Japan
Iiyama Shi

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    • Day 10

      Fresh blanket of snow

      March 4 in Japan ⋅ ❄️ 0 °C

      After a couple of days of cold clear skies we have woken up to a nice new blanket of snow. Will head out soon to enjoy some fresh powder. Breakfast was a mixed bag today. Curried vegetables with rice and good old tinned 2 fruits!Read more

    • Day 7

      Big day on the slopes

      March 1 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 1 °C

      After a 10cm snow fall overnight we hit the slopes early. Mind you it takes about one hour to get dressed, pick up skis and boots and take the gondola to the main ski field. Lovely powder and today I felt that my ski legs had returned (yesterday was a bit disappointing in terms of my technique). After lunch the sun came out and we would have liked to do more runs but we were buggered. After a few runs it was time to head for home on the 10km top to bottom run. We could hardly walk the short distance home after that run. A reviving Onsen meant we had enough energy to walk down the hill for dinner. Will be in bed by 8pm. A lovely day skiing only marred when my stock hit Jayne just above her eye. There was a fair bit of blood but fortunately no stitches required. Understandably, Jayne kept well clear of me for the rest of our skiing day!Read more

    • Day 69

      Stop 1: Nozawa Onsen

      January 15, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ❄️ -3 °C

      Von Tokio ging es mit dem Shinkansen und Bus nach Nozawa Onsen. Bedingungen eher so lala da es die Tage davor viel geregnet hat. Wir haben das beste daraus gemacht. Am 15.01. war auch das Dosojin-Feuer Festival.Read more

    • Day 10

      Nozawa Onsen Day 4

      February 26, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 -1 °C

      We (especially me) woke up this morning feeling pretty tired and sore so took it pretty easy. We headed up the mountain around 10am and skied a few runs before lunch. After lunch we ventured up to the top of Mt Kenashi (1,650m) which is the highest part of the resort.

      We skied back down to the resort via Skyline which is a red run running along one of the ridge lines. It was enjoyable however challenging due to an icy run and large crowds. The ice did however make it quite quick.

      Another highlight was when we were doing down the Karasawa slope we noticed a partly submerged shrine of to the side. We ditched our skies and trudged (in knee deep snow, which bought back some memories) closer to it and found a lovely spot.

      For dinner we headed to a place called Sukai which offers a sort of Japanese tapas. It was a delicious meal. To finish we enjoyed (especially Sally - we'll see if she still enjoyed it in the morning) a Sake served in a wooden cup.

      One of the things we have noticed here is Sake is generally poured to overflow the glass and is caught in a saucer. After asking the owner of the restaurant and doing some research it appears as though there is no entrenched tradition in this apart from a fad which developed in the post war period and had since caught on. The purpose was to make the patron feel special by giving them more then what they purchased. This however is a bit of a con as the a single serve of Sake should be 180ml.

      The Sake was served with salt which we put on the lip of the cup. This contrasted with the sweetness of the Sake. This 'Yin and Yang' approach to food is something I've found often in Asian cuisine and is something I would like to play with more at home. I feel as though it is underutilized in Western cooking.

      Much of the same tomorrow. Only two days of skiing left so we will try to make the most of it.
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    • Day 9

      Day 3 - Nozawa Delivering the Goods

      February 25, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 -1 °C

      3 days of skiing down, 3 to go. Big improvements today for both Sally and I. We got away pretty early this morning catching the Nagasaka Gondala up to Yamabiko Station (1,407m) and skied down to Hikage.

      The weather in the morning was snowy however minimal wind. In the afternoon however the weather cleared and we were greeted with clear skies and sun.

      We had a lesson in the afternoon which allowed us both to work on our technique. At the end of our lesson our instructor took us down a black (advanced) run. This was my first black run and I made a positive start, navigating my way down the first 30-50m of moguls which was quite encouraging. This proved to be a bit of a false dawn however as I spent the next 100-150m falling over and sliding down the slope on my arse (the photo of me skiing below was one of the few times I was actually upright). It was at this stage I gave up and decided to walk the rest of the way, which proved to be just as difficult, if not more than skiing.

      All was not lost however as we made great progress throughout the lesson and will tackle more of the red runs and explore more of the mountain tomorrow.

      In the afternoon we were greeted with an amazing sunset over the mountains to the west. We went with a very traditional Japanese dinner of burgers (at least my beer was Japanese) and got some washing done at the coin laundry down the road.
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    • Day 10

      Last night in Nozawa

      March 4 in Japan ⋅ 🌫 0 °C

      Final day skiing. Fabulous conditions and some more adventurous runs to top it off. Snowy evening walking through the village snacking along the way.

    • Day 6

      Lodge Matsuya, Nozawa Onsen

      February 22, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

      We just checked into our room for the next week. We have quite a spacious traditional Japanese room with tatami mats and futons. The view from the room isn't too shabby either.

