Curry and Powder in Japan

I’ve now been in Japan for a little over a month and the ski school has survived the Christmas and new year period with most of the staffs sanity reasonably intact!

After a slow start on the snow front the snow God has been working overtime and delivering buckets of white happiness for us all to play in. It snows here nearly every day and in fact I can’t remember the last day it didn’t snow! Every day is Groundhog Day for the powder hounds of Hokkaido!

So can you get bored with skiing powder every day? Well, erm, no, not so far. Perhaps by the end of the season I will be craving boiler plate and ice, but I’m doubting that.

Although the ski area here is relatively small the number of lines off piste through the trees is pretty endless. As all the skiing is below the tree line skiing in flat light is no problem. I did bring some sun cream with me but that turned out to be a waste of suitcase space.

Impressions of living in Japan: the Japanese are generally very polite and offer good customer service as a matter of course rather than because their job training specifies it. Japanese food is definitely weird! Today I had some green ice cream. I’ve still no idea what flavour it was meant to be. As I’m a rather fussy eater I’ve taken to eating curry in the staff canteen most days. I feel like Jesse from The Fast Show popping out of his shed and announcing what he’s been eating that week… “This season I ‘ave mainly been eating curry!”

Wandering around the local supermarket here is definitely a baffling experience. As of course the Japanese use a different alphabet than in the west it’s impossible to decipher what it is you’re looking at and often the actual foodstuff is difficult to identify visually. This has led to some poor choices with some stuff definitely not being to my tastes. Right now I could kill a McDonald’s happy meal!

The cost of living here is certainly low for a ski resort, in fact it’s lower than at home in the uk. Alcohol is cheap and cigarettes are about £3 for a packet of 20. On £6 I can get quite smashed on cheap booze from the supermarket.

Later this month I have to do Japanese ski instructor exams. Getting information on what they like to see is proving difficult. We will all have to wear numbered bibs apparently and there is no examination of your teaching skills. Only your technical skiing. I’m told the level 2 includes no moguls but the higher level 1 does involve showing competence skiing a rut line. There are also ‘A’ and ‘B’ licences which, from what I can tell are only open to the Japanese. Though I could be wrong there.

So far there has been no shortage of work in January and we will get really busy in February for the Chinese New Year.

Tomorrow I’m going to Sapporo to buy some powder skis. I’ve decided that here you need powder skis and a pair of piste performance skis. All mountain skis don’t really cut it with the depth of powder we regularly get.

Until next time……

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Peter Marsh

BASI Ski Instructor

Peter Marsh is a British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI) qualified, Level 3, ISIA Ski Teacher. He’s been teaching since 1990 and has worked in numerous roles in the ski industry including as a Ski Teacher, Ski Shop Manager, Ski Holiday company representative, Piste Leader, Ski School Manager, Resort Transfer driver, Airport/Tour Company Liaison Officer and Ski Club of Great Britain leader.

Peter has worked in many places worldwide including Scotland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and New Zealand.

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