Man, time flies! This year was my 5th season at Myokokogen.
While there were a couple rest days, Ms Gu and I got on the hill for a least a few hours a day — enough for some laps to work on technique or spending some time in the trees. Besides skiing, we helped out at Hotel Moc by driving guests or helping with anything in English.
Gu’s snowboarding got much better this year. Last year was her first time on black runs and, by the end, she was starting with some off-piste powder. This year she got verifiably hooked on powder thanks to an epic day at Arai.
Each season I try to check-out at least one new resort. This year we went to the newly-opened Lotte Arai resort. The Lotte group (a huge Korean company) bought the Arai resort, which had been closed since 2006, renovated it, and re-opened it for 2017/18 season. The resort is on Mount Okenashi (大毛無山) which literally means big no fur mountain, named as such because it lacks trees on top. The semi-alpine area was a nice change from Myoko which is all below the tree line, and they have several avalanche-controlled areas for powder skiing. It’s Japow heaven.
Gu and I had an epic day at Arai. Firstly, it was a powder day. Secondly, the resort was basically empty — maybe 30 guests. We had a full day of the holy trinity: fresh, steep & deep. If anyone is looking for a week of powder skiing, I’d zip over to Arai while it’s still a ghost town (there’s a shuttle from Myoko as well).
Other than that, we played Japanese Mahjong with the other staff at Hotel Moc, went to a fancy French restaurant in the middle of nowhere in Joetsu, had a date night in Nagano at an Italian bar, had tasty tempura with Pon & Yuuka, received ski-lessons from an old ski expert (Takayasu) who stressed the importance of one’s pinky toe, became friends with Sami, one of the University students working at the hotel during winter break who also volunteers as a Kyoto greeter, and got Gu into the backcountry for the first time.