K Takes A Powder

(snow that is), while Pandabonium tends the home hearth - "baby it's cold outside".

K's Jr. High is taking 160 students on a trip to the Urabandai ski resort area next month. (160 junior high school students on a three day outing? - the mind boggles) and K had the opportunity to be part of a team of eight teachers who went up there on a two day trip to check out the facilities ahead of time and get in a little skiing. Tough job, but someone's got to do it. (She's going to "miss out" on the next trip when the 160 students are along).

I wasn't too disappointed at being left behind as I don't ski and my interest in being in snow lasts about as long as it takes to build a snowman and have a snow ball fight - then it's time to enjoy a warm beverage by the fire and wait for spring. K hadn't been skiing in ages and we don't get but one or two days a year when it snows here in Kashima, so she was excited about going.

For this trip, the teachers got there by van - a six hour drive - did some skiing, spent the night, did a little more skiing and came back. They were treated very well - the resort not only wanted to make a good impression, they were fearful of a cancellation since many school outings have been canceled over the last year due to the H1N1 flu. K reports that the food was very good with lots of Japanese and Western options served buffet style.

The area is on the back side of Mt. Bandai, which at 1819 meters (5968 ft) towers over Lake Inawashiro, elevation 514 meters (1686 ft). Urabandai's lakes were created by the last eruption of Mt. Bandai, which was in 1888.

The area lies in the center of Fukuoka prefecture, a few hundred kilometers to our north. I visited there once back in April of 1987 and would love to go again - in a warmer time of year - as it quite beautiful and the local castle town, Aizu Wakamatsu, has an interesting history as one of the last holdouts against accepting Meiji Imperial rule. It ended for the Aizu clan during the Boshin wars at the battle of Aizu in 1868 where the 5,000 man Aizu army defended the castle for a month against the 15,000 men of the imperial forces (à la "The Last Shogun") before being forced to surrender.

Mt. Bandai and Lake Inawashiro - April 1987

Inawashiro is much larger than our Hinuma lake with an area of about 103 km² compared to Hinuma's 22 km². The waters are very clear as it is a snow fed crater lake, and reminds me of Lake Tahoe in California. I'd love to go sailing there sometime, as this blogger did a few years ago with the Koriyama Yacht Club.

Are we there yet?

K found out a few things the first day on the slopes - such as that she had forgotten a lot about skiing, but remembered how to fall down. The second day she learned that eye glasses fog over when you're skiing, even if you're wearing goggles and using fog repellent, and that they ice up when you take the goggles off, making for instrument navigation conditions either way - without instruments. And of course, she was reminded that gravity still works very well for skiers, both for powering their runs and hastening their falls. Nothing broken, just some sore muscles.

So, happily for me, K isn't going to try to convince me to take up skiing. We would both like to take trip up to Aizu Wakamatsu together and enjoy the scenery around lake Inawashiro sometime and perhaps sail its waters.

Yesterday, the west coast of Hoshu and even the south end of Kyushu were hit by heavy winds and snow storms. Here on the leeward side, it was very windy and cold - lots of ice on the puddles this morning. Momo is really enjoying the luxury of sleeping in the house.


Don Snabulus said...

Even when I was younger and fitter, my awful balance/motion coordination was a bad match with skiing. It is fun to watch other people do it. ;)

It looks like a good adventure! Way to go, K! Hopefully Momo doesn't get too spoiled.

Arkonbey said...


I'll stick to sledding as chairlifts scare me :)

I love that first shot; twisty trees are awesome.

K and S said...

that is a lot of snow! I remember my first experience skiing in Happone, not a very good one...

Pandabonium said...

Don - Same here. I particularly like watching Winter Olympics.

Arkonbey - one thing K liked this trip was that she could use the tram rather than a chair lift. The trees were in front of K's room. I like those shots too.

K and S - Happone must have been beautiful anyway.

I've never tried skiing. Used to ice skate as a kid, but was never very good at it.

K and S said...

I guess if you consider sliding down the hill on your butt skiing then I did :0 Never wanted to do it again, but did in Lake Tahoe and had a better experience there actually skiied on my feet not my but :)

HappySurfer said...

Ah, snow. We sure could do with some here. It's hot and humid here but no winds yet as often the case closer to the Lunar New Year.

Beautiful shots of the snow.

Hello Momo!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Lovely pictures. I've only been to snow places three times in my life and can you visualise Peceli learning to ski in one day? A Fijian really out of his element. It was fun though.

nzm said...

Those are wonderful images of the snow falling and the trees. I'm guessing that the camera flash froze the snow falling and there was enough ambient light to see the trees. Very awesome!

Milk it, Momo!

Pandabonium said...

Kat - pictures of that on your blog please! ;^)

Happy Surfer - a snowball's chance in Kuala Lumpur as the saying goes. Momo sez woof and wags her tail.

Wendy - it's hard to visualize Peceli on skis - and learning in one day at that. That's great.

NZM - K did a good job with the pics I think. Momo is milking it all right. She asks to come inside even during the day if it is too windy.

Lrong said...

Nice pics, my friend... tried skiing many years ago... till blood oozed out from the nose... thank god I am not living in snow country...