evoTrip Japan 2013: Back To Hakuba
evoTRIP RETURNS TO
Each year, evo takes a group of brave travelers on a trip to shred Japan and each year the storms roll in and rewards them. We caught up with Kelly Rollin, one of the evoTrip Japan goers, to see how it was and get you planning for next winter.
By Kelly Rollin, Hakuba, Japan: Bonjour! Wait, that’s not right. Moshi moshi! Ok, that’s better.
I think it’s fair to say that pretty much the *only* issue I faced while in Japan (aside from a hole-in-the-floor toilet I encountered at a bus station), was my gut inclination to use my limited French and Spanglish instead of Japanese. Until, of course, we were ready to leave, and then I was throwing down the ‘konnichi was’ and ‘arigatous’ like nobody’s business.
Ok, so backtrack a few months. It’s September, I had recently broken up with my boyfriend, and was itching to do a ski trip; something adventurous and all on my own. Before I could even start researching my options, I received a serendipitous email from evo – “Come to Japan!” Japan? Wait, they have skiing there? On a whim, I booked it immediately. The idea that someone else had all the details dialed in was super appealing. Done and done.
And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. What a trip! It was one of my favorite experiences of all time. It’s impossible to do it justice in a blog post, but I’ll try…
Ok, so the big day arrives. I’m a little nervous, but Kyle and Sunny have done their best to answer all my questions. I have like 30 power bars, Ambien, and ear plugs. I’m all set. Spoiler alert: I will come to be known as the ‘girl scout’ for my over preparedness.
After a 10-hour plane ride and a long bus ride, we arrive at Wadano Lodge in Hakuba, tired…but not too tired for a Kirin beer, fresh from the hotel vending machine. Btw, vending machines with beer are everywhere. Handy!
There are multiple resorts in Hakuba, all within about a half-hour bus ride. The first day, we go to Happo One, the site of many events in the Nagano Olympics, and the skiing is good – I’m already sore! That night we head to a great restaurant where you grill your own food. The pièce de résistance is the savory pancake batter they bring you and you grill up. Yum! After that, we walk a block to a bar where Zima is alive and well. High school flashbacks ensue.
The next day we head to Cortina (no, not the Italian one), the destination of choice for the rest of our trip. The lodge is crazy huge – something straight out of ‘The Shining,’ if ‘The Shining‘ is a wanna-be European ski town in Japan. And the skiing is incredible! The second day is good, but the third and fourth days are some of the best on record (according to all of our records). Face shots all day! Sunny skies! A-MA-ZING!!! Seriously, what more could you ask for?
Well, if you’re asking: onsens (a Japanese hot spring, the non-chlorinated version of hot tubs, included with the lift ticket), lunch (also included – go for the ramen on the second floor), and heated toilet seats (available not just in Cortina, but everywhere in Japan!). Oh, and one more: the full-fat, artfully decorated lattes, available in the first floor café. Yes, that’s right kids, as far as I can tell there is no ‘non-fat milk’ in Japan. Winning!
In addition to the crazy good skiing, there are more amazing meals to be had – including two at Morino Lodge (owned by the same guys who own Wadano), a true home away from home. I want to live here when I retire. “Hot pot” and “wine tasting with Charles” will become memorable terms.
We also have superb sushi from the ‘original powder junkie’ sushi chef and another glorious meal at a Japanese tapas restaurant. Get used to sitting on floors at your meals. But there are big Kirin beers readily available to make up for it.
Ok, so the skiing is just incredible. But there are a few more fun tidbits to mention: monkeys and Tokyo. On the fifth day, we visit the snow monkeys, where you can get up close and personal with your almost-relatives. And I do mean close, one tried to grab my face. The final 24 hours we spend in Tokyo, which is obviously not enough time to see the city, but this is a ski trip, yo! We do have a fun night out. Two pieces of advice: avoid “Japanese” mayonnaise and the subways close WAY earlier than you think they would.
All too soon we are back at the airport, waiting for our plane. We are all sad, but also excited, excited that we all clicked so well, excited that we had such amazing guides to lead us, and excited for next year because several of us are going back!
I am truly thankful to evo for organizing such a cool trip. I can’t wait for the next one.
If you are interested in evoTrip Japan 2014 click here and sign up for info!