The Tokyo International Exchange Center organized a ski trip to Nagano, a place north-west to Tokyo famous for ski resorts. There were only a limited number of seats. I was lucky to be picked up later from the waiting list. Saturday morning we left for Nagano in two filled buses. It takes around 6 hrs to get there. As we reached there we could see a lot of snow covered hills. The tyres of the bus were wrapped by chains to drive up the icy roads. When we reached at the Shiga kogen ski resort an ambulance ran down sounding its siren – enough to remind us that skiing may be dangerous :-P. My Thai friend had broke his arm last year by skiing.
That day we dint ski – just tried on the ski wear and boots. In the evening, we had a Yakiniku party – we have a heated pan, we roast meat, fish, vegetables, etc on it and eat. Well there was a separate vegeterian table too – with a lot of fish and seafood and vegetables. As usual theres beer and drinks – kampei. In the night we had karaoke.
Next morning we woke up early and went down to put on our ski wears. The ski boots are painfully hard – we feel like a robot walking with the boots. We went to the ski field carrying the pair of long heavy ski on our shoulder. There was Japanese teacher for beginners like me. Luckily we had a Japanese lady in our beginner team who could translate what she taught us. She first taught us how to fall down safely if we cannot stop. We start sliding down the slope before we can think of anything, and stopping is not easy. Our training was basically how to slow down and try to stop. Quite difficult to control, we fell down many times, crashed into each other. Anyway it was quite fun laughing at each other falling down.
After some useless practice we went up the hill to try skiing on the beginner area. I think the lift going up the hill was more dangereous than skiing itself. It was just like a chair, with no bars, going up the hill with the rope – we were advised not to move in the lift. Anyway we reached up the hill, and slided down, fell down crashed down. We repeated many times and slowly overcame the fear and started gaining control. And it was amazing to see very small Japanese children ski so well in dangerously steep slopes ! They were perfect. Finally, we gained confidence – we could control speed and stop. That was all we learnt this time 😛
It was a great day, and a great night too. We had a Japanese nabe dinner – a table full of lots of things, we boil them all in the same pot and eat. After that there was social gathering. The Japanese people mixed us in groups and entertained with many interesting games. Especially, the theme guessing game by copying drawings from each other was very funny and interesting. I will enjoy to try it again.
The hotel had public bath room and onsen. We have to go in naked. I had tried onsen before also, so this time I was less reluctant 😛
The next morning we were quite tired with pain in arms, legs and butt. So many people could not go for skiing. We collected enough tickets from these people and tried skiing again many rounds. But anyway we had to check out and return back in the afternoon.
It was great experience. I would like to go again in future 😉