Hokkaido Day 2 (Tomamu) (15 Feb 17) – Skiing For the Very First Time in Tomamu Ski Resorts and Cloud Walk Revisited

First Try at Skiing

My friend and I missed out on skiing last year when we visited Korea, partly we were apprehensive about skiing as we had zero experience in skiing but wanted to try the sport. When we planned for this trip to Hokkaido we were determined to ski, afterall we are staying in a ski resort. Instead of renting ski equipment and figure it out ourselves, we booked a beginner’s lesson with the resort. Booking the lesson can be done via Hoshino Resorts Tomamu’s website. We were pleasantly surprised when we found out that the lesson is conducted for just the both of us with one instructor. The experienced instructor, though spoke very little English, was very proficient and very patient with us being first timers in Skiing. The very first thing that we were taught is to walk with our ski on.Our instructor then taught us to brake, which is essential when we ski down a gentle slope. We practiced braking a few time down the gentle slope that was meant for beginners. An hour has passed and our instructor suggested to bring us up a slope on a chairlift. We were hesitant at the suggestion, but put our trust in the experienced instructor instead.

The snow covered Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is especially charming
Map of the Ski Area in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (Source: http://www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en/)
My friend having ski lesson with the instructor while I skive around taking pictures
Traveling up the snow escalator for our lesson on walking with ski on and braking
This is the area for beginners where we were taught the basics of skiing
Our very patient instructor teaching my friend on braking techniques
The enclosed area is designed for kids to learn to ski down a very gentle slope

We took a ride up the Nipo Chairlift up the Nipo slope, a relatively gentle slope designed for beginners. First time skiing down the beginner’s Nipo slope was thrilling, the instructor’s teachings of braking came in very handy as I was controlling the speed by braking most of the time during my first descend down the slope. Our instructor brought us up Nipo Slope a few more times to practice our skiing. I felt more confident and actually find skiing quite fun. I thought getting an instructor to teach us skiing was a great idea, this allowed us to feel the fun in skiing. If not for the instructor, we would not have tried skiing down the beginner’s slope. After a few more attempts skiing down the slope, our 2-hour ski lesson had came to an end. After bidding our instructor farewell, my friend and I decided to head up Unkai Terrace and try our luck at visiting the Cloud Walk again.

Taking a selfie on the Nipo Chairlift up to the top of Nipo Slope in Tomamu
Our instructor guiding my friend down Nipo Slope for the first time, while I slowly ski down the slope taking the opportunity to snap some pictures
My friend and our instructor on the chairlift on our way up Nipo Slope for our second attempt down the slope
Nipo Chairlift
The snow looks soft as though good to make snow angel on from the chairlift
Me on the chairlift. This is the only way to show that I was learning to ski as well
Our instructor perfecting my friend’s braking technique while I ski behind them happily snapping pictures
View of the Nipo slope that I have skied pass
It started to snow when we skied down Nipo Slope with our instructor patiently correcting my friend’s skiing technique.

 

Unkai Terrace Revisited

Feeling disappointed that we did not managed to visit the Cloud Walk the yesterday, we wanted to try our luck at visiting the Cloud Walk again. As we ascended Terrace of Frost Tree on the gondola, it started to snow again. The snow was heavier than it was yesterday. The snowing weather made the winter snowscape extra charming and beautiful. It was freezing when we reached the Terrace of Frost Tree. My friend and I headed for the Cloud Walk. The snow felt softer than it was the day before when we walked on it, thanks to the fresh snow descending from the sky. We came across the sign that stopped us from continuing further to the Cloud Walk yesterday and decided to ignore it as we saw a group of visitors ignoring the sign as well. I am glad that we ignored the sign, we were soon rewarded with the stunting view that the Cloud Walk provides. The Cloud Walk is a semi-circular bridge that extends out of the edge of the mountain, giving us a spectacular view of the entire valley and the mountain ranges around it. From the bridge we were also able to see the entire Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, it felt small when we stand on the shoulders of the giant mountain. The view looked like it was lifted from a painting or the photo of a skilled photographer. Standing on the semi-circular bridge that extends into the sky, it felt extremely peaceful and tranquil. We had to make a u-turn at the end of the bridge as the path was blocked by thick snow. We traced our footsteps back from where we came from and arrived at the summit gondola station.

