1. A quick summary: Briefly tell us about your time in Japan
Every year I try to go somewhere new. One place in Australia and one place overseas I have never been before (so I guess really it’s two). Having spent the last 4 years travelling, living and surfing in tropical places it was time for a change. JAPAN – has never really be on my ‘must travel to’ list but I have friends who live there and of course the latest claim is that Japan has the best powder in the world to ski or board. Well, say no more, I was there. I gave myself one month with my main focus to board as much as I could but also to experience the local culture. So I travelled to Tokyo and a little bit in the South Island, boarding some of the small local mountains with friends, staying with local families and in local hotels. Then I went to the North Island and the region of Hokkaido where I really fell in love with Japan and its mountains. I spent a week by myself on a local mountain where I did not speak a word of English or see one other Westerner. True test of my communication skills – loved it (something different). I went to some of the popular western mountains and then to some local mountains, boarded alone and sometimes in groups, made some friends both western and local (yay me!), did some backcountry boarding, stayed in local family run lodges and caught the train EVERYWHERE. They say Japan’s also beautiful in the Spring and Summer but it is truly hard to go past its Winter Wonderland. It is now on my ‘must travel to every year’ list.
Apart from the pow though there are some other factors that make Japan a great place to travel:
- The food is awesome and you can pretty much live out of their 7-eleven stores. They sell EVERYTHING
- The people are friendly and very patient. Just bow alot and learn a few words like Sumimasen (sorry or excuse me) and Arigato Gozaimasu (thankyou) and Ohayo Gozaimasu (good morning)
- The public transport is amazing. It is a little expensive but the trains are epic, especially the bullet train (Skinkansen). They run on time and you can get anywhere.
- Mountain biking and surfing
- Cherry blossoms
- Onsens (bathing)
I could of easily stayed another month or two!
2. Best thing you did / saw?
Boarding Japow. The hype is real, its not a lie. The pow is deep and fluffy and amazing.
3. Most unexpected thing you did and loved?
Backcountry boarding/ hiking. This involves walking uphill in deep snow (no chair lifts or ropeways), digging yourself out when you take a wrong turn (or after a wipe out) and yes, carrying all equipment needed for hiking and safety (beacons, phones, extra clothes, emergency food etc). It’s not for the faint hearted and it’s hard work but the rewards are incredible. Fresh, untracked powder, incredible views, sharing the stoke with other hikers, the feeling of utter satisfaction and the burn in every single muscle at the end of the day. Beer has never tasted so good!
4. Foods to try:
- Everything and anything with green tea (matcha) in it – chocolate, lattes, frappes, buns, breads. Addictive and a serious caffeine hit.
- Steamed pork buns (I know it’s standard but it’s a favourite and a staple) or my personal favourite: Steamed Azuki (sweet red bean) buns. Hot and delicious
- Sashimi (Goes without saying) Washed down with a Sapporo or an Asahi or a Suntory (local Japanese beer). No weird stuff for me but I ate plenty of things that I had no clue what they were. Everything was tasty and I am still alive.
5. Your Top 3 Must Do’s:
- Skiing or Snowboarding: HOKKAIDO in Japan’s North Island.
- Staying in a local hotel / Onsen: Small hotels run by locals with the traditional rooms, food and public bathing (Onsen) – The BEST thing at the end of a big day on the Mountain, especially if you can find an open air one. You’ll have to let go of any issues you have with being naked in public though cos this is bathing in your birthday suit (those are the rules!).
- Tokyo: busy, loud and interesting. Fun times found in the karaoke bars and the robot restaurant.
6. Photos you cant leave without:
Didn’t take too many photos – oops, but luckily some of my snow buddies were on the ball and got a few shots of me riding which is like getting photos of you surfing – very far and few in between.
you.theworld.wandering would like to thank ALANNA for sharing her travel adventures. Follow @madamehale on Instagram to see more fab pics of her travels!!
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