The Shinkansen The bullet train on Japan’s high speed rail network puts the UK’s trains to shame. Travel at up to 320 kph in comfort with no arguments about an additional full fare for skis.
Japanese Rooms We stayed at a traditional lodge owned by 1998 Nagano Olympic Big Hill Ski Jump Champion Kazuyoshi Funaki who made us feel very at home. Tired and jet lagged from travelling it was nice to relax and take advantage of the hot tub.
Onsens Abundant natural hot springs are put to good use with hot baths and hot water under road heating. Skiing, a hot bath and a beer was a winning combination.
Japanese Steamed Dumplings Available with a variety of fillings, beef was my favourite
Street Stores and The Apple Shop It was a real treat to see al the small shops selling local produce which is a dying industry in the UK as the supermarket chains dominate. Apples are the size of grapefruits and tasted delicious.
Japanese Whiskey Masataka Taketsuru travelled to Scotland around 100 years ago to learn the art of making malt whiskey. After returning to Japan he created a distillery in Hokkaido and a second one near Kyoto. He certainly studied hard as this stuff was good, really good. The Americans will be pleased that their Burbon industry still has a purpose conditioning casks for the whiskey industry in another region.
Baby on Board Having an infant does mean you need to stay at home. Just strap the young one to your back and carry on as normal.
Sushi It cost about a pound a plate in some places. After Michelle worked out that the waitress calculated the bill by adding up the empty plates I had to stop her from sticking the plates back on the revolving track, hence the cheeky look.
Snow Monkeys Michelle is a massive animal lover and was desperate to go see the snow monkeys that hang out keeping warm in the natural hot springs. As you can see Michelle was delighted, the monkey isn’t quite feeling the same way.
Snow While its a commodity in Europe and parts of the US right now, Japan certainly gets plenty.
Deep Blower Just how we like it. I’m in there somewhere.
The Fabled Japanese Hardwood Forests No conifer bashing here, perfectly spaced trees for ripping about on skis.
Happy Hour Equals a happy Michelle after 2 sips of a Margarita.
Kazuyoshi Funaki He won the big hill ski jump gold medal at the Nagano 1998 Olympics and was the perfect host plying us with beer, Sake and fine Japanese Nikka Malt Whiskey.
Good Coffee Essential before during and after skiing
Snow Clearing A serious chore if you don’t want your roof to collapse. The hot springs run under the streets and snow is disposed of through gratings into the culverts.
Tokyo Station Very impressive, probably bigger than Schipol airport in Amsterdam