After the New Year trip to Niigata, we decided (well, he decided, but I wasn't going to veto the idea) we should get our own gear. We'd already planned on going again in February, and if we took just a few more trips between now and the end of time, it would be more financially responsible to buy than rent.
Then we had to test our new gear, right? We clearly had not had enough of falling on our butts, so Husband and I went with one of his coworkers back to Niigata for a one-day snowboarding trip.
We left while it was still dark to catch one of the first trains heading into the city to get the shinkansen the rest of the way. At the station, I saw a type of pastry I hadn't thought existed before. The Sweet Dog. It's a fluffy pastry version of a hot dog bun with all kinds of goodness inside. Of course I had to try one, and I opted for a mango/custard/whipped cream edition (next to the chocolate on the right). Definitely worth trying, partly for taste and partly for sheer novelty.
Real breakfast was buttered shokupan toast. Can you see how thick this bread is? Trust me, it's awesome. Shokupan makes excellent toast.
When we bought our shinkansen tickets, we discovered that there were some bonuses - a free gift and a free lift ticket. Cool...want to know what our free gift was?
Single-serve bags of rice! Hey, it's something we can use. I can't find fault with that.
We took a cable car from the base lodge (train station, main gift shop, locker rooms, and equipment rental) up to the main ski/snowboard area. That early in the morning, the view was very impressive. Impressive to the "pictures don't do it justice" degree. Husband got some video, that does a slightly better job.
Something I didn't expect - the single most advertised product was Blue Seal ice cream. Go figure.
Of course I tried some. It was between this flavor (Shiiguasa Sherbet? It might be lime or something similar), ube (sweet potato?), and sugar cane.
The snowboarding experience was good (I think I had worked out harder than I thought the day before, my legs were not cooperating as much as I would have liked), the snow was fresh, and the slopes were uncrowded. I fell a few times, but nowhere near as much as the first trip. And I'm slightly more comfortable with the whole standing/not falling/marginal steering concepts, although I'm still not technically doing it right.
We had lunch in the main area of the building, where they have all the different food booths. You know, the food coat.
They had Japanese food, Korean food, and Western food. I only saw one item that didn't obviously contain beef, pork, or chicken, but that's all I wanted.
This is chijimi. According to what I could find on the interwebs from my phone, it's a Korean vegetable pancake (YUM!), although the name might be Japanese. I had no idea how to eat it, so I ended up doing my best to wrangle the hashi (chopsticks) to wrap the nori (seaweed strips) around the squares. I skipped the sauce because it looked like it was made with some kind of meat stock.
それは おいしかった です。It was delicious, and I found a blog of Japanese home cooking with a very easy-looking recipe. If my attempt is hilariously disastrous, I'll try to document it.
Husband had a more protein-oriented approach to lunch.
To each their own. It's a good thing we were in a food coat with lots of options.
Reason #8403 Japan is awesome: beer vending machines.
While waiting for the guys to make one final run, I perused the gift shop. They had snacks, gift boxes of candy, keychains, ski masks designed to look like Spiderman or someone in a diving suit wearing a snorkel, drinks, and wines. One in particular caught my eye.
Mmm, kiwi wine! It didn't taste overly kiwi-ish, more like a bottle of white with a touch more sweetness, but it was a fantastic light wine and I would certainly get it if I saw it again.
And you thought this was going to be about snowboarding. It was a snowboarding trip, I swear. It's just a lot easier to take pictures of foods and things when I'm sitting still instead of when I'm careening down a mountain at a barely controlled speed, surrounded by frozen water that would love to destroy my camera if given half a chance.