Maiko & Toby spent 2 nights and 3 days down in Niseko to break in The New Year!
On the first day, Maiko took a powder lesson and Toby skied with his good friends, Yasu, Tom & Mako. One of the top (backcountry) gates opened at Hirafu and some great powder was had (see picture below). After skiing all day, we hit Annupuri Onsen (Hot Springs) and then ate some great okonomiyaki at Jyu (Restaurant). It was a great first day!!
The next day, December 31st, the winds were too strong in Niseko to open any of the top lifts so Maiko and Toby headed over to Rusutsu for a day of good powder before hitting Makkari Onsen and then took a nap before going out skiing again at 10:00pm (yes, at night). We skied until 11:30pm and then participated in a torch ski (100 people got selected) down Annupuri Ski Area. We threw our torches in the bonfire (see above), participated in the countdown and then watched the fireworks (see below). It was yet ANOTHER great day and an amazing way to end ANOTHER great year!!
After getting a quick 4 hours of sleep, we awoke at 6:00am and headed up to the slopes again for the "First Run". Annupuri opened their gondola at 6:55am and we were THE first ones to ride up on the gondola. We took 4 powder runs in before they opened the ski area to the general public (for 1,000 yen, you can take as many rides as you want during these "First Run" mornings).
On our 4th gondola ride, we then saw the first sunrise (see right) of 2009 and it truly COMPLETED the whole trip!! An amazing morning!! We then let everyone else have the mountain as we got breakfast, packed up and hit the road. On the way home, we stopped by Costco in Sapporo and stocked up on some foods, as well as bought a Costco sized pizza for the family get together later that night.
On January 2nd, Maiko celebrated her 35th Birthday and we slept 12 hours!!
Happy New Year everyone!! It's going to be another GREAT one, as well as an especially BIG one for us with the house build!! By the way, we are meeting with our builder/architect this upcoming Thursday for some more discussions on the design/layout of the building!
Yoroshiku ne!! :) (smile)