As I said in my last post, we went away for a 3 day snowboarding trip. Late on Saturday night, we hopped onto the overnight bus from Nagoya to Tsukaieke, in Nagano. After some sleep, we woke up on Sunday morning at the foot of some impressive mountains topped with snow.
The house we stayed in was huge and fabulous! There were five bedrooms and a total of eleven beds. There was also room for futons (and a large supply of them). The house spanned over three levels. On the bottom was our own private onsen (hot spring)! It was just devine after a day of crashing in the snow. Usually Wayne can't go into the public onsens due to his very large tattoo, so it was an added bonus for him and I must say, nice and romantic for the two of us to be sitting in a large stone bath together in a room thick with steam.
The house also had a traditional hearth, known in Japanese as an "Irori". It was used in the past for cooking, be we just sat around it for warmth and the atmosphere. The food was amazing. We had our Christmas dinner on Christmas eve. It included roast chicken and salmon sashimi and was finished off with some delicious Japanese Christmas cake. Christmas cake here is actually a strawberry shortcake, which I must say, is far more delicious than the Aussie fruitcake that we have every year.
Our first day there, I attempted snowboarding. I was so bad at it! I spent more time lying in the snow, on my back like a half-dead cockroach unable to get back up! It was the first time for Wayne and my cousin Danielle, and I must say, they did much better than I did.
We woke up on Christmas morning to the most glorious weather. There was snow everywhere, under a clear blue sky. I had decided to give snowboarding a miss, so instead hired some skiis and we then all headed up to the top of the mountain where the snow was better. I worked out that that was either the 4th or 5th time that I've skiied since I was 16 years old, so I don't think I did too badly with only a couple of falls. One of those falls was incredibly embarrassing however. On my first lift trip up, I was so busy concentrating on the girl in front of me who was taking ages to get off the slope, that I forgot to get off the lift myself. By the time I realised, I had to jump into a pile of snow, where I got my skiis all tangled and did another half-dead cockroach impression. I couldn't face anyone working on that lift again, so used another one for the rest of the day.
We went to KFC of all places, for lunch that day - it was on the mountain! I was treated with some good news. My cousin Ben (Danielle's brother) had proposed to his girlfriend, Yuko, the night, before and she'd said yes! Congratulations guys! I'm going to have a new Japanese cousin! While we waited for lunch to settle, Wayne, Danielle and I made our little Christmas snowman. Don't you love my new beanie that he's wearing! Hehehe... it's actually a kids one - none of the adult ones fit my head - and has a little "L" on one side and "R" on the other in case I forget my left and right (which I do all the time by the way).
That night after we had a good soak in the bath, we were treated to a delicious meal of "nabe" and fell asleep quickly after that. We warmed up our aching bodies by another bath in the morning and followed it with a traditional breakfast of salmon. The weather that day was awful. There had been no new snow fall on the slopes and the day was cold and rainy, so we gave skiing/snowboarding a miss. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Yuko's delightful family and that afternoon, hopped back on the bus for our long trip back.
We've been home for a couple of days now and are getting ready for my brother and his wife, Carl and Leigh, to arrive to visit for a few days. They're are doing a few days on their own in Tokyo, and I'm sure they'll have a blast.
It's snowing outside my window while I'm typing this. I just love watching the big, fat, lazy snowflakes drift to the ground, especially while I'm all warm and cosy inside.