White Christmas Eve
I’m very sorry, Australian ski fields, we had a lot of fun over the last thirty years, but now I realise that you suck and I never want to see you again. Nothing personal.
We’re staying at the Old Furano hotel, along with about five other families and a school group. The day started, as it often does on holidays, with a buffet breakfast. The husband is having a bit of difficulty with breakfast, he’s perfectly happy to fall in with local cultural norms at other meals, just not breakfast. Yesterday at the airport he was hunting for toast of any description. “Well, I found some”, he admitted mournfully. “But it had icecream on it”. This hotel caters for Western tastes by supplying toast, also other Western breakfast fare such as yoghurt, cereal, tinned fruit, scrambled eggs, broccoli, chips and honey and lemon jelly cubes. “If they serve chips at breakfast”, observed the Moose, “you don’t want to hurt their feelings by not eating them”.
Skied out to the first chairlift of the sparkling morning to find that we had the place to ourselves. There was a chairlift, followed by another chairlift which were the only two available at the resort, but what a revelation Japanese skiing was. Crisp, dry snow, very wide tracks, no ice, no rocks, massively long trails and ridiculously scenic. Also, no wind on the chairlifts. This is the only photo you’ll get, this hotel will only supply wifi if you stand in a certain position in the lobby.
It was all green runs on this side of the mountain, perfect for getting our ski legs that haven’t been utilised for several years. Pretty soon though, the chairlift to the other side of the mountain, New Furano, beckoned and we discovered even more green and light blue runs, wide, sparsely populated and incredibly forgiving. The kids only stacked if they were trying something crazy, and I didn’t stack at all because the last time I did it resulted in crutches, much physio and surgery.
I know a whole lot of carry on about how awesome Japanese skiing is can get tedious, so I’ll tell you about lunch. We popped in to a place called Ramen Corner. It served ramen soup. Six minor variations on pork with ramen. There was a note clearly intended for fussy Westerners, stating that here were the seven most common food allergens and they could all be found in this soup, so if you were allergic then you could eat it and die, or push off somewhere else. Or words to that effect. It was delicious.
After lunch we delivered the younger two back to the hotel while we larger types continued with the skiing on the New Furano side. Due to a minor misinterpretation of the map, come on, it was mainly in Japanese, we got stuck on this side after the main gondola shut down at three o’clock. Nothing for it but to continue skiing until the bus back to our side came along in another hour, which meant that we got to see the almost full moon rise (at four o’clock) over the distant mountains on Christmas Eve, which could be the most amazing view I’ve ever seen
I haven’t done as much exercise as I would have liked to this past few months, so the thighs were starting to send up protests shortly after lunch. This meant that they were in full revolt by the time we got back to the hotel, and you know that only such a circumstance would leave me to even consider the public bath. We do have a bath in our room. It is triangular in shape, approximately sixty centimetres wide at the back, coming to a point after maybe a metre in length. The Moose said he tried bathing in it and when he sat down all the water leapt out and he had to put his legs out the window. So I read the instructions in our room on the bath. I knew already that you wear the supplied cotton dressing gown and plastic slippers down there, and you bring your towel. The instructions were very clear that no swimming costumes would be accepted. I crossed my fingers and traipsed down there with my creaking knees. There were some Japanese women in the anteroom who had clearly already bathed and were fully clothed and drying their hair at the rather fancily equipped dressing tables with full length mirrors and dryers and various unguents. They gestured vigorously at me to for heavens sakes take your shoes off and put them over there. I complied immediately and ventured into the bathroom. Hurrah!! I had it to myself. There were little cubicles were you took a seated shower first, rather unnervingly fitted with another full length mirror. Once cleansed I entered the bath, which was hot and soothing, had jets for the back massage and was about five meters long, so I did a couple of laps, then stretched all of the bits of the aging body that had joined in the protest started by my quads. It was so nice in there that I might take my regular showers down there instead of in our bathroom in which you could barely bend over to pick up a cat, never mind swing one. And there’s the added bonus of no elderly Turkish woman lurking about who could leap out and start washing your hair at any moment.
Ps, posting this the following morning and it’s Snowing On Christmas Morning! Squee!