Sunday, January 11, 2009


We were happy to break up our holiday with 4 nights away in Hakuba. We decided not to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) and get there quicker as it required a change along the way. And as I always say here in Japan the fewer changes the better. So, we took the 'limited express' train. The train is such a nice way to travel. It was a simple taxi ride to the train station, two taxis because taxis are smaller here, and we can't all fit into one with our American baggage. Westerners, maybe just Americans, always have not only larger bags, but many more than the Japanese. It's just another way we stand out. We had seat reservations and we were supposed to stand in a certain spot in line waiting for our particular car. It's the rule. Problem was that there were many signs with many numbers, but it wasnt clear which train/line belonged to which number. Jack darted all over and we eventually figured it out, a little stressful.

So, we get on the train, equipped with a woman coming down the isle with her food and drink cart every so often; Kate wanted the beef jerky - until she learned that it was beef tongue. I am glad the woman spoke a little English. Four hours later we arrived in Hakuba. The property manager (Australian guy) from our hotel picked us up at the station, sent our bags ahead to the Alpine Chalets, and took us to rent our skis and equipment, including a coat for me. I realized on the train that I left my new ski coat at home - a Christmas gift from Jack. And of course Jack tells me later, "You know Brigitte, renting this coat cost more than what I payed for yours."
So then Kevin, our guy, takes us to a place where we can eat and then shop for some basics to have back at our place. Nice service.

As most ski vacations go, they all probably don't differ that much. I do love that we can say that our kids not only learned to ski in Japan, but on Happo One, the slopes from the 98 Nagano Olympics. But, as with most Malone vacations someone got sick - Connor. He came down with a pretty good fever after our first full day and was out of commission for the remainder of the trip. After being stuck in our simple, tiny quarters with him for one day, downloading many itunes videos, we brought him to the hill and traded off hanging out with him in the lodge.

The lift passes were a new thing for us. Maybe it's not new to everyone else as we haven't been skiing since Kate was 4 months old. But here they give you this square plastic computer chip thing that the regulars put in a little pocket protector and strap it to their arm. Then you wave it at the lift entrace it lets you through. The beauty of this for us was that while Connor was sick, we just passed the chip back and forth. Always trying to save a buck - or some Yen. Speaking of Yen, MUCH cheaper here. That was nice.

I did find the town of Hakuba feeling more like a European town in terms of the buildings, inns and hotels. We really enjoyed getting out of the city, walking the quiet snow filled streets at night. We are hoping to go skiing again. We learned of a place that is less than an hour on the train and it takes you literally to the resort, an easy day trip. Well, maybe not with our family, but still a day trip.

The kids before their first ski lesson. They are in front of the Alpine Chalets

Me and my rental.

The only day Connor was out.

Nicholas was great out there - really enjoyed himself. Phew.

Except when he fell down and had a tantrum and then unsuccessfully tried to put his skis back on while vertical to the hill despite what I was hollering at him from further down...

I read that if we were there at Christmas we may have seen Santa and a Sumo wrestler on the mountain as well.

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