I come from the east coast of the U.S. and was snowboarding since I was in college. Because of the area I was in, you can imagine that the slopes available to me weren’t all that impressive, which is probably why this trip in Japan seemed so great.
My friends and I want to go a couple times this year and were looking at our own packages but didn’t put anything together in time for this last trip so we ended up going with a tour group because it was easy, cheap, and you could sign up almost last minute.
At 7 am Saturday morning we left Shinjuku on a bus headed for Naeba resort, that’s on in Niigata, which is right at the base of where the the Japan sea meets land as it curves up. (On a side note, I found out later that 30 minutes after we left Shinjuku, someone was hit by a train… but anyways, back to the trip) There was a lot of traffic caused by an accident so we arrived around noon. It wasn’t until the last hour or so of the trip when we started seeing snow, but as soon as we saw it, we saw more and more. At the resort there was already almost a half meter of it all over. And it was snowing from the time we got there to when we left.
The package tour was all inclusive except for lunch and alcohol and was pretty cheap. For me, having left all my snow wear and snowboarding equipment in America, my costs for everything including rentals came to about 26000 yen, for 2 days skiing and one night in a ryokan. Believe me, you can’t get much cheaper than that. For the price, it ended up pretty good.
After getting there we geared up and hit the slopes, and there were lots of them to choose from. I was pretty impressed. After about 5 enjoyable hours on the slopes. We headed back to the ryokan to take a bath in the sento (public bath, similar to an onsen I guess, but a lot
smaller and not from springs) Then we had a western/Japanese mixed cuisine for dinner (we didn’t get the choice like in the onsen batsu). After that there was a lot of drinking and a little sleeping.
The next day we woke to another 40cm of fresh snow, had breakfast, and then headed out again at around 10am. We took a gondola across the mountains to try another nearby resort. The slopes there were not as challenging as the one we were at but it with all the fresh snow it didn’t really matter. Ended the day around 4, took another hot bath in the sento and headed back to Tokyo at 5. All in all, a great time.
You can find Khanh or “Kyon” at www.gaki-no-tsukai.com
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