Shred the Gnar: Japan Trip Live Blog
A week's been gone now of my 9-day trip to Japan and my activities are winding down. I did saved the best for last.
9:00 am K's Backpacker Hostel
I went through the normal morning activities after waking up: breakfast, checking emails and messages, chat with the hostel owners, and a brief walk around the village. The walk made me appreciate how beautiful the village of Hakuba was - all covered in a blanket of snow, with its chalet type houses and alpine trees dotting the white landscape.
I hitched a ride on Toshi's car (Toshi is the owner) to the main village area so I can change some money to pay for the lessons and buy some supplies too. On the way I was able to see the ski slopes of Hakuba for the first time. We went back to the hostel after that, and I prepared for the lessons scheduled for later.
12:45 pm, Winpy Box
I went to Winpy Box to rent some snowboarding gear: waterproof pants, goggles, boots and snowboard. I then proceeded to the base center to meet my instructor.
1:20pm Goryu Snow Resort
I met the instructor, a Czech named Kuba and the rest of my group, two kids from Singapore. We took the gondola to the top of ski area where we got our first lessons in a snowboarding: how to put on the board, how to unfasten, how to stand, etc. Then we did some exercises on how to turn and stop, and practiced on a sloping area. Progressively we took longer courses until we went to a higher area, riding in the ski lift. From there we were taught how to falling leaf maneuver where you go from side to side down the slope. I was so excited to be able to do the exercises. Surfing did help, and Kuba noticed it too, asking me if I did surfed because it helped me a lot.
The lessons are done and we all gathered back at the base camp to gather our stuff and chat with the group. All in all I was satisfied with the day's events. I still need some more practice to be able to do snowboarding well, but that's something to plan for the future. (I will have a more detailed post about snowboarding, so stay tuned for that).
As an aprés ski activity I decided to relax in an onsen, a hot spring/public bath popular in Japan. There were three other guys in the hostel who went together with me. Soaking in warm waters relaxed my sore muscles but it was a strange experience to be in a place where everyone is on their birthday suit. It was a weird way to bond, to say the least.
We left the onsen and went to get some dinner at a restaurant near the highway. It was a delicious stewed beef tendon dish for me, which I relished with gusto over a great conversation with my new acquaintances. We got back to the hostel, the spent the rest of the night playing Monopoly and taking with the other backpackers in the hostel.
Tomorrow I will be heading back to Tokyo, and I will be flying early in the morning of Friday for Manila. I'd probably explore the rest of the village just before I check out of the hostel.
11:00 am, K's Backpacker Hostel
I checked out from the hostel and prepared to leave Hakuba. I wanted to go around the village in the morning but it was raining, so it's colder than usual and wetter too, which turned the snow into ice and made it slippery. I was thinking of walking to the train station but Toshi offered to drive me there. I didn't see any of the Aussies, they're probably out skiing.
12:30 pm, Kamishiro Station
I am now in Kamishiro and right on time the train arrived. I was able to mail several postcards for some friends before I boarded. My route would be Kamishiro to Matsumo, then change trains for Nagano, and then take the Shinkansen from there to Tokyo.
6:30 pm, Tokyo Station
I arrived in Tokyo just before 6:30, and I didn't stray away from the station. I met a friend for dinner and also Melissa's husband, to get a package for some friends back in Manila. By 9 I took another train to take me to Narita Airport. My flight tomorrow is at 9am so I wanted to be close to the airport and not worry about waking up very early to catch the train. Unfortunately I took the local train with about 20 or so stops so it took about 1.5 hours to get to Narita.
I made reservations to the capsule hotel called 9 Hours in Narita where I am spending the night. This is another travel experience to have in Japan - to sleep in a 2'x2' sleeping pod. It's not as cramped as I imagined it to be but claustrophobics might give it a pass. I took a selfie inside it so you could imagine how small the space is. I will do a review of the capsule hotel so watch out for that too.
After checking in I went to a 7-11 inside the terminal to buy food, and saw this:
Japan has lots of nice weird stuff (I still prefer the Cherry Coke though).