We Skied, We Shopped, We Conquered!

Apparently I started writing this a WHILE ago.. and just never got around to posting it… so here it is, and I shall do a couple more posts in the very near future to get you all up to date with my Japan adventures!!

 

So my winter vacation went about as well as I expected, but not quite as well as I’d hoped. I did what I planned and booked and paid to do, but unfortunately, not a whole lot more. After the somewhat depressing start to the holiday that was Christmas, I organised something I’d been wanting and planning to try for ages: skiing. I booked a day trip for me and two friends to Hirugano Kogen in Gifu prefecture. It seemed reasonably priced, offered day packages, wasn’t too far away, and supposedly had beginner slopes. It seemed like a good idea at the time!

I had cleverly befriended a Canadian in order to receive expert instruction, however I failed to realise that this also meant she saw skiing as about as challenging as riding a bike, and didn’t really grasp what a complete and utter klutz I was. Oh well. After being somewhat peer pressured into going up on the lift, (after having my skis on for all of five minutes) it became very clear, very quickly, that skiing was not my forte. I fell three times in my attempt to move through the slush, while also trying not to gain too much speed and therefore inevitably kill myself.  In the end I gave up; I couldn’t put myself, nor my dear Canadian friend (who was constantly having to help me back up; not an easy matter in skis!) through any more pain and heartache. So I made the wise decision to unclip my skis, gather my last remaining shreds of dignity, and trudge down through the snow and rain (yes, it was also raining), to the bottom of the slope.  There, I could practise to my heart’s content, without the embarrassment or the pain of landing my butt in the cold snow over and over again.  I did eventually get better, although what little confidence I started with had long been lost, so I did not return to the lift. Instead I had the great pleasure of watching the other girls, along with too many insanely talented Japanese kids to count, go back up on the lift and down the slopes again and again. I did have fun in the end though – playing around in my little area, strengthening my muscles pushing myself, in skis, up the slight incline, just so I could whoosh (at a more reasonable speed) all the way back down again! I even have video evidence of this small victory of mine, if any friends or family wish to be emailed a copy, so they can either be proud of my determination, or laugh at my pathetic attempts.                                                  

So that was the first of my winter holiday adventures.  The second, I must say, was a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience.  That being a trip to Osaka, to go to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) and have a fun but crazy day shopping the New Year’s sales!

  

USJ was an awesome experience, but there weren’t as many rides as I had expected. It was more of a whole world laid out for exploration.  The highlights of the day were Finnegan’s  the Irish pub; and the Space Fantasy ride.  Indoor roller coasters are far more my thing than the outdoor ones; as I prefer not to see my impending doom and destruction.  The Space Fantasy ride transported us into a star-filled wonderland, where we were whooshed and spun through a magical and beautiful galaxy; all without the fear of death that rides such as the Hollywood Dream, or Nagashima’s Steel Dragon give me.

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All in all, the day at USJ was a great one. Although a little cold, especially after being dragged onto Jurassic Park, we enjoyed the rides, bought some cute souvenirs (including a cookie monster hat to keep my head warm), and arrived back at our hotel with enough time to check out the nightlife.

Osaka as a city was big, bustling, and busy. The shopping was good, but not amazing; the nightlife a little lacking after what I had heard; and overall the city was a little too large for my liking.  I am glad I live in Nagoya, where the people don’t jaywalk, the streets remain clean, and I know where I am going the majority of the time (thanks mostly to the abundance of English signage that is simply not found in Osaka)!

Great holiday, but Nagoya is the city for me!  o(^-^)o

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