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Yamagata Zao

Posted by Danny Choo On Tue 2007/03/06 18:35 JST In Japan
 209  179254 ja

Headed off for a weekend break in the Yamagata prefecture located in the northern-ish part of Japan. Spent two days in a hot spring/ski resort called Zao which is a 30 bus ride from Yamagata station.

This is the bullet train MAX which was attached to the train that we took (Tsubasa). Many trains in Japan split into two at different stations so be careful which carriage you get on.

Dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed straight for the slopes. Its 3,500 yen for a lift pass which you can use 15 times.

A sign asking you not to jump off the lift. Hmmm. Sure thing.

The suicidal slope.

The trees on the peak are supposed to be covered in snow at this time of year. According to the locals, this year Zao only got less than a third of the amount of snow that it usually gets.

The snow covered trees are called Juhyou (樹氷(じゅひょう))and are supposed to look like this in seasons with decent amount of snow.

Snow is still powdery at this time of year at the peak but becomes slushy at the bottom.

After a full day of skiing n falling down, its time for a traditional Japanese Onsen where you get into a room full of naked men. If you are a man but look like a woman, I suppose you could try to go in the ladies shared Onsen. You need to figure out a way to hide your dolphin though - maybe push it inwards?

Dinner was a traditional Japanese set meal which tasted very average.

Then its back to the Onsen area of the hotel.

This time round however we go and dip our feet in this foot bath. You can just about make out some benches with towels on. The natural spring water is extremely hot and I began to wonder if the meat on my feet would get cooked this way.

Zao International Hotel is the place we stayed. The Onsen was nice but the rest of the hotel was a bit of a dump and service was crap - would recommend to avoid.

Planned for another morning of skiing the following day and headed off to the slopes.

But wifey done her leg in (bad sprain) and had to call the patrol guys to pick her up - spent the rest of the day in a local clinic.
There were loads of folks who were speeding due to the fantastic weather - many of whom broke something and ended up being carried to the clinic ^^;

Zao is 3 hours from Tokyo by bullet train and if you really want to get away from the hustle n bustle then Zao is recommended.

Are you getting away to go skiing this Winter? I remember when working at Amazon - the folks in Seattle HQ would leave work at about 3 or 4pm everyday to hit the slopes ^^;

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