It is autumn in Snow Country, which means new rice being harvested, the stunning display of color as the leaves change, and awesome mushrooms. Last autumn we gave you heads up about using mantis eggs to predict snow depth. This year the speculation has already started, with snow falling on Mount Fuji 16 days earlier than last year, talk of La Niña, the long term forecast predicting the possibility of a warmer than average three months into December, and snow already having fallen in parts of Hokkaido. We try not to get caught up in all the "will it/won't it" predictions - the snow is what it is on any particular day and it is our mission as skiers and snowboarders to have the most fun on it that we possibly can. The Snow Country Instructors team will be out there no matter what the weather - sun, snow, or rain (liquid snow is marketing speak!) teaching skiing and snowboarding in all resorts in the region.
The latest murmurings that we are getting from our local old folk is that the kamemushi are out early this year and in large numbers. This apparently means the snow will come early and in large quantities.
The kamemushi is will known to those that live in the Japanese mountains or close to cedar trees. It is affectionately known as a stink bug - crush it and it releases a very distinctive (unpleasant) smell. Many accommodation here, especially the old ones, find them creeping in, so if you find a roll of parcel tape in your room, it is for the kamemushi. Should you find one, tear off a small bit of tape, trap the bug on the sticky side and seal it up into a little envelope. Then drop it in the bin. Not nice for the bug, but better than a stinky room.
(Quite a few Japanese people we know can't stomach coriander leaf as the smell of that bears a bit of a resemblance to the smell of crushed kamemushi!)
A few resorts have released their opening dates for Winter 2016/17, so we hope to be up and running in Yuzawa for ski and snowboard lessons by November 19th when Kagura opens - hopefully with a bit of snow. Also, if you are headed to Karuizawa Ski Resort and looking for English ski lessons or snowboard lessons early season give us a shout too, as we can often be persuaded to go down there for a day of skiing (and outlet shopping.)