WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 7/8 – Shibuya & Nozawa Onsen

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 18, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 7/8 – Shibuya & Togari-NozawaOnsen
[On the iPOD] Johnny Cash / The Jam

Unfortunately I was checking out of my hotel on Tuesday. So it couldn’t be avoided the inevitable had finally arrived and there was no way around it; a day running laundry. It’s funny how you can never escape the menial tasks no matter where you are. I also then had to send a package of a whole bunch of crap I’ve bought in only six days. It weighed 10kg! I did actually get into Shibuya to do some last minute shopping before leaving for the snow the next day.

Shibuya just never sleeps, picture thursday night shopping in Australia; that’s what its like every night in Shibuya people everywhere and shops open. Discunion is one such store. A music store with heaps of different actual shop fronts which cater to different styles except one in Shibuya has 4 stories and each level separates the styles and upon entering a level you’ll find catagorisation that could only have been done by an uber music nerd. In other words, my kind of music store.

I bought yet more vinyl as well as got some tips for new music listening to Japanese electro shoe-gaze bands whilst digging through boxes of vinyl. Heres a point of Interest; I didnt have to rush home from Monday night shopping, why? because The main post office is open 24HOURS!!! I love this country. I also stumbled into Tokyu Hands an uber department store with like 7 levels and a/b sub-levels. Shopping sorted.

Hows this for punctuality; even though I got to bed 1am after uploading photos and packing. I was up at 5:32am to checkout and cab to the station, train to tokyo station, hookup with Shinkansen (bullet train) which I got with 3minutes to spare! (90min trip) and then a transfer to a local line and train (a two carriage local) which took another hour, not even. And then finally a short bus trip and the snow awaits.

I took a bunch of photos on the trains; It’s Interesting to see The Urban sprawl of Tokyo for dissipate into a concrete-esque suburbia and then eventually intermittent cottage-esque properties on farm land, although still with modern surroundings, traffic lights and main strip in the city. This fades off even more as you start climbing the hills. Eventually theres river torrents and patches of snow on large blocks of farm land.

When I was two stops from my station I began to worry; Snow was pretty old and thin. Would there be anything to ride on? The Bus trip featured random commentary in Japanese. I ran into a cool Japanese dood who studied in Sydney and turns out him and his friends were staying just up the road form my lodge. Funny.

Togari-Nozawa Onsen Villiage is a small town of around 4000 people. Theres a great vibe up here. It has the kind of serenity people pay millions for and yet theres an A-Class mountain to be had that isn’t corrupted and PACKED with tourists. It’s utterly amazing actually. Theres a fair number of Australian’s up here however.

They run a few lodges (like the one I’m at) I was kind of worried I’d be shielded from what this place has to offer. But the people who run it seem to be totally in-tune with it rather than wanting to impose some sort of kitch-tourist resort. The Villiage has many natural Onsen (hot spring baths) and a brilliant self contained recycling system. Theres like 7 different bins at my lodge, it runs like clockwork. I didn’t try the Onsen today but will report back tomorrow (yes it involves getting neked)

So tell us about the snow already! Well I started off with a 100m walk after kitting up in my lodge right onto the first ski lift which took me to the top of a beginner run. Even though It was dead bottom of the mountain and slowly starting to get sloshy (hadn’t snowed in 2days) it was still soft and a dream to stack on (though I didn’t) I guess I’m not an expert on conditions though; I only have Perisher for comparisons sake, as soon as it stops snowing down-low there you get rock-hard ICE and falling is like hitting concrete. None of that here.

After warming up I took a connecting lift to the central gondola; 10minutes later and I was close to the summit. I got out and it was a total white out. Not in a bad way; no wind and no rain, just fog. Nice and warm too. So the goggles came off and I tried to get to a lift directly across to take me up the last stretch to the top. Visibility was LESS than 10metres; I’ve never experienced this before its quite eerie. You have to virtually LISTEN for a signal of where you want to go. I tried to find that lift but didn’t and instead ended up under a different set of lifts so I decided the safest bet was to use them as a marker and follow them down.

Eventually bumped into some other boarders who seemed to know the mountain; next thing I knew I was on the ‘home run’ on the map; a winding beginners run down the right side of the mountain. You’d probably consider it almost Intermediate back home; A break in my concentration and I noticed the STRAIGHT drop off a 5metre wide winding track; A good sheer 15metres. Not to matter; I was having too much fun. The track was basically like a winding mountain road like you’d find in a WRC track complete with an area with 4 consecutive 180degree steep hairpins which you could cut a little to grab some air.

On and on it went until eventually there was an area with a treeline on oneside and literally an almost half-pipe like slope you could ride like 5metres up on the other side; and it wound left and right. And this was the beginner run! Awesome. The flat spots on the bottom aren’t really significant. You don’t need a huge amount of speed to get you 80% to the next life and if u crank it you can get there. Not much time spent in flat spots on my first day. Which is pretty good since I’m still getting my bearings on the mountain.

I had a good 5hours+ out there today. The fog was the only downside. I’m still waiting to experience ‘true powder’ that I’ll hopefully find at the top tomorrow (its snowing as I type this) After boarding I went out with the camera before I started to lose all light. The villiage is quiet yet has a heap of bars and restaurants of all types. I had some Katsu Don for dinner (fried egg on a cut pork schnitzel served on rice; amazing) and was caught hearing in on a table of 50 somethings (Australian’s) conversation. They noticed my trying to stop myself from laughing (they’d been out for drinks before dinner and were entertaining talking about karaoke / sharing ‘share onsens as a group’ and seemed like they were having a great time.

The town is apparently a lot busier during peak season; I guess Im here near the end of it so that’s why it has this innocent feel to it. I’m guessing it does draw a lot of people by the cool shops on the main strip in town; they sell all types of souvenirs and trinkets but of a really high quality and not in any way kitch. I was thinking shopping spree again but I’ve imposed myself a no more spending limit in Japan. Oh wells.

No photos from up the mountain just yet, a bit weary about the DSLR in snow; but I did take the LOMO so I’ll post those oneday; or maybe I’ll take the DSLR up on the last day. The views up there are mind blowing; until then ya’ll have to deal with the views from the bottom!

More on Days 2+3 later.




2 Responses

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  1. Jirka, Alena, Ondra said, on March 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Good on yer Andrew, nice reports.

  2. psychic predictions said, on March 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I read your post and see.Really very very nice picks because first time see this types photo.

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