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Australia day on the slopes of Hokkaido

Biei, Japan


After a slightly difficult trip from Asahikawa airport to my accommodation in Furano on the night on the 25th, I spent a wonderful week snowboarding. Actually spent most of Australia day sleeping off my jet-lag before hitting the slopes and trying to teach myself to snowboard. Clearly this was never going to work so the next day I enlisted the help of a very patient instructor who, despite not speaking English, set me on my way. That said, getting off the chair lifts, achieving any sort of speed, turning and stopping were still out of my reach after the first couple of days.
It wasn't until that same instructor (now off-duty) stumbled across me mid-slope and volunteered another couple of hours of his time to get me further up to speed in exchange for some English pointers between runs. I think this was a breakthrough moment - started to actually snowboard without being a complete embarrassment. Don't get me wrong, there was still some massive stacks, but by the end of the week I did make a couple a fall-free runs including some night snowboarding. Unfortunately, I never quite made it off the green slopes.

On my last day in Furano I got the opportunity to take a ride in Japan's biggest hot-air balloon as part of an annual hot-air ballooning competition. I was the only non-local and was very lucky to get the chance to participate. Afterwards, I was invited to a celebratory lunch of traditional 'cook-at-the-table' Japanese food. Despite nearly get stuck in snow up to my waist and being very cold this was an awesome day with some very kind people.

To sum up my week in Furano - one very sore bum, more snow than I've ever seen and a ride in Japan's biggest hot air balloon! Highlights were definitely the outside onsens, smoked salmon jerky and the very accommodating Hokkaido hot-air ballooning community.


permalink written by  Caro (suffering an incurable case of wanderlust) on January 26, 2008 from Biei, Japan
from the travel blog: Caro's Travel Blog
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