“Ski fast and take chances” were the parting words from our Swedish friends. Hmm we thought. This wasn’t the year for skiing fast in Hakuba and as for taking chances in this game…. we’ll leave that to others.
It was unseasonably warm and the Japanese Alps had one fifth of their usual amount of snow. The least snow in over 50 years we heard.
Japanese tree skiing is second to none when there is a plenteousness of powder. When there isn’t, the tree and bush covered hillsides are arguably best left to the serow and wild boar we encountered. Climate change, global warming or El Niño? It’s not clear but there does seem to be an increasing irregularity in the seasons and weather worldwide.
We made the best of the snow situation and thoroughly enjoyed the cultural, culinary and sensational delights that Japan has in abundance. Hiro gave us ‘full Japanese immersion’ which included staying in 15th century ryokans, daily onsens and the incredible variety of textures and flavours at meal times. We savoured sashimi, sushi, tempura, shabu-shabu, soba, deep fried oysters, yakitori, crab, wagu and hide beef and tofu in all it’s guises. We bit the heads off crispy grilled fish, took on the natto bean challenge and swallowed whole mini squid from the Sea of Japan. Delicious washed down with the occasional beer or sake!