Japan Journal 2014


I last visited Japan as part of a trip my mother and I did where we were in Japan for the World Science Fiction Convention in 2007. After Japan we took a ferry over to Beijing then took trains through China to Hong Kong. A four week epic trip that left us exhausted but satisfied. This trip is not as ambitious but it does combine two of our interests: Japan and skiing.

In 1998 the Olympics were held in Nagano a city on the northern coast north west of Tokyo, nestled in the midst of a series of mountain ranges. Nagano is surrounded by ski resorts, the biggest of which is in Hakuba where a number of the Olympic events were held. Hakuba is a 45 minute drive from Nagano along a small, single lane road that winds it’s way up from the relatively flat Nagano into the mountains. It is here in Hakuba with it’s wide choice of ski areas and pretty much guaranteed snow that we decided to visit on this trip. There was talk of skiing on the island of Hokkaido, to the north, but this is simply too far away and, without knowing what to expect, we chose to go with a bigger resort that is significantly closer to Tokyo and Kyoto.

Every year my mother and I try to go skiing together. We have been doing this for quite some time now ever since I moved to the United Kingdom. Europe is now so close we have skied in a number of countries there. But, of course, variety is the spice of life and we are fast running out of countries we have not visited or ski resorts we have not, at one time or another, skied. Why not try Japan where we could, at the same time, experience the Japanese culture again and see a bit more of the country? Ok, it was expensive and fairly tricky to arrange (though the agent we used in the United Kingdom made things very easy indeed) it really is a trip of a lifetime…Mind you, I am not sure how many of these “trips of a lifetime” I can do…Every trip brings it’s own unique surprises and joys. I make no pretence: I am very lucky indeed.

This trip we will be starting in Tokyo for a few days - We are not big fans of the city so are only here for a short time - then we are off to Kyoto for about a week after which we head to Hakuba for a week of skiing. A lot of travel in a short period and it should be interesting to see Japan in the winter - No idea what it will be like, really having been in the summer last time…

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