The Brewery

Night skiing view of Kitanomine ski village and Furano town.
Night skiing view of Kitanomine ski village and Furano town.

The weather has started to warm up … only -1°C today. The snow is still in great shape but the footpaths are icing up and walking around is quite treacherous. We are still amazed at how uncrowded the ski runs are.

Went to a local place called “The Brewery” for dinner last night. They bake their own bread, make their own sausages, cure their own bacon and brew their own beer. The Genghis Khan lamb was sensational and the home brewed lager was just perfect.

Tomorrow is our last day of skiing. I think our poor tired legs will be happy for the rest. Even though this is a poor snow season by Furano standards, we still had great skiing every day and have already booked for next year.

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Tomamu

Cathy with Tomamu towers in background.
Cathy with Tomamu towers in background.

Went to another nearby resort called Tomamu today. The ski mountain has something for everyone … steep ungroomed runs, off-piste tree runs and lots of groomed trails. There did not appear to be too many people out skiing today so we almost had the runs to ourselves.

The resort is pretty unique with two  pairs of accommodation towers (36 floors each). In typical Japanese over-the-top style there were lots of restaurants, comfy lounge chairs at the resort centre and a massive indoor heated wave pool. They even had SUPs for hire at the pool. Glass covered walkways connected many of the areas of the resort. It was a real Japanese experience … we hardly saw any other westerners there.

A day in Furano

Lots of new snow to play in yesterday. The groomed runs were nice and soft and there was plenty of powder to float through. The day started out quite fine but ended up with heavy snow falling. Went to an on-mountain noodle bar for lunch. The cooks were in a sunken kitchen in the central part of the restaurant so it was quite entertaining. The video below shows a small sample of how we spent our day.

Kamui

Kamui gondola
Kamui gondola

Had a great day in Kamui yesterday. Lots of wide open spaces and we almost had the place to ourselves (except for a few school groups). There is no accommodation there, just a ski mountain with modern lifts and a small restaurant at the top of the hill. The peak is only 751 metres above sea level but the snow quality is fantastic and the grooming is up to the usual high Japanese standard. There are plenty of off-piste bowls and glades for the adventurous skier (check out the signs in the restaurant about this).

Last night we went to a Japanese/French restaurant called le Chemin. It was only about 20 minutes walk from our accommodation and the food was amazing. I think it was probably influenced by Iron Chef Sakai. Another hidden surprise in this small village.

The snow has been falling all day today and is expected to continue for a few days. Typical dry central Hokkaido powder … this is the reason we keep on  returning here. Early to bed tonight so we can get first tracks in the fresh powder tomorrow.

School kids at Kamui
School kids at Kamui

 

Bluebird day

Cathy starting down the mountain
Cathy starting down the mountain

After 2 days of super low temperatures we finally got a day of perfect weather … sunshine and no wind. The mountain staff did an amazing job to create perfect corduroy for skiing today. The views were spectacular and there was hardly anyone on the mountain (even though it was a Japanese public holiday). We gave the thigh muscles a good workout and didn’t really want to stop at the end of the day.

Looking forward to checking out another resort called Kamui tomorrow. It is only an hour by bus from here and all reports say it is a hidden gem.

Greg carving the corduroy
Greg carving the corduroy

Snow and Sake

The storm hit hard last night and skiing was looking doubtful this morning … gale force winds and seriously cold temperature. We decided to give it a go around 9:30 and ended up having a fantastic day on the slopes. A combination of fresh powder and freezing temperature had the mountain in great shape for skiing. We had to go inside at regular intervals to warm up and sip on hot drinks. At the end of the day, a hot spa bath with herbal salts helped soak away the aches and pains.

We went in to Furano town for dinner to a teppanyaki restaurant we have been to before. The food and sake was up to the usual high standard and the chef put on an entertaining performance … check out the video below.

Here at last

View from our apartment in Furano
View from our apartment in Furano
Lots of "Premium" products in Japan ... this one is my favourite.
Lots of “Premium” products in Japan … this one is my favourite.

After a lot of travelling and with little sleep we arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon. Our apartment is great with views of the surrounding mountains and just a short walk to the lifts.

Did a big grocery shop in town last night and had the usual problems with the Japanese packaging and labelling. Our main expenditure was on alcohol … it is so cheap here, which is a very dangerous thing.

It felt good to get our ski legs back today even though the snow was quite firm. The immaculate grooming made the runs easy to negotiate. There hasn’t been much snow recently but that is supposed to change tonight with a Siberian storm forecast to hit us. The forecast temp for tomorrow is -35°C (with wind chill) so that will be a test for our thermal underwear.