This past weekend some ALTs and I were invited to go on a winter trip with a friend and his Junior High School in Wakayanagi, a town just north of mine in Miyagi. The ratio of foreigners to Japanese was even with about eight each. I have a blast in Japan, but find that I don’t hang out with Japanese very often mainly because of the communication barrier. This trip not only gave me a chance to experience the beauty of Zao but also the opportunity to interact with Japanese in a social setting.
The planned activities for the weekend were snowshoeing, sledding, taking ski lessons, and skiing/snowboarding. I think everyone thought they would do everything but after a few hours of trekking through snow covered trails and sledding all but one other ALT weren’t interested in skiing. I ended up going to the lesson and finding out that for me skiing is a lot harder than snowboarding.
Fortunately, the next day I had the chance to rent snowboard equipment for the day. We had five hours on the slopes and I loved every minute of it. It turns out that the ski resort was not overcrowded as I had heard most Japanese resorts were. There weren’t too many people and there were a lot of trails open, all with great conditions.
Sunday evening on the way back, the entire group stopped at a rotenburo (outside onsen (Japanese bath)) to relax and heal our tired, aching bodies. I had never understood the hype about onsens, however, my eyes were opened yesterday. After soaking an hour in the hot spring water while looking at the mountain I had just snowboarded down for five hours, I felt completely relaxed and replenished.
The Zao Snow Adventure was by far the best thing I’ve done all winter in Japan. My hope is to make it out to another resort sometime before the winter season is over.
Below are some pictures from the weekend: