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.
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.
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.