Well, we tried skiing properly for the first time this weekend at a lovely resort called Naeba, which is about 4 hours drive from Tokyo. I learnt to snowboard about 15 years ago (was it really that long ago?! Where did the time go?!) and decided to try skiing this time. Neil had never tried either sport, so I thought it would be nice for both of us to learn something new together. The trip was organised through the Tokyo Gaijins and there were about 45 of us trotting up there on the bus, organised by a lovely guy called Ricky. We checked into the guesthouse (our rooms were traditional Japanese style with tatami mats and futons on the floor) and got our gear - all very organised, as you can imagine, with boots, skis etc and clothing as well. Note my fetching bright yellow jacket - not very tasteful, but easily seen on the slopes, I can tell you!
We had our lesson with Ricky in the afternoon and started off on the bunny slopes. We must have looked pretty awful at first, but we managed to come down the mountain at a slow pace, in pretty much one piece. After a few hours of that, we headed back to the hotel for an onsen-type shower and bath. Onsens are Japanese public baths and they have them all over the place here. They are separated for men and women, and it involves being naked and bathing in a communal bath area. First of all you have to crouch down at a very low shower which is not far off the ground. You have to scrub yourself clean whilst sitting on a very little plastic stool. It is not until you are scrubbed clean that you can then plunge yourself into the gorgeous hot tub which is full of mineral-infused waters. Heaven!
That evening we had dinner at the hotel and then headed to the resort to drink too much beer. A lot of people did night skiing as the slopes are kept open and lit up until 9pm. But we decided to stay in the warm! The next day was pretty fruitful and I felt like I really began to get the hang of the skiing lark and am quite liking it. Will have to head back soon for another stint!