So I didn’t exactly ski in the Olympics, but I probably came as close as I ever will while in Hakuba. Hakuba, what / where is that? Remember the ’98 Nagano Winter Olympics? I sure do. Well that’s where Picabo Street Raced down the hill towards gold, or silver or another chapstick commercial. All of the ski and snowboard events for the Olympics were held in the little ski town of Hakuba.
After Osaka I trained it over to Hakuba to spend 3 days skiing in the Japanese Alps. My friend Miguel was there with his cousin, so we spent the first couple days together eating and skiing. After Miguel left I was left to my own devices in the friend department, and luckily a group of Kiwi’s adapted me for the remainder of the week. The group was there for a vacation and knew little to no Japanese. For the first time I was the one people were turning to for translation assistance. Luckily most of our time was spent in restaurants and I speak restaurant Japanese, making my Japanese seem far better than it really was.
The skiing in Hakuba was fantastic, there were 6 ski areas within 15 mins of town and free buses that ran every 20 minutes. By the end of my week there I was ready to find a job at a hostel and stay there for the remainder of the season. But I couldn’t’ do that I had people to meet in Kyoto.
After skiing my heart out in Hakuba, I spent more time with the JR trains to Kyoto. Japan is famous for trains running on time, however I have not always had such luck. My shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka was 2 hours late, causing me to bipass Nagano and head straight for Hakuba. 2 of my trains en route to Kyoto were also late, causing some creativity in scheduling. I got stuck in a couple random mountain towns where convenies were even hard to find. There’s much worse places to be stuck than a snowy mountain town. I enjoyed the time with a hot canned coffee and took in all the snow I could. (If I’m lucky it will snow once in Kagawa this year.)