January 1, 2015
In my lifetime, there have bee 46 New Year's celebrations and I'm grateful to experience today's. Oshogatsu is Japan's largest holiday and how fitting it is for us to travel to our most favorite destination... Niseko!
As the number of celebrations coincide directly with my age, I've come to truly appreciate the essence of life. In Niseko, life is simple, active and harmonious, which is not the norm in our daily lives. Each year, we get the opportunity to spend a couple weeks inhabiting the snow culture which consists of a series of comfortable rituals that energize the mind, body and spirit.
In the morning, we wake to eat a big, hot & hearty breakfast while checking the snow and wind conditions. Next, we head out the door bundled up in our thermals, down, boots, helmets, gloves, scarves and armed with either a snowboard or skis & poles. We ride up to the top of the mountain and descend down the various slopes until a late lunch where the group congregates to share tales of yard sales, aka crashes, and other adventures. Lunch in itelf, is atypical. My stomach yearns for crab ramen, crab on rice or a tasty curry after the morning ski session. The afternoon session lasts a couple more hours until the body's chill factor determines when it's ready to head back to the house and sit next to the fireplace with a cup of steaming hot tea.
Dinner is a culinary delight but prior to that, we satiate our aching muscles with a dip into a thermal onsen, one that is located outdoors so that our heads are sprinkled in snow flakes while our bodies remain precariously hot in the 40 C degree therapeutic bath. Horse mackerel, snow crab, sashimi, salmon, fresh vegetables and unique Japanese creations adorn our dinner plates until we walk out of the restaurant with our bellies full. When we return to the house, it's game time...cards, dice, board games before it's time for bed. The next day, it's a repeat.
The best part of the day is not necessarily skiing, boarding or dining. It's the precious time we share with each other. For Russ and me, it's couple time and family time. Our wonderful group of friends who meet up in Niseko recognize the significance of simply enjoying each other's company by spending quality time on the slopes and in the house creating lasting memories.
Photos from this morning's flight...time to rest! Great to have our own rows.
A peak go Mt. Fuji in the distance.
Now at Narita Airport after eating some delicious ramen.