Monday, January 26, 2009

To Tokyo then Home...

I can mark down a total of three runs in Japan. Not as many as I hoped for, but I did hit my minimum goal.

Yesterday I returned from another island of Japan. We spent time in Hakodate. It was fun and beautiful.

Today we set off for Tokyo, the final leg of the journey. My mother-in-law & sister-in-law are generous enough to show me around downtown and help me out with the train system so that I make it back to the airport without getting lost. :) Should be fun.

I've seen & experienced a lot in my time here. I look forward to uploading the bulk of my photos once I get home.

Until then...

Monday, January 19, 2009


Well after four days of snowboarding in the mountains I am tired & kind of sore. On the upside I am very encouraged by my fitness level this year in comparison to last.

It was a very relaxed vacation at Hachimantai resort. The whole feel of ski resorts around here is quite a bit different. There are no multi-million dollar log "cabins", no touristy town at the base of it and nobody in a hurry to get anywhere even on a powder day.

The homes and cabins near the resort were modest. So was the hotel. There are noodle shops & gift shops nearby. But never anything flashy. Which I appreciate.

Despite being on the side of a dormant volcano most of the terrain on the mountain was pretty laid-back for Jeremy and I. Mainly greens and blues (which are red squares here). The snow conditions had us stoked & content. Our first day out there were swaths on either side of the run that were 6-10ft wide with about a foot of powder to play with.

The second day I decided to catch the shuttle over to Shimokura, another resort just a few minutes away that had more difficult terrain. Trying to read the shuttle schedule and communicate with the driver in Japanese was intimidating,but I made it.

After a few runs, catwalks & chairs I made my way to the only double black available. Seeing it on the lift ride up made it look like what would be considered a black at most places, but standing at the top of it I realized that it was definitely steeper then I expected. A good kind of steep. Judging by what I could read on the sign it was a 37 degree slope.

The first few turns were smooth and controlled. The powder, as it normally does, started to make mogul like mounds from the tracks of other riders further down the run so I decided to head into the trees where I could see the snow was virtually untouched. Beautiful ride. As were the other runs I went down over the course of the time we were there. It only got better yesterday as 6inches of fresh powder had fallen and I was the only one down a lot of the runs there.

At the resort hotel I had the chance to try the Onsen. I never thought my first experience of skinny dipping would be with a couple of gray haired Japanese women, but after a long day of riding a hot spring fed hot-tub is very appealing. Being that public baths are a cultural norm here it wasn't as awkward as I assumed it would be. However when one of the Japanese grandmothers came over as I was undressing to show me that I was tying my robe the wrong way, I was a little nervous. Apparently the right side of the robe is supposed to be on top. Only the dead wear their robes the other way.

There is a specific name for the robes, but I'm not entirely sure what it is just now. Anyway, the hotel provides them along with a short Kimono-like over jacket that comes down to the waist and slippers. The majority of the people vacationing there wear them whenever they aren't outdoors. I spent most of my time in one as well, they are comfortable and fun. It's a quirky thing to walk into the hotel restaurant to see that everyone is dressed just as you are.

My Beloved will be returning to the States tomorrow. Being self-employed my boss doesn't get to upset when I take time off during my slower season of the year so I am staying another week. It will be strange not having him here with me. I love experiencing new places with Jeremiah & in a sense he makes me feel more at home. I am looking forward to having more time to visit with his mom and sister-in-law now that the pace of everything will slow down though.

Our time here thus far as been a delight. I have really enjoyed it all. Hopefully the next few days will allow for some running. That's the only experience I feel I'm missing in my time here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sushi & Ramen....

I got a chance to upload some pictures. They aren't edited and cropped as I can do from home which bothers me, but it's the best I can do from here using Jeremy's work machine.

Here are a few from Tokyo Station.....

Tokyo Station

The bullet train platform. For some reason the bullet trains look like old-school Nikes to me.

Tokyo Skyscrapers @ Station

My Sweetie at the station with the Tokyo skyline in the background.

Pics from the Sushi place...




I tried Salmon and lean tuna sushi and some fried octopus. The Salmon and the Octopus were doable. The tuna, not so much. Little too fishy for me. After we saw one piece still moving (yeah, it's that fresh) I was feeling less adventurous so I stuck to what was fried. Good news is I never gagged so I didn't come across impolite.

In the days I've been here so far I have experienced...

*Bullet train rides.


*Lomi Lomi Massage (that was a nice treat, my shoulders have been a little tense from the travel)

*Authentic Ramen. (Drew, you need to try this.)

* Family photos in Kimonos (Beautiful pieces of clothing, but a ton of work to get into & feel sort of like a corset in the middle.)

* Japanese Curry ( Not as good or as spicy as Indian. Still very good)

*Japanese Fish-Market/Open Market (Saw fish I didn't know existed and local produce. Had green tea & sesame ice-cream. It was a really neat place.)

* Karaoke-Japanese Style (Way different then in the states. A lot more fun. You get your own private room with tambourines and maracas .)

A lot to pack into a couple of days. Jeremy and I are handling the jet-lag surprisingly well, which helps. I am sleeping when I should be and don't tend to wake up for more then 15 minutes at a stretch. Usually I can talk myself back into a sleep state. By the time 8pm rolls around though, I'm ready for bed. Which means I am very ready now and am going there.

Tomorrow morning we leave for a few days up at the mountains. I'll let you know what Japanese snowboarding is like. Apparently the runs aren't well marked so we'll see what happens. Should be interesting. :) Looking forward to it!

Not sure how to fix the sizing of the photos. Just click on it and view them that way for now. I'm to tired to figure it out. lol.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We made it!!

After three planes and two trains we are safely in Japan. Considering all it takes to get here, the travel went very well. We were blessed. However staying awake for the final leg of the last train here was extremely difficult. I have never been so tired in my life. When I got hiccups I was thankful, because they helped keep me from nodding off every 15 seconds.

Tokyo station was the most people I have ever seen rushing to get somewhere. Over 14million people go through the station every day and yesterday I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowds.

Thankfully just shortly after getting on the first train, the sun was setting and off in the distance in a wooded area we saw a runner. I never thought that would help me feel less out of place, but it did.

Now I'm off to try Sushi. Time to be brave. :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just the beginning...

Tomorrow my Beloved and I set out on what will be my first international journey. Several weeks in Japan.

The time, the place and the people are all very different from what I had imagined my first trip outside the United States would be, but I have been blessed with many surprises in the last few years one of which being in-laws that live in northern Japan.

Needless to say this year is off to an exciting start. This is just the beginning.

I've already logged 20miles of which seems like a drop in the bucket toward the goal of 1000 by 2010, but we'll see what happens. :)

I will do my best to get a few posts in while I'm away, hopefully with some pictures.