Ikenotaira and across to Nozawa Onsen
24.01.2012 - 25.01.2012 -4 °C
Once we are awake we do see something new for us – clear blue sky! This is the first time since day one of the trip. By the time we have had breakfast and are on the bus, life is back to normal and the grey clouds have rolled in, and the snow has started again. Back on the bus, today we head to Ikenotaira for the day. This is a small resort compared to the others we have been to recently, but still has a good variation in terrain. They are aiming at boarders, with a bit of terrain park and tree runs accessible too. G was getting into the tree runs now too, but finding it hard to keep the tip up to stop from bogging. I have had to dig him out a few times. And you can get an idea of how deep the powder is...
Weather is a bit on the cold and windy side, great to have the bubble chairs to go uphill in relative protection – I reckon these are exactly what Hotham needs on the Summit to keep us all protected – sure it can be retrofitted. The cold does not bother the snow soldiers though they have followed us here and seem quite relaxed in the conditions.
After another yummy lunch and more skiing we head back – the bus nearly leaves without us as G is in the toilet, and I have to block open the door while he ambles back. Here is where we should have got lunch from.
We are going to drop off our gear as we head are heading to Nozawa Onsen tomorrow. However, it turns out that we can just extend the hire and courier back the gear for a reasonable price. Myoko Snow Sports do this a bit. Back at the hotel it is time to wrestle all our gear into bags ready for our 9:30 departure, before heading back to G’s favourite yakiniku place for dinner again.
There has been a massive dump overnight, region of 80 cms, and we are leaving... That’s the plan anyway. We have breakfast and are ready in the lobby for the bus, on time. Well, we are. Because of the dump, there are major snarls on the roads all around the region so no one is willing to specify a time of departure. We while away the time using wifi, having cups of tea, snoozing and waiting. After noon, the bus rocks up. When I say rocks up, the driver guns it up the street we are on, and neatly turns into the parking area a little beyond the hotel. He backs out and then points down the hill, intending to stop outside the door so we can get in. As he applies the brakes, nothing happens and the van delicately slides down the slope and crunches delicately into a snow/ice drift. The hotel (like most places around here) has a front end loader they use to pull the van out of the drift, and then hold it while we get out. Once in with all our gear (only fell over a couple of times) we are cut loose and slide down the road, bouncing off the edges. Around the corner on the main road, road clearing has been carried out, so we are on our way with no more excitement.
We get to Nozawa around 2, and the driver, after repeated looks at the map and directions, gets us to Nakajimaya Ryokan where we are met by the lovely Yukiko. We are in a 6 tatami mat room, big for the two of us. We do not have time to get on the snow today, so we take a long stroll around town, see the hot spring that feeds the town, look at the souvenir shops and buy some hot dumplings on the street. With the load last night, they are clearing the streets and the roofs of the snow. People are out with their shovels, diggers and snow blowers trying to get back to normal. There was an 80 year old chipping away at the ice outside her shop to make it safe.
We get sushi for dinner and it is very nice, prepared fresh in front of us. Sated, we head back to the hotel where we do some remote shopping with Lon in Hong Kong. We settle into our futons for a good night’s sleep. Or it would be, but I wake at 2:40 and cannot get back to sleep. I send a few texts to L who can’t sleep either (caffeine). Laying there, I work out the heater noise is keeping me awake – not just the air flow noise but a deep bass resonance in the wall too. Turn it off, no problem. A bit cool in the morning though.