When you hop off the plane you know you're somewhere special. When you explore the new and old cities you get treated to a sensory feast that bombards you from every angle. When you get rural and meet the locals, you enter a world of tradition and hospitality. Then there's the snow... you're not dreaming, this is Japan.
It is a mystic, ancient land. You can't help but feel that it is somehow enchanted in some way.
When it snows, it really snows. The Blackbird Bespoke Ski team were fortunate enough to spend 10 days in February at Hakuba, where is snowed every day except for one half day of bluebird sunshine, that lasted until 3pm and then it started snowing again. Each morning we cleared 20 to 30cm of fresh, light, dry snow off our car. Some afternoons we got back to the car after skiing all day, and had to clear similar amounts off it again. It sent us into a giddy state of disbelief.
So we imbibed in all the fresh snow we could. Trees, open alpine areas, bowls, chutes, pillows, more trees, super highways of piste... we gorged ourselves. Needless to say, each day we finished totally spent and headed straight for the Onsen to sooth weary muscles. If you haven't experienced an Onsen in Japan yet, I strongly recommend you try it. Leave your inhibitions at the door and get traditional. Your muscles will thank you! Just be sure to brush up on your 'Onsen etiquette' before you go. YouTube has some good guides for this.
There's plenty more to come so stay tuned for more posts about our Hakuba odyssey, with tips on dining, accommodation, trains, handmade ski reviews and a black cat!
Cheers - T
P.S. - Yep, that's me trying to play it cool for the camera just after we arrived... only moments before I was making snow angels in the drifts. You just can't help yourself with this much fresh snow.