The Other Side to Snowboarding in Japan

The other side to snow boarding in Japan? No this article is not about anything creepy or dangerous unless you think onsens are creepy. It’s about the great times to be had when your not out trying to break your neck.

On my last trip snowboarding I ended up going with my in-laws, which at first sounds awful to some of you I’m sure, but maybe I’m getting older or maybe I just like playing games. So this is what I’m writing about, cause I would never end up playing video games with my 58 year old father-in-law, unless well he happened to be Japanese and was popping ¥500 yen coins in everything that made a whistle, buzz, or chirp and had flashing lights on it. Which he is and was so that’s pretty cool.

So it was my first night in Myoko Kogen and by the way there is nothing do there, but snowboard. There is a karaoke bar and another regular bar, but they both close down at midnight, if not before. So hanging with the in-laws was what I was doing. And we hit the jackpot after boarding all day when we found the game room in the hotel. Of course there was one of those big glass boxes with the whack 3-prong crane on a chain and overstuffed with stuffed animals, if you know what I mean. The UFO something or other. These things I usaually don’t touch. But when I walked in the room my father and brother-in-law had already snatched two of the preciously cute little buggers out of the machine. So my manhood was already challenged, I was in an yukata, and I hadn’t been out of the onsen for more than 5 minutes. What do you have to do to relax in this country? So after a little cooing from my wife to try, I took a stab at it. And the game was on! On my first try I snagged a Snoopy and some other bus like thing. I was in the zone and I felt this box was ripe for the picking after bagging two with stone. I quickly preceded to plunder the poor thing. After spending about ¥800 yen(not mine) we walked away with 6 cute little stuffed dolls. A Snoopy, a Baby Donald Duck, a Baby Winnie the Pooh wearing a Cheshire Cat suit(don’t know, won’t ask), a baby Stitch, a puppy fox thing, and that bus thing. Not a bad score.

Our new friends...

We then proceeded to play some simple video games in death match heats, which was really fun and competitive. My brother-in-law and father-in-law both got a kick out of it as I was winning, of course my wife didn’t like that she was losing. Oh well, not sure what the etiquette should have been, but I’m a sore loser and well so is she, but she also rubs it in more than I do if I let her win. So, we put on a good show for the guys as we slugged it out while slinging sushi and making volcanoes blow up chunks of lava.

On the way back up to the room, we were on the elevator when the door opened and a little girl and her mom got on with us. The little girl’s eyes got really big at the sight of me as I was standing there with my arms overflowing with stuffed animals. I gave her one cause I couldn’t resist. I was just hoping her mom wouldn’t hate me for it, but I got an OK, daijoubu, just in case.

Later that night while sitting around the big table in our room with the whole family this time, I learned some new card games. My father-in-law had brought the Nintendo playing cards. So it was whiskey and sake time, while I learned how to play the games. Both games we played were fun. The first one was Babanuki(Old Maid) and it was really fun. This game involves dealing out all the cards in the deck plus one Joker. So you play with 53 cards. Before starting the game we played a game of Janken just to see who would go first. Once that was decided you go through your hand and match any 2 like cards and put them in a pile in front of you. If, your lucky you get a bunch of these at the start as the object of the game is to go out and not be stuck with the Joker at the end. The loser, if you haven’t figured it out is the one with the Joker at the end. So play went from right to left-oh and that was how the cards were dealt to begin with too. That freaked me out just a bit the first time seeing cards dealt counter-clockwise. Anyway from there you try to match the rest of your cards and discard them until you are out without getting the Joker. If you get the joker or any other card you don’t want you try to pass it on as quickly as possible by rearranging your deck so that the person to your right draws it from your hand. I mastered this fairly quickly and had them all laughing with a few slight of hand tricks right before they drew. You know…I had to keep it interesting.

Usunoro Manuke was the other game we played and its more a drinking game as you have to be quick with the reflexes. Basically 4 coins are put on the table, or one less than the number of people playing and you have to snatch them up when the time comes and hope you aren’t the odd man out. We used a pillow on top of the table to just be a little quieter and polite. This game was played with A-J, so the aces and the face cards. They are shuffled and dealt out. The object of the game is to pass one card to your right until you get all four cards to match and then make sure you get a coin. I was horrible at this one, but it was fun.

So after playing a few more rounds of the games we finally settled in for the night and slept. But not before we had some tea and ate our made from onsen water biscuit. You know, to relax.

The snowboarding was great, but I think I had more fun out of the snow this trip, especially playing Janken with grand-ma. She’s a tricky one and I couldn’t beat her.

The next morning the same little girl from the elevator ran into the breakfast hall, stuffed doll in hand, with her parents and empty handed sister stomping and dragging her feet. Oops….can’t win them all.

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