Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

February 6, 2013

Niseko Ski Fun

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:06 am

Hirafu, Niseko, Annapuri Ski Resorts.

This morning I headed up the Hirafu Gondola with Alexander and Andreas, my two mates from Sweden. The day was clear and the wind had died down. First up, we skied down to Niseko Village through the trees and down the gullies. Then up the gondola and headed off to Annapuri. We went through Gate 1 and traversed a little bit then went down the fall line. Up top the snow was icy due to the previous days’s wind.

Andreas gate 7
Andreas going down Gate 7

Then we headed up the quad chair and another double and went through Gate 7. Mostly it was tracked out. But there were a few patches of fresh snow here and there.

Alex gate 7
Alex turning it on

After Annapuri, we headed back to Hirafu and headed through Gate 9 to the waterfall run.

Alex gate 9
Alex backhand turn at waterfall

Andreas gate 9

These next photos are by Alexander Ovinder Photography , thanks for letting me use them. 🙂

Andreas jumps
Andreas doing a yump

Andreas at waterfall
Then turning

Finaly I got some photos of me. woohoo.

me turning
Me turning at waterfall

Me at Hirafu.
Me, gone.

February 1, 2013

Niseko Climbing Wall

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:03 pm

Swedish Rock Climbers.

This afternoon my Swedish friends asked me to come along to the climbing wall at Niseko. I was not going to climb any walls but went along to take some photographs.

Niseko Climbing wall
Alex posing at the bottom.

Alex and Andreas started off at the climbing wall. I liked this one because of the contrast.

Niseko Climbing wall 7
The climbing wall

Niseko Climbing wall 6
Andreas tackling the wall

Andreas again

Niseko Climbing wall 4
Rappelling down

Niseko Climbing wall 3
Alex coming up

This one is on the bouldering wall.

Niseko Climbing wall 2
Alex bouldering

January 26, 2013

Niseko Night Skiing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:08 pm

Hirafu Nighta.

It has been snowing all day so tonight I went night skiing at Niseko Hirafu resort.

Hirafu nighta 3
Up top near the top of Ace quad chair

Hirafu nighta 2
Skiing the nighta

Hirafu nighta
Night time skiing at Niseko

A few days ago the sun was out and I took some photos of the peak at Niseko.

Niseko peak
Mount Annapuri

And this is my clearest photo of Mount Yohtei yet.

Mount Yohtei
Mount Yohtei

January 22, 2013

Hirafu Terrain Park

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , , — admin @ 7:16 am

Hirafu, Niseko, Hokkaido.

There was no snow again here in Niseko. The sun was also out, so I decided to go for a walk to get some sun and photograph the jumps at the Hirafu Terrain Park. I just had to walk up the road to the car park then climb up some stairs and I was on the park.

Hirafu Aerials 1
Young guy taking a leap

I took the 400mm lens to try it out. Big mistake. It is not much good for photographing terrain parks. You have to get too far away from the skiers. The 50mm is a much better option for jumps. You do not learn unless you try new things. I am not afraid of failure. Some of the photos turned out despite my reservations. You be the judge.

Hirafu Aerials 2
He has got his happy face on

This guy was pretty stoked to be going over the big jump and had a huge smile on his face. It is good to see someone enjoying themselves flying through the air.

Pooh Bear jumps
Pooh Bear all jumbled up

As well as a performing Pooh Bear, there was a dinosaur. Possibly it was Dorothy.

Hirafu Aerials 3
Rotating in the air


My mate Alex from Sweden. In our hostel there are Australians, Swedes and Koreans.

Hirafu Aerials 4
Getting Sideways

Hirafu Aerials 5

January 21, 2013

Mount Annapuri

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:02 am

Niseko Photos.

Back up the mountain this morning after a couple of days bludging. There was a bit of wind about early and the sun was peeking out now and again.

Mount Annapuri
Mount Annapuri from the top of the Ace Quad Chair.

This is the peak from the top of the Ace Quad chair.

Lineup for the meathook
Lineup for the meathook.

People line up here on the single chair to get to the gate for the peak.

Ants to the peak.
Climbing the peak

Like ants they climb to the top to come tumbling back down again.

