This last February ET and I took another trip to Japan, our previous one having been “only” in September 2010. ( see Kyoto; Kobe; Hakone and Tokyo from 2010). This time the focus was skiing with JK, and Tokyo!
That evening we tracked down the bus, just west of shinjuku, for our first ski trip and joined JK to Nagano! One thing that made his easy was by joining the Tokyo Gaijins, a travel event company which organized this and our other ski trip. Tokyo Gaijins is partially made up of expat professionals living in Tokyo. Rick, the owner, operator made it easy to join the trip, even for us in Canada. It was a pleasant bus trip – not as fast a the bullet train / Hokuriku Shinkansen trip you can do to Nagano (90 minute trip in the morning for a day of skiing, and return that evening!!) – but fun meeting people before residual jet lag claimed us. We were staying at Hotel Shinya in the village of Hakuba, was Japanese style : tatami mats and onsen.
A brief trip to the Hakuba 47 ski hill in the morning and the fun begin! Sadly the weather sucked : rainy on Saturday and icy the next day. But despite that – including my hardest fall in a decade and 2 slams 1) me into snow wall and 2) a skier into me – we had fun. A big part of that was people like JK, Suma, Chris M, Angelina P, Jeff D, Joshua , Madi, and Shane the snowboarding god.
Thanks to Jeff D, I figured out how to get mobile data for my Nexus 7, via a B-Mobile micro sim, which was ~$30 for one month of 1 Gig of data, but you had to call from a Japanese phone number (JK had one of those!). For travellers to Japan, I believe you can pre-order a card and pick it up at one of Narato airport’s two post offices on arrival. (I picked up my at the Yodobashi-Akiba store) Being able to use the exocortex that is the internet while traveling around Tokyo made things so much easier. – but I still had paper back ups! 🙂
But I think we may have over done it, just a bit. Even the Beef whisperer had too much.
Friday in was Ski Time, again! This time flying from Haneda Airport to Japan’s northern island Hokkaido, and Sapporo before going on to Niseko. Sapporo was doing it annual Winter Festival which meant lots of ice sculptures and food vendors.
We learned Odon noodle making that night (lots of fun) at the Buddha Bellies Cooking School.
Lots of fun and If I can be taught, anyone can!
There was a nice small museum on site that gave lots of back ground, and had videos in english if you ask.
We also did trip to the Tokyo Teleport Station on the man-made island of Odaiba, visiting the Gundam Front Tokyo, a “Gundam Theme Park” and see the Gundum suit in front; and then National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) which has lost of fun stuff. There are also a large number of other attractions and shopping centres nearby.
Maybe next time we will make it to the Ghibli Museum, even though we did see the wonderful Inokashira Park in Mitaka, a western suburb of Tokyo, were it is.
Update: Boing Boing reports that Tickets from the Studio Ghibli museum are made from snips of film. Oh Man! I’m really regretting not getting my act together on the first day. You really need to reserve your spot a week (or more) in advance. You can get tickets at Loppi machines at Lawson convenience stores, even thought the ui sucks.
There are more Photo’s from this trip in the Set : Tokyo 2013, until the next time I get back. Soon, please let it be soon.
You can also enjoy this video Suma put together, with soundtrack!!