After successfully doing nothing in December and January because it’s too cold to go outside, I have forced myself to finally write a blog post in February.
Well, that’s not completely true. My brother–an avid snowboarder–and my mother (who is not) came for a visit. They stayed for two weeks in January. Of course, my brother’s sole purpose was to check out the snowboarding scene in Hokkaido.
After years of me inviting him over and raving about #japow, he finally came for a visit. And it was
Holy crap, it was so disappointing, I wanted to pay him back for spending all that money to fly halfway around the world. Actually, he was quite happy to spend time with me and to not work. This is a vacation, after all. But, he was able to experience a little bit of powder as I took him to different ski areas.
For me, this winter has been extremely unpredictable. The weather in early January was strange, to say the least. It rained and was warm most of the time. We also didn’t get as much snowfall as I had hoped and promised my brother. Normally, southwest of Hokkaido doesn’t normally get snow, but this year, the Hakodate area has gotten the most snow. And the areas where you would expect heavy snowfall didn’t get anything at all. Like I said, strange.
And as a snowboarder, you are always searching for powder. Hokkaido is known for its powder, but I guess I forgot about the unpredictability of the weather. Of course, I can’t control the weather, which is why I was so disappointed that there was not a lot of snow on the mountains when we went snowboarding. I was looking forward to snowboarding with my brother and was quite saddened when my expectations were not met.
But my brother was still happy with his trip (so he tells me). What my brother raved about the most was how accessible things were here. I learned how to snowboard in Hokkaido, and I’ve only been snowboarding in the US twice, so I’m not really sure how things are in the US.
In Hokkaido, every little town had a ski area, no matter how small. Even though it’s small, it still serves the community and the surrounding areas really well. It’s also easy to get to. There are trains and buses that are dedicated to these ski areas. But most people who live in Hokkaido usually drive everywhere because it is so much easier.
I guess in the US, it’s not the case. My brother was saying you need to travel far to get to the mountains for skiing because not every area will have one. Even when you get to the mountain, you have to deal with a lot of people and waiting in lines for the lifts. He was impressed that it was really smooth to go up and down the mountain here in Hokkaido, even with waiting in line for the ski schools to go through. That’s what he loved the most, as he hates waiting in lines.
Of course, we went to Niseko, as it is the premier skiing area in Hokkaido. (I will do a major post on Niseko later on, but I just wanted to give a general overview of my brother’s trip). We also went to the other big skiing areas like Yubari’s, Mt. Resui and Teine Mountain. We also hit up the smaller areas like Bankei and Dynasty, which is our small one in Kitahiroshima.
My brother told me to appreciate the fact that there are so many ski areas to go to, that people living in Hokkaido are spoiled. All the time I kept apologizing for no snow, too many people, or how small the areas were. He said that what I considered the worst conditions in Hokkaido were still much better than snowboarding in the US: We still got natural snow and didn’t have to rely on man-made stuff. There were pockets of fresh powder. The lines for the lifts were smooth. The staff were friendly. The trails were wide and not too crowded.
Despite my disappointment, he still had fun.
I guess it takes another person’s perspective for me to realize that we really have it good here.
Of course, just our luck, in the weeks after my family went back to the United States, we got a lot of snow 😖.