Snowboarding + onsens!

Oh my goodness. I hurt all over. Why? Because I went snowboarding last weekend. Yep, about 12 of us from the law school joined up with folks from Outdoor Japan and headed up to mapNaeba to ski and snowboard. I had no experience doing either one of those. Granted, I’ve been on two ski trips but never made it skiing due to the fact that we partied too hard the night before. Not advisable to get on the slopes with a hangover. Trust, it’s hard enough to do sober!

Friday after class, we hoofed it to Harajuku where we loaded onto a bus that took us and some other folks up to the mountain. We nearly killed a whole bottle of Jack on the way up which was a good compliment to jerk chicken they served on the bus. Oh yeah, it was a “Reggae Snowsplash” weekend. Reggae music, good vibes and snow! We arrived at a traditional Japanese inn, the kind that doesn’t have any beds, just tatami mats and futons. No… not

Tatami mat floor/sleeping area

Tatami mat floor/sleeping area

the futons you had in college with the metal frame and all. I mean a thin pad that rolls/folds up and you store it in a closet when you’re not sleeping. We also kicked back on rice pillows which were exactly what they sound like: pillows stuffed with rice. Not cool. It was also type annoying to have to take off your shoes all the time. The JPNese don’t mind because they have slippers for everything. Slippers to put on after you take off your outdoor shoes. Slippers to put on when you go into the bathroom. Special slippers for every room it seems!

Anyway, after having a few (more) drinks that night, we went to bed to prepare for the next day. Saturday we rented gear which, when all said and done, had to add like 15 more pounds to our bodies. It wasn’t too cold out but the snow was falling lightly. It was pretty out there. Being in Tokyo, I haven’t seen snow in a long time. A crew of us started out on a little practice hill just to figure out how to stand up on the board, get it strapped up and “get our legs.” By the end of the day, I don’t think we had any of that down except for the strapped up part! After a couple of tries on the baby hill we slid over to the ski lift for a ride to the top of the mountain.

On the way up!

On the way up!

Yo, I got to the top of the slope and looked over. DAMN! It was type steep and we weren’t even on a serious run! I repeat, this was my first time ever standing CLOSE to a snowboard, let alone having one strapped to my feet! Still, we were here and when’s the next time I’m going to snowboard in JPN?

I FELL SO MANY FUCKING TIMES IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY. I believe that my board was possessed. It was going so fast and no matter what I tried to do (not like I know how to steer the damn thing), my board kept directing me toward the ski jumps and whatnot. Um… no. It got to the point that I literally had to unstrap myself from the board and then walk across the slope to get away from the ski jumps!

You know how they say when you fall, you just have to get back up again? Well whoever “they” are, they must not have ever been snowboarding. Of course I’d get back up, I mean, I couldn’t just lay there and get run over by skiers and boarders. There were times when I wished a St. Bernard with a mini barrel full of bourbon would come and rescue me, but I got back up. When it was all said and done, I had inhaled snow, slammed my head against the slope so hard that my goggles shot off of my head, I was upside down, sideways, had the air knocked out of me, etc. Did I go back up for another run? Sure did. I mean, I ain’t no punk and it WAS still fun somehow. At some point I just had to call it a day though. The cold was getting in. Wetness. Soreness. You’d think your butt would hurt the most, but real talk, it’s the wrists you bust up. Even today (Monday) I’m still sore. I have to say that my roommates picked it up better than I did. I’m just glad nobody broke anything. Would I go again? Of course! How else do people get better other than getting back up?

To help with the pain, we took advantage of a LOVELY JPNese experience called onsen. Onsens are hot spring communal baths. Basically, you go and shower then enter into a hot hot bath with other people. It’s a way to relax and socialize here. They’re usually single-sex, but some co-ed ones exist if you like. The hot water was so relaxing it was just what we needed after throwing ourselves down a mountain. It was interesting to say the least. Americans are pretty modest people, no matter what we say. So to get naked and shower less than 3 feet from your friends and strangers is saying something. Then to go soak in what’s essentially a giant bathtub with them is even more outside of our comfort zones. I’ve been skinny dipping with my girls on spring break during college, but that was somehow different.

One gets over the nudity fairly quickly. I mean, it’s not like you’re the ONLY one nude in there. Plus it felt so good. The onsens we went to (we went to two different ones) were open air. Meaning as you sat in the hot waters with your towel piled upon your head, you had a view of the snowy mountainside and could even feel the snow falling. The occasional cool breeze was a welcome treat as the water became almost too hot to stand. Afterward, we all rinsed down again and headed out into the snowy air.

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Pre-gaming w/random JPN beer

Oh, right, there was the reggae party too. Near the inn was a little ski restaurant/bar called Snodeck. It was kind of expensive because they had a monopoly on the area. Since we decided to do most of our drinking at the inn, we headed over to the party kind of late and missed all of the live reggae bands they had playing. We got there for a DJ who was playing drum & bass at first then transitioned to reggae and then to dancehall. At that point, we proceeded to tear the party up, dancing with each other and a bunch of Austrailian pirates. Really. There was a busload of Aussie and English folks who showed up at the party dressed as pirates. Weird, but funny.

Overall, it was a great weekend. I tried something new in a new place. Traveled outside of the city and got to ride through JPN a bit. Met some fun new people and bonded more with the folks I go to school with.

Still, somebody send me some Percocet or something!

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Filed under friends, Party & Bullshit

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