Japan Part Five - Nagano

Ok, back to Japan stories.

I think we left off where we were finally ready to head out to our ski village Hakuba in Nagano.

But I forgot to tell you two other things that happened in Tokyo before we left.

1. This:

That is what we ended up with after four of us jumped into what we thought was a photo booth.

After cramming into the machine in a ridiculous manner, then watching in horror as the screen cropped us to within inches of our lives (actually Rebecca got cropped completely out), we finally realized that

We can't read Japanese.

And it was actually a passport picture creator.

Silly Americans....

2. Right before we left for the ski portion of our trip, I realized

I forgot my ski cap.

So I bought a terrible one at 7/11 and we headed out, just in time for there to be a freak snow storm in Tokyo. "This is rare!" we heard as we dragged our luggage through the snow trying to find our train. My travelling companions of course blamed me for the freak incident. What can I say, chaos follows me.

So we walked inside, outside, up stairs, downstairs, back outside, back downstairs, back upstairs....and finally we found our train. And I realized my feet were wet because I had also neglected to bring water proof boots on this trip.

So I changed into dry socks and my running shoes, which looked terrible with the skinny jeans I had on, but I no longer cared. I was so cold and tired that I plopped myself inside a group of our luggage and relaxed in my suitcase fort while otherwise foraged for snacks.

The time finally came for us head down to our train platform. And wait. And wait. And wait...in the cold... so finally me, Rebecca and Sarah started to doing the Cupid Shuffle to keep warm. By this point, I was wearing my hideous outfit of terrible shoes, terrible ski cap, and my scarf was wrapped haphazardly around me during my freezing suitcase struggles. In other words, I looked amazing:

It was about this time when we remembered that delirium is just a couple steps away from hypothermia. I'm blaming my outfit and behavior on that.

Shortly after that, we found out that because of the freak snow, the train we need has been delayed (allll the other trains were running, mind you. Just not the one we needed. Yes, this was likely somehow my fault.)

So now we have some more time to kill, so some of the group heads back upstairs to warm up.

...And then the train comes. And only 3 of us are on the platform.


Thankfully we finally gathered up the entire group in time to jump on and head out to the slopes.

...with all our luggage. This is how Rebecca rode:

On the way, we entertained ourselves by looking through magazines we couldn't read and trying strange food. I had a box of bears

that each had some different thing on them -- one had an M, one was dressed as a sailor. You know, normal stuff:

like ...Ghana.

We finally get to Hakuba, and are greeted with this:

Cute, right? Our lodge owner picked us up (and remained our personal chauffeur for the duration of our trip. We stayed at Snowlines Lodge-- STAY THERE if you ever visit Hakuba. It's owned by the coolest couple, Aussie husband, Japanese wife - they met teaching each other their languages online. I heart them.). He then  introduced us to our home for the next few days.

When you enter the lodge, you immediately take your shoes off and put on slippers. 

Japan loves their slippers. You even take off your slippers to put on different slippers in the bathroom:

Seriously. (but I kinda love it)

We are taken to see the rest of the lodge. There's a bar/lounge (where the constant revolving door of visiting Australians hang out) 

The lounge has couches, games, a heated blanket for everyone to get under beneath a table, a calf massager,

stuffed animals....

I want to live here forever.

We were shown our rooms (this place was so awesome, we never had to lock our doors. Everyone's happy and crime-free in magic snow land! It felt like living with family, if, you know, your family was made up of strangers from all over the world and all they do is ski.) We were also shown - the onsen (I'll explain more later). 

and the showers.....

Note - The Buckets. Yes. We were supposed to sit naked on those, where countless people have sat naked before us. I know they clean them daily but I still couldn't bring myself to use one until I rubbed hand sanitizer all over it first. Thankfully I was alone in the room that time.

Another day when I desperately wanted to shower, two british ladies were soaking in the onsen -- in full bathing suits.

Great, now I feel like a crazy person prancing in here sans clothes. And I had to bathe in front of them, which wasn't quite so awkward when they were chatting away. But I got very paranoid when they just stopped talking.

That wouldn't be the last time I ended up naked in front of other people on this trip. But that's for a later post...