I decided to spend a weekend relaxing. In my sense this means going to the countryside, maybe doing a few hours of something and then just being lazy for the rest. That was exactly the plan. I went with the vague idea that maybe I’d climb Mt Myoko, but though I had the gear for it, it did not happen. What instead happened was, in a short summary, a really nice long weekend.

Lake Nojiri

I arrived at Kurohime pretty early, but that was kinda intentional. I vaguely intended to walk all the way around lake Nojiri, but I gave up on that idea once I realized it’d probably take like 15 hours in the kind of snow there. So I just walked in the snowed forest for a few hours. The map had some interesting-looking spots marked, but all trails and most landmarks were buried under the snow, so finding the right place wasn’t easy. The views were still spectacular though in the morning sun.

I then decided to have lunch and also check in. I was staying at a place called LAMP, and I think I got really lucky and had their most gorgeous room all to myself for a whole day (sadly I had to change rooms for the second day). The food is really nice and they have some rare craft spirits too if you’re not driving.

The main event of the second day was cross-country skiing on the Togakushi highland. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by mountains (the namesake Mt Togakushi is famous for its steep rocky trails), but this time of the year it’s mostly about the snow. Lots of snow. LAMP offers cross-country skiing (and snowshoeing) tours there. Cross-country skiing is one of the things I want to learn (for Mt Vinson and the last degree), so this was a really nice experience. It wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought, but it was more challenging in ways I didn’t expect (skis flipping sideways almost making me crash).

Togakushi shrine, Zuijinmon

The rest of the day was once again just lying in my room reading (and reading) (and reading some more). When I’d get bored of reading, I’d go for a walk in town or have a snack in the bar. But mostly reading (and reading) (and reading some more).

On the third day, once I checked out, I took on LAMP’s offer of a free shuttle to nearby ski grounds, and spent the rest of the day at Akakura. It’s a really nice area that has both long straight runs and curvy forest roads. I finally got a hang of control and could curve down slopes and along the roads, but too much speed down steeper areas still feels really scary. I hope to work on that too so I could eventually snowboard down the Hidasawa side of Mt Yari. I felt that fresh powder slowed me down, making it more controllable. Oh and there was plenty of fresh powder! The whole area had five times the usual dumped…

Lord of the boards

But I left out one of the unexpected victories of this trip, The Sauna from the title. I’ve been to a few sauna before in various spa-like establishments, but this was a whole different experience. First of all, the staff made sure you knew how to actually enjoy it. How long you should stay at once, how to cool down afterwards, and so on. It was a really nice experience (even though I’m not a huge sauna fan) and I hope to be back for seconds sometime. Being able to dive straight into meter-deep snow right from the sauna was a fantastic experience too.