Izzy Lynch and Robin O’Neill are on assignment for next winter’s edition of KMC Magazine. We asked them to report from the field. Here is that report…Mr. Roboto.
Welcome to Japan.
Imagine yourself, one of the last two people left on a freezing cold bus ride, barrelling down and icy road in Northern Japan in the middle of the night. Delirium from crossing over too many timezones and days of travel has taken over. Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto is cycling through your head, again and again and again. The driver stops and nudges you out of your near hypothermic, half concious state and sends you out the door. Two men grab your things and cheerfully throw them into a van. In Japaniglish they tell you the owner of the guesthouse you are staying at had too much Sake and he sent them to fetch you from the bus. They are guests from Tokyo and keenly want to chat about your travels. Nothing is really making sense- you are exhausted, freezing and after too much green tea on the plane and a long drive you have the uncontrollable urge to pee.
Unloading your stuff the snowbanks tower overhead and the Japanglish men say something about “many powder snowflakes in sky tonight”. Stumbling into the guest house the smell of soy sauce and cigarette smoke waft through the air. You need a washroom and something to help thaw your frozen toes. Stat. Now, imagine this: The comforting sensation of warm plastic as it meets your icy cold cheeks. Pure relief. What could be a warmer welcome after hours of bladder bursting travel than a heated toilet seat? You stand up to flush and it does automatically for you. “Domo Arigato Mr. Toileto” you hear yourself say. Okay, maybe it’s time to get some sleep.
There are many understated things about Japan. The heated toilet seats that prevail in every washroom in Hokkaido are just one of them. Deep, Dry Powder, perfectly spaced trees are what brings us here- but what makes you really fall in love with international travel and visiting a new country? It’s the things you never real know about until you actually visit. The people, the cultural subtleties, the curious quirks that make a place unique and make the sleepless nights and cold bus rides worth all the fuss.
We live in a pretty special place in the interior of BC. Undoubtedly some of the most amazing mountains, skiing and snowfall on earth. Great people too. But do we have vending machines that sell cold beer and hot sake? No. Ski in, Ski out Onsens pretty much everywhere we look? Nay. Does the waiter run down the street after you with money when you try to leave him a tip? Nope. Can you ski into Volcano craters, over avy barriers and find untracked powder fields just off the resort? Not a chance!
Whistler based photographer-Robin O’Neill and I arrived in Japan five days ago and so far we’ve had it pretty good. All the usual and expected Japanese deliverables, blower pow, fun tree skiing, sushi, great hosts- even some unexpected sunny touring days in the alpine. But what is getting us really excited is finding out what makes the mountain people here tick. So far the people we’ve met are interesting, experienced, knowledgeable and a pretty happy and carefree bunch. Who knows, maybe it has something to do with knowing that at the end of a cold winters day, at the very least you can always count on going home and having some hot sake and a nice warm bum.
Stay tuned for more on our adventures in Japan. #noodlesandpow