Seki Onsen, Ikenotaira and back to Tokyo
26.01.2013 - 28.01.2013 0 °C
After a later breakfast we are getting a lift from the Refle team to Seki Onsen. Now we could see Seki Onsen from Akakura Onsen the other day and it was just over there. But to drive there means a 25 minute trip down the mountain, along the main road, and back up to Seki. Did not realise this before, and am glad we are paying a fee for the time we are taking out of their day with the two trips. During the week there is one bus a day each way (1000 yen each, each way), but not today.
Seki Onsen is a small resort with only two lifts. The lower lift is a double chair, not covered, and the higher is a single seat chair, but with no back. There is no grooming apart from an easy run out on the right leading to the restaurant and its access track. There are lots of treed areas, a few open steeps with cornices up to about 4 metres high and all with a good deep powder cover. We spend the morning going through the trees and running the lift line (except for that spot where you can touch the snow from the lift). It is great fun cutting new tracks in the deep powder.
I would like to go higher, but G is not keen on the safety factor of the higher chair. We get into the Taube for lunch at the second try, way too full the first time. Although Seki is the smallest out of the way resort, it is the weekend, it does have a rep for powder and there was a good fall of fresh last night. We continue on, getting in a couple of 2 metre drops over the edge near the lift line. We spend so much time in the area that is getting pretty chopped up, so we head for other pastures.
Minimura san is waiting to take us back to the hotel. Onsen as usual, good stretch and watch the Sumo championships. These have been going all week and make addictive viewing, even if you cannot understand the commentary. Some bouts done in a few seconds, others last nearly a minute. When those boys come out of the blocks and crunch together, you would not want to be in between them. Had a look online to get tickets, but the tournament finishes before we reach Tokyo.
We booked in for another dinner in the hotel tonight, and asked to be surprised. Some sushi, venison sashimi, and a sukiyaki. This is our first sukiyaki, and I cocked it up. Mind you, I have provided Hikigawa sama with plenty of amusement as I go through a number of stages of cocking it up. But now I know how to eat sukiyaki. But I’m not going to tell you, so you may provide amusement to your waitress too. Oh okay, you break the egg into its own bowl, scramble it up and dip the cooked food into it before eating it. You don’t put the whole egg in a bowl with the cooked food waiting for the egg to cook, and you don’t then transfer all the contents of said bowl into the cooking pot, creating scrambled egg in the pot, amusement for the waitress and embarrassment for your son. Can we move on now?
Domestic duties after dinner, washing and accounting to be done. Then reading, finished another book. G wants to stay up a bit longer as he is getting to the close of ‘The knife of never letting go’ and it has him hooked. It ends on a massive cliff hanger, and he has not bought the sequel with him...
Local skiing at Kanko and Onsen today. We have located Damien’s powder spot and do several runs through there. There is some deep untracked powder and we can do some smooth majestic sweeping turns or fall over in it. This is really good stuff and what we are here for. A few other runs before lunch back at Yodel restaurant then we happen across a large untracked spot over the back of Onsen. We have 5 runs tracking freshies down here, and get to admire our handiwork as we come up the lift each time. Deep super soft powder, what a treat. Get the last lift of the day then head back to the Refle.
Back home for an onsen after the Sumo finals. Harumafuji wins emphatically, and gets presented with dozens of trophies one after the other. Out for our final dinner in Akakura, and somehow we are back to yakiniku. For a change this is followed with a crepe. Then it is back to pack and watch ‘A Team’ – first time I have got the English button to work on the TV.
For our final breakfast, Hikigawa san has gone all out – we are having DIY sushi breakfast. We have slabs of sashimi, a bowl of rice and fresh wasabi, it is magic – check it out!
Still happy from breakfast, we bring down our cases, but Minimura san tells us to leave them in the room - it is ours till this evening after we have skied and had an onsen, how good is that. We get the bus to Ikenotaira. Here the weather is sunny/snowy/clear down low freezing up top – if it had rained I would have thought I was in Melbourne...
There was a bit of snowfall overnight, and we are not finding any deep powder today but there is a 5cm layer everywhere which is great for swooping down the groomers. We both have a big stack when we hit an unexpected cat track; sit there making sure everything is in the right place before continuing. We keep on going until the last lift to the top, then race down to catch the bus back. We are little bit early, so G has a crepe – where does he find them?
We drop our hire gear off at Myoko Snow Sports, say goodbye to Damien and Nozomi, well after they give us a lift to the hotel. We race through our onsen, then Minimura san asks when our train is – we don’t know, whatever is next! He drives us to the station and we say fond farewells, we have had a really great stay at Refle thanks to everyone there. He sees us onto the 6:05 to Nagano we have time for a quick bite at the station before catching the 7:30 shink to Tokyo. We have a quick transfer to Shinigawa and are into the hotel by 10pm, getting organised and into bed takes a bit longer.