So I gave notice to my job and booked tickets for a two-month overseas trip. First, I’m going back to Japan in February, late winter this time, with a good chance of some pow, but also hope of actually seeing the sun for more pleasant touring.
First things first, I’ll be spending some time in Tokyo with Marijke! The city deserves more time to visit than what I spent last time.
Then we’ll follow the Japow hype train to Myoko Kogen. This old style Japanese ski town is situated about the flanks of Mt Myoko, a famous volcano that sees lots of snow even by Japanese standards (although often warmer heavier stuff). We’re staying in a Japanese pension recommended by Dave C (with who I was hoping to do the Hakuba-Myoko traverse with last spring)
Despite what you may have heard, off-piste in-bounds riding is still heavily regulated here, however the backcountry offers up more safe moderate trees than the gnarly alpine in Hakuba the next valley over. Sounds good for holiday touring. Oh and there’s Seki Onsen if I manage to get there on a powder day.
From what some say, Myoko has already “jumped the shark”, with those pesky scandinavians snooping around in bright outerwear and ABS packs, and loud aussie behaviour sighted on the shuttle busses and in the town. And the aforementioned crackdown on off-piste riding by the ski patrol. Having passed through Hakuba, Cortina, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, and Myoko Kogen, the Honshu hype train has left, moving north again – next winter’s trendy powder destination starts with a “Y”.
I will sadly have to say goodbye to Marijke in Tokyo before heading north to meet Alexey and Tracey in the original, most crowded, boganest, but still arguably the snowiest of the Japanese international ski towns – Niseko. With a couple of pretty serious splitboarders, hopefully we can earn some less crowded turns away from the lift-accessed peak, and maybe a hit-and-run mission to some of the smaller resorts in the area. Yotei-san – the Fuji of Hokkaido – is calling.
Then, it’s on the USA in time for March. I hear this can be a cracking month for California, and fingers crossed for a line of El Nino storms ready to smash into the Sierras.
Now I just have to decide what boots to take…oh the decisions…