Myoko Kogen has to be one of the nicest ski areas in Japan. We went for the onsen and snowboarding this New Years instead of the normal onsen or feasting till you pop party that we usually do. We ended up snowboarding at the Akakura Onsen Resort and it was a blast! No better way to ring in the New Year, than running down the slopes with your feet attached to a board. You must admit to starting the New Year with a few bruises and risking your life is the only way you know your off to doing it right.
I had trouble the first time up and down as I hadn’t mastered the art of walking with one foot latched down and dragging a board. But I managed to shuffle along to the lift and get hoisted up the mountain without causing too much of a traffic jam. But, once seated and freezing on the way up the only fear of doom I had was getting off the lift. I didn’t end up on my back the first time out, but I think it was my butt. At least I didn’t run over anyone’s fingers.
Once around the U-turn you have to do as soon as you jump off the lift and again on my butt in the snow, I was able to put my other foot into the board and attempt standing up. Then, it was time to start the graceful act of falling down the mountain. Now I wasn’t sure what snowboarding was like, I knew skiing was scary as hell, but I was surprised at how much easier snowboarding seemed. It felt a little more natural and most importantly it was easier to stop.
So I had a few rough starts going down the mountain and getting used to turning from side to side. Finally realizing the quicker you could do it the better your chances of not doing a face plant. It took about two runs to find the quickest way to go and not end up trapped on the sidelines in deep snow. After doing a crab walk on your hands, while dragging your board you could get going again, but being on the sidelines isn’t where you want be. It was a blast after that until I decided I thought I had it mastered and to go full-throttle down the mountain. You know the faster you go the more it hurts, when you screw up. Hey, that’s what the onsen afterward is for, right?
On my third time about halfway down, I stopped to get some pictures and saw these snowbikers zooming down the mountain with helmets and pads. It looked pretty fun like mountain biking with skis only faster. They were hauling down the side like nothing else. I’m not sure what sport that’s called, but it looks fun and my kind of dangerous.
Anyway, it snowed 60cm the day we were there. So all my photos are a little blurry and well that’s a lot of snow. Thawing the car for the way back home was a task I could write another article about.
Akakura Onsen, Nigata
Dec 12th – April 5th