Ski Weekend in Naeba – 2015 edition

This weekend’s ski trip went pretty damn similar to the last time I went skiing in Naeba. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The (unexpectedly) clear and sunny skies on our first day there made me wish I had not left my phone in the car. But since I did, you’ll have to take my word for it: the views from up there were breathtaking (and the skiing equally awesome).

Just like last time, weather went from great on Saturday, to increasingly windy and snowy on Sunday. Of course, frequent snow weather is a bit of a requirement for a successful ski resort. Unfortunately, in Naeba, it also means that all gondolas and a varying number of lifts stay closed: a lot fewer reachable pistes, a lot more queueing to get up there.

Nonetheless, both days of skiing were still absolutely brilliant: reasonably low amount of queuing at the lifts, overall decent snow and a few blissfully empty pistes (alongside some very crowded ones).

Judging by the pitiful state of my calves by day 2 (not to mention day 3, aka ouch-today), my body clearly does not think one ski trip every other year makes for a proper amount of preparation. That or I need to skip leg day less often.

Completely by chance, this year’s trip fell on yet another installment of Fuji Rock-affiliated “WeSky a GoGo” Winter music event. Their “event” package, including a weekend lift pass, sold for less than the pass itself, making it a no-brainer purchase, with everything else (DJ party entrance, onsen and a couple other things) as a free bonus.

By the time we were done with the skiing, the dining, the dipping and the drinking in our room at the lodge, we were just on time to catch about an hour of the DJ party itself (set to finish at the ski-weekend-appropriate time of 11pm). Which turned out to be just as well, since Takkyu Ishino was closing, playing his usual  brand of crowd-friendly, if a bit beat-heavy, electro/techno. Had not heard him DJ since my Kyoto uni days at least 5 years ago (excluding his special appearance at Taico Club with Denki Groove two years ago) and found myself enjoying his set way more than I’d have expected1Music quality was definitely not the highlight of the previous Naeba ski/party weekend..

His hour-long set worked up a surprisingly thorough overview of 30 years of dance music tracks, from Technotronic‘s 1990s cheesy club hit to New Order’s Blue Monday‘s seminal bass line, with even some authentic Yellow Magic Orchestra in the middle… Closing the night with a stretch of highly danceable latin house beats and wrangling just enough encore time out of the organising staff for a few minutes of some weird and awesome country-music-tinged house track I had never heard before. Basically just the kind of weird eclectic electro sets I love.

After a second (and indeed slightly painful) day of skiing, few things beat soaking in hot water under the falling snow at a lakeside rotenburō.

The usual weekend highway gridlock (for a good hour, both there and back) made me wonder if driving was worth the hassle and reminded me why I vastly prefer getting around by train/bicycle/walking (and love Japan so much for providing the opportunity to do so). On the flip side, reaching ski resorts like Naeba by train/bus is neither particularly cheap or pleasant, and dramatically reduces options for rural onsen touring. Life and its hard decisions…

Filed under: Japan, Pictures