Twas mimsy, and the slithy snow

There are words to describe the snow we found at Nozawa Onsen, but I don’t know them. The problem isn’t that I speak English, as opposed to a language better adapted to the purpose, it’s that I just don’t know snow. When P asked what “moguls” were, I got quite a way in to describing the history of Central Asia and India before his look of unease alerted me to the internal pictures he was forming of his father at the wrath-end of a ski pole wielded by a powerful and slightly-squashed emperor.

So I won’t try to describe the snow. What I will do is show you some pictures, give you our review of the half-day snow monkey tour from Nozawa Onsen, and provide some links to websites that can describe the snow, for your own followup, if and when you need more. And there’s something else – something exciting – which I’ll get to at the end.

I don’t want to be insensitive about it all, though. When Richard from Living In The Langhe requested these photos, I heard a longing in his voice which won’t be soothed by the current (gradual, eventual) emergence of spring across the northern hemisphere. With that in mind, I’ve altered some of these pictures in barely-noticeable ways in order to relieve some of the envy they might otherwise induce.

Pictures Of Skiing And Snow At Nozawa Onsen, March 2014

View from Skyline.

View from Skyline.

First family private lesson for our beginner-level skiiers - P, T and Nanny.

First family private lesson for our beginner-level skiiers – P, T and Nanny.

Guiding P down the Forest Trail.

Guiding P down the Forest Trail on day four.

Don't be fooled by the propaganda. Those dolphins will go you.

Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. Those dolphins will go you.

Taking the Half-Day Snow Monkey Tour with Young Children

In sum: I don’t recommend it. Sure, there were no problems with sharks, spiders, forest fires or dolphins, but the half-day tour schedule is really only suited to able-bodied adults or older children (say eight or ten plus).

It’s an hour’s ride on the bus, then they assign twenty-five minutes for the 1.6km walk to the Snow Monkey Park. You have an hour with the monkeys, half an hour to walk back, and another hour on the road home. It took 1.5hrs for five-year-old P just to reach the Snow Monkey Park. The trail is narrow and icy so we didn’t feel safe carrying the kids a lot of the time, and it was generally much slower going than we’d imagined – even after adjusting for little legs.

I still recommend the Snow Monkey Park for young children and perhaps even the infirm or elderly – the kids loved seeing the little furry guys, however briefly, and found the walk through the snowy forest just magical. But I’d advise taking a private tour by taxi and allowing most of the day, perhaps stopping for lunch and a dip in the adjacent people-onsen.

Snow Monkey Collage.

Snow Japan Resources We Used When Planning Our Holiday

There’s plenty of info for the googling, but gave me my original overview, and helped me narrow our choices.

We found this a good introduction to the Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort, with downloadable maps.

Then there’s the official Nozawa Onsen Ski website, in English, where you can find out about the Kids’ Snow Park and Day Nursery and the Nozawa Onsen Ski School. The ski school employs a range of English-speaking instructors from all around the world, at least two of whom remain calm in the face of tantrums. Note: they actually prefer kids to be four and above for group lessons, we found out later. We ended up deciding on a family private anyway – it’s not much more if you can get at least three people together – and T dropped out early on, so they probably know their age cutoffs better than I do. The kids’  snow park is so awesome you should probably borrow a child before you visit if you don’t have your own, just as an excuse to play there. We didn’t try the day nursery.

We stayed at Shirakaba, which is associated with a ski hire shop at the foot of the slopes, where we stored all our ski gear. Guests get a discount on ski hire and lift passes! There are plenty of other places, including a number closer to the ski fields, but it’s a nice, small village and we wanted something that would suit the non-skiiers of the group as well as the more action-inclined.

Plus, one of the neighbours has a dog which does tricks.

Plus, one of the neighbours has a dog which does tricks.

Wait! There’s One More Thing I Want To Tell You!

This bubble-blowing thing only works if it gets really cold. Like, colder than we were. But if you can catch the bubbles on a plate you can still freeze them – even inside!

Me blowing disappointingly-normal bubbles.

Me blowing disappointingly-normal bubbles.

Wait, Wait! One More Thing After That!

Yesterday afternoon, I got an email from the Australian Writer’s Centre which said some mysterious, anonymous person (who may or may not be related to me, either genetically or legally) had nominated this site for a Best Australian Blogs 2014 Award. And you can vote for me under “J” for “Journeys of the Fabulist”. Yes, you can. Right now. You have that ability. {Update: not any more – voting has ended.}

Update: You can also vote for Camilla of Italy Take Two, using the same form (she’s under “I” for “Italy Take Two”), Sharon of Where’s Sharon? (at “W”) and SJ of Chasing The Donkey (at “C”).

This post appeared first at Journeys of the Fabulist, but if you want to steal it for your content farm, could you at least highlight the bit about voting for me in the Best Australian Blogs 2014 Awards? TIA.