomed areas, but once I do get between some trees or into some back country I'm actually okay.

However good I am, though, is still less good than Matt seems to think he is. Cocky bastard.


I don't get it. It's very strong-smelling, and for some reason everyone drinks it hot like it's water.

I tried some, but it's not really my cup of tea. Tea, on the other hand, is my cup of tea, and there's usually the option to get tea of some kind (albeit usually green tea) with meals. Awesome.


Sushi is like four bucks.

Let's just let that sink in. Four bucks, for a whole tray of sushi. I mean, it's from a supermarket, but still.

sitting on the floor

We had a sit-down meal at a place where you sit on the floor. There's a whole ritual around 'clean' and 'dirty' parts of the floor and when and where you're allowed to take your shoes off, which had to be explained to us. There isn't an option to use forks, even in a Westerner-full town like this, so my chopstick skills are probably improving at about the same rate as my skiing skills. Possibly more so.


Hey, speaking of supermarkets, how weird are Japanese ones?

I'm hardly the first person to observe this, but jeez. Everything is in Japanese - no surprises there. But to compound that, almost nothing is recognisable. It's like an entirely different culinary history has evolved entirely parallel to the rest of the world, with almost no cross-pollination. Which I guess isn't far from the truth.

Everything is pre-prepared, and individually packaged, almost always in plastic. The packets have such a bizarre aesthetic to them as well. Everything is labeling overload. And they had the strangest, most stereotypical Japanese background muzak playing as well - but not over a speaker system. They just had loads of individual CD players positioned all over the store. So it was all almost psychotically discordant.

Still, everything (when we knew what it actually was for comparison purposes) seemed pretty reasonably priced. Even the fruit and veggies.


Okay, look, I know I had kind of an 'S' theme going on here, but I can't not talk about these. Hold on:



Anyway these things are intimidating, and a bit of a mixed bag. With any given unit, you'll get some combination of seat-warmer, automatic flushing, tank-filling handbasin, and built-in butt-washer. All of this is hooked into a fearsome-looking control panel, all of which is labeled in Japanese. It makes you realise how primitive our toilets must seem by comparison.

toilet humour

Then again, I like to think ours have a brutal elegance to them. In Australia, you stand a decent chance of fixing your own loo. In Japan, it looks like it requires a degree. Or at least an electrician. They're very much not user serviceable. In my case, they're barely user usable.

Travel blogging: Come for the photos, stay for the toilet humour.

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