Thanksgiving in Karuizawa

Thanksgiving and time to get out of Tokyo. According to Offspring #1, snowboarding season started on November 15th- we were late for the slopes. Nagano, home to the Winter Olympics, is a short 2 hour bullet train ride away. Preparations began.

Last  year, in a fit of budgetary brilliance, I bought Offspring #1 a new snowboard at the end of the season at a discounted price. I have patted myself on the back ever since. Being a Mensa candidate, I elected not to buy boots and bindings anticipating that foot growth would occur potentially at an unpredictable rate. This turned out to be true as Offspring #1 had a foot growth spurt of 4 sizes. What I did not anticipate was that his Sasquatch feet would grow off the board rendering his new snowboard useless.

In a further twist of fetid fate, Offspring #2 grew 4 inches and her new snowboard from last year was now too short. Luckily for me and unfortunately for her, Offspring #1’s snowboard just barely fit her. She is now sporting a bloody Jaws snowboard.

While the rest of the Clampetts snowboard, Spouse follows a completely different yet equally rigorous routine. Breakfast with the family is followed by a workout, sauna, spa work, massage, and onsen. Preparation is required. During the planning process, Spouse started training for the onsen. Onsens are natural hot springs occurring all over Japan. In some cases, one shares space with a snow monkey. Spouse, usually the last to return to the hotel, is worn out by the end of the day therefore vigorous training prior to the first outing is necessary. Spouse has been soaking in our sauna tub on the weekends in order to get in to onsen shape and swears it is a best practice.

Our snowboarding choice is the Karuizawa Prince Snow Resort. Only an hour and a half by Shinkansen- bullet train- ski in/ski out- 5 minutes from the train station. Our friends at the Burton store warn us it’s small but the only place open given the warm weather. Rider pulls me aside, “Shinkansen is slow”. This one only goes about 120 mph.

A relaxing ride to the resort on the sleek bullet train. Uniformed women resembling flight attendants pass through the train selling food and magazines. I have a difficult time hearing the station stops but Offspring #1, the Nose of the this generation, knows exactly where we are at all times. Our stop. This couldn’t be it. There’s just one small strip of snow.

The famous Japanese Alps look more like the Poconos. It is now the Clampetts and every other skier and snowboarder in Japan on the only two open runs in Japan. Offspring #2 and I were easy to spot because we were the only two females that didn’t look like this:

The snowboarders jumped off anything that had more than a 2 inch lift to it or over anything that was elevated including the fences. It looked, felt and sounded like Whoville at Christmas. For those of you who give me a hard time about wearing a helmet here is offspring #1. What goes up, must come down, and sometimes the down motion is in the grass, on a metal rail, or in a collision with someone else.

Of course, here’s a rare picture where Offspring #2 and I are casually coming down the hill and I’m upright…

Who’s taking these great shots? Spouse. Having hiked up the hill with his super camera he’s dared anyone to kick him off.

Of course, what better way to round out the day then a gorgeous sunset over the outlet mall next to the resort.

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