Kutchan town
Kutchan town

I went into Kutchan this afternoon to do my weekly shopping run. This week I was a day late, going on Monday instead of the usual Sunday bus ride.

Mt Annapuri
Mount Annapuri from Kutchan

In the afternoon it was so clear that you could see the Niseko resort from Kutchan. Most of the time you never see it.

March 12, 2012

Leaving Hokkaido

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 12:19 pm

Furano To Osaka.

It seems like forever but it was only yesterday that I left Furano. Spring has struck with a vengeance and the snow was getting all slushy and yucky, so it was a good time to leave. It was so hot that the snow was melting through the grating in the chair lifts, making ice blocks.

ice block production
Ice Blocks on the Link Lift

I got a lift down to the Cosmo gas station to catch the bus to Sapporo. Whilst waiting I took a few snaps of Tokachidake. It was one of the rare days that you could actually see it. It is usually covered in cloud.


The snow had just been eaten by the snow muncher so there was this great big wall along the side of the road.

snow wall
Snow wall on the side of the road

I got on the bus and it took ages to get to Sapporo. It was so slow. I found my hotel and checked in and then went for a walk to the station to get some photos. I just stood at the lights and took some photos of the people.

Crossing the street
Crossing the street

This young girl was darting in and out taking photos. She was so cool.

Young Photographer
Young photographer

There are heaps of parking attendants directing cars to the various parking spots. This guy was taking his job seriously.

Parking Attendant
Parking attendant

Later on I took a walk down the street with all the markets and found this shop with the latest Hokkaido fashions. How cool do they look?

Sapporo Fashion
Absolutely fabulous, dahhhling

Most of the restaurants have plastic meals out in the window of their shops with the price on them. It is better than putting real meals in the window because they would go all mouldy and rotten. I am pretty certain that there is a town somewhere with a thriving industry making plastic meals.

Plastic meals
Plastic meals

I do not know what to say about this photo. I am just flabbergasted. When I walked past this shop I did a big double-take.

Fascist Fashion
The latest fashion for the young fascist

This morning I caught a flight from Shin-Chitose to Osaka. I flew with Peach who are a new budget airline. They were pretty disorganised so I might not fly with them again in a hurry. I am in Osaka now and it was raining this afternoon. I hope it is a fine day tomorrow because I am going for a bike ride.

March 8, 2012

Lake Shikaribetsu

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — admin @ 1:15 pm

Ice Village

Today I got invited to go to Lake Shikaribetsu Ice Bar with the local crew. Lake Shikaribetsu is about a hundred kilometers south and east of Furano in Central Hokkaido. We travelled south towards Shintoku and then went east until Shikaoi and then went up the mountains into the National Park to the lake.

Tree skyline
Tree skyline

The lake is frozen over and they have built an Ice Bar and an igloo village out of blocks of snow and ice. This is Joni behind a big ice block.

Joni trapped in ice
Joni trapped in the ice

There was an almost stained glass effect in some walls where they made patterns out of sheets of ice. Here, Hiro is blacklit by one of these ice sculptured walls.

Ice Bar Hiro
Ice Bar Hiro

The igloos are out on the lake. There is also a hot spring there but no-one was game to give it a go.


Here is Gareth taking a photo out on the lake.

Photographer and Igloo
Photographer on the edge

The clouds were drifting in and out, partly obscuring the wooded hills behind the lake.

Lake Shikaribetsu
Lake Shikaribetsu

A light in the Ice Bar caught my eye on the way back.

Ice Bar Light
Ice bar light

On the way back I snapped some shots of the bush as we were going past.

Trees in Snow
A wintry landscape of a wooded slope

I quite liked the texture and contrast of these trees against the snow.

Winter Trees
Winter Trees

We stopped for lunch at Shikaoi and I snapped this portrait of Joni.


And this one of Yuki.


We stopped in at Sahoro Ski Resort and had a quick look at it from the bottom. It looks pretty good.

March 2, 2012

Famous in Hokkaido

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 9:12 am

Partying with the Glitterati.

We have been partying hard in Furano the last week or so. Mainly just playing guitars and singing with our lovely Japanese friends. Nori brought his electric guitar which has an inbuilt amplifier built into it. I had lots of fun playing it and pretending that I was a rock star.

