Monday, April 10, 2023

Sun Meadows Kiyosata ... no skiing for me


It was a great plan. Take trains to the Sun Meadows ski resort in Kiyosata, Nagano prefecture, Japan. And then come back at the end of the day, pick up my luggage from the hotel and head to the airport. In the words, I was on a deadline. And I was illiterate...

Sun Meadows was still operating in early April, as I was leaving my work meeting in Yokohama. It would have been nice to visit a proper outdoor ski resort, even if last night I had already done some indoor skiing in my neighborhood.

But problems started to crop up. Problem one was that I was tired, and didn't complete the midnight packing session, which made me continue the packing in the morning. I could and should have left 6.30 am, but I wasn't out of the hotel and checked out until 7.30 am.

The next issue was buying the tickets. I have to say I was confused about the options in the ticketing machine, and there were no ticket sales agents early Saturday morning. I did manage to buy the right tickets, didn't get seat assignments but I figured I'd manage somehow. But some time had again gone.

The real problems started after my first metro ride, however. I was thoroughly confused about which trains I should take. Google maps wasn't exactly collaborating, and interpreting the signs at the train stations was very difficult; the latin lettering version of the destinations only appeared now and then in the signs, but the train changing times were in the order of minutes.

So I lost a train. From this point onwards I think I did everything fine, even though some of the reading of the signs was still difficult. And maybe there was a station where I could have run up and down stairs and change platforms in one minute, but I suspect even the literate among us would not have figured out where exactly to go. Google maps did tell me which platform to take, but I wasn't relying on it entirely, so not sure if it would have been valid.

And then something really unexpected happened. The express trains which per both the official Japanese travel website and Google maps were supposed to stop at the Kobuchizawa station, did not stop there. I went past it half an hour. This by itself was not a problem because I had plenty of time to change to the next train. But I started doubting the next trains stopping. Maybe they would have. My train returning past the Kobuchizawa station did stop there, but visiting the ski area was now a matter of not losing a single more train or transfer, or else I'd miss my plan. 

I think I made the wrong decision, because after this everything went smoothly, and I might have gotten to the ski area and skied 20 minutes, shuffled with taxis to return back to the closest station and then changing again at Kobuchizawa ... but I got scared. Stupid. That's what you get for being illiterate in Japanese: no skiing for me today :-(

So I ended up taking an eight hour train ride at the cost of 100+ € and got no skiing done. However, it was quite pleasant... nice trains, cherry trees blossoming by the tracks, going through mountain areas... not bad after all. Maybe next time with more reading ability and/or courage. Or time?

Above you will see my planned route. Below is shots from the train window near Kobuichezawa. So close, so far!

Me in the trains:

After Ski in Yokohama, after the trip. Or was it Instead Ski?

Read the full Planetskier series at, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko.

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