Suit Up for the 2015 Snowboarding and Skiing Season

Suit Up for the 2015 Snowboarding and Skiing Season
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Sunny day of snowboarding

Winter is upon us! Although the snow may be a little late this year, that doesn’t mean the ski slopes aren’t already ready and waiting for you. I started my snowboarding last weekend at Grandeco, how about you?

Considering how warm it had been last week, the snow was actually in great condition for snowboarding. A couple of the lifts had been shut down due to patches of dirt and rocks, but the rest of the slopes were good to go. It wasn’t too crowded, and it was so nice and sunny I had to put on sunscreen. The snow did become icy as the sun set, so get out on the slopes early in the day!

For those of you who have your gear and are ready to go, check out our list of ski slopes around Fukushima!

If you are in need of gear, or are keen on upgrading what you have, try checking out Hard Off. This chain of stores sells a variety of secondhand items, including boards, bindings, boots, gloves, snow jacket, snow pants, goggles, etc. Although some of their items can get a bit expensive, they are often in good condition and/or brand name products.  Hard Off has locations in Iwaki, Fukushima City, Koriyama and Aizuwakamatsu.

If you prefer your gear shiny and new, Xebio Sports is another great location to fulfill your snowboarding and skiing needs. Don’t forget to ask your fellow JETs around you, they may know of some good shops selling gear. You can also try posting in our snowboarding and ski Facebook group, I know some people who have accumulated gear from their predecessors and friends.

Good luck on your search! If you have never done snowboarding or skiing before, this is a great time to start! There are lots of beginner-friendly slopes and even more friendly JETs willing to help get you on your feet. Not a fan of winter? Overcome that feeling by grabbing winter by its shoulders, throw it beneath your feet and ride it down the mountain (meaning snowboarding and skiing, of course. Or sledding. Or snowshoeing. Or simply walking down snowy mountains if that’s your thing).

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Conditions of Grandeco Ski Slopes on December 12, 2015

 

Let the 2015 Hiking Season Commence~!

Let the 2015 Hiking Season Commence~!

Spring is in the air! And despite Japan’s claims of it’s four unique seasons… we all know thtat spring lasts all of a month before the bugs and the humidity and the heat of summer is upon us. Let’s make the most of this while we can and get our hiking on! How? With these awesome FuJET events! Everyone is free to join us for the Oze National Park and Mt. Bandai hikes. Mt. Fuji will require reservation (details on Fuji to follow soon!).

Mt. Bandai Hike- Saturday June 13bandai

Facebook Event

We’ll take the Happodai Trail (八方台) to the mountain’s peak and get a great view of the recently planted rice fields all over the Aizu valley. We’ll leave early in the morning and for more information, check out the event page or send an email to fujetcouncil@gmail.com! We’ll end the day with a nice onsen at Aizuwakamatsu Station’s Fuji no Yu! (Their sauce katsu is amazing)

Oze National Park Hike- Saturday June 27oze

Facebook Event

Japan’s 29th National Park, Oze, spreads across four different prefecture– Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, and Niigata. The Oze hike is a bit more difficult than Bandai but arguable more rewarding, in the middle of pristine Japanese nature. If you have any questions, please again– ask them and we’ll do our best to answer them ASAP! Just drop us a message at our Facebook page or send an email to fujetcouncil@gmail.com.

Hiking with FuJET

Hiking with FuJET

Japan is a mountain country, and Fukushima in particular is home to many great hiking spots. Join FuJET on our upcoming hiking trips and take advantage of the beautiful mountains all around us!

The Trips:

Mount Bandai

Mount Bandai as seen from Goshikinuma
Mount Bandai as seen from Goshikinuma

Height: 1816m
Date:  Saturday, June 14th, 2014
Start Time: 9am
Ascent: 2 hours
Descent: 1 hour
Description: Mt Bandai is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1888. Before that eruption, it had a conical shape, which earned it the nickname of Mt Fuji of Fukushima. Due to the eruption, the mountain now has a double peak and many surrounding multi-coloured volcanic lakes (Goshikinuma). Don’t miss out on climbing Fukushima’s most famous mountain!
RSVP: Not required! Just click “going” on the Facebook event page!
Cost: Free! However, please pitch in for gas money if you accept a ride from another climber.
Facebook Event Page

Oze National Park

Climbing on the boardwalk through the marsh plateau in the fog.
Climbing on the boardwalk through the marsh plateau in the fog.

Height: 2356m
Date:  Saturday, June 28th, 2014
Start Time: 7am
Ascent:  3.5-5 hours
Descent:  2.5-3.5 hours
Description: Part of a huge national park deep in the countryside of Minami Aizu, Oze is famous for its beautiful natural scenery and highland marshes. The hike is characterized by steep climbs interspersed with flat marshy plateaus. Be sure to look for Oze’s famous white flower, misobasho (“Japanese skunk cabbage”) which is rare elsewhere in the country, but plentiful in Oze.
RSVP: Not required! Just click “going” on the Facebook event page!
Cost: Free! However, please pitch in for gas money if you accept a ride from another climber.
Facebook Event Page

Mount Fuji

The peak of Mount Fuji, as seen from the 5th station. Only six or eight hours left to the top!
The peak of Mount Fuji, as seen from the 5th station. Only six or eight hours left to the top!

