Thursday, March 13, 2008

Photobucket Snowboarding

Snowboarding is extremely popular in Japan. On Monday I decided to go snowboarding for the first time in a place called Gala Yuzawa, which is conveniently only an hour and a half north of Tokyo by Shinkansen.

You can see Snowboard Steve

It's a really nice resort, with a good range of courses for various levels and the snow is good too. A return ticket from Tokyo is about 12,000 yen, the ski pass is 4500 yen for the day and rental for the full snowboarding kit is 5000 yen.

You can also get a group lesson that is 3000 yen for two hours, although I decided not to.

You're probably asking yourself, 'Why didn't Steve get a snowboarding lesson? It's his first time and it would be very dangerous not to.' Well the reason is because I laugh in the face of danger. Fear isn't in my vocabulary.

After getting to the top the beginners slope I immediately fell over when getting off the ski lift. Little did I know that this would set the precedent for the rest of the day.

Anyway I decided to set off down the slope on my maiden voyage. To my surprise I had started remarkably well. I was managing to keep my balance. I was gradually picking up speed, perhaps a little too much speed for a snowboard virgin such as myself. Then I suddenly realised that I couldn't actually steer very well and I didn't know how to stop the thing. Unfortunately I was heading towards the edge of the slope and the huge abyss below (alright it was only a few metres). It was a bit like Roger Moore at the Beginning of 'The Spy Who Loved Me', but without the KGB assasins chasing me.

As I'd unfortunately forgotten my Union Jack parachute, I realised that falling over was probably the best option. So I just collapsed to the floor. I somersaulted about three times and created a huge spray of snow. As I lay on the ground with my bruised body and an even more bruised ego I realised that maybe I should have got lessons. Perhaps next time.

As I got up I saw a small child, no older than five years casually skiing down the slope, just to rub it in a bit more.

From what I could tell the people who are good at snowboarding make a sort of zig zag pattern down the slope and then stop at the bottom and then go straight up again. In contrast I sort of take a straight line down the slope, ending up in a big heap, with arms and legs flailing around at the bottom.

The biggest miracle of the day was that I didn't manage to break anything.

The second biggest miracle of the day was that I only managed to collide into one person (who I fortunately didn't manage to see again).

I had a great time, but my whole body is still aching. Next time, getting some lessons would probably be a good idea.

You can see all of the pictures

The website for Gala is