A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Snowbird Ski School

From Rick Weisburd:

My friend Tetsu Miyazaki runs Utrek International Exchange Center, a non-profit organization that fosters cultural exchange and international understanding through a variety of activities. For example they send Japanese kids to homestays abroad and welcome foreign kids for homestays here in Japan. One of their annual activities is the Snowbird Ski School, held in late March in Nagano). This year will be the 32nd time the Snowbird Ski School has been offered.

Snowbird Ski School is held in two sessions. Both are package deals including transportation from Shinjuku, accommodation and meals in the onsen hotel, and instruction. This year the first session is at Kumanoyu 22 to 25 March for 63,800 yen; the second session is at Happo One (Hakuba) 26 to 29 March for 59,800 yen. Four-day lift tickets at either ski area cost 12,000 yen. Equipment rentals are available for 8700 yen for 4 days. The chartered bus departs for Kumanoyu at 8 AM on 22 March from Shinjuku station and the return trip will be on the evening of 25 March. The ride to Hakuba is on an express train from Shinjuku at 9:15 on 26 March. Miyazaki san always assembles an enthusiastic and interesting group for both the on-slope and apres ski activities.

The mountains of the Japan Alps in Nagano get lots of snow; there should be plenty of the white stuff there well into the spring. There are always many skillful instructors on the team, including fluent English speakers. All instructors are certified by the Ski Association of Japan or their own national ski organizations. The years my family joined, we had superb lessons from Hugh and Dolly Armstrong, the
parents of an Olympic gold medalist. My only regret from those trips was that I had no more chances those seasons to practice my much improved skiing techniques. This ski camp is appropriate for everyone
who wants to ski, ranging from those who have never tried through to experts, elementary school student through to senior citizens. Kumanoyu is one of the few resorts in Japan that does not permit
snowboarders, but they are allowed at Happo One.

If you want join either of these terrific trips, please contact Snowbird Ski School (New State Manor-1130, Yoyogi 2-23-1, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053; Tel 03 3370-5335; Fax 03 3370-5365; Email
info[AT]utrek.org) for applications and more details. Reservations and payments must be received no later than 17 March.

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