Tuesday 9 February 2010

"Make your mind as pure as the white snow"; Katsuyama Ski Jam, Fukui Prefecture

This trip was organised as a team bonding trip for the teachers of Tannan Senior High School.

These teachers are fantastic. Tannan is renowned for having the rougher of the students in Sasayama. However, these teachers are like a family. They stick together, and made me feel very welcome from day 1 of my employment at their school.

It was the 1st weekend of February. I was expecting to see my first real dumping of snow, but not in Sasayama. I stepped out my house to find the snowy adventures had already begun in my back yard.

I was picked up by Tsujino-sensei early Saturday morning, in his sweet van with Kansai Dialect speaking GPS system, and we headed off to Fukui Prefecture. A trip that was only supposed to take us 3 hrs, turned into 5 hrs, due to blizzard, and getting stuck behind the snowplow on a single lane expressway. 

Our fearless leader; Tsujino-Sensei

My first blizzard 

We arrived at the ski field early afternoon, proceeding straight to the slopes to get in a few hours. This day we  rented our gear from the Ski resort shop, so my skis were well worn, and I had to rent mens clothes. My travel companions were all advanced skiers so they all talked me through the first run, and gave me pointers, in between popping in and off piste for a little skiing fun. The snow continued to get heavier, and by the lifts closure at 5pm, we had a complete whiteout. Exhausted from the days travels we headed to our hotel and had a nice little staff dinner party.  

Sushi delight
Day 2 started with a buffet breakfast (included in our hotel package) and some very tired looking faces. We head out and found a small rental shop that had top notch gear and wear on offer for less than their beaten up counterparts at the Resort rental shop. I decided to be brave, and try my hand at the short skis... I soon found that this wasn't such a fantastic idea, as it meant learning all over again on very slippery skis. 

One of my favourite runs of the resort was the alpine run. This meandered through the the forest and was perfect for fun at my level. I was dragged up the hill by my teacher companions... and tried not to freak out as I poodled my way down the red runs. The very sporty Yamauchi-sensei conquered the mogul run on his 5th time of skiing. Ever. 

Tsujino-Sensei drops off-piste

Team Tannan

The Alpine run

Beyond that sheer drop, the mogul run

We also climbed to the summit and had a little play in the snow... 

Our snow E.T.

Snow Fight!!
Towards the end of the day exhaustion had set in, so I head off down the mountain via the green runs, while the rest of our group head to the top of the hill and made their way down in record time. We met at 5pm at the bottom of the hill, before returning our gear and heading back to Sasayama. This time, we made the trip in 3 hours :) 

Our hotel package included: 1 night accommodation, buffet breakfast and Katsuyama Ski Jam 1 day lift pass at 10,000 yen per person. http://www.katsuyama-newhotel.com/accommodation.html#ski

Katsuyama New Hotel is a nice little hotel, with mostly twin rooms, and a fold out couch for that 3rd person. The Japanese style bath is really nice, and very relaxing.

Of the few ski resorts I've been to in Japan, Ski Jam is probably my favourite. It has many varied runs, making it a great place for groups with different skill levels.

Thanks to the teachers of Tannan for inviting me along!