Saturday, 16 January 2010

Snow Trip to Hakuba

Well after an emergency trip to the doctors the day before, we set out for Hakuba/Happo for our week long snow expedition (with antibiotics in hand).

Sunday: After a reasonably lengthy but budget conscious bus trip we arrived in Happo in the early afternoon and got settled in our accommodation, Hakuba House. An Australian couple Mick and Sarah bought this derelict building 4 years ago, and after what must have been some extensive renovations have made a fantastic skiing/boarding getaway.

There are only about 30-40 guests at any one time with a couple of great common areas where everyone gets together at night to hang out and chat by the fire. We immediately felt like we were staying at a mate's place.

With help from Mick, we organized our hire gear and Paul was set with his board and Joss with her skis. The others in our party, Dave, Nat, Chris (who is a friend of Nat's from work) and his partner Kyoka were all boarding as well.

Monday: First day of skiing/boarding, it was a lovely sunny day and with a lot of snow fall on the Sunday conditions were prime. Unfortunately Joss was still suffering quite badly and missed the first day of skiing.

Tuesday: Not letting a missed day dampen her spirits Joss was raring to get on the slopes. Luckily on Monday night the snow was dumping down, which continued all day on the Tuesday. Although visibility was not perfect, the conditions were absolutely fantastic. On nearly all of the runs there was a foot of fresh powder on top which made for the best skiing/boarding of the week (if a little tricky to get used to).

Wednesday on: Basically the rest of the week was more boarding/skiing, eating, hanging out at our fantastic accommodation and more boarding/skiing. It was a fantastic week and we are very eager to return.

This is the road right outside our accommodation Hakuba House

Paul rugged up for a trip down the street in the morning, to the far right of the picture to the right and behind the brown building is Hakuba House. It snowed like this nearly the whole time, which was fantastic for the snow boarding and skiing.

Relaxing by the fireplace with a glass of red. Each day from 4 - 5pm was happy hour, and it was a great place to hang out and chat to the staff and other guests who were mostly Australians. The atmosphere was great, relaxed and friendly.

Joss, Dave, Nat and Chris in our usual spot.

The resident pet Lloyd - it seems a popular choice for a pet name in Japan.

Lloyd hanging by the fire. We later found out that Lloyd was epileptic, not sure why that information is interesting but we had never met an epileptic dog before.

Our private onsen that we had at 9pm one night. It was freezing cold outside as you can imagine, and scorching in the onsen. Needless to say it was pretty magic. Especially jumping into the snow you can see on the side and then hot footing it back into the onsen.
PM: In hindsight it may not have been the best idea as I picked up quite a nasty chesty cough the next day...

Us after our onsen (clothed of course), it warms you right to the core, we didn't even get cold on the walk back to the hotel.

The bar and everyone hanging out.
PM: This was the night I came down with the bad cough and was feeling quite ill, but Lloyd came and kept me company for the evening.

At the bar with Mick pouring some more wine.

Paul, Chris and Kyoka, when we were all out to dinner at a yakiniku restaurant. Because it is so darn cold out the restaurant had a shuttle bus that picked us up and dropped us back at our accommodation, talk about service!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

NYE In Tokyo

Well New Years was promising to be quite exciting in Tokyo. A good friend Dave had scheduled his visit to Japan from the 29th of December, just in time for some New Years Eve shenanigans and then off to the snow. However, unforseen illness hampered the celebrations. Joss had been diagnosed with a sinus infection and was on antibiotics, and by some strange coincidence Dave landed in Tokyo with a sinus infection also! And with the mercury making good friends with the lowly single digits it was not the best time to be out and about.

Nevertheless we gave it our best shot. We started the night drinking at home of course, and then headed into town to see what was going on. We were lucky enough to see the New Year in at a local temple with a great view of Tokyo Tower in the background, which had an absolutely fantastic atmosphere that made our efforts very worthwhile. After that we went into the ex-pat area called Roppongi but called it quite an early night (for a NYE anyway). Here are some pics.

The Temple that we visited on NYE seen here the day before (when they were just setting up).OK so that wasn't just ginger ale... but really it was NYE. Oh and it was 11:30 at this time, we got caught up drinking at home we nearly missed the countdown.

Coming up to the temple, the street was packed. Luckily there was a convenience shop right on the corner that had very long but efficient queues to buy a couple of celebratory beverages.

The crowd at the temple about 2 minutes until midnight.


Those white things in the distance are balloons, hundreds of them are released on 'ichi'. PM: I am not used to counting backwards in Japanese so I was a bit behind everyone else.

Dave, Nat and us just after the countdown.