      We took the Shinkansen from Nagano to Iiyama which took approximately 11 minutes (which isn't too bad for a 30 kilometre journey). Iiyama is located north-east of Nagano and has a population of around 21,000 people. It is primarily an agricultural city, however the surrounding ski resorts and hot springs also contribute to the local economy.

      The city is located on the Chikuma River (otherwise known as the Shinano River outside of the Nagano Prefecture) which is the longest river in Japan (367km in length). Iiyama is home to a number of festivals, including the Kamakura Snow Hut Festival which occurs annually in February (we just missed the dates). In this festival snow huts are made and lights put inside. Sounds pretty basic, however I think it is something that would be great to see if you are in the area at that time of year.

      From Iiyama Station we boarded the 'Nozawa Onsen Liner' which took us direct to the centre of Nozawa Onsen. This 20 minute trip cost 600 yen each and we enjoyed some lovely scenery, particularly as we came closer to Nozawa Onsen. From the Nozawa Onsen bus stop, it was only a short walk to our accommodation. Sally was very happy to find her skis had arrived safely and were in the dry room downstairs.
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    • Day 11

      Nozawa Onsen Day 5 - Uh Oh!

      February 27, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

      Today started off pretty well. Despite our best endeavors we slept in and had a bit of a late start. Still feeling pretty sore, we decided top take it pretty easy to start off doing some shorter runs and heading up to the top of the mountain and exploring some more runs up there.

      We headed down to 'Paradise' Slope and had lunch at Buna which is an Indian style restaurant on the slope. After lunch we decided we would give Skyline a go, considering our success the day before and the smaller crowds hopefully making it a bit more enjoyable. This would prove a mistake.

      After making the first turn I lost control on the icy, bumpy and narrow run and took a tumble. Going down I managed to twist my knee and felt considerable pain. Luckily enough some nice local skiers stopped by and called the Ski Patrol for us who came within 10 minutes.

      My first fears were that I had broken something, however it became clear there were no breaks. The Ski Patrol helped me on to the ski-doo. This would actually be the most frightening part of the whole ordeal as both Sally and I were casted up and down a steep slope to the top of the Nagasaka Gondala.

      From here we eventually made our way down the gondola. I somehow ended up in a wheelchair and given crutches also. Another Ski Patrol medic was waiting for new at the bottom of the gondola who then transported both Sally and I to the local clinic where I had x-rays, saw a doctor and found out I had injured my ACL. I am now in a knew brace for the next few weeks (so no more skiing).

      After getting back to the hotel, our hosts were absolutely amazing. Helping us change rooms to the ground floor, giving me crutches and a proper seat for the bath. Nothing seemed too much for them. They were so kind and we really appreciated their help.

      Feeling a bit sorry for myself I decided to spend the night in and Sally headed next door and got some take away burgers for dinner.

      A shame the skiing is now over for the trip. However will still try and make the most of the time we have over here.
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    • Day 6

      Nozawa Onsen - First Impressions

      February 22, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 0 °C

      Wow. Every now and then you come across a place you just know you will fall in love with before you actually do. This is such a place.

      Narrow cobblestone streets, the constant sound of running water, the occasional whiff of sulfur from a hot spring, beautiful traditional Japanese architecture, sweeping vistas to the Japanese Alps, vending machines on every corner, wide ski runs, tall pine trees, everything comes together to make this place what it is. Oh, and the snow! As far as the eye can see.

      We took the opportunity this afternoon to have a look around, originally thinking we would be gone for an hour or so, we got back to our lodge about 4 hours later. Despite being such a small village there is so much to see and do (before even getting to the skiing).

      The towns traditions appear to be very much in tact. I look forward to exploring more of what this wonderful place has to offer over the coming week.
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    • Day 7

      First Day Skiing

      February 23, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

      The day got of to a bit of a miserable start with rain falling over night and through the morning. As such, we took the opportunity to have a bit of a sleep in and take our time getting up to the slopes. We got up to Nagasaka, one of the two gondola stations in the resort probably around 11am.

      We spent the day on green runs (easy runs) so I could build my confidence and practice my turns. By the end of the day I felt as though I was doing pretty well. It all came back pretty quickly which was good.

      We headed up the Nagasaka Gondala a bit before lunch and were greeted with thick cloud cover. We had some lunch up the mountain to see if it would pass, which it didn't. We had visibility of about 30-40m so decided to take it easy down a green run which goes all the way down the mountain. It's about 7km all up, so by the end of it we were pretty spent.

      We played around a bit on the lower slopes where there was better visibility (though the snow was noticeably more sludgey).

      Stack count for the day for me was 2. Each time I drifted off the groomed run onto some heavier snow - the runs are very wide and sometimes it is difficult to tell where the groomed part stops.

      It was a miserable day, so no photos. It's snowing outside now, they are hoping for another 10-15cm overnight so let's see what tomorrow brings.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Iiyama Shi, 飯山

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