At last I have come true to my word and I am off to Japan next year to go skiing. Only, in true goddess style, I'm not taking the easy option and booking a week or so at Niseko or Hakuba and hanging with the crowds. To be truthful, despite what I've heard about the great snow, Niseko fills me with the same sort of dread that I feel when I hear the words Queenstown, or Bali, or Phuket. The thought of going to Japan and being bombarded by badly behaving Westerners at a ski resort is so not me, especially as I actually have an insight into the depth of Japanese culture and would rather experience that as well.
When I told my mum I was going to Japan, her response was "About time!" Not because I'd been banging on about Japow and wanting to go, but because I studied the Japanese language for 6 years at high school, and even had planned to do my clinical elective at medical school in Japan (until things went awry....). I've had Japanese pen pals and exchange students stay with me, and these days I also have quite a few Japanese friends from my winters in Wanaka (that's in NZ folks!) so I'm acutely aware that there is a very strong Japanese culture that is still very alive and strong, and I'd love to experience some of it.
When I first started going to NZ on ski trips back in the late 90s, I went on a couple of group tours, where we travelled around to a number of different ski resorts and tried them out. It was those trips that made me decide where to go when the ski goddess was resurrected in 2009, and made Treble Cone my second home. Now it's my turn to give Japan the same treatment.
With the wonderful benefits of internet and google I managed to find just exactly what I was looking for. An 18 day tour through both Honshu and Hokkaido, visiting many different ski fields, and hunting powder all the way. Avoiding crowded ski fields where the fresh stuff gets carved up far too quickly, and also experiencing some of the culture, like staying in traditional Japanese ryokans, and soaking in onsens each evening, going to see the Snow Monkeys and the Sapporo Ice Festival, travelling by shinkansen...
I can't wait! But first the ski goddess has to get back into trim, because skiing powder requires a level of core fitness that I'm currently lacking. Although I have wide skis, if I'm going to enjoy myself on them, my fitness needs to be spot on, and right now I'm a little flabby.
So the ski goddess challenge begins!