First Impressions

So I've been in Japan for about 3 weeks now. What are my first impressions?

On flying into Tokyo I could see what seemed like literally hundreds of golf courses below. Sadly the iconic Mount Fuji was hiding in the clouds.

On arrival at Narita airport. I had the task of negotiating customs. So passport with visa in hand I asked a Japanese customs officer which queue I should join. “Ah” (not ah so) said he this is a special visa and he hustled me off to a small office. At this point I thought, great I’m going to get fast tracked and will avoid the large queues.

Sadly not! After half an hour of waiting in the office being ignored by the officials and starting to worry my papers were not in order. I poked my head out of the door at which point I was swiftly accosted by another customs official who proceeded to take me to the customs queue I’d originally aimed for! Now with no one else in the customs hall!

Having got through this I had to then find the domestic terminal and try and get my abs pack on board. This took quite a lot of haggling and waving various bits of paper about, but eventually I made the flight by all of about two minutes!

On arrival at Kimobetsu about 10 minutes drive from Rusutsu I was shown my home for the season. This is in a rather stark building with very clean but functional accommodation. The room is rent free, more or less, so I can’t complain and it has free wifi and washing machines and an onsen (a kind of Japanese version of a rugby players communal bath, but a lot cleaner). An onsen after a day’s work is a real pleasure!

No meaningful snow had arrived at this point and everyone was a bit worried as this was unusual, the resort itself is a kind of cross between Disneyland and a purpose built ski resort. The lift system is modern by Japanese standards. The terrain is relatively shallow by alpine standards but the off piste possibilities are pretty huge, even though there are a modest 42 km of pistes. All of the skiing is in the tree line so flat light days are not a problem and tree skiing off piste is mandatory!

The snow gods eventually got paid off somehow as the snow tap got turned on big style! In the last few days we’ve had about 115cm of fresh snow on top of the decent base we already had. Inevitably this led to some epic powder skiing. My ‘warm up’ run this morning was in waist deep powder. This was part of my work as I have to ‘assess conditions’ before heading out to teach clients. It’s a tough job……

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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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