Japan. A Winter Journey Part 2

Autor: Maloja | Fotos: Michael Müller | 11. 12. 2018

Our next stop was to the “Nordic Arena” of Otoineppu for cross-country skiing and the lesson learned is: Preparation is an elastic term. Although the groomer prepares the 5-kilometer route once in the morning and at noon, it is snowing all day long, the word dynamic takes on a whole new meaning.

Our next stop was to the “Nordic Arena” of Otoineppu for cross-country skiing and the lesson learned is: Preparation is an elastic term. Although the groomer prepares the 5-kilometer route once in the morning and at noon, it is snowing all day long, the word dynamic takes on a whole new meaning.

Skate skiing in deep snow is incredibly exhausting and requires a lot of attention to form even from top cross–country skiers. After the first lap we are pleased with our performance even if we stumbled a few times along the way. But the exotic experience of skiing during a light snowfall through a jungle of green bamboo leaves just wasn’t enough to keep up motivated for another round.

Fortunately the Japanese do not salt or plough their streets, they actually groom them instead. On the way to the hotel we realise the main street would actually be better suited for cross–country skiing than the designated trails and decide to strap on the skis and skate home. The looks on the local faces driving by were priceless, but we had a great time.

Asahidake is our next stop and the lesson we learned that day is: Plans are never certain. A look at the weather map clearly showed that more snowfall was expected further north, and in the south the chance of being able to do a few more cross–country laps was much better. So, we spontaneously decided to turn around and drive straight to Niseko.

Niseko is probably the most famous ski resort on Hokkaido and is considered the epicentre of white gold. In the early days Australian mountain vagabonds only knew of it, however for the past several years the four ski resorts on Mt. Niseko–Annupuri have attracted freeriders from all over the world. Arriving there we find that everything looks more westernized and familiar to us. To be quite honest we were not sad about swapping out the tight hotel room for a cosy cabin where we could order scrambled eggs, cereal with fresh fruit, pancakes with Nutella and bananas instead of having soup for breakfast.

We were astonished to find only a short cross–country track in Niseko and asking around for other options we were always sent back to the ski lift. It took us a while before we realized that cross–country skiing is an exotic sport in Japan, but having brought our wider skis with us the gently sloping runs of Mt. Niseko began to look very inviting to us.

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