Winter switch. Niseko. Japan.

Winter switch. Niseko. Japan.

...it took two days(two flights & two buses) to get to the winter. Simply I switched the winter switch on when I wanted. It's like you live in a constant summer and turn the blue switch on to cool down and ride in a snow powder whenever you want. My daughter Alisa lives in between two volcanos and already became a part of the mountains... It's easy, when you work here as a snowboarding instructor...

I taste the beer and feel that they brew it better here than in Queensland. It's the first spring day and there is the strong wind on the mountain, but I'm so happy that I'm here, that Alisa is riding somewhere close, that the snow is not only slowly falling but blocking all my sence holes and I love him (snow) again, like I loved him when I did my long winter trips in the past when I was working as a tourist instructor. 

I discovered that Japanese people are amazing and I'm getting drunk without the sake with the strong wind out of boundaries....

There is no time for me again..There is only the flowing snow, Alisa's lough and heaps of snowboarding gear which is drying up now to ride in between the sky and ground tomorrow...

 

 

 

 

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...when snow is the main teacher...

...when there is blues and hardcore at the same time...

...when the look tells better than a thousand words...

...when there is the lough and howl of you and wind and it's unclear who is howling and who is laughing...

...when you are often on the edge...on the edge of the capability, feelings and sky...

...when there is the true presence and true life...

...when you don't know, is it you or me, or we are together at the same time...

Alisa. She was the reason...

Because she is my daughter and I love her so much and I haven't seen her for ages. She went to work as a ski/snowboard instructor in Niseko, Japan and it was the main reason I packed my gear and bought really cheap return ticket to Sapporo from Cairns with Jetstar in advance. The flight was the cheapest thing ($ 650 return with luggage) from flight, ski pass & accommodation.

I slept overnight in Tokyo international airport on a soft seat near the cafes and took the next flight to Sapporo in the morning.

Slowly falling snow, fresh air and a smell of adventure. I took a bus to Hirafu village and Matt picked me up and gave me a lift to Stoked Niseko Hostel. The cheapest accommodation I could find was a bunk in a 8 bed room and it was $56/night. 

Actually it doesn't matter how many beds are in the room if you travel by yourself and  ride everyday to the half dead body conditions. You eat, read, crawl to your bed and fall asleep fast and deep. 

The staff Matt, Mell & Jeremy were awesome and the whole bunch of people living there were amazing too. Stoked Niseko Hostel is a really nice cosy place. It's not far for some lifts, and if you want to go straight to Hanazono or Annapuri, there is a shuttle bus stop just on the corner. Moreover there is a really nice hot spring (Onsen) just behind the corner too. So, it's so it's so convenient from all the sides.

40 lifts! Is it enough for 2 weeks? Yes. I didn't go on all of them and didn't do fully of what I would do now. It took barely two weeks for my SCUBA Diving adjusted body to get used to the snowboarding. At the end, just when I was about to go back home to Airlie Beach, I was ready to do the small jumps, climb Yotei volcano and discover the new untouched powder fields such as to go to Moiwa from Annupuri's peak. Next time!

Alisa was working there for the whole season and was riding like a fearless fury-I couldn't ride closer and was always late. Well, the kids should be always better than their parents, aren't they?

It was only one sunny day when Alisa was off for a couple of pic's. She wanted to ride, not to pose and wait for the photographs, that's why I can't post a lot. Yes, we missed the best powder day for photography, but we didn't miss it for a ride!

Ride

My favourite spots were the out of boundary fields where you can get through the gates 4, 5 and 7.

Gates 5 are at the end of hanazono Hooded Quad lift 3. You go left from here if you look down the mountain. There is a lot of untouched powder to flow on a powder day. The more left you go, the better, but watch to come back to the start of the lift, otherwise you may go down the hill until you run into the road, take your board/ski off and walk 10-15 minutes to the Crystal Garden Slope and ride down to Hanazono lift.

Gates 4. You need to take the King Lift 4 to this gates. It's the best spot on a powder day. Just go with the flow and finish like you finish if you ride from the gates 5.

Gates 7. You need to get to Annupuri village. There are two ways. You may take a bus or you need to use several lifts on the top to get to another side of the mountain. They are close to the start of Jumbo Pair lift 3.This ride is all in a bush and you finish straight at the bottom of the Annupuri Gondola. This bush slope is for everyone and there is always a challenge not to hug the trees. It's absolutely beautiful!

There are much more interesting slopes, but this ones are my fav's and must do runs. I'll leave it all for you to discover your own ones. 

If you are looking for the untouched powder and nearly all the slopes are smashed with the endless amount of riders there is another place...

It's Moiwa. One guy told me that there is much less people and there is always a lot of untouched spots. You can go there from the peak or take a long journey nearly 2 hours on a bus.

Food.

I cooked by myself in a hostel but nearly everyday went to Bar Moon near us to eat famous Ramen sup and have a tap beer. It was delicious. There is a lot of different food such as dumplings or fried octopus. There are a couple of stores with everything on a main street, but if you are looking for more you need to go to one of the big shops in the nearest Kutchan town.

Hot Springs.

Best thing you can ever imagine is to soak in a thermal 40 degrees water after your rough ride. The hot springs here are called Onsen's.

I've been in three of them. They are all different and worth to visit.

1. Yukoro Onsen is the wildest one and it's close to Stoked Niseko hostel in Hirafu. There is a nice atmosphere and you can drink a beer straight when you are in a water outside, surrounded with the rocks, snow and stars. The rocks are wild and you can even smell a little bit of serum which is nice and natural.

2. Prince Hotel Onsen is with the best view from the hot pool which is straight on the balcony and faces the slope, where all the people ride. It's ridiculously fun, because you are just naked staying on the balcony and looking at people and they are looking at you.

3. Iroha Hotel Onsen is  the most spiritual one. There is the best outdoor hot spring rock pool, surrounded with the snow and trees. The sauna is huge, new, clear, with a nice music! I was completely out of my body after this onsen. It's close to Annupuri bus stop and it's unbelievably awesome.

Twelve days wasn't enough for me. I would stay for a season. There is a lot of things to do and discover. The snow conditions were different everyday. 

I gently and carefully packed my snowboard and said: "thank you..."

I new, that wherever Alisa go next year I'm gonna be there to look at the falling snow, to feel it's power during extreme winds, to hear her smile, to ride in a snow powder wild and free. The time, when there is no time for you is priceless. We need to feel it first and remember and when the moment is right, pack our gear, fly and say "Hi" to the clouds.  It's much easier there, because they are closer...

 

 

 

 

 

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