I'm sitting inside at our hostel with my legs under the heated table (I still can't get over what great inventions these are) while it RAINS outside. Very upsetting - we've had more than 30 mls in the last few days and it's really taking a toll on the snow. However the forecast is for a stack of snow over the next week (up to 2m in the next 5 days), and temp dropping to -20 at some point. I'm not sure what I will do. There are only so many layers of thermals I can fit under my Buzz Lightyear ski suit. It is so fashionable by the way - white suit with tight legs and waist, with big puffy purple and green manly shoulders. All I need is a clear spherical helmet and I surely will be going to Infinity and Beyond!
The 3 boys and Dad are playing cards which is a nice change from the boys constantly fighting. It's quite overwhelming being thrown together as a family. The brothers (aged 16 to 20) have had some very bizarre moments where I have just looked at them and had to walk away. One was this morning when they were allegedly getting ready to go skiing (I was left in charge of buying their ski passes so had to wait for them before I could go out) and I opened the bedroom door to find the 3 of them in underpants hitting each other with a snow shovel. Each morning is punctuated with a farting competition. They spend a considerable amount of time farting on each other's heads or having slap fights where the first to flinch loses. Apparently these are normal behaviours for teenage boys.
I've had 2 very magical experiences in the last week up here. One was the night I posted the last update, when it was snowing quite hard and I went for a night ski. It was snowing so hard I had to dust myself off after being on the chair lift, and wipe my (Nat's awesome) goggles so I could see. It was just wonderful skiing down, the snow was so soft and heavy it created a very eerie silence all around me. Adding to the moment was a lightning storm overhead which illuminated the skifield and all the snowflakes around me. Truly awesome.
The second magical experience was my very first Onsen. I headed down with a bunch of guys from the backpackers who are seasoned in this kind of thing on cold days with sore skiing muscles. I even managed to get the protocols right (the guys went to a separate onsen so I was on my own in the ladies) after communicating by charades with a Japanese lady who didn't speak any english. She was just getting out so I had the place to myself - it was wonderful sitting outside in such hot water, against rocks that got colder as they were further out of the water, and eventually covered in snow. I just sat there watching the steam and meditating, and sticking the odd limb out into the snow when I got too hot. Following my hour's soak I had a kind of onsen euphoria which is similar to chilli euphoria and thai massage euphoria and involves being very vague for a few hours :)
The skiing has been very very cool up until today when the snow was really suffering from the rain. But it's such an experience being in mountains here compared to Australia. At the snow fields I have been to in NSW there were only 4 ski lifts each with a few different trails. Here you need to go up 3 lifts to get to the top of the mountain, where the weather and snow can be completely different to down the bottom. Each lift has a whole bunch of runs, and if you go up to the top of one you can jump across to the next skifield. It's wonderful having a good half hour or run to go down before you need to hop on the chairs again. And the views are just spectacular! There's one beginners run which casually zigzags down the side of the mountain into a valley. I have taken so many photos along that run which I can hopefully stitch into a panorama when I get home.
I should mention too that I'm almost sick of Australians! We almost outnumber the Japanese people here. It's insane to have travelled so far to be asking people where abouts they are from in Aus. It's fun to be able to chat to people in the bars but sort of missing the point of being in another country. Also there's a fair bit of similarity between snowboarders and surfers... you get the odd one who's hit his head on the ice a few too many times and is pretty hilarious to talk to. I had one conversation that went like this;
Guy: "So, are you a snowboarder or skiier?"
Me: "Oh, I ski"
"woah. So you like some fully sick powder, eh?"
"um, I guess so!"
"or, are you more into some fully sick carving down the mountain, eh?"
"haha, yep, that's good too"
"oh yeah, so some fully sick powder and some fully sick carving. Just, like, going really fast and stuff, hey."
"something like that!"
We also visited Matsumoto castle the other day. It's one of the few remaining wooden castles which hasn't burned down and been rebuilt at some point in Japan's history. There are some massive beams in there from huge trees circa 1500s - none of those left in Japan's forests these days!
Well good times ahead with the snow forecast. Hopefully we get snowed in with a 50 year storm. If not I shall revel in spraying snow on annoying snowboarders who take up the entire track by going slow and horizontal, or blocking up the lift exits with their constant boot clipping on and off and on and off... ;)
hope you are all doing well. send me an email with all the goss!