The last few days E@L has been seen moving slowly down the powdery and spooky quiet slopes of Shiga-Kogan's perfect fields, afraid to push himself out of his comfort zone (and a big zone it is to be sure) and too diplomatic to show off in front of guys not so experienced in this facet of the over-burdened (with money) expatriate lifestyle.
In other words, those three sessions at the gym and that week without solid carbohydrates were insufficient pre-season training after all. Who woulda thunk? Keeping up with the beginners was tough enough, powering down the black slopes, forget about it.
We hiked along the snow trails deep into the forest where no sensible person had ever been without a flask of sake in his pocket, until our arrival at a Tolkien-like scene of an ancient, many gabled wooden fortress that clutched to the rocks in a river-cut canyon, thick snow perched like merino hats on each of the roofs. The river cascaded and bounced across the rocks, and round a bend, a host of small gray monkeys bounced and scrambled through the snow..
Yes the famous snow monkeys. We were so fortunate, as it was snowing while we were there. Indeed they did have ice on their heads and on their fur as they sat in the recently redesigned pool natural hot springs. And completely ignored us. Got some great photos, will post a few on here or Flickr or on Facebook or I'll Tweet them or I'll send you a postcard
The Mama-san at our hotel in the village was a former snow-bunny of Olympic qualities (impressive poster on the wall behind where she stands in her kimono at my table in the lounge), but she lost her charming smile for just a second when E@L happened to ask if they were busy. As it was a weekend in the height of an amazing season the silence in the near-empty place was eerie. How could she be making money, E@L thought.
"Skiing was once very popular in Japan, but now not so much. It was very fashion. But fashion change des ka?"
There's a lesson for all of Japan I guess.
nts. never write a blog post on the phone again.
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