Japan

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 The Shinkansen                                                                                                              The bullet train on Japan’s high speed rail network puts the UK’s trains to shame. Travel  at up to 320 kph in comfort with no arguments about an additional full fare for skis.

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 Japanese Rooms                                                                                                            We stayed at a traditional lodge owned by 1998 Nagano Olympic Big Hill Ski Jump  Champion Kazuyoshi Funaki who made us feel very at home. Tired and jet lagged from  travelling it was nice to relax and take advantage of the hot tub.

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Onsens                                                                                                                  Abundant natural hot springs are put to good use with hot baths and hot water under road heating. Skiing, a hot bath and a beer was a winning combination.

Japan Hewitt Blaydon-43 Japanese Steamed Dumplings                                                                                     Available with a variety of fillings, beef was my favourite                                                       Japan Hewitt Blaydon-11

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 Street Stores and The Apple Shop                                                                                 It was a real treat to see al the small shops selling local produce which is a dying industry  in the UK as the supermarket chains dominate. Apples are the size of grapefruits and  tasted delicious.

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Japanese Whiskey                                                                                              Masataka Taketsuru travelled to Scotland around 100 years ago to learn the art of making malt whiskey. After returning to Japan he created a distillery in Hokkaido and a second one near Kyoto. He certainly studied hard as this stuff was good, really good. The Americans will be pleased that their Burbon industry still has a purpose conditioning casks for the whiskey industry in another region. 

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Baby on Board                                                                                                             Having an infant does mean you need to stay at home. Just strap the young one to your back and carry on as normal.

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 Sushi                                                                                                                                   It cost about a pound a plate in some places. After Michelle worked out that the waitress  calculated the bill by adding up the empty plates I had to stop her from sticking the plates  back on the revolving track, hence the cheeky look.

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Geezer

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 Snow Monkeys                                                                                                                  Michelle is a massive animal lover and was desperate to go see the snow monkeys that  hang out keeping warm in the natural hot springs. As you can see Michelle was delighted,  the monkey isn’t quite feeling the same way.

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Snow                                                                                                                           While its a commodity in  Europe and parts of the US right now, Japan certainly gets plenty.

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 Deep Blower                                                                                                                  Just how we like it. I’m in there somewhere.

Japan Hewitt Blaydon-33Japan RHJapan Hewitt Blaydon-56Japan RH3                                                                                                                                       The Fabled Japanese Hardwood Forests                                                                   No conifer bashing here, perfectly spaced trees for ripping about on skis.Japan Hewitt Blaydon-31

 Happy Hour                                                                                                                   Equals a happy Michelle after 2 sips of a Margarita.

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Kazuyoshi Funaki                                                                                                          He won the big hill ski jump gold medal at the Nagano 1998 Olympics and was the  perfect host plying us with beer,  Sake and fine Japanese Nikka Malt Whiskey.     
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 Good Coffee                                                                                                            Essential before during and after skiing

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Snow Clearing                                                                                                                 A serious chore if you don’t want your roof to collapse. The hot springs run under the streets and snow is disposed of through gratings into the culverts.Japan Hewitt Blaydon-52Japan Hewitt Blaydon-49

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Tokyo Station                                                                                                                    Very impressive, probably bigger than Schipol airport in Amsterdam

 

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