Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter in Gunma - Part 2

This is the second part of my first snow experience in Gunma, Japan. To read the first part of this trip, which includes some of my Winter Photography tips, click here

After having our car stuck in the middle of a blizzard, we walked down hill and looked for help. Finally, we got ourselves into Minakami Okutone Skiing Zone.

Minakami Okutone Skiing Zone
Kids around the Skiing Zone

As we waited for the towing vehicle to come to our rescue, we discovered this small but packed with people skiing area. We knew that we will not be able to make it to our intended destination - Niigata Ski Resort as it will be another 1 hour drive from here and the towing car will only arrive 3 hours later, some-more it was a Sunday morning and we need to go to work the next day!! So, both of them decided to ski here, while I was more than happy to continue with my winter photography adventure here.

Ski and Snowboard Rental Office
Okutone Minakami - The Entrance

Why didn't I learn skiing or snowboarding? Well, first of all, the lesson would be in Japanese and I would not understand a word. Secondly, we only have half day of skiing time. So, I have decided to give it a miss. After 3 hours waiting, we've finally got our chain to the tyres from the towing company. We got the car down to the skiing zone, and my two colleagues got themselves ready for some skiing action.


We got up to the actual skiing zone with the ski lift, which was also my first time and here's how it looked like. There was no safety belt or any fall protection on the lift, so one really have to sit tight and enjoy the lift.

Ski Lift
Ski Lift

The lift to the center of the skiing zone was not too long, it took about 3 - 5 minutes. For not being equipped with skiing or snowboarding equipments, this was the furthest I could go as there was another lift to the top of the hill for skiers and snowboarders only. Anyhow, it was good enough for me as I kept snapping photos of people skiing and snowboarding around the area.

A restaurant and rest area at the skiing zone
Kids and parents with snow sled
Playing with snow
People queuing for the lift to the top 
A teenager with snowboard
Tomofuji and Chris in action

If you even wondered what I did up there besides photographing, well here's what I did. I played with the children's sled. Hahaha.

Here's me, covered with snow

After spending about 2 hours up there, I decided to return to the bottom level and explore the area while Chris and Tomofuji were skiing.

Breath-taking scenery on the lift down
Going down hill
Another scenery caught when I was on the lift down
House and cars covered with snow
Switch-yard covered by snow
Winter in Gunma
Bridge in snow

We went home at around 5pm. Although we did not make it to our intended destination, we had a great time, both skiing and photographing. What an experience!! I hope you enjoyed both of my winter photography posting. 

To read the first post, click here.

I have also found an interesting video on YouTube about how a car could slide in snow if not well prepared. So, be prepared if you ever need to drive in snowy area.

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