Height: 3776m
Date:  Saturday, July 12th, 2014
Start Time: 7pm
Ascent: 4-8 hours
Descent: 2-4 hours
Description: A world-famous Japanese landmark, Mt Fuji has recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climbs have become more restricted with higher entrance fees in order to reduce the impact of visitors on the mountain, but it is still well worth the climb to be able to cross it off your bucket list. What better way to experience Japan than to watch the sunrise from the peak of Mt Fuji? Remember, you’d be crazy to climb Fuji twice, but you’d be crazy to not climb it at all!
RSVP: Required! Please email FuJET at fujetcouncil@gmail.com as soon as possible to reserve your spot!
Cost: Approximately 13,000yen for transportation and climbing fees.
Facebook Event Page

Gear:

Climbing Fuji with all my gear. Pictured: backpack, gloves, raingear, water bottle, headlamp, and cool poise in the face of almost-certain-death.
Climbing Fuji with all my gear. Pictured: backpack, gloves, rain gear, water bottle, headlamp, and cool poise in the face of almost-certain-death.

You can never be too prepared to climb a mountain! Here is a list of some essential gear:

  1. Hiking boots – You will need a good pair in order to tackle these mountains. Good ankle support and traction for the rocky slopes is necessary.
  2. Warm clothing – While the bottom of the mountain may be shorts-and-Tshirt-weather, the top of the mountain can drop up to twenty degrees. Particularly the peak of Mt Fuji can drop below zero even in July. It is best to dress in layers, and put on more layers as you climb, and take off layers as you descend. IN PREVIOUS YEARS, CLIMBERS ON THE FUJET TRIP CAME DOWN WITH HYPOTHERMIA DUE TO LACK OF WARM CLOTHING AND HAD TO BE HELPED DOWN THE MOUNTAIN BY RESCUE SERVICES! MAKE SURE TO DRESS WARMLY!!
  3. Backpack – Bring a comfortable pack to carry all your gear. Remember Goldilocks, and keep your pack not too big, not too small, but juuuust right.
  4. Gloves – There are certain steep sections of the climb that will require you to use your hands. Bring a good pair of work gloves to help you out. Also, it can get cold on the top of the mountain, so save your fingers from the chill!
  5. Hat – It gets cold on the climb, so bring a hat to protect your head from the weather!
  6. Water bottles – That’s right, multiple water bottles. It is vitally important to keep hydrated on your climb. I find it better to bring multiple smaller PET bottles, and crush the empties to save space in my pack.
  7. Rain gear – The FuJET climbs will go on, rain or shine, so prepare for inclement weather by bringing a rainjacket, rain pants, and a waterproof hat or hood. There’s nothing worse than being caught in a sudden rainstorm and having to climb the rest of the mountain soaking wet, so be prepared! You will need your hands for the climb, so umbrellas are not recommended. Also consider gaiters to protect your pants from the mud.
  8. Sunscreen and Sunglasses – Conversely, if we’re lucky, we will have beautiful sunny weather for all our climbs! Be prepared with sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself! Remember that even sunny weather can get cold at the top of the mountain though, so still DRESS WARMLY!
  9. Erika Ehren pictured here ready to take on the world, or just Mount Fuji.
    Erika Ehren pictured here ready to take on the world, or just Mount Fuji.

    Headlamp – Particularly for Mt. Fuji, we will be climbing throughout the night, and you will need your hands free, so a headlamp is necessary. Last year during the Mt. Oze climb it was also getting dark by the end, so it would be helpful to bring in case of delay on the descent.

  10. Towel – Wipe that sweat off and keep your neck dry with a towel.
  11. Food – These climbs will be long and will take all day or all night. Supplies are limited on the mountain, so bring your own lunch and snacks to keep you going.
  12. Garbage bags – Don’t leave your trash on the mountain! Bring it down with you! Garbage bags can also double for a seat if you don’t want to get your butt dirty sitting in the mud.
  13. Wet Wipes and Tissues – Incredibly useful throughout the climb, as there usually won’t be running water to wash your hands.
  14. Extra Socks – Keep your feet warm and dry with an extra pair of socks.
  15. Coins – On Mt. Fuji, the washrooms cost a few hundred yen to use. Don’t be caught in the lurch! Make sure to bring enough change!
  16. Climbing Oze 003Hiking poles (optional) – Particularly for Mt. Fuji, it can be a great help to bring along some hiking poles. You can also buy a wooden pole at the 5th station to get commemorative stamps at each of the stations for that unique souvenir.
  17. Oxygen Canister (optional) – Altitude sickness can be a problem for some climbers, particularly those with low blood pressure. Small canisters of oxygen can be bought at the 5th station to combat this, but the only reliable way to fight altitude sickness is to take frequent breaks to adjust to the altitude, and to climb down if symptoms persist.
  18. A Change of Clothes – Bring a change of clothes for the onsen after the hike! No one wants to change back into their sweating hiking clothes after visiting an onsen!
  19. Camera – Make sure to capture your experience for all time! Pics or it didn’t happen!

