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Life in snowy Japan

An ordinary day in Niseko ski resort, Japan

JAPAN | Thursday, 14 February 2013 | Views [1090]

I've just started my 3rd month working in Niseko, Japan. An ordinary day in Hirafu can as follow:

Wake up in the morning, look out the windon and the first thing you can see is at least 20 cm of fresh snow (the snow report predicted 0 cm). Look at the hill from my bedroom window and you can see it covered in clouds, it looks horrible, visibility would probably zero with strong winds. However, this wouldn't stop you from going riding.

Have a breakfast with the 22 other people living in your house. Some of them hang overed from the previous night and having poor attemps of making breakfast, usually ending up with a burn toast. Oh well this doesn't matter: in just less than a half an hour you all will be on the hill.

Time to get dressed, to put all of the layer you need. Even that the mountain is just below 1500 m, it can be kinda chilly. After gearing up, it's time to clear, sorry dig out the car. After snowing all night your car, will be under at least 30 to 40 cm of snow. But that can be fun too, especially if the snow clearer had made a snow bank just behind your car. One thing, I learnt in Japan so far is, always to park facing the exit, way more easier to get out later.

Once you have finished digging out your car (which is a really good warm up), it's time to go riding. By this time, it will probably sunny and warm with no sign of clouds or the opposite, snowing even heavier. Going down the hill, can be one of the best experiences you can have in the snow. Imagine waist deep massive powder fields with no one except you and your friends, tree rides without the tree wells and no pine trees which can smack you in the head. And the best you can ride almost every one you wand,  plus you get the back country in the resort boundries.

After, playing in the snow, it's time to hit on of the many onsens in the resort. This amazing hot mineral water, which you can smell while riding it runs under the whole area of Niseko and is named as one of the best in Japan. You can enjoy it for a small price in one of the many onsens in the resor, from an luxury one to a typical japanese one. However, one thing you should bare in mind is that, you have to be naked once in the onsen, no swimmsuits are allowed in the water. Going to an onsen is a whole ritual for the japanese. Once in the building you have to take a shower, while being supervised by a japanese guy/woman who decides whether you have scrubbed your self enough. Once they give you their approvel, they will give you a small modesty towel, which will prevent you from running naked around the place. Once you get to the hot pool, you have to wrap your modesty towel around your head and slid into the pool. For most westerners being naked together with strangers quite be quite indimidating, however, going to the onsen after a day on the runs can do miracles to your muscles.

After spending an hour or so in the onsen is time to hit one of the many restaurants in the village. You can go to a typical small japanese restaurant to a big roughy one. Most restaurants won't be bigger that your living room with just a couple of small tables, but that's the best part. Japanese restaurants are design to make you feel like you are having dinner with your close friends in your house. You can talk (if you speak japanese) to the chef while he is preparing your food or just watch him. Most restaurants will serve you izakaya, sashimi, sushi, okonomiyaki, ramen, hot pot and all kind of tasty japanese food.

Once you had your dinner experience, it's time to hid one of the many bars in the resort. Feeling like something more sophisticated, no problems, you can head to the fridge door bar (rated by Nat Geographic as one of the top 10 bars in a ski resort). And no woder why, except that it has a tiny fridge door for an entrance, this bar makes probably some of the best cocktails I've ever tried and the atmosphere in the bar is amazing. You can see of these old records and buddhas, old pair of skies and what ever else you can think off. Definately a place which is worth a visit.

However, if you feel something more relaxing or you feel like partying, you can find something too. Why not head to Larse, where you can do the drinking challeng. Try drinking 3 cocktails with 15 shots inside each and you will receive a cool t-shirt helping you to memorise or remember the night. Or why not go to Tamashi or Wild Bills where you can play some darts and pool. Or head to Barumba, where you can try the Bruse Lee and Jet Lee cocktails, wondering what that is .... well let's say that one is served in a 2 pint glass and the other one in 1 pint glass, the rest I will leave to your imagination. If you manage to win the sympathy of the staff in Barumba, they might allow you to leave a message on their ceilling or somewhere on their walls or bar, but hurry up, because the space it's getting limited. If you are a party animal, who likes staying up till dust, well you can head to Splash bar, where every one else pretty much ends up. Here you can party till late with cheap drinks and good crowd.

Well, this is a typical day, here at the resort. Heaps of fresh snow everyday (so far is about 4 meters at the village and 10 on the mountain with continuing to snow), nice bars and restaurants for every taste and pocket and amazing japanese experience.

Tags: bars, japan, powder, snowboarding

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