Even though I have lived in Japan for a total of two and a half years now I had never gone skiing or snowboarding until recently. I used to snowboard a lot when I was a teenager and then less frequently when I got into college so I am decent at snowboarding and I do really like it. I guess the reason why I had never gone until now was mostly due to the fact that I wear size 31cm shoe (US 13) and I just assumed they would never have my size boots for rental at the ski shops since I can never find my shoe size at any shoe store in Japan. That and the fact that I don’t have a board or any other gear of my own with me here in Japan so I knew it would be expensive to rent everything and pay for the lift ticket and transportation.
Well, it turns out I was wrong about the first assumption but dead on with the second. They do have size 31 cm boots for rental at Takasu Snow Park where I went, and yes it was really expensive for everything. Three friends and I rented a car and drove about 5 hours to Gifu Prefecture in the middle of the night to get there the next day and start boarding at 9am. I guess its been about 2 years since the last time I boarded so it was really fun to feel the sensation of gliding down a snowy mountain again. But by the end of the day my legs and knees were so sore from the unfamiliar exercise.
I don’t know if all Japanese ski slopes are the same but the one I went to was really different from ones I’m used to back home in one particular way: At home my favorite part of boarding is to leave the groomed course and weave in and out of the trees on the relatively untouched and softer snow. The trees on the mountain here were much denser and had a lot more low branches so it wasn’t really possible to cut a path through them. Plus the rules seemed a lot more strict here as there was almost always fencing put up right on the side of the groomed slopes so that you couldn’t go off the beaten path. That was a let down, but all in all it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately it was really pricey for one day of fun so it doesn’t look like I will be going too often.
I only got these two pictures of the mountains from the parking lot in the morning because I didn’t want to risk breaking my camera when I took an inevitable crash on the slopes.