Monday, February 13, 2006

Otsukare sama, a fabulous end to a fabulous long weekend

This morning, dragged my ass out of bed at the ungodly hour of 6AM, (for those of us working 1PM-9PM, 6AM is ungodly) got my things together and headed down to the Daily Yamazaki where I was to be picked up by Yuki for the trip out to Takatsue in Fukushima-ken. I was glad I headed out early to grab a bite to eat since Yuki and Noriko pulled up to the curb 10 minutes before the 7AM meeting time as I was halfway through breakfast! Loaded up the skis and headed on out. We stuck to the local roads, since the major expressways are coslty here, and made our way through Imaichi, Kinugawa and Kawaji before crossing over into Fukushima prefecture near the ski resort. Total travel time was about 2 and a half hours, driving through lovely mountains. As much as I complain about Japan and it's lack of environmental awareness and preservation, you don't think of it much as you're zooming through the mountains on your way to a day of skiing.

The forecast predicted a nice day, with about -7 degrees on the hill without a cloud in the sky. We got to the resort, parked within spitting distance of the front doors to the lodge (gotta love skiing on a weekday) and got ourselves locked and loaded for the day. For 4500Yen, I got a lift ticket and a 1000Yen coupon for lunch, pretty good deal! We quickly headed up for our first run. The skies were perfectly clear, we could see all the snow-capped mountains around, it was breathtaking to say the least.

The snow was nice, the sun was softening things up nicely and we knew from the time we got there that we would be having a great day. Here is Noriko hamming it up on the lift behind us. She was a bit nervous about having to use English all day, but opened up nicely... if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: "Do not be scared to use your English! Practice it as much as you can!" Lord knows I overuse my limited Japanese vocabulary, which was actually expanded today with saikou (great) and atchi (slang for hot) among others... thanks!

Here is Yuki (our resident snowboarding and forestry specialist) and I heading up on the lift. There are few students who are as energetic and outgoing about their English as Yuki, case in point he invited an English teacher into his car for a long drive and a day of skiing, which is great! He's quite the trickster out there on the slopes too, jumping around and dancing on that board of his like there's no tomorrow!

Here is the big man himself (or the skiing linebacker as Scott has so cleverly coined) out and about on the slopes of Takatsue. Snowboarders beware, do not cut in front of this guy...

As I mentioned before, Yuki is quite the boarder. Here's the proof, this is him getting some great air off a jump. Too bad it's so small...

As is usually the case, the genkiness wears off pretty quickly after lunch. My legs started to ache on the all too frequent flat sections, which is odd. You'd think I'd be tired from the actual skiing... We ended up packing it in at 3:45 or so, piled back into the car and headed on towards home after a most excellent day. On the way home, our excellent day was capped with good luck as Yuki spotted some mountain monkeys frolicking along the road. There were quite a few running around in the woods and this was my first encounter with them in the wild. Unfortunately, the picture turned out blurry... I think I'll turn off the "instant recap" mode on the camera... I was under the impression I took 4 or 5 pics, but I ended up with just 2 blurry ones. The lag is cutting in on my shots dammit!

So we made our way back through the mountains with the day turning dark and ended the day with Ramen at a restaurant on Keirinjo-dori. Quite tasty. Great big thanks to Yuki for the ride out this weekend and to both Yuki and Noriko for the company. Next trip is a go for next Sunday, heading to Alts with Keizo and Mayu. Just got an email today that Motoki may be joining as well in his car with another, which leaves space for 3 people which I'm sure we can fill up to help pay the highway costs. Alex would like to join but it will depend on his next assignment, he's still in Limbo... anywho, off to bed for some well deserved rest!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word of warning. saikou means great / the best. seikou means sexual intercourse. Looks like you had a good time skiing.

- A follower of your BLOG in Ottawa

10:42 AM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Many thanks sir!

Ah language, the intricacies and variations certainly make it interesting...

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Yuki said...

It was a great(saikou) day.
You also checked below words, didn't you.
"samii"(slang for cold)
"fukuro irimasuka"(do you need a bag)
"tonkotsu ramen"(Boiled pork ribs

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't heard the samii thing before but that doesn't mean much.

A few more hints for the Japanese language related to saikou....

The Prefix "sai" (using the kanji mottmo) means the most - mottomo samii would mean the coldest. In the case of sai-kou kou means high (same as in koukou - high school). Thus saikou means the highest or the best. The sai prefix is used in lots of words:

sai - tei - the lowest / disgusting really bad. (opposite of saikou - tei is an alternate pronounciation for the kanji hikui or low)

sai - aku - the worst / a disaster (if you had a bad day or something bad happens you can say saiaku - aku comes from warui or bad)

sai - shin - the newest / most recent model of something. (great for bragging about that new keitai denwa you just got - shin comes from atarashii - new).

Good luck with learning the language. Not an easy task. I have been working on it for about 7 years and still have a long way to go.

If you are serious you should study some kanji as it helps you see these types of connections between words and makes it easier to remember vocabulary.

- A follower of your BLOG in Ottawa

9:17 AM  

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