Got back late Sunday night from another 24 hour round trip to Hakuba in Nagano (more than a few hours north of Tokyo for those not in the know) where I went snowboarding. Leaving Shinjuku at 11pm on Saturday night our bus arrived in Hakuba at 5.30 am and once we had waited to get kitted up and got out on to the slopes it was 7:30 am and bloody raining too. Unlike previous times the snow wasn’t so powdery and pure on the main slope so it was lucky myself and Ai had greatly improved and didn’t take too many tumbles.
In fact it would have been impossible for Ai to fall over during the initial hour as she put her board down and then watched it slide down the slope in horror so I had to go and search for it and luckily found it straight away. The snow was far better on the more advanced slopes so we went there and enjoyed going a little off the beaten track which felt so much better than boarding over the well worn parts.
It was impossible to wear goggles as the vision just got impaired within seconds and by the end of the afternoon as the snow and wind increased I was practically snowboarding with my eyes closed at times and that is no lie.
After nearly 8 hours of boarding I then got naked with loads of Japanese blokes! No, this wasn’t the annual Nagano gaylord festival but an ‘onsen‘ which is the traditional Japanese custom of bathing in the nude with a load of strangers. Given the fact that a lot of Japanese people are very shy this may seem like an unprobable custom but far from it as I’ve never met a Japanese person who doesn’t like going to these hot springs. Many even go to such places with their family which I can’t ever imagine happening elsewhere in the world. The Japanese mainly take onset’s to sooth and relax their bodies and minds which is fair enough but I tend to get bored of ‘burning’ my body in such hot temperatures after a few minutes. Having said that it did feel good after a tiring day on the piste but unfortunately time was running out for me so I was in and out within about four minutes!