Nagano - Gem of the Japanese Alps

Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
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27
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Trip End Mar 28, 2010


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Flag of Japan  , Chubu,
Friday, February 12, 2010

Historically known for previously hosting the Winter Olympic Games, Nagano wasn't a hard choice to select for skiing... well, actually snowboarding.

Since middle school, I had been a skier.  I thought it was classy and easier to learn.  But then I picked up a surfboard, tried wakeboarding, and got into skating.  So, I thought it was time to complete the board sport family.

I decided to take the snowboarding lessons because my last attempt at teaching myself went painfully bad.  Symptoms included whiplash and bruises on all key joints, which made me think that it wasn't worth the trouble.  However, this time, I believe it would be better.  I mean, considering my board experience, the outlook seemed much brighter.

In our class of four, we had an Aussie teacher and was one of those extreme yet chill types.  He taught us the basics from how the board's bindings should be set (at 12 degrees out for beginners) to eventually, how to turn and get down the slopes.  By the end of the weekend, I was comfortable with the blue paths.  And for me, that was a great accomplishment.  Need I mention that it was 99% less painful than the time before?

Another thing that I had never tried before was onsen or Japanese hot springs.  The catch?  You had to naked.  This made it a potentially awkward or unpleasant experience, although, in reality was really relaxing.  Don't worry... they separate the men's and women's sides.
  
Learning snowboarding and trying the onsen was one half of what made it memorable.  The other was the scenery.  It did remind me of Switzerland with the altitude but the mountains were less inclined and had more trees.  We spent the very end of the snowboarding lesson going up to the expert hill and taking in the view.  Then took humbly but wisely took the gondola back down. ;-)
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