Ever since Boyfriend moved back to Australia in August we have been in a very, very long distance relationship. To make things easier, we have been planning to see each other every few months with fun trips.
I went to visit him in Australia in November. While there, we started to plan for a snowboarding trip to Japan in February.
While researching for places to stay at some of the bigger resorts, I cringed at the pricing. For one week, we were looking at least $1000 per person.
I went on to the Powderhounds website and looked into staying in Madarao. Madarao was ranked as best value for money which is what I was needing.
We booked a room at Active Life Madarao and it ended up being about half the cost.
Our trip was at the beginning of February, when the fear mongering just began to start about the coronavirus. One of our friends cancelled due to the panic.
There was no way I was going to miss my chance on seeing Boyfriend and I’m a risk taker. So I partook in the surgical mask fashion around public transit. It wasn’t weird because literally everyone that comes into contact with the public in Japan was also wearing one.
Yeah, I know that surgical masks don’t actually protect against the virus. Supposedly only the N95 respirator mask will filter the virulent particles.
But if everyone is wearing masks it has to help keep some of the virulent pathogens at bay. (Especially since one can be infectious five days before showing symptoms.)
I found Boyfriend in a crowded Tokyo station. After not seeing each other for so many months, we hugged each other briefly and had to forego kisses due to our masked faces.
We boarded the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Nagano. It was pretty late by the time we checked into our hotel and I was hungry. We walked around but couldn’t decide on a place to eat. So we ate 7-11 food.
It was pretty tasty though, so I was happy. We woke up the next morning and made plans to go visit the Snow Monkeys. After a train, then a bus, then 1 mile hike we saw the macaques living the life.
After visiting the Snow Monkey Park, we had a little time before the next bus so we stopped for beers and appetizers at a cool restaurant. The Farmhouse.
Afterwards, we hopped on a bus back to Nagano, collected our bags, and then took another train to IIyama. From there, the Active Life hotel staff took us to our hotel.
Speaking of traveling with bags, my snowboard bag weighed 45 lbs and had no wheels. Poor choices were made here. Lugging this thing around train stations bruised the shit out of my shoulder.
Prior to our arrival, I was worried about the snow quality in Japan. Supposedly it was the worst snow season in decades. Fortunately upon our arrival, huge snow storms dumped several feet of snow.
Our first day on the slopes we did some storm riding around Madarao, a mountain we were unfamiliar with. And sometimes I would accidentally end up on flat terrain.
Our first night in Madarao we tried to eat at a small restaurant, but when we walked in it was already full of people. We walked to another restaurant and found the same issue. So we ate in the Active Life Hotel restaurant, which was mostly empty.
The food was meh. So we made sure to call ahead for reservations for the next few nights.
It continued to snow and snow and snow.
We ate a lot of traditional Japanese fare. Food is of course my favorite thing to experience while in another country.
The trip was regrettably short at 8 days. We gathered our bags again to go to Tokyo Station where masked faces dominated. He, back to Australia. And me back to Denver.
Now as COVID 19 has escalated into a pandemic, I feel fortunate that I had a chance to experience this beautiful country with him. Because who knows when we will get to see each other again.