Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 29, 2011

Snow Clearing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 7:20 am

Furano, Hokkaido

This morning on my way up to the ski lift I spotted all the snow-clearing action, so I whipped out my camera to get all the Tonka-toy action. Us blokes love a bit of machinery. The snow had been piling up in bit lumps along the side of the roads, so I guess it was the day to clear it all up.

Clearing Snow
The snow chomper dumps it onto the trucks

Snow gobbler
The snow chomper eats up the snow and funnels it out to the trucks.

The grader comes along and cleans up behind the snow chomper

snow clearing
the procession winds down the hill

the digger cleans up the stuff left behind

snow plough
the snow plough pushing the snow onto the side of the road

And everything is all cleaned up. The snow is taken away and dumped somewhere in the trucks. Nice clean streets again until it snows again. Which is tonight. See you next week.

December 21, 2011

From Osaka to Furano

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — steve_happ @ 11:36 am

Finally Skiing.

I checked out of my hotel around 9am and headed for Shin-Imamiya train station. Jumped on a train going around the Osaka loop line and got off at JR Osaka. Then shifted across to the Kobe line and rode the rails to Sannomiya Station at Kobe. I was really early. I had miscalculated how long it would take to get to Kobe. I had a coffee at the station and took a few photos while I was waiting. There was a big long line of taxis waiting.

Taxis at Sannomiya station
Taxis at Sannomiya Station

This is the Port Liner, which goes from Sannomiya to the Kobe Airport. I guess it is sort of like a monorail because it goes up over the city and across the harbour to the airport. Anyway, it is very good and just shunts you out to the airport with the minimum of fuss.

Kobe Port Liner
Kobe Airport Port Liner

I took a few shots of the planes landing and a few general scenery shots. I did not catch this one. I was on Skymark, which are pretty good. They get you there relatively cheaply.

kobe airport
Plane landed at Kobe Airport

I landed at Shin-Chitose airport on Hokkaido and had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to go to Furano. I was the only one on the bus, and halfway to Furano, it started snowing. I arrived at the hostel and find out that I am the only person staying there so I have the whole place to myself. This morning I headed up the hill and the Kitanomine side had been groomed to the max. There is heaps of snow and it makes a great base seeing it is so early in the season.

Furano Ski-jo
Furano Ski Resort

This shot is from the top of the gondola looking towards the town of Furano and Tokachi-dake mountain. Luckily it was a pretty clear day and you could see the mountains really well. Most of the time you cannot see them.

Furano and Tokachi-dake

I just pottered around the slopes getting my legs in and learning how to ski again. I had a bit of a wander off-piste but it was very heavy and wet so I did not spend much time there. The trees were all full of snow, so I guess there has not been much wind lately.

snow on trees
Snow-laden trees

This afternoon I went shopping and got all my groceries for the week. Tonight I cooked up this wicked Soba noodles and pork and vegetable stir-fry. I am going to have to do a post about one of my culinary creations. When I get inspired, perhaps.

March 18, 2011

Japanese Lunch

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 1:16 pm

A Genuine Japanese Feed.

Today has been a memorable day. This morning we went for a ski and it was snowing most of the morning. I went for a run through the trees to see what it was like but it was frozen underneath the fresh snow. Around midday I came in and got ready to go to lunch at Sengoku Restaurant in Furano. We had to walk about two kilometers so we set out early. The restaurant is on the same street as the Railway Station.

The Chefs
The Chefs

We went in and Hiro and Emi welcomed us profusely and led us into a table where we sat on the floor. After a short wait we got our lunch on a platter. It had everything on it – rice, miso soup, pepper pork, tempura fish, daikon and a few other bits and pieces that I did not know what they were.

Japanese Lunch
Our Lunch

It was absolutely delicious and out of this world. It is really difficult to describe the exquisite taste of the dishes that we were served. They were so light and delicate. I was in bliss just tasting all the various flavours. I went with Boris and Judy and here is Judy enjoying her meal.

Judy enjoying lunch

They do a lot of business taking boxed lunches, called bentos, to the businesses and workers around the shop. Hiro is the delivery man and here he is taking care of a customer.

Hiro hard at work

After we finished our delicious lunch we all gathered around for a group photograph to remember the day.

Sengoku Restaurant
After the meal

And that was not to be the end of the day. On our way home, we ran into Kazuki and his wife, who were taking their daughter to her school graduation ceremony and he invited us out that night. Later on, we got a surprise to find ourselves at Hiro and Emi’s house and Emi had put on a grand feast for us. There was rice and Mitaki mushrooms and Sashimi and finally a delicious home-cooked Sukiyaki. And to top it off , we had some plum wine , Ushemu, which is actually a liquer. Another delicious surprise. I was replete. What a top day! Thank you Hiro, Emi, Kazuki, Chika and Karin for a wonderful time.

February 22, 2011

Furano Piste Skiing

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , , , — steve_happ @ 10:37 am

22nd February 2011

This morning was a sunny day and there was no new snow, so we decided to make a video today. Boris volunteered to be the camera man and eventually directed an epic that turned out to be bigger than Ben Hur in scope and length. We headed up the Kitanomine Gondola at the Furano Ski Resort(Hokkaido, Japan) a little after 9am and then skied down the Ladies’ Downhill course to the training run. We did that a couple of times and then headed over to the Furano side.

