q. current home/addy where i stayed (neighbourhood) and how long
a. asahikawa for one night (fujita kanko washington hotel), sapporo university district (airbnb) for two nights, otaru for four nights (smile hotel) that we just extended to six nights
q. favourite meal
a. chicken karaage + mapo tofu in sapporo. mind blowing karaage. it was so good that i swore off deep fried food for about a week
q. most memorable moment / best highlight
a. chaining together four different resorts in a span of 9 days. prior to this trip i had only been to six resorts in my snowboarding lifetime and as of this week i have equaled that in only one month while in japan. in addition to that, i’ve had 5 days of epic back to back riding that completely exceeded my expectations. over this stretch of 10 days, we’ve had about 200+cm of reported snowfall (which in reality has been well over 3 meters since the japanese under-report by about 50%); by far the best storm that i’ve managed to ride through in it’s entirety. to have bluebird skies on a powder day happens so rare through storm season back home but it seemed like almost everyday has clear skies to fully take advantage of all that gorgeous fresh snow. you wake up in the morning and it’s snowing heavy. by the time you get to the mountain, it’s sunny. after your first few runs, it starts snowing. i feel like i’m bill murray caught in an endless cycle from groundhog day, but in the best possible way. i’m beside myself
q. greatest challenge
a. these cold temperatures. with great storms come violent conditions and this one has reached extremes of -28 celsius with wind chill. our average temps have been in the -10 range with wind chill bringing it to about -20. i know i’m an old fart but full days in that weather have been wreaking havoc on me. by this point in the season i’m usually gearing up for warm & sunny park laps but hokkaido hasn’t gotten that memo. 7 more days of snow and sub -20 degrees forecasted for every one one of those days.
q. what i miss most from home
a. western sized bathrooms. i’ve inadvertantly knocked various items off the 1 inch countertops (ie: the sink rim), some of which have fallen into the toilet. i’ve also smacked my head against the door in the process of getting off the toilet. on the flip side, i feel like a giant.
q. next stop
a. back to sapporo. more for haha to do and only 40 minutes more travel time to kiroro.
q. weirdest observation about current culture
a. after bouncing around to various hills for a month now, it’s mind boggling at how small of a percetage of japanese skiers & snowboarders ride off piste. this could even be on the fluff on the sides of the runs, completely in bounds and without ducking any ropes. they have some of the best gladed terrain on the planet with the snow to match and the people i’ll see in there are in one of the three groups: a) ski patrol, b) local diehards riding gentemstick boards (sigh, one day i will be either a local or an owner of said board) or c) powderhound tourists like myself. that’s far from a complaint but i suppose i just hope that the c) group doesn’t grow exponentially before the next time i return
q. one tip i would give myself if i were to come back
a. base myself in sapporo/otaru and daytrip it out from there. cheaper accomodation, food options are infinitely better & cheaper. that’s actually what we’re doing next week
q. friends i’ve hung out with/visitors
a. all by ourseeeeeelves. don’t want to be, all by ourseeeeeeelves…
q. one random/weird/cool thing i learned about the country i’m staying in
a. japanese websites suck. horribly. 10 out of 10 score to the country for their attention to detail and efficiency. 1 out of 10 for process to pass that information onto others. store hours, last calls (usually not adhered to) in restaurants and most importantly, bus schedules have been challenging to navigate. with only 7 days in a week i find it hard to understand how/why they have more than 7 symbols to signify days of operation for specific routes. get it together people!
q. one new experience/memory that will stick with me
a. running into other travelers at furano and kiroro. with a subway, shuttle bus and long gondola rides, there’s plenty of time to trade stories and chat up random powderhounds.
q. portion of luggage that’s been the most & least useful
a. my burton fish snowboard that i picked up off craigslist two weeks before i left; this thing is worth it’s weight in gold. the whole process of looking for a powder board last minute was a bit of a mess. when i started looking for this board i missed a smoker of a deal on craigslist so then i purchased another board (which i also wish i had right now). i then found the same board resurface on craigslist and managed to purchase that but then i was stuck with two powder boards. by some stroke of luck, i managed to sell the new one i purchased three days before my flight so i’m riding this stick for a bargain. given the quality of snow i’ve seen here, it’s held up unbelievably well. my old board wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and would have killed my legs in the process. 7 hour days go by pretty quick on this board. on that same note, the least useful piece of luggage this trip has been my park board. maybe that will change in a few weeks but with another 7 days of snow forecasted, i don’t see any use for this thing. plus i’ve had to drag this oversized paperweight around through subway stations and up/down numerous staircases