nozawa sun and snow

I forgot my earplugs and between Ramesh snoring like a chainsaw and William blathering like a drunk, it's a miracle I got any sleep at all. Woke to a standard Japanese staying-on-the-slopes breakfast, but we talked them into giving us coffee. And the rice was good.
A stunningly sunny and beautiful day; t-shirt only under the jacket and we headed up the gondola. Nozawa is much bigger than it looks, and after a couple of long, wide, groomed runs on old snow, we headed to the very tippy top, ducked the ropes, and plunged into a Valley of the Powder. One side was sunny and slushy, the other side shadowy and fluffy. We were obviously the only ones foolish enough to go off-piste, and the reward was some harrowingly steep, deep snow. At the bottom is flattened out and joined up with a nice green that went all the way to the far bottom, so getting to and through that was tiring work.
We headed back up and got a late lunch, harassing Hana-chan by buying her icecream and watching her eat it. Couple more runs, including Valley of the Powder again, and it was back to Schnyder for a pre-dinner bath.
Dinner was the standard fair; plentiful and good. Most everyone went into town to do some karaoke damage, but I stayed in, getting really into the second volume of Shiba Ryotaro's "Moeyoken (Burning Sword)."

to nozawa!

Ran outta work early to pack, even though I didn't have much to pack as I already sent my snowboard and gear. Got hungry and figured I wouldn't have time to eat later so hit Doraichi and got some ramen. They've also started selling gyoza so got a plate of those, ate too much too fast, and then got in a cab to battle Friday night traffic to Tokyo Station.
Made it to the station and got on the train in time (unlike Alex, who managed to miss the train by one minute.) Went to Nagano Station and switched to a local train to Nozawa-Onsen, then took a bus taxi to the bottom of the slopes. The Schnyder Pension folks met us with a snow mobile and a light truck outfitted with snow tracks. I (foolishly) chose to wagon on the back of the snow mobile, and was clinging for my life as we rocketed up the dark-of-night lower ski slope, fish-tailing madly as the snow mobile driver struggled to to control both the snow mobile and the alcohol in his veins. After a facefull of icy spray and a harrowing 10 minutes, we arrived.

papa's priceless

"Gift from daughter-inlaw, $5.00. Resulting photograph, priceless!"


Again no Iidabashi class, so I and everyone else came to Yaesu, including Niina-gosoke. All told we had about 20 people. I was put in charge of the German dude checking out class with his wife who was a natural; after only two weeks whe was picking it up like a pro. Promotion exams next week so Takahashi-san got one-on-one with Ohtsuka-san, and everyone else was broken up into groups of 3-4.
After practice a bunch of us were hungry so we walked down the street to a tiny little local tonkatsu place (Deep Fried Pork is your friend!), took it over, and chowed.
Niina-gosoke talked more about the Honbu Dojo, which should be ready to use in April. 5th floor of an old 6 story building, very close to Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihonbashi. We'll take out an internal wall, make one side the dojo, and behind it lay tatami and make a changing room/office. Will be nice to have a place to practice 24-7, and to have a permanent home base.

brazilian portugese

Tonight at practice I sat in while Niina-gosoke was interviewed by a Portugese speaking Brazilian-Japanese for a Portugese magazine. The success of Last Samurai seems to have its upside, as she asked probing questions about the application of traditional martial arts on modern society and seemed generally interested in the deeper aspects of the arts, the "way inside the techniques." Also she was really cute, and I think Portugese is a sexy language. A hint of Spanish, a sprinkle of Russian; it sounds great and has a wonderful rhythm.


Hit Jimbocho and caught all the bargain sales -- got a snowboard bag, a Red Hi-Fi helmet, new pair of mitten gloves (with removeable liners), bright green Oakly goggles with a helmet strap, and a neck gator. Everything was 20-40% off -- gotta love late season shopping!

3 up

So turns out that three Shibuya students will be testing for shodan end of February. Good luck! I drilled most of them on kata, collected the testing fees, and now all we can do is pray...I think they'll make it, but they'll sweat a bit first!


Up early, the snow still falling. Seems rain at base meant snow on the mountain, all night. Gondola still closed because of adverse conditions at the top, so we ride the side double a couple of runs, enjoying fresh powder on the groomed trails.
Finally the gondola opens up, but only halfway up the mountain. From there up the quad, and it's deep fresh powder all around. Goggles fogging, thick balls of snow falling, visibility bad. I borrow some nice goggles and carry on. Gloves soaking through, fall and buried in powder neck deep.
Notes to self:
* don't follow everyone else into double-black diamonds
* buy a helmet
* buy expensive goggles that don't fog
* don't buy expensive gloves that get soaked

Break for lunch and then into the onsen for extended soaking -- always better to quit while yer ahead. Others finally start dropping in, tired and wet and happy. More bathing, more lounging and beering. Bus at 5:30 to Nagano station, quick and dirty ramen then train back to Tokyo.
More notes to self:
* buy a snowboard bag that'll hold boots and gear
* ship gear to hotel before hand, ship home when done (or even better: to next hotel for next trip)
* preventative advil stops muscles aches dead