Just a short little discussion about powder skiing in the land of the rising sun, and why I decided that I needed to go back! They don't call it JaPOW for nothing.
The majestic Japanese Alps as seen from Hakuba
Some of you may know that I am headed to Japan tomorrow, in search of the ubiquitous funPOW, JaPOW, Japanuary goods, Japillow lines, etc... This is my second trip, as I decided that last year was simply too good. I know that flying across the world in search of the same thing Tahoe or Nevada has -seems inefficient. And it is! But the adventure, the foreignness, the food, and even just the differences in the Japanese approach to skiing are all things that make it tough to beat.
So as fall came around, I thought back to last year. "Man, what a good time that was" I thought, "wish I could go again". And then I realized that I could! I mean, apart from the obvious financial constraints there was nothing really stopping me. So I started saving money, talked some friends into the idea, and bought a plane ticket. And now here I am sitting LAX waiting for a flight, and massively excited. Too bad my knowledge of the Japanese language hasn't actually improved at all...
Anyway, be prepared for some more updates as our travels progress. But first here's a recap from last year:
Last year I was super fortunate. A good friend of mine called me up, knowing that I had some free time and a flexible schedule. He asked if I wanted to go on a ski trip, laid out the dates, and told me to just trust him and show up at the airport -everything would be taken care of. He wouldn't give me any details, but said I would need ski gear and my passport. So I trusted him and followed the instructions.
I showed up to the airport at 5AM, passport in hand. At that point I was skeptical, hoping that I hadn't been setup for a bad practical joke. Maybe I had trusted him too much? My half-asleep mind wasn't in the mood for humor, and I had my doubts. But then I walked up to the check-in booth and entered my information. A round-trip ticket to Tokyo popped up under my name. Holy shit I was going powder skiing in Japan! What a surprise.
Later I figured out the whole story, my friend was the one who had really gotten fortunate. He'd won a trip for 8 people to Hakuba Japan, and set about inviting his selected group of rippers. Needless to say, I was extremely happy to get the call. Sometimes being a total fun hog pays off in life.
Yours Truly, International Funhog.
We spent two weeks mostly skiing in Hakuba, a place more renowned for steep lines than its quality snow. Still, it snowed almost every day. Japanuary is no joke. Some days I'd wake up to sunny skies, and make the mistake of leaving my low-light lenses behind. NEVER do that in Japan, it will always start snowing again later.
The terrain was always interesting, and we enjoyed both resort skiing and backcountry. Most of the hills are very undulating, due to snow creeping downhill. In Japan the base of the snowpack often sits on flattened bamboo, which easily facilitates the snow sliding. Glide crack, rolls, holes, and other odd features are extremely common, and its hard to ski fast there. Pillow lines (my favorite!) are also abundant. Overall, the skiing totally lives up to the hype.
There were lots of good stories and bad stories that came out of the trip. I'm not going to really tell them here, as I want to pave the way for new stories to come out of the trip we're about to enjoy. But here are some photos! Stay tuned for more updates to come soon from the land of the rising sun.
The Skiing was awesome! Totally different than what I'm used to.
Sorry that we tracked this one out for you Brad...
Crazy checkdams exist everywhere, as the mountains are riddled with steep gullies
Yeah it snows a lot. And there is a lot of abandoned infrastructure...
Ski-in ski-out shrines are cool.
Signs are weird...
Tokyo is also weird...
And finally, heres a picture of me eating shit after attempting to skin downhill...
See you all in a few weeks!