Pictures from Hakuba

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Taking off at midnight, we arrived in time to soak in the rotemburo in Ecoland onsen and watch the sun rise.
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So much powder, but it’s off limits! Sometimes rules are made to be broken. Riding on fresh powder doesn’t even feel like the same sport.
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The lights at Miasa Onsen evoke the natural beauty of hemp.
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Stinkbugs are funny. Some people start acting like cartoon characters when they come across one of these. In Japan, I always find the reactions of the students and teachers to insects trapped in the classroom, whether it be a huge butterfly, an angry bee, or a stinkbug, utterly amusing. Who would think that something so small and harmless could be so captivating and capable of such distractive powers?

My Kempers

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These boots have been with me on many an adventure, traveling along to the various resorts I’ve visited over 10 years. Mika gave them to me, along with a badass Nitro 162 “lizard” longboard, as a birthday present in 1995 when I was a sophmore in high school.
At first, I had to wear two to three pairs of thick, woolen socks because they were a little too big for my then still-growing feet. Now they conform to my feet as if they were crafted from precisely crafted neoprene. They’ve been used so hard that the rubber is starting to separate from the aincent leather, and the heel backing has worn down to just a millimeter thick. Everytime I use the boots, the binding presses on a sensitive pressure point on my right foot, but it becomes less painful over time.
I had the pleasure to hang out and ride along with a cousin of a friend, who just so happened to be one of the top 10 boarders in Japan (a real kicked back guy named Takeshi), and he gave me some good pointers. As we were discussing the nuances of old and new equipment, he remarked that Kemper had gone bust and that he wanted a pair of boots like mine. The boots they have nowadays are much easier to rachet tight, take less time to get on and off, and are prettier. Despite this, there’s something special about durable equipment of any kind that has been lovingly taken care of and well used by its owner. What an awesome pair of boots, these Kempers of mine.

Chopsticks Epiphany

A common gripe among foreiners living in Japan is that Japanese people frequently say something along the lines of “Wow, you’re pretty good at using chopsticks”. While it can be annoying to hear the same thing over and over again, and even if these words are sometimes ring as a canned compliment, sometimes the words are just a simple observation spoken out loud.
The way that I was taught (with tiny training chopsticks when I was 5 years old) was to grasp both chopsticks between the middle and index fingers as one would hold a pencil, with the tip of the index and the knuckle of the middle finger manipulating movement. What people don’t understand is that not all Japanese ever learned how to use chopsticks properly.
It’s not as obvious because you don’t see them yielding them in two hands like a pair of daggers, and they tend not to spear their food. Sometimes you can see younger people holding a pair like a pre-schooler first learns to grasp a crayon. They make it work, but all the same they do not qualify as being “good at using chopsticks”.
I think that this widely spoken observation also stems from difficulties encountered by some Japanese while using western silverware. I can’t express how confused I was when I first heard a long-time Japanese friend look me straight in the eye and said “Wow, you’re good at using the knife and fork, huh?” with a straight expression on her face.

Lull

Sorry that the posts have been sparse lately. I am currently searching for suitable living accomodations in Osaka. The most interesting place so far was an apartment in Nippombashi where everyone in the building shared a shower on the roof, the floor felt as if it were about to give out from under me, and I would have gotten a “discount” because the Korean video store next door was “kind of loud at night”.
When I get my own place worked out, I will be writing on a regular basis again. In the meantime, I’ll try and find an apartment that comes with a shower.

A Busy Start

I’m just back from a trip to Nagano with memories of zipping through powder, off to meet a request by my new employer who unexpectedly asked me to immediately start work today. I will post new entries when I can, but I don’t expect to be able to regularly add new entries until I get an internet connection in my as of yet unseen apartment. Wish me luck, as I embark on my new job. I have so much stuff I want to post and so little time.