Thursday, January 12, 2006

Skiing in Nagano

So after a delightfully restive fortnight back home, I arrived back in Japan and twenty four hours later set off on an overnight bus with our lab's ski trip. We were going to Nozawa Onsen in Nagano prefecture. You might have seen some scary news stories about man-eating snowdrifts, but fortunately the roads were clear.

However, it was snowing heavily when we arrived (at a hearty 6am), and continued to do so for the next two days.

Japan's geography makes the climatic situation very different from the European Alps, for example. As this map of snowfall from the last seven days shows, cold humid air from the Japan sea comes in from the north west, and deposits its moisture on the mountains which run along the spine of the country. Here in Osaka on the south coast there it rarely rains or snows during the winter.

There is often plenty of snow well below 1000m, and many ski resorts don't reach very high altitude at all. The snow is often rather wet, though when we were there it was cold enough that that wasn't a problem. Skiing in 1m of powder was good fun though!

We were there for three days, about 2o people from my group and a couple of others, about half and half staff and students. Fortunately the sun came out on the third day and, having carted my snowblades over from Switzerland I gave them a twirl.

Onsen means thermal bath, and Nozawa onsen has 13 free public baths. So after a hard day's skiing, getting naked with total strangers was a fun way to relax.

No comments:

/* Google Analytics */