 Further Reading: 

Hiking in Fukushima
Lessons from Bandai-さん, FuJET Climbs Bandai
Oze Park: FuJET Visit to the Middle of Nowhere
Fuji From the Bottom
FuJET Mt. Fuji Climbing Trip 2012
Necessary Equipment for Mt. Fuji Climbing Infographic
Climbing Mount Fuji on Japan Guide

 

Inawashiro Cheap Ski and Snowboard Day! 2014

Inawashiro Cheap Ski and Snowboard Day! 2014

cheapskiInawashiro Cheap Ski and Snowboard Day!

What: A cheap day of boarding and skiing with your friends! (Costumes optional!)
When: March 8 (Saturday)
Where: Inawashiro Ski Field (猪苗代スキー場)
How much: ONLY 2,500 yen!
How to sign up: From NOW until FEBRUARY 19 sign-ups are open. You need to email us at <fujetcouncil@gmail.com> for your place by FEBRUARY 19!
How to pay: Once we confirm your spot, you will need to furikomi 2,500 yen to the FuJET account. Simple!
Every year, FuJET hosts a cheap ski day at Inawashiro Ski field (http://goinawashiro.com/) with discounted lift tickets at 2,500 yen each! The tickets let you ski from 10AM to 4:30PM for only 2,500 yen!

It has become a bit of a tradition for all of us to rock up wearing costumes (see the photos in the event page for an idea), and we really would like to see everyone dress up again! We will definitely be in costumes, and hope to see many of you dressed up too!
We’ll be having prizes and awards for the people in the best costumes, so why wouldn’t you?!

Did we mention that people dressing up also helps our fundraising drive that we do every year? Three years ago, we raised about 40,000 yen for the Christchurch Quake relief efforts, and last year we raised about 25,000 yen for the Japan Cat Network. This year we will be raising money for the Philippines Disaster, so we really hope you will help us support this cause!

IT GETS BETTER! At around 1:30PM, we’ll be having out annual BOXER RUN! Boxer run…what on earth do you mean? Well, every year we strip down to our underwear, head up the mountain….and then head down the mountain! Why?! Why not!

Don’t board or ski? Worry not! Everyone is constantly popping in and out of the dining area, and there will always be someone around! You are more than welcome to come along, watch and relax.

Don’t know how board or ski? Fear not! There are no shortage of people willing to give you tips and advice – no is as good of a time as any to learn!

WHERE ON EARTH DO I SIGN UP FOR THIS AMAZING EVENT?!

You MUST email <fujetcouncil@gmail.com> to reserve your spot. You have from RIGHT NOW until FEBRUARY 19 to get your email in. Places are UNLIMITED, so feel free to invite anyone you like! Once you get a confirmation email from us, we’ll ask that you pay the 2,500 yen no later than FEBRUARY 21.

For those who don’t know how to furikomi, check out our wiki here for instructions: http://wiki.fujet.org/wiki/index.php?title=Furikomi

If you would like rental gear, please include the details in your email to us. There are various plans available for you:

Full rental (Skis/Board and boots, pants and jacket, gloves, beanie and googles) for 3,000 yen
Ski/Board and boots only for 2,000 yen.
Pants and jacket for 1,000 yen.
Gloves, beanie and googles for 1,000 yen.

Let us know your full name, what plan you want, your height and shoe size (in cm).

On the day (March 8), we will be in the main dining area and we will give you your passes then. Passes are usable from 10AM so for those super keen to hit the slopes, feel free to turn up around then! As mentioned above, they can be used until 4:30PM!

So, that’s about it – this is such a great event – what could be better than skiing all day in costumes with friends? Let us know if you have any questions or queries and we will be happy to help!

FuJET Yuki Matsuri Trip- 2014

FuJET Yuki Matsuri Trip- 2014

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 The trip is full! However, you can still get on the reserve list so email now!

Have you ever been interested in seeing a world famous snow festival? How about sampling crab ramen, or butter ramen? How about enjoying an all you can eat crab buffet? Well, every year, FuJETs board a ferry bound for the infamous snow festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido! It is the LARGEST snow and ice sculpture festival in Japan. It is truly an amazing festival, and a must see.
So, we are proud to present the 2014 FuJET Yuki Matsuri, or, Snow Festival, Tripsnow_beko

Details at a glance:
When: Thursday the 6th of February ~ Tuesday the 11th of February
Price: Depends on the amount of people, but around ~ 40, 000 YEN
How Many: This trip has a MAX of 30 people. First in, first served.
How: SIGN-UPS START NOV. 10 AT NOON.
SEND AN EMAIL TO <fujetcouncil@gmail.com> TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT.
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