Me skiing at Furano

The Furano side was a little bit choppped up already so we went up the ropeway and then I headed back over to the Kitanomine side. It was not worth venturing off-piste because there was a crust on the old snow and it would have been hideous trying to do anything. Hopefully it will snow again in a couple of days.

The video of me above shows me walking up the hill to the ski-jo, going into the Tourist Information Centre to ask a staged question and then going up the gondola and skiing back down. It is really hard for me to watch myself in a video, it just seems really weird. I don’t like it much.

February 10, 2011

Furano Powder Skiing

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , , , — steve_happ @ 7:01 am

Hokkaido Powder Day.

Two days ago we had a great dump of snow at Furano Ski Resort in Central Hokkaido, Japan. There was more than 20 centimeters of fresh powder and everyone was very keen to get up the hill early in the morning. I went up the quad chair at 8:30am and after a warm up lap down the beginner’s slope, I headed up the double and was second down the Giant piste. The Merewether boys were still doing up bindings and stuff and I just flew past them and down the piste to some lovely fresh powder on a nice flat base without all those horrible bumps underneath.

Powder snow at the Giant Course and under the Link Chair

After that run I headed across to the Furano side and on the way filmed some guys bouncing down the fresh pow through the trees. At some spots it looked about waist deep. I had a few good runs to the left of the Furano Ropeway and then went up the double chair to the very top of the mountain and skied down the black run, which is on skier’s right from the top of the double.

I cannot remember what I did after that. Yesterday I had a shocking day. The first run down the Ladies Downhill run was quite good but after that I had a shocker. I could not seem to do anything right and was feeling very incompetent. 🙁 Today I had the day off to recuperate and get stuck into it again tomorrow. There is some more snow coming in a few days, so that should be good.

February 7, 2011

Kamui and Furano

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , , , — steve_happ @ 8:06 am

Kamui Ski Links.

Yesterday we went on a bus trip from Furano to Kamui Ski Links. Kamui Ski Links is about 20 kilometers from Asahikawa in Central Hokkaido, Japan. We got on the bus about 8am and it took about an hour or so to get to Kamui. We arrived at Kamui about 9:30am and got our gear on and went up on the gondola.

Bus to Kamui
On the bus to Kamui Ski Links

I followed along with a bunch of other guys to the far right of the resort. They took off down this gully but I wanted to warm up on the piste. I met them down the bottom of the ski lift later and then went up with them and followed them through the trees. The snow was a bit hacked up and bumpy but still a bit soft. I was not used to skiing through trees, so I had a few hairy moments when I thought I might have kissed a few fir trees.

When we were going back I went down this hill through the trees and it was all icy and bumpy and I had a horror time falling off being generally incompetent. It shattered my confidence big time. I got down the bottom eventually, then went up the top for a lunch break.

Kamui Ski Links
Kamui Ski Links

In the afternoon I just went down the pistes and took it easy.


Today it was blizzarding at Furano and I did not think that the lifts would be working, but found out that the chair lifts and the ropeway usually work in a bit of wind. There was about 20 centimeters of fresh snow but it was a bit wet and heavy and I was struggling with it.

Furano Link Lift
Furano Link Lift

I went over to the Furano side and skied down the right hand side of the ropeway. Some parts were pretty good and other bits were chopped up and heavy in places. Mostly I was practicing my turns so I can be a bit more competent in rough conditions.

Furano Trees
Furano Trees

All in all it was a good day with lots of new snow and I have made improvements in my turns. I was getting into unweighting between turns which seemed to help heaps. Hopefully it will continue snowing all week.

January 13, 2011

Skiing Furano Day 1

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 12:43 am

My First Day Skiing.

This morning I got up about 8am and headed up the road to the Kitanomine ski lifts. It is about 200 meters or so to the lifts from where I am staying. Seeing it was my first day skiing for about three months, I had decided to just take it easy on the beginner slopes until I felt comfortable with my new skis.

The first few runs I kept on catching my outside edges and stacking it. However, after a few runs, I was getting the hang of it and was not stacking it so much. My new skis are Ninthward Rory Silva model – 178cm long and 111mm wide at the waist. They are bigger than I am used to, as I have only had skinny skis before – 175cm long and about 75mm wide. You really have to push them to turn and unlike the skinnies, they do not turn by themselves. But, they are not meant for pistes.

The view from the Kitanomine Quad

I had an early lunch and went back to the hostel for some noodles and toast. At the cafe at the bottom of the slope, I had my first can of cocoa out of the vending machine. It was not very nice. Maybe I will find another brand. I love a hot chocolate after a ski.

In the afternoon I went up the Gondola to the top of the mountain but did not enjoy it much. I was a bit hesitant and there were a few goat tracks, which I absolutely hate. After that, I just stuck to the quad chair and the easy slopes. Later on in the afternoon, it started snowing and continued into the night. The next morning there are still a few flurries, but it is not puking down.

Snowing in Furano
The view from my window

My muscles are a bit sore, so I spent the afternoon and night resting my weary bones. *yawn* It is going to take about a week I reckon to get back in shape and not feel completely exhausted at the end of the skiing day.

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