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This past Monday the whole gang of us (minus Shauna, who went home to Hawaii for Christmas) went to Niigata for snowboarding. I am SO sore, but it was well worth the trip!

I don’t think I ever posted pictures of my snowboard here, so let me take a moment to do that… I went ahead and bought a board for several reasons. First, if we go half as many times as I think we might this year, and go next season since I’m staying (and of course if I stay longer than two years), it will be worth it. Also, everyone else has their own board, so I’d be holding up the crew were I to rent every time. Finally, for learning, it would be easier to use the same board every time. So I found a design I liked and managed to get 20% off on the set.


The board, boots, and bindings


The board is called “Ooyuki Kigan” (大雪祈願, wishing for big snow) and the brand “Namitatsu” (波達).


Hee, snowman ❤ It also matches my jacket nicely!

I couldn’t find exact matching boots and bindings, so I went with the ones I liked best, which are Salomon. Also, if you notice the angle is really weird, I’m getting to that.

Anyway, so the original plan was for Kenji and Scott and I to go Monday night to stay at Mayu’s families condo with her and a friend. Unfortunately, poor Mayu got sick, so we decided to go the next day instead. That opened the trip up for Brandt, Brandt’s girlfriend Mizuki, and Ken to come along as well.


Kenji Car Penguin surveys the road in anticipation of a return to his natural habitat…


Snow!


More Snow!


Yuzawa, Niigata-ken, on the other side of the 11km tunnel that takes you to another world, or at least it feels like it!


Pretty day!


Looks chilly though…at least, the statue guy looks cold. And coincidentally, Joetsu Kokusai is where we decided to go, though I didn’t realize when I took this picture!

So, Japan is a little different from what I know of courses in the US; generally, when you go to a resort, you go to a specific mountain in the area, and its usually a pretty big one; that, or several resorts are linked together. In Japan, there is no linkage whatsoever, so people seem to skip around during the day more often. We decided on Joetsu Kokusai, which is a decent size, and stuck with it throughout the day… and since there isn’t a ton of daylight, it meant for enough boarding for me to be extremely sore yet not get the newbies hurt!


Goofing around before going up


Kenji and I, awwww


The back of the mountain


Awwww, we *heart* snowboarding! (dorks again…)

Unfortunately, that first run was pretty horrible for me… and I couldn’t figure out why. I thought it might be because of the 6 years since I’d been in snow, skiing/boarding aside. Maybe I was really regular and not goofy like I remembered? Could it change in that six years?

Thank goodness for Scott… he saw the problem right away. “What’s wrong with your angle on your bindings… did you ask for that? They did it the Japanese way…” Turns out that the store didn’t bother to ask angle, just which foot I needed in front, and therefore put the angle super wide… no wonder I found it impossible to turn! Scott had the tools to change it, so while everyone went one more run down the back of the mountain, we fixed my board. I was so much happier with the results, so that made the whole day much brighter… I had been so frustrated before!


The new and improved angle and a much happier Jess


A beautiful day!


Kenji smirking at me… what? See, I wasn’t making it all up!


Joetsu Kokusai, the front side

We had gotten separated from the rest of the group at that point, and the phones didn’t have good reception, so we didn’t manage to meet back together for lunch at all. Next time, we’ll agree on a place and time, but it wasn’t a huge deal. The lodge was done European style, and we went for ramen and curry for lunch, then hit the mountain again. I worked on turning and getting over the fear of putting my back to the course (I started with skiing, the switch is a bit scary still), Kenji took videos and goofed around, sometimes with rather hilarious results!


The Lodge


Getting crowded in the afternoon


Sun going down… starting to get much colder.


Kenji goofing off…


…and me following!

And finally, Kenji versus Powder, take 1:

I didn’t really manage to get turning down by the end of the day, but it was a good start. Still wondering if I’m on the right foot; might get Scott to change it for next trip and see which I like better. A lot of the trouble is probably just needing practice and to go over where the weight is supposed to be at each point. I may go a weekend and take lessons to make sure the basics are down again. All in all, though, I think I did pretty well!

After that, we made our way to an Onsen to warm up and relax, then McDonald’s for dinner, then on home. I’m glad we didn’t go more than one day… I am sorer than I ever remember being after the first day in High School except for that one band trip!

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