Sunday 18 Jan

18/01/2009
Cathy with Mt Yotei in the background

Cathy with Mt Yotei in the background

Another Yotei sunrise photo

Another Yotei sunrise photo

Another day of skiing in perfect snow. Apparently Niseko now has the deepest snow base of any ski resort in the world …. this is why we keep coming back. A nice sunny morning (only -9) but snowing again this afternoon. Came home early today as our legs are now officially stuffed. Might have a rest day tomorrow to recover.

Check out the photo of the snow covered car in the carpark next to our lodge. I think it is a Toyota Corolla and it has been there for a couple of days. The snow clearing machinery had to work around it.

Oh what a feeling

Oh what a feeling

Cathy charging down Yotei Sunset

Cathy charging down Yotei Sunset


Perfect Day

17/01/2009
Cathy on fresh corduroy at Niseko Village (formerly Higashiama)

Cathy on fresh corduroy at Niseko Village (formerly Higashiama)

Cathy on the parrot chair - note the survival grip with the left elbow

Cathy on the parrot chair - note the survival grip with the left elbow

The wild snow conditions of the past couple of days have finally subsided and we actually saw the sun at times today. Of course there were also periods of heavy snow. With all the fresh powder, the groomed runs were fantastic – true ego snow. It was really good to give the legs a rest, cruising on the soft corduroy. Not many people around for a weekend. Stopped in the Hilton (formerly the Prince) at Niseko Village (formerly Higashiama). Sitting in velour chairs and being served by a Japanese waitress who got down onto her knees to take our coffee order.

I had to pretend I didn’t know Cathy when she tried to get into the gondola with her skis on. The Japanese liftie thought it was very amusing.

Had the usual all you can eat buffet at Annupuri and skied much faster this afternoon with all the extra weight.

Greg on the Annupuri piste

Greg on the Annupuri piste

Perfect snow at Annupuri

Perfect snow at Annupuri


Powder

16/01/2009
Greg in powder at Legend of Shinya

Greg in powder at Legend of Shinya

Cathy in powder at Shirakaba

Cathy in powder at Shirakaba

Greg in powder at Legend of Shinya

Greg in powder at Legend of Shinya

The photos tell the story. What a day! Kept snowing all night and continued most of the day. Visibility was marginally better and the wind abated. After two days of skiing in these conditions we are both completely stuffed. So much for training on the One Mile sand dunes ….. a complete waste of time. I almost had to be carried up the stairs to our apartment this afternoon and it is only day 2. Cathy had a few ventures into the powder today and went really well. I only had to rescue her once from a deep hole she had made after a small error in her technique (or a snow snake)  made her crash.

Time for a bubble bath an a cold beer (at the same time of course)

Cathy in powder at Stairway to Heaven

Cathy in powder at Stairway to Heaven

Small error in technique

Small error in technique


In the snow

15/01/2009
snow on the sign outside our apartment

snow on the sign outside our apartment

Carpark after heavy snow

Carpark after heavy snow

Finally arrived at Niseko. Bit of drama getting here with snow clearing on the runway at Sapporo putting our plane into a holding patten for over 2 hours. The pilot said we could only wait another 10 minutes before we had to divert to another airport. Thank goodness we lucked out and were able to land.

Talk about being hit in the bum by a rainbow. Biggest single dump of snow for the season started when we arrived in Hirafu. 50cm overnight and probably that much again today. We had to walk through thigh deep snow just to get out of our apartment this morning. On our first warm-up run we ended up in neck deep powder – hard to see and breathe – really did need a snorkel.. The groomed runs were covered in thigh deep powder. What a start to our skiing.

Heavy snow all day reduced visibility but the snow was light and dry. After many visits to Japan, I think today was the deepest snow I have skied in.

Going into Kutchan for some grocery and grog shopping tonight.

Hope the visibility improves so I can take the camera tomorrow to get some shots of this insane snow.

Poor puppy must have cold feet

Poor puppy must have cold feet


Geishas

13/01/2009
Maiko in Gion

Maiko in Gion

Maikos in Gion 2

Maikos in Gion 2

Maikos in Gion 3

Maikos in Gion 3

Very special day today. We were just having our final walk in Kyoto when we spotted a heap of paparazzi up a narrow road in Gion. We went to investigate and discovered that today was a special event for Geishas and Maikos (apprentice Geishas). Lots of cameras were clicking (including mine) as groups of Maikos and their assistants were walking down the street and entering a building for some kind of ceremony. We continued along other streets and came accross many groups of Maikos. It was great to be there and see these girls with their spectacular outfits and makeup. What a stroke of luck.

I want to bring one home with me but Cathy is against he idea.

Abbey Road in Gion

Abbey Road in Gion


More Kyoto

13/01/2009
Golden Pavilion - Rokuon-Ji Temple
Golden Pavilion – Rokuon-Ji Temple
Geisha at Gion Corner
Geisha at Gion Corner

Another snowy start to the day and the temps hovered around freezing all day.

Started out at a gold-leaf covered temple in the middle of a lake. Built in the 1220’s, it is now a World Cultural Heritage building – very spectacular.

Went to the BIC Camera store near the station – 5 levels of great toys (computers, cameras etc  …… all things digital and electronic). No problems with Japanese helping their government fix the country’s economy – they are fanatical shoppers.

Had a temple break this afternoon to prepare for a night time venture into the Gion district. An older part of town with narrow streets, lots of restaurants and the occasional Geisha scurrying by.

We walked around for a while, had a great meal and some interesting conversation with the chef who spoke very little English.

We now have the pubic transport system mastered and have seen a lot of this city from inside a warm bus.

Leaving tomorrow to return to Osaka. Not before checking out the Imperial Palace which is walking distance from our hotel.

Lots of great memories from an amazing city.


Exploring Kyoto

11/01/2009
Geisha

Geisha

Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine

Really wore ourselves out today. Walked all over the place. Saw Buddhist temples actually being used for prayer by Japanese people. The temples all have rich histories and and feature ancient architecture and elaborate gardens.. Check out the flickr photos.

Today is Sunday and everywhere we went was pretty crowded. They tell me there are lots of people in Japan – I think most of them were out enjoying a rare day of sunshine today.

The highlight was seeing 2 geishas in a rickshaw near the Gion area.

Kyoto is a fantastic place to visit and absorb some of the ancient culture of Japan. You could easily spend a month here – there is so much to see. I have to admit I was a bit sceptical about wasting good skiing time doing the tourist thing  but this has been great and I now have a much greater appreciation of Japan and its people.

Last day here tomorrow. Tour director, Cathy has big plans. Better get some sleep as I anticipate another big day of walking.