Sunday, January 20, 2008
Ski Trip
Yeti, the AJET organization in my prefecture, put together a lovely 2 day 2 night discount ski trip package for us. Seeing as how I haven't been skiing in a very long time, I decided I should definitely attend. I also decided I would try my hand at snowboarding for the first time too!

Maybe 47 was the ski resort we hit up and is in Nagano, which is the prefecture directly to the north of Yamanashi. Before even heading up, I scheduled a snowboarding lesson so that I would at least have some semblance of a clue as to what I was doing. Only problem was that I had to schedule it as a private lessen. Very expensive, but I really wanted so time of lesson, so I sucked it up and agreed to the fees.

Our group stayed at this crazy looking ryokan called the Saint Mary and William, or something like that. Went up Friday night in a van and pretty much went straight to bed so I could get an early start the next morning at meet up with my snowboard instructor and about 8:30am.

I picked up my complimentary breakfast and ski pass the next morning and then went to check out my gear. One of the greatest things about snowboarding is the boots. Ski boots hurt like none other after a while, but the snowboard boots were incredibly comfortable all day long. I walked about 5 minutes and reached the base of the mountain and had to call to figure out where I should be meeting my instructor. This actually turned out to be more of a pain than I originally thought. I was told the day I reserved my lesson that I could meet the instructor near the base of the slope, but when I called, they kept saying I had to go to their main office to pay and would need to take a cab. Needless to say, I was a bit pissed. But after much complaining, I realized that I was already at the place they wanted me to take a cab to get to! Not sure why they didn't understand where I was when I said at the ski lift of Hakuba 47, which is directly across from the building that houses their office, but whatever. Anyway, I make it to their little booth in the building and, guess what, no one was there. My instructor finally shows up few minutes past when the lesson itself should be starting, at 9:00, and then we take care of all the paperwork and payment stuff. During this time, I run across Clint, another ALT, who seems to be looking for boarding lessons as well. Someone told him he about a place you could take lessons for about $30. The place ended up being the little booth next to mine, but he was disappointed when he found out the lessons were all in Japanese. I spoke with him and offered him a change to join in on my lesson and thus my private lesson became semi-private, but also a bit cheaper too.

Once we were both ready to go, we ran into another snag. The bindings on our snowboards were way off. So our instructor switched them up for us. Then, after learning a few basics, we headed to the lift where I ran into anther snag. Apparently, the paper lift ticket I had gotten earlier that morning, was not the actual lift ticket, so I had to go exchange it for the actually ticket. During this time, Clint and the instructor when up and did a run and when they got back down, we all went up.

By the end of my time with the instructor, I discovered a few things. Thing number one is that snowboarding is just not my thing. I did get the hang of getting down the mountain toe side, but could not for the life of me even stand heel side without falling over. Mid day I broke for lunch and had some subway and then headed out with a few people to take a gondola and then another lift to the very top of the mountain. The view was really nice at the top. Most of the group was planning on going all the way down the mountain, but by the time we made it to the top, I was starting to feel the ache and decided to just board back down to the gondola and take that back to the base instead. Glad I did to, because I never would have made it to the bottom! It apparently took them like 2 or 3 hours to do.

That night and the ryokan, Yeti threw a part in this bunker/basement like part of the building. I was planning on going, but ended up just staying in my room and reading. Mostly cause I was really into the book, but also cause I was feeling pretty sore and wasn't up for a night of drinking. Especially with another day of boarding ahead of me.

I got a much later start the next day. Everyone kept swearing that I'd do much better the second day, so I gave it my best shot, but it just wasn't happening. I think I might have even gotten worse the second day! Anyway, after a bit of boarding, I decided to call it quits and grabbed a bowl of spicy ramen to warn me up. I also picked up a few souvenirs to bring back home with me.

The, it was time to head back home. We took the rental vans back to the Toyota place in Kofu and then everyone headed over to this Thai place for some dinner. Was pretty good except for the fact that they forgot to bring me the rice that I ordered and was really, really sore at that point. Anyway, while we were eating, it started snowing! The first snow in Yamanashi.

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