I’ve never snowboarded before. In fact I wasn’t even planning to go to Hakuba. I was planning to go to snowboarding in Madarao in February with a colleague from Melbourne, but that didn’t quite work out, mainly because it meant I would have to travel for a month and then double back to the Northern end of Honshu (Japans main island) so it was going to be a bit inconvenient, and a little more expensive than Hakuba. For these reasons I made a last minute decision to go to Hakuba for 6 nights from the 13th January.
There was only a handful of us that got the bus from Shinjuku Station. It took about 6 hours to get to Hakuba (Happo Area). I had booked ‘The Lab’ Hostel, which I’d heard had a fairly lively atmosphere, and this turned out to be true. Like Happo overall, it was about 95% Australians staying there, and the beers (and Chu-Hai) were reasonably priced with happy hour from 4pm to 6pm. I had to rent all my gear (and buy some), and also booked a half day lesson as I didn’t have a clue how to snowboard. The lesson definitely helped, and I picked up the basics pretty quickly, It was similar enough to surfing.
I managed to have myself turning from heelside to toeside on an intermediate slope by about 2pm on day one, which I was stoked with, even though I was falling over a lot, and making some pretty wide arcs.Over the following few days I managed to tighten up the turns a bit and almost start fish-tailing down the slopes. The ‘cat tracks’ on Happo I realy enjoyed trying to do some small jumps off the banks, practice tight changes from toeside to heelside and doing the hairpin bends at a bit of speed.
In total I spent 3 days snowboarding at Happo and one at Hakuba 47 (better known as a sports park for jumps, rails, etc). The last day I was keen to go back to Happo but the mountain was closed so I had a quiet day. Most of my nights in Hakuba were quiet as well, The first night I had a semi-big night and it took its toll the next day, so I backed off a bit to focus on the snowboarding. I never felt like I got good enough to take the Sony Cam out on the slopes or the cat-tracks, but me and a couple of guys from the hostel (Tom and Jason) did take a few shots of some tiny jumps at 47.