Monday, January 17, 2011

The Snowboarding Weekend Getaway

Hakuba-Iwate Resort

My first week back from Winter Vacation was a blur. Just as I thought it was starting, it was already over. I taught at 2 JH schools, and this week, I’m rotating through my last JH before my ES rotation starts again. Last week was very uneventful because thanks to the time change, I was usually asleep before 10pm. On Friday, I saw my first snowfall of the year (about 1.5 inches). However, today is a far cry from the light dusting we received on Friday. This weekend was steady snowfall all around the colder parts of Japan. My town received a little over 4 inches of snow, but with the low temperatures, it has lasted throughout the weekend and it continued snowing today. After living in Moscow for the past four year, I’ve grown accustomed to driving in the snow and ice. However, I wasn’t so sure this morning if my car could handle getting out of my JHS parking lot, so I trudged my way about 1.5 miles to school in my Ugg boots (not the best idea). The inside of the school was roughly 34-42 degrees depending on a hallway or classroom. I love the fact that the doors are still open to the outside even when it is snowing. I even asked a teacher and she didn't even notice the doors were open and starting laughing.

Okay, back to the weekend! There were 5 of us going to Nagano Prefecture (which is right next door to my Prefecture). You might remember Nagano from the 1998 Olympics or the famous ALT soccer team that won a tournament there in October…Since my apartment was the closest to Nagano, three people arrived at my apartment at 1am Saturday morning to sleep for about 3 hours, and then depart for Nagano at 4am. It was quite the early morning, but thanks to the 4-hour car ride, I was able to nap for another 3 hours. We made our way through the snowy towns, and finally ended up at the Hakuba-Iwate ski resort. For 3300 yen ($40), I got a ski pass and a lunch voucher (similar to golf). I thought it was a pretty awesome deal! We snowboarded all day and left the resort at closing time. We stayed at this lovely hostel, (more like a hotel), and I met quite a few individuals from other countries (New Zealand, Wales, England, and some other countries)…some people were staying there for 3 months! Could you imagine that!

Sunday morning, we went to the Hakuba-Goryu / Hakuba-47 resorts (they are adjoined, but technically separate). This resort was much larger and I would say there had to have been 30% foreigners there! They even had a Subway in the lodge. That was my little piece of heaven for the weekend for sure! After two days of steady snowfall (it snowed 20 inches Saturday night alone!), my body was exhausted! I forgot how much snowboarding through powder can wear down you body. We went back to the lodge and took a shower and got the car all packed up at headed out at 6pm. After a stop for dinner (sushi), we were on the way back to Mitake. I can honestly say I don’t remember much, due to the fact I passed out due to snowboarding fatigue. We got back to my apartment at about 11:45pm and everyone else headed back to their places (about 90 minutes further away). My apartment was a welcoming 44 degrees and I couldn’t turn the heat on fast enough.

We Found This "Character" Having A Smoke Outside

Things I learned: they don’t have lift tickets in Japan, instead you have a metal scanner that you scan at each lift and then return at the end of the day. The snow must be different because I’ve never had my goggle fog up as bad as they did, and it wasn’t just me. Ski lifts open when they want to, not necessarily at 8:30 or 9am when they are scheduled to. Lunch is usually included with your lift ticket. A lot of people snowboard; I might say that it’s 50-50 skiing to snowboarding.

This weekend was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go skiing or snowboarding again. I’m definitely thankful I brought most of my snowboarding gear, as now I can say that I’ve been snowboarding in Japan. (this was on my bucket list).

As for Monday, it came way too early. Another morning of steady snowfall, lead to my decision to walk to school. The snow would be okay if it didn’t have ice beneath it. The best part about walking to school was the fact that I got to walk home with 3 JHS girls. I had a blast talking to them about random topics in Japanese and English, I even learned who their "boyfriends" were. Definitely the highlight of my Monday!

My Walk (Adventure) To School

Well, as I sit here on Monday, I’ve got a lot of decisions to make before my recontracting deadline of February 4th. So far, I’ve loved my time in Japan, and I know I will always love living here, but I wonder if the awe of teaching English will fade sooner than expected.


  1. Wow! That's a tough decision to make! Would you get to come home for the summer? Would you be at the same location with the same students?

  2. I wouldn't come home for the summer. It's a one year contract, so I'm here until August 1st already. I would be in the same town, same schools (unless they change them), and same students. The teachers would change, but I won't know that until April, when the new school year starts.