I learned this weekend that Nigata is known for many things. 4) Fresh seafood. 3) Pale beauties. 2) Sake. And most importantly: 1) Snow. Lots and lots of snow. When the wind from Siberia blows across the Sea of Japan (also known as the Korean Sea), it picks up a lot of mouisture. When that wind hits Nigata it drops the majority of its mouisture. That cold wind then blows over Mt. Komochi and right into my door. Basically, Nigata has snow. Heaps of it. Thanks to that fact, I found myself in Yuri's car at 5:00am on a Sunday, on our way to Takasaki so that we could meet up with her friends in time to beat the traffic to Nigata.
Yuri and I decided the night before to try to only speak English with her friends so that they would have a chance to practice their English, but sure enough, it just made our meeting a little awkward, as no one spoke any English but Yuri. We gave up just before reaching the longest tunnel in Japan. The way you get from Gunma to Nigata is by passing through an entire mountain range.
So, a quick digression. As you may know, I am a very safe person. I always wear my seat belt, always wear a helmet, and am sure to wear bright colors at night. When most people go skiing or snowboarding, they try to dress in a way that doesn't make them look stupid. I don't.
Japanese snow covered mountains. Very wide runs, I was surprised.
And not that many people.
Here is Yuri snowboarding.
Well, doing her best at least.
Iwappara, the name of the resort, actually had a gondola. Very nice but also hot.
Mr. Safety comes to Japan. Actually, I find that if I take simple precautions, my confidence level goes way up and I am able to try many more new things than I would have otherwise.
A great picture.
The picture I took as I jumped over two snowboarders.
Dinner that night. Nigatta does have some good sea food.
And those are the photos of skiing. So how is skiing in Japan? It is like skiing the easy runs in California, except less crowded. Or maybe just as crowded, but people don't blast by you at 65 miles per hour.