Screaming lead guitar
Me playing a portable electric guitar

Nori is a great skier who lives near Tokyo and usually skis in Hakuba. He plays some great guitar as well and it was a great pleasure to play along with him.

Nori and me
Nori and me

We had a party on Sunday night where we invited lots of Japanese friends and played some music and had some fantastic food. Kazuki made the awesomest Okonomiyaki which tasted so good. I am on the right in this photo.

party action.
Party Action

A reporter from the Hokkaido Shimbun came around and took some photos and they did an article in the Hokkaido newspaper and Boris and communicating through music. I think that is what it says, I have no idea, doh!

Hokkaido Shimbun
Famous in Hokkaido

Then last night we had another get-together and made some music and had a little food. We are non-stop party people here in Hokkaido. The craziness just never stops!

Hiro and Toku
Hiro and Toku

Toku is a Taiko drummer and ski instructor in Furano. Hiro has a restaurant with his wife, Em, called Senggoku. They do the most amazing dinners for really cheap. Lovely people.

Noriko and Hiro
Noriko and Hiro

I helped Noriko to make some takoyaki. They taste sensational.


Takoyaki means fried octopus in Japanese and is a popular ball-shaped dumpling made of batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. We put in the batter first and then filled with diced octopus, pickled ginger, and green onion. The takoyaki were rolled with a skewer until browned. Then we squirted on takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise, and topped with katsuobushi (shavings of dried bonito). It was first made in Osaka and I have seen them making them there in the Shin-sekai district. I will try some again when I get back to Osaka.


Then finally after all that party madness, it is back to skiing. whew!

nori and boris
Nori and Boris

The top four photos and the feature image are from Nori’s camera and the rest are mine.

February 23, 2012

Temples and Ploughs

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 10:09 am

Japanese Dichotomy.

This morning I got up and went for a ski but got bored real quick as there was not any fresh powder to play in. Pistes get old very quickly for me. So I came in early and decided to go shopping instead. Wow! On the way there I stopped in at the local Furano Shinto temple to take a few photos. On New Year’s Eve many Japanese come to the Furano shrine to welcome in the new year. This is a traditional practice that was passed down through the generations. The bell is rung 108 times to symbolize the worldly desires that will be cleaned away to welcome in the fresh new year.

furano shinto temple
Furano Shinto Temple

There were all these plaques hanging on a board in the temple grounds, so I asked boss-san what they were and he said that they were ema. Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto devotees write their prayers or hopes, usually at New Year’s. These ema are then left hanging up at the shrine where the spirits will receive them.


Then I trucked on into town and took a photo of some of the secular aspects of small town Japanese life. This is about as normal as you can get.

furano crossroads

Down one of the main streets they were chomping up the snow and putting it into trucks and carting it away somewhere. I think they cart it off to farmer’s fields so that when it melts, it will water the coming crops. But I am not totally sure about that. It sounds like a good idea to me. No use wasting resources.

snow chomper
Snow Chomper

The snow plough came and cleaned up after the snow chomper. I keep thinking about Homer Simpson whenever I see one of these, I do not know why. doh!

snow plough
Snow Plough

And last but not least, is Cinderella’s magic pumpkin coach, all lit up with fairy lights at the Furano Marche. How cute is that? Kawaiiii, desu ney?

cinderella's magic pumpkin
Cinderella’s magic pumpkin coach

February 20, 2012

Japanese Dancers

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — admin @ 6:20 am

Shigin-Kado and Shigin-Buyo.

Shigin is a form of Japanese poetry, which is usually chanted, either individually or within a group. Buyo or Nippon/Nihon Buyo is a traditional Japanese performing art, a mixture of dance and pantomime.

Samurai Dance
Samurai Dance

According to the Japanese Classical Dance Association, “nihon buyo is an artistic dance based on the tradition of classical techniques transmitted from preceding forms of art, and expressed through the medium of the stage.”

Dance with spear
Dancer with spear

Flower Arranging
Flower Arranging

Dance with fan
Dancer with fan


Samurai Dance
Samurai Dance

Dance with spear
Dance with spear

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