I just love the view of the mountains when traveling up Unkai Terrace on the gondola system
My friend in the gondola on our way up to the top of Mt Tomamu where Unkai Terrace is located
At the top of Mt Tomamu
Tenbou cafe sells beverages and snacks to visitors at the Terrace of Frost Tree up at the top of Mt Tomamu
View of the ski resort from Terrace of Frost Tree
We stopped for a wefie on our way to the Cloud Walk
There is a fire place in front of Tenbou cafe where visitors can sit around
My friend on a snowmobile
The snow covered trees on top of Mt Tomamu just looks so beautiful
The snowing weather did not deter us from taking wefie while walking towards the Cloud Walk
Finally we reached the Cloud Walk. This is part of the semi-circular bridge that extends out from the edge of the mountain
View of the valley below from the Cloud Walk bridge
The view from the Cloud Walk is spectacular especially when the low clouds are forming
Wefie on the Cloud Walk
Panoramic shot from the Cloud Walk
Panoramic shot from the Cloud Walk
Panoramic shot from the Cloud Walk
The view from Cloud Walk is so beautiful
It feels as though we are standing on the shoulders of the giant when we were on the Cloud Walk up the top of Mt Tomamu which is more that 1200m tall
More wefie on the Cloud Walk
One is assured to get a stunning view at the Cloud Walk
Me at the sign that marks the Cloud Walk

Attempt to Revisit Ice Village and Chapel on the Water

Descending from Mt Tomamu, we headed to the Ice Village. We wanted to see the village in day time and play on the ice slide again as we thought it would be less crowded. As we were walking towards the ice archway of the Ice Village, we saw the entrance to the Chapel on the Water being opened. We decided to pop into the Chapel as the visit the Chapel was rather disappointing that the tranquility in the Chapel was broken the night before. This time round, instead of heading into the Chapel, we walked on a path that along the parameter wall surrounding the Chapel. The view of the Chapel from the parameter wall was as beautiful as it is from inside the Chapel. The Cross that stood still braving the elements of the cold weather on the frozen pond outside the Chapel still looks tranquil from the elevated plane surrounding the Chapel. The view of the Chapel was indeed different and offered a different perspective of the Cross. We followed the path to exit the Chapel grounds and continued our way to the Ice Village. When we arrived at the Ice Village, the ice archway was shut, at this point we knew that the Ice Village was not open.

On our way to the Ice Village
The snow covered forest on the path towards the Ice Village
The Cross that stood undeterred withstanding the elements of Mother Nature in the Chapel on the Water
The Chapel on the Water looks beautiful even when viewed from the outside
Chapel on the Water
We were walking along the parameter of the Chapel on the Water marked by the concrete walk
The snow seem to make every picture we took beautiful
This is taken outside the walkway on our way back to our hotel
My friend building a snowman in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
My friend posing with the snowman he built (can’t really see from this picture, but there is a small snowman there)

Riding the Snowmobile

Walking back to our hotel, we thought the day is still young and headed over to the GAO Outdoor Activity Centre to try driving a snow mobile. We opted for the 10 min option. Prior to driving the snowmobile, we were given simple lessons on driving the snow mobile. We were also instructed to follow the guide closely and not to overtake each other. Driving the snowmobile was easy, the left handle controls the brake, while the right handle controls the acceleration of the machine.The steering of the snowmobile was heavier than I expected. We were led by the guide to ride around an open are in front of our hotel. Riding up and down slopes as well as riding around the bends, it was fun riding the snowmobile. We were led to stop at a point where the guide took some pictures for us with the Tomamu Tower Hotel in the background. After taking some pictures, we headed to the activity centre that marked the end of our 10 min snowmobile ride.

Me at the GAO Outdoor Activity Centre
Getting ready for our maiden snowmobile ride
My friend on the snowmobile
We were driving the snowmobile
Me on the snowmobile
The guide led us to this place where he took a picture of us with  the hotel we were staying in the background

Mina-Mina Beach

The night is still young, my friend and I headed for the Mina-Mina beach. Mina-Mina beach is one of the largest indoor heated swimming pool in Japan.  There are scheduled artificial waves created every hour. The water was colder than we expected as we entered the pool, perhaps due to the sub-zero temperature outside. Around the pool, there are activities such as an indoor wall climbing facility and a jumping cord. There are also floats stowed at the side of the pool for visitors to the pool to use. We waited for the wave to occur. The wave lasted 15 mins and wasn’t much fun. As we felt bored about the pool. we headed for the adjacent outdoor bath – Kirin-no Yu. It is a pity that we were not able to bring our camera when in Mina-Mina Beach and the Kirin-no Yu. The outdoor bath is separated by gender with the men’s bath further in the swimming pool. After taking a shower, my friend and I headed for the outdoor pool. As we exited the heated area of the bath into the outdoor pool, a sudden cold chill ran through our body due to the sub-zero temperature outside. We quickly made our way into the hot pool, where we felt very comfortable almost immediately. It is very refreshing soaking in a 40℃ water in the -8℃ temperature. The cold temperature made the hot water don’t feel as it is. We were reluctant to move the moment we soaked into the water. Although the water in the bath was not spring water, it still feel very good soaking in it. As it was getting late and we were getting hungry we left Mina-Mina Beach after cleaning up. We headed back to our room after dinner to pack up as we will be leaving Tomamu for our next destination – Lake Akan Onsen the